Brooklyn Bird Club
Long Pond Greenbelt
|Location: Costa Rica, 2020
Reported by: Joe Giunta
The Happy Warbler Birding group had its ninth annual trip to Costa Rica. The trip was highly successful with a total of 279 species of birds being seen by most members of the group. Members of our flock were: Joe, Chee, Jeff, Kate, Laura, Bobbie, Joe M, Debbie, Bobby, Colleen, Alison and Judanna. With us were our guide Noel and our driver Juan Carlos. Even though Costa Rica is a small country the diversity is tremendous. This year's trip concentrated on the northern and western parts of Costa Rica visiting La Paz, Cano Negro, Celeste Mountain Lodge, Cerro Lodge and Punta Morales. A photo history of our trip was made by Chee and can be found at:
Feb. 1: Our United/Continental Airways flight, out of Newark/Liberty Airport, took off right on schedule. We were greeted at the airport by our guide Noel and our driver Juan Carlos. They would remain with us for the next nine days. We stayed the first night at the Hotel Bougainvillea, which was fairly close to the airport.
Feb. 2: We were up early and did some birding on the hotel grounds. First bird seen on our trip was the Philadelphia Vireo. It is a hard bird to see in New York but somewhat easy here in the city of San Jose Costa Rica. Other bird North American migrants over wintering in Costa Rica that we saw were: Baltimore Oriole, Summer Tanager, Tennessee Warbler and a Yellow Warbler. Our first real spectacular topical bird was the Lesson's Motmot. After breakfast we packed our stuff and headed towards Cano Negro, our first venue. Before getting there we stopped at La Paz Waterfall Gardens. A beautiful place with many hummingbird feeders. We saw seven different hummingbird species at their feeders. The group's favorite was the Violet Sabrewing, because of its size and beautiful color. We had lunch at their restaurant and then moved on. Before leaving we saw a Chestnut-capped Brushfinch, the only one on the entire trip. Another stop was at Cinchona-Mirador La Cascada. They also had feeders and at their feeders we saw: Red-headed Barbet, Prong-billed Barbet, Black Guan, and a few Emerald-Toucanets among the 20 or so species feeding there. It was raining but we were protected underneath their canopy. Tennessee Warbler was well represented. The road to Cano Negro goes through a marsh and on this road we saw many species. The highlights were: Bare-throated Tiger Herons, nesting Jabirus, both Spotted and Solitary Sandpipers. We finally made it to Cano Negro, had dinner, did the list and prepared for the next day. Well almost. A quick drive down the road at dark produced a Striped Owl.
Feb. 3: The day was all about the boat rides. We had two rides, one in the morning and another after lunch. One ride went up the river and the other went down the river. For the day we saw all the possible kingfishers. That includes: Ringed, Belted, Amazon, Green, Green-and-Rufous and Pygmy. We saw almost all possible egrets and herons. We had great looks at the Jabiru. In the mangroves we saw numerous Prothonotary Warblers. I came up with a total of 12. Yellow and Chestnut-sided Warblers were also well represented with totals of 17 and 9 respectively. Towards the end of our second boat ride we had many Lesser Nighthawks fly over. We went back to the lodge, had dinner and prepared for a spectacular nighttime birding experience.
We drove down the road to a spot Noel knew very well. He called in a Great Potoo. The bird stayed with us for a good amount of time. We could see the bird's song vibrating in its throat. For many of us it was the highlight of the entire Costa Rican trip. And for more birding excitement we had Pacific Screech-Owls and Black-and-white Owls also seen very well. It was an amazing night.
Feb. 4: Today was mostly a travel day. We did get up early and bird the grounds of the Cano Negro Lodge. One nice bird we saw was the Summer Tanager. It is a North American migrant that spends its winter in the tropics. For our whole trip we would see 12 of them. We did see some other birds on the grounds of the lodge including a number of flycatchers. The birds were: Yellow Tyranulet, Palty Tyranulet and Yellow-bellied Elaenia. We arrived at the Celeste Mountain Lodge, had a great French-Costa Rican fusion dinner and prepared for our next day.
Feb. 5: The conditions were rainy and foggy at Celeste Mountain Lodge. So Noel put us in the van and took us to the other side of the mountain were it was sunny and very hot. One of the highlights of this area was the White-throated Magpie Jay. It is a large bird with an unusual set of feathers on its head. It is very noisy and a real crowd pleaser. We also saw two honeycreepers, the Red-legged and the Green. The food at Celeste is the best. We had breakfast, lunch and dinner at their dining room each day we were there. Most of the meals were served on banana leaves and the meal were explained to us in detail before we ate.
Feb. 6: Celeste Mountain has many trails. Today we explored two of them. On one of the trails there were many antbirds. They are always a favorite of mine and we got excellent looks at the following antbirds: Spotted , Bicolored , Ocellated, Zeledon's (previously called Immaculate) and the Dull-mantled. Woodpeckers and woodcreepers were also well represented on the grounds of Celeste. We saw: Northern Barred and Wedged-billed woodcreepers plus 6 woodpecker species including Golden-olive and Cinnamon. A favorite of the group was the male and female Barred Antshrikes. We had excellent views. At night Noel took us out for some nighttime birding. We all saw a Mottled Owl.
Feb. 7: It was a travel day plus many stops along the way. Birding consisted of a morning walk down the road at Celeste, then a ride to the Sandillal Dam, a stop at the Salt Ponds and finally to Cerro Lodge.
The early morning walk at Celeste produced a beautiful Umbrella Bird. A lifer for everyone except Noel. We all had great looks. A Black-headed Trogon plus a White-whiskered Puffbird were also present. We packed up and drove to the Sandillal Dam where 20,000 Blue-winged Teals over winter. They all were there and it was an amazing slight. Within the large group was one Cinnamon Teal. It was hard to pick out because the bird keep hiding among all the other Blue-winged teals. In the nearby shrubbery were some more Magpie Jays. After the dam we drove to the Salt Ponds. We picked up a good number of shorebirds. We recorded: Long-billed Curlew, Short-billed Dowitcher, Willet, Lesser Yellowlegs and Whimbrel. Royal terns were also present. We checked in at the Cerro Lodge and prepared for our next day.
Feb. 8: Breakfast was in the Cerro Lodge restaurant and we looked at their feeders. We spent most of the day at Caraca National Park with an evening stop at Guacalillo to catch the sunset and a special bird. Caraca has excellent trails. They are well defined and mostly handicapped accessible, not that we needed it but it made for easy birding for the group. The weather was hot but dry and the trails were mostly in the shade which made it even better. We saw many birds at Caraca including: Plain Xenops, Eye-ringed Flatbill, Yellow-bellied Flycatcher and Green Shrike-Vireo. Our evening stop at Guacalillo was to catch the sunset and one special bird. Noel knew exactly where and when we would see the Lesser Ground Cuckoo. Right on schedule the bird appeared. The sunset was great too!
Feb. 9: It our last complete day of birding. We took a boat ride on the Tarcoles River. We saw 5 of the possible 6 kingfishers (Pygmy, Belted, Ringed, Green, Amazon) just missing the Green-and-rufous. We saw many warblers including: American Redstart, Chestnut-sided, Golden-winged and Prohtonotary . Warbler totals for our trip were: Black-and-white- 10, Tennessee- 8, Yellow- 17, Chestnut-sided-9 and Prothonotary - 12. It is always nice to see our North American migrants enjoying the warm weather of Costa Rica. Summer Tanagers totaled 12 but the real winner was Spotted Sandpiper with 40. We finally left Cerro Lodge and headed back to San Jose. At the Bougainvillea Hotel, just before dinner we did some more birding. We were missing the White-eared Ground Sparrow and Noel wanted to give it one more chance. We dipped on the bird but did see two Ferruginous Pygmy-Owls. A very nice ending. In all we totaled 279 bird species. Feb. 10: It was our last day. We had a boxed breakfast from the Hotel Bougainvillea. At about 6am we gathered our stuff and left for the airport. Our United flight took off right on time and landed a few minutes early in a Newark airport. It was a great trip, we saw great birds, made new friends and are already looking forward to do it again next year.
Great Blue Heron
Little Blue Heron
Limpkinv White-throated Crake
American Pygmy Kingfisher
Great Crested Flycatcher
Northern Rough-winged Swallow
Southern Rough-winged Swallow
Species seen - 279