shorebirds in costa rica

Trip Report – Jan. 18th – 25th

Jan. 18th – Day 1

Birding in the big forests of Curu wildlife refuge

Birding in the big forests of Curu wildlife refuge

Tour participants get settled into the Tambor Tropical hotel after arriving in Tambor Bay on direct flights from San Jose. In the evening we have dinner and a quick group briefing to discuss plans for the exciting week of birding that lies ahead.

Jan. 19th – Day 2

rufous-browed-peppershrike-

Rufous browed Peppershrike

Our first day of birding begins on the Panica River Trail system, which starts right at the Tambor Tropical Hotel and extends towards the river mouth and then up the Panica river. This trail system is one of the most productive in Costa Rica, where it is not unusual to record over 100 species in one morning of birding. This morning was no exception and we were treated to an abundance of the areas tropical birds. Highlights of the morning included scarlet macaws, turquoise browed motmot, mangrove vireo, prothonotary warbler, painted bunting, northern scrub-flycatcher, violaceous trogon. We stopped in for a birders lunch at H & B Lodge and Restaurant and then did some birding in the backyard, where we had the first sighting of Rufous-browed Peppershrike for the area!

Jan. 20th – Day 3

White-necked Puffbird

White-necked Puffbird

To begin the morning, we took a short ride to the small town of Panica, to bird along the Biscoyol waterfall trail.      As soon as we got out of the truck Carolyn spotted a roosting common nighthawk, very cool! This area has some great sections of mature lowland forest that hold many surprises, which on this morning came in the form of not one, but four white-necked puffbirds that afforded excellent looks and photos. Other highlights include long-tailed manakin, collared aracari, olivaceous woodcreeper and a little tinamou that was heard singing nearby.

American Pygmy Kingfisher

American Pygmy Kingfisher

Jan. 21th – Day 4

Today we visited the Curu wildlife refuge, a privately owned park located a short drive from the Tambor Tropical hotel. The main trails in the park wind through mangrove forests and old growth tropical dry forest, with some of the biggest and oldest trees of the area. The birding was a bit quiet, as it can be in many mature forests. It was quality over quantity and we got to see some good birds like pale-billed woodpecker, ruddy woodcreeper and excellent looks and photos of American-pygmy kingfisher.

Jan. 22nd – Day 5

Scarlet Macaw

Scarlet Macaw

With our first day of birding along the Panica River trail being so productive, we decided to spend another morning in that area and were again treated to some fantastic birding. In the afternoon we visited the scarlet macaw reintroduction program, Asoprolapa. This on going project has successfully reintroduced the scarlet macaw to the Tambor Bay area after being extirpated in the mid 1900’s.  It was great to get a behind the scenes look at the breeding facility and learn about the project from Vernon, the biologist in charge of the program. They have done a great job making Tambor Bay the best destination in Costa Rica to see these incredible birds.

Double-striped Thicknee

Double-striped Thicknee

In the evening we visited the lagoons at Los Delfines and bird watched in style –renting some golf carts to drive among the gold course lagoons. These lagoons of hold many great species that are hard to get elsewhere – black-bellied whistling duck, least grebe, northern jacana, purple gallinule, and muscovy duck to name a few! We finished the evening off by searching out the awesome double-striped thick knee and also had a rare encounter with a gray fox!

Jan. 23rd – Day 6

King Vulture flying over Raptor Ridge

King Vulture flying over Raptor Ridge

This morning we took the short and adventurous car ride up to the Raptor Ridge Birding Retreat located in the hills above Tambor Bay, at an elevation of 1400 feet. We started off on the trails that wind through some areas of evergreen gallery forest, encountering gray headed tanager, orange-billed nightingale thrush, and blue-throated goldentail and we even had some brief looks at the Elegant Trogon as well. Afterwards we went back to the house to enjoy the spectacular view overlooking Tambor Bay and also to do a bit of hawk watching from the pool area. We were lucky and got great looks at the white hawk, a signature bird up at Raptor Ridge, and then were treated to an unexpected surprise when an adult King Vulture flew directly over the watch!

Resplendent Quetzal2

Resplendent Quetzal

Jan. 24th – Day 7

Today we departed for the cloud forests of Monteverde, the famous birding location of Costa Rica. We awoke in time to catch the first ferry ride across the Gulf of Nicoya and a spectacular sunrise over the Pacific Ocean! On the way across we had some looks at the Brown Boobies that nest in on the nearby islands as well as  We arrived in Monteverde by noon and checked into the beautiful Belmar Hotel. In the afternoon we visited the hummingbird gardens that attract an abundant assortment of species; violet sabrewing, green-crowned-brilliant, magenta throated woodstar, green violeteer, stripe-tailed hermit, coppery-headed emerald, purple throated mountain gem and green hermit. In the evening we headed over to the Curi-Cancha cloud forest reserve for some more good birding. Highlights include orange-crowned warbler and elegant euphonia!

Jan 25th – Day 8

The previous day we had scouted out a fruiting tree near the entrance to the Monteverde cloud forest reserve that we would hoped would attract a Reslendent Quetzal. We arrived at the tree as the sun came up and weren’t disappointed! Shortly after arriving, a male quetzal flew in for some great looks. It only spent 5 minutes in the area before departing, the early bird gets the bird! After the quetzal left many more birds showed up at the tree. Highlights include emerald toucanets, hepatic tanager and golden-browed chlorophonia. In the late afternoon we departed for the Alta Hotel in San Jose and international departure the next morning.

It was an excellent trip with some excellent people and great birds! Thank you to our participants Hank, Carolyn, Wayne and Beverley for making it such an enjoyable experience. We stayed at some amazing small scale accommodations and wrapped up the tour with a total list of over 200 bird species.  Looking forward to more trips like this one!