Costa Rica Jan 30th-Feb 6th 2005: Tarcoles, Rancho Naturalista, Tapanti National Park

Published by Ryan Shaw (rtshaw80 AT

Participants: Ryan Shaw, Tracey Norris



We booked our flight via getting a very good price 280$ Roundtrip between Seattle Washington USA and San Jose Costa Rica with American Airlines.

We booked our Transportation and lodging through It was a much more expensive than what we were used to paying in our travels, but we didn’t have to worry about driving and could focus on birding. It was a plus that a guide was available with our lodge bookings at each location. We don’t normally use guides preferring to do our own birding, but the guides were mostly good and very helpful with learning unfamiliar songs/calls.
3 meals a day were also provided at each lodge.
Lodging/Meals/Guides cost 879$ per person
Transportation between lodges, airport and birding sites ran 245$ per person
Other Costs: (Per Person)
Mangrove Boat Trip: $25.00
Airport Exit Tax: $26.00
Our Itinerary had us staying 3 Nights at Tarcol Lodge and 4 Nights at Rancho Naturalista. Trip report to follow:

Sunday January 30th
River and Tarcol Lodge

Tracey and I finally arrived in San Jose, Costa Rica at Hour="14">2:00PM local time. It was 1 day after our scheduled arrival which was delayed due to mechanical problems on our American Airlines flight from Seattle to Dallas. We missed our connecting flight in Dallas so American put us up in a hotel for the night.  We quickly proceeded through customs and met our driver, Fabio who transported us to Tarcol Lodge, a 2 hour drive south west nestled on the Tarcoles River mouth.

Our driver was familiar with transporting birders and stopped at the Tarcoles river bridge. The overlook was packed with people looking down at the river. While everyone else was looking at the very large and impressive American Crocodiles, we decided to place our attention towards the birds. Rufous-naped Wrens greeted us at the parking lot, our first new birds for the trip. This was quickly followed by views of a giant green kingfisher on steroids, an Amazon Kingfisher perched on an overhanging wire, and then by several Scarlet Macaws flying overhead. To see these brilliant macaws flying over the river for the first time was truly a memory that will last.

After walking the bridge and taking in the plethora of new birds, we continued on to Tarcol Lodge, stopping only at a Macaw nest site the driver knew about. We watched a single macaw perched outside a large cavity in a tree for a while as a Gray Hawk lurked overhead in the top of a nearby tree. As we arrived at the lodge, a Yellow-headed Caracara greeted us on the side of the road perching out in the open not caring too much about us being so close.

The Lodge is quite the rustic building with simple clean rooms and shared bathrooms with very squeaky floors. It is a neat little place with a view to die for. The lodge is nestled directly on the mangrove water course with the high tides lapping at the concrete foundation; we had plenty of birding opportunities directly off the deck.

Northern Jacanas were just feet away with many young fledglings feeding along side their parents. Night Herons and shorebirds abounded at the mud edge. Mangrove Warblers were flitting around the trees along with Northern Waterthrush and Prothonotary Warblers. We got a quick look at a Turquoise browed Motmot before it disappeared into the mangroves. We took in the birds for a while before the bell rang and dinner was served. At dinner, we met the lodge bird guide, style='color:black'>Stephen Tsuyuki who is originally from style='color:black'>Japan style='color:black'>, and 2 other guests staying at the lodge. We would end up birding with one of the guests, Mark Yates from style='color:black'>England style='color:black'> several more times during our trip as he shared a similar itinerary to ours for the week we were there.

As night fell, Common Pauraque’s began calling from the water’s edge. The croaks of Yellow-crowned Night Herons and whistles of Black-bellied Whistling-Ducks were quite loud in the silence of the night. Throw in a couple of all-night barking dogs and you had a Central American paradise! We soon called it a night and prepared for our next days birding.

Monday January 31st.
Tarcoles Mangroves (Morning) /River Boat ride (Afternoon)

The barking dogs gave way to the howls of Howler Monkeys at dawn. Breakfast was served early so that we could get an early start on the day’s itinerary. Our first bird encounter of the day involved a pair of Scarlet Macaws feeding in an almond tree in the front yard of the lodge. Where these parrots still maintain their stronghold, they sure are common! Stephen had arranged a trip from the lodge to an area of adjacent mangroves, following trails along some farmer’s fields. Several species of parrots were flying over in all directions, mainly consisting of Orange-chinned and Orange-fronted Parakeets. Rufous-tailed Hummingbirds scolded us from low lying shrubs along the road, and then we encountered our first woodcreeper of the trip, a Streak-headed Woodcreeper foraging along a small tree at a fairly close distance. Farther along in the orchard fields, we encountered side by side Mealy and Yellow-naped Parrots, and feeding Rose-throated Becards and Streaked Flycatchers. We all were treated with excellent looks of a juvenile Crane Hawk as it flew overhead, followed shortly by 2 adult birds. Boat-billed Flycatchers and Great Kiskadees gave great comparisons between these two large noisy tyrannids. Mixed species flocks of wintering warblers, resident tanagers, and flycatchers moved through the foliage, mainly consisting of Chestnut-sided Warblers, Common Tody-Flycatchers and Blue-gray Tanagers.

We made our way around a couple more bends in the trail, and finally came to an area of mangroves and surrounding water. But before proceeding into the mangroves, we made a slight detour to a known roosting tree for Black-and-white Owl. Here we found 2 adult Black-and-white Owls along with 1 downy white ghost-looking chick. Quite a site! Along the field adjacent to the tree were many Blue-black Grassquits, and a female Barred Antshrike lurking in the thickets.

Back to the Mangroves where several Howler Monkeys were lazily hanging in the branches, we encountered several Mangrove Warblers and Lesser Greenlets, and finally our first Mangrove Hummingbird and Mangrove Vireo. Two Panama Flycatchers put in an appearance along with Tropical Pewees and Greenish Elaenias. Green Kingfishers stalked their prey from the waters edge and a solitary Black-headed Trogon leisurely perched in the open as if without a care in the world. Our first Red-legged Honeycreepers put in an appearance in a mixed group of birds high in a fruiting tree, mainly in association with wintering Summer Tanagers.

We returned back to the lodge for lunch and an afternoon siesta/birding from the shaded deck in the heat of the day. While I decided to take a little nap, Tracey continued to bird from the deck and was rewarded when an American Pygmy Kingfisher flew in to a tree alongside the house. Unfortunately for me the bird took off before she could wake me, but you snooze you lose. I wasn’t too worried as we were going to do a mangrove boat ride at Hour="15">3:00PM.

The boat trip was quite nice. We were able to cruise right up to some roosting Boat-billed Herons and got extremely close to a pair of American Pygmy Kingfishers, Green Kingfishers, and an Amazon Kingfisher. Mangrove Black Hawks patrolled the waterways, and a stealthy Zone-tailed Hawk also flew over the boat. Roosting on a sand bar near the lodge were a large group of Black Skimmers, and on some exposed mud were some shorebirds including Ruddy Turnstone, Willets, Whimbrels, and a Semipalmated Sandpiper among Westerns and Leasts. Not bad viewing from the boat! We motored back to the lodge, but not before a group of Black-bellied Whistling Ducks, and 1 lone Muscovy took flight in front of us. It was a wonderful end to a great 1st full day of birding in Costa Rica.

Tuesday February 1st.
Carara National Park: River Trail (Morning) and Old HQ Trail (Afternoon)

After an early 5:00AM breakfast of a typical Costa Rican fare (Black beans, eggs and rice with sour cream) we headed off to nearby Carara National Park to the River Trail, which runs by an old oxbow lake alongside the Tarcoles River. A Stripe-throated Hermit was one of the first birds to greet us at the trailhead. Chestnut-backed Antbirds and Black-hooded Antshrikes were singing loudly and several of each put in appearances. A Cocoa Woodcreeper was exploring a cavity and Riverside Wrens were singing in the distance. We got nice views of a Rufous-and-White Wren deep in the undergrowth, and a couple of Ruddy Quail-Doves were easily visible from the side of the path. Walking farther down we were greeted by Buff-throated Saltators, White-shouldered Tanagers and a Gray-headed Tanager in the trees. A pair of Long-billed Gnatwrens were speeding through the canopy challenging our viewing skills.

Not far in from the trailhead, we started hearing a loud snapping noise coming from a spot low in the bushes. It was coming from the wing claps of many displaying Orange-collared Manakins on a lek. Brilliantly clad in orange and black with energy to spare, these cute birds were definitely one of the highlights of the trip!

Fruiting trees were prevalent along the trail, and trogons were well seen and heard in the vicinity with great views of Violaceous, Black-headed, Baird’s and Slaty-tailed Trogons. Black-throated Trogons were a bit more secretive but very vocal. A Great Antshrike female was surprisingly very viewable perching out in the open for some great scope views. Dusky Antbirds were a bit more reclusive but would pop out in the open for a few seconds at a time. Same went for the Black-bellied and Rufous-bellied Wrens in the area. Cherrie’s Tanagers were busy feeding on the fruit with the trogons and Short-billed Pigeons were calling from their secret haunts high in the trees. Not much farther on the trail, some of us were lucky enough to stumble upon an adult Collared Forest Falcon perched not more than 10 feet away right on the edge of the trail. On the return trip we got some great views of one of the oddest birds of the trip, a Northern Bentbill . A gorgeous male Blue-black Grosbeak perched on a fern on the side of the trail for a couple minutes allowing us some great looks from 10 feet away. We departed at noon for some lunch leaving behind the metallic calls of Three-wattled Bellbirds and raucous calls of parrots and Macaws.

After lunch, we went back to Carara National Park but to a different entrance. We were dropped off in front of this old green building which used to be the old park headquarters. The trail is known as the old HQ Trail. It was a figure 8 loop trail along streams and dense undergrowth, and is well known as a site to view bathing manakins before sunset.

It was pretty slow to start, with just the maddening sound of cicadas buzzing all around. We soon encountered a pair of Baird’s Trogons calling to one another, and heard a Crested Guan calling from a tree top. Tracey was able to get a look at the Guan but it flew before I could get into position to see it. Walking a bit farther on the trail we found a White-whiskered Puffbird sitting motionless in a tree. It flew off before everyone could get a look, but we found it again on the way out as it was sitting in the open with a brachypelma sp. Tarantula in its bill.

As we reached the river bridge overlook, a Western Long-tailed Hermit flew in front of my face then quickly retreated. Guess I can be a scary sight when I don’t shave for an extended period of time! Fiery-billed Aracaris then put in an appearance high up in a tall tree next to the bridge. We took the trail farther to where the stream turns to a trickle flushing a couple of Little Tinamous in the process. The water here was just slow enough to pool under some low shrubs which became the late afternoon bathing hangout of several species of birds. Immediately on arrival at the overlook of this spot, we spotted a bright male Red-crowned Manakin splashing in the water along with several females and 1 bright green female Blue-crowned Manakin. A male Blue-crowned soon joined in the bathing as did a Bay-headed Tanager. Steven pointed out a nest of Blue-throated Goldentail hummingbirds near the manakin overlook. A couple of Orange-billed Sparrows were calling in the nearby bushes and as we were looking at this little spectacle, Steven called us over frantically as he had spotted a White Hawk perched in a tree. In his excitement to get us on the bird, the hawk flushed. I was able to get a brief look at its complete undersides before it disappeared into the forest. What a spectacular looking tail band this bird has! Unfortunately Tracey was left disappointed since it was out of sight before she could get any view better than just the tail. It was pretty slow bird wise on the way back to the trailhead, but we were entertained by a small group of White-faced Capuchins traveling through the trees, a few with young straddled to their backs. At the gate, a large flock of the small Band-rumped and the large White-collared Swifts were hawking insects fairly low in the sky. A Turquoise-browed Motmot sat out in the open along the fence line on the drive back, so we stopped and got very close to take some video before arriving back at the lodge for dinner.

Wednesday February 2nd.
Tarcoles Town , Transport to Rancho Naturalista. Rancho deck birding.

Tracey and I woke up fairly early for a 5:00AM breakfast (again beans and rice w/eggs), so that we could get some birding in around the Lodge before our transportation arrived at 8:00AM to take us to Rancho Naturalista. Along with Steven, we walked the roads around the town of Tarcoles and near the town bar and pool hall, found several White-throated Magpie Jays.

Farther up the road out of town, we found a nice tree with many flower blossoms. It was full of birds, mainly the Oriole kind, consisting of both Orchard and Baltimore Orioles. Many Rufous-tailed Hummingbirds were converging on the flowers with a Scaly-breasted Hummingbird thrown in for good measure. Both Orange-chinned and Orange- fronted Parakeets were in the tree feeding. Yellow-throated Euphonias were encountered followed by a pair of Scrub Euphonias.

The other side of the road had a ditch with some water and mangroves, and in the mangroves was a male American Pygmy Kingfisher sitting quietly. A much larger Ringed Kingfisher was over the watercourse, sitting on an overhanging wire. Across the field from where the flowering tree stood was a group of parrots feeding noisily in another flowering tree. We got the scope on them and found a group of intermingling amazons. Yellow-naped Parrot preened alongside a couple of Red-lored Parrots, our first and only of the trip. To top it all off, a group of White-crowned Parrots flew swiftly overhead, followed by an out of place Montezuma Oropendola. We arrived back at the lodge to meet our transportation to Rancho Naturalista.

We arrived at Rancho Naturalista just before noon. Rancho Naturalista is a very nice small lodge situated on a hillside overlooking a valley on the Caribbean slope. Much more upscale than Tarcol Lodge, Rancho also has more land area than Tarcol with many trails through pristine rainforest and a deck with views of many feeding stations and hummingbird feeders. The view directly off the deck includes several nearby hillsides and the expansive valley below the lodge.

Upon arriving, we were greeted by two of the lodge’s resident bird guides, Steven Bailey down from California and Jason Horn who hails from Pennsylvania. However we were a tad distracted by the female Snowcap busily gathering food along a nearby flowering hedge. As we walked around the corner of the main building towards the Snowcap, we were then overwhelmed by the spectacle of hummingbirds feeding above our heads.

We quickly dropped our belongings off in our bungalow and then headed for the lodge deck. Literally dozens of hummingbirds were zipping by in all directions. The majority of the hummingbirds being of four species: White-necked Jacobins, Violet-crowned Woodnymphs, Rufous-tailed Hummingbirds and Green-breasted Mangos. A Brown Violet-ear put in an appearance and perched on the wire holding up a feeder and a huge male Violet Sabrewing flew in for a brief drink at one of the other feeders. Green-crowned Brilliants were around but only showed up every so often. Stripe-throated Hermits patrolled the hedge along with the female Snowcap. A male Green Hermit appeared at the feeders on a regular basis along with the common and delicate looking Green Thorntail. In 20 minutes of hummingbird watching we encountered 11 species, all just before lunch.

After lunch we returned to the deck to watch the birds once again. The Hummingbird spectacle was still going on, as was another interesting gathering of species at the platform feeders on the ground below the deck. Several species of tanagers were gathered together eating the fruit placed in the bushes and the feeders. Blue-gray Tanagers and Palm Tanagers made up the majority, with several Passerini’s and White- lined Tanagers making up the bulk of the rest. Golden-hooded Tanagers fed in the trees above the feeding stations. Two species of Saltators were present at the feeding stations, Black-headed and Buff-throated Saltators. Yellow-billed and Scarlet-rumped Casiques were feeding on the ground as if they were common blackbirds while their larger cousins, Montezuma Oropendolas munched on the bananas impaled on a bare-leafed tree.

Hoffmann’s and Black-cheeked Woodpeckers were visiting the fruit off and on for the next few hours. Orange-billed Sparrows, Yellow-faced Grassquits, Rufous-collared Sparrows all fed on the ground below the feeders. A Bananaquit worked the shrubs alongside the platforms, and Tennessee Warbler did its best at imitating it. We finally had our fill of birding from the deck and decided to change it up by visiting the nearby trails into the woods.

A White-breasted Wood-Wren sang its heart out at the trailhead near our bungalow, and a Bay-headed Tanager worked the leaves overhead. Into the woods we went, but it turned out to be pretty slow. We saw a Spotted Woodcreeper and heard the wing snaps of White-collared Manakins. We sat down at some benches at the forest hummingbird feeders. We had several male Snowcaps actually coming to the feeders along with several Violet Sabrewings. We walked down another trail towards the hummingbird bathing pools. The small pools formed in 3 tiers along a small terraced waterfall. Several species of hummingbirds were coming down and plunking themselves on top of the water repeatedly. Snowcaps and Violet-crowned Woodnymphs were the most common. A few Purple-crowned Fairys would come in to bathe as well. We were rewarded to see a Dull-mantled Antbird come out of the thick undergrowth and make its way down to the waters edge. Southern Nightingale-Wrens were serenading us in the background as a single Tawny-crowned Euphonia was picking berries off a tree. Darkness falls quickly under a heavy canopy of trees, so we went back to the lodge for a nice dinner and relaxing evening.

Thursday February 3rd.
Rancho Naturalista, Tuis River Valley.

Awake bright and early at 5:30AM, we left our bungalow to get out to the back deck of the lodge before first light. Upon arrival we looked over the railing to see a pair of Collared Aracari’s eating some bananas that were recently laid out. The feeder situation was basically the same as the day before with a few additions. Chestnut-headed Oropendolas were busy feeding rather quickly; maybe to get out of the way of the larger Montezuma’s who hadn’t quite arrived in full force yet. Black-cheeked and Hoffmann’s Woodpeckers were climbing around the trees and a Blue-crowned Motmot put in a brief yet showy appearance. Across the valley there was a large flowering tree that one of the guides aimed his scope onto. Looking through it, we saw Scarlet-thighed Dacnis feeding on the flowers. We couldn’t see the scarlet on the thighs, but the blue and black pattern was quite distinct even from such a great distance. A pair of Black-crowned Tityras appeared out in the open and White-crowned Parrots began flying over the valley in decent numbers as Bay, Black-throated, and (Southern) House Wrens sang from the hillside.

We then went in for a great breakfast of mixed fruit and hot egg/sausage dishes before departing with our guide Roelf Hovinga, who originally hails from Holland. Driving out on the lodge road, Tracey noticed a Rufous Motmot sitting motionless on a branch overhanging the road. We stopped and observed it for a while before continuing on to the Tuis River Valley. The driver dropped us off on a road that followed the river, and we walked upstream for a while birding along the way. It was a gorgeous morning, the skies were bright blue and it was yet not hot. The birds were very active, with many species foraging in the open. A Cinnamon Becard perched in the open across the river, while a male Purple-crowned Fairy fed on some blossoming flowers in the trees. A Gray-capped Flycatcher darted out several times from a favorite perch, as Blue-and-white Swallows and Southern Rough-winged Swallows flew in some thermals above the river. Raptors were present with several Barred Hawks circling high up, and we found a King Vulture soaring amongst the more common Turkey and Black Vultures. We looked hard for both Sunbittern and Lanceolated Monklet, but to no avail. They were seen the day after our visit, but that’s just how birding goes.

We arrived back at the lodge for a pizza lunch and a bit of birding around the trails. We started out on the same trail we walked the night before only this time we walked farther into the forest. Steven Bailey showed up and accompanied us for part of our walk. It was quiet for the start of the trail, but we then found a mixed flock of Golden-crowned and Golden-winged Warblers, Sulphur-rumped Flycatchers, Slaty Antwrens, and Plain Antvireos. We finally got excellent looks at White-collared Manakins displaying throughout the woods. We hit many of the same flocks we encountered with the same species the rest of the afternoon, getting better and better looks.

We ended the day as dusk approached, waiting just back at the start of the trail for a Southern Nightingale-Wren to return to its evening roost. This tiny hole in an embankment had just been discovered by the guides the previous evening. As it became completely dark, a Chuck-wills-widow came in and perched on one of the railings along the trail, and was spotlighted by one of the guides.

Friday February 4th.
Tapanti National Park .

After a quick sit down breakfast at 4:15 AM, we awaited our arrival of transportation to pick us up for a day trip to Tapanti National Park about an hour and a half drive away. Guided by Steven Bailey and accompanied by Mark Yates, who had arrived at Rancho the previous afternoon, and another couple staying at the lodge. We arrived at a river bridge near the entrance to the park at Hour="6">6:00 AM and got out to take a look. An American Dipper was found on the river and lots of Blue-and-white Swallows were flying overhead. The weather was great, slightly overcast and no rain. Tapanti is known to be one of the wettest spots in Costa Rica so any day without drenching rain is supposedly a good day. We drove to the park entrance station and got out to take a look at the surrounding vegetation. Birds were everywhere in the trees. A large mixed flock was moving through with Common Bush-Tanagers making up the bulk of the group, along with a few Silver-throated Tanagers and our first Blackburnian Warblers of the trip. We quickly found several more species including Streaked Xenops, Red-faced Spinetail, Golden-olive Woodpecker, Rufous Mourner and Eye-ringed Flatbill. We even got a look at a skulky Gray-breasted Wood-Wren as a pair of Prong-billed Barbets sang a duet in the background.

After the flock had dissipated, we moved on to the head of the Oropendola Trail. This was a nice loop trail that was quite birdy, so nice that we did it twice on our visit. We ran into several flocks of birds all along the trail, with Common Bush-Tanagers again being the most prevalent. Tropical Parulas and Slate-throated Whitestarts were common among the Tennessee, Chestnut-sided and Blackburnian Warblers. Mountain-gems were easy to see with all 3 species, Purple-throated, White-breasted, and the endemic Gray-tailed Mountain-Gems, all quite visible and interestingly, almost all males. Scale-crested Pygmy-Tyrants and Paltry Tyrannulets were calling from all over and Lineated Foliage-gleaners were quite common in the area. A couple of Silvery-fronted Tapaculos were skulking within inches of the edge of the trail, but we could get no better look at the birds than to see a small dark shape dart in and out from the thick undergrowth. We had a nice look at a Zeledon’s Tyrannulet along with killer views of Ochraceous Wrens, Spotted Barbtails, Black-bellied Hummingbirds, and a pair of Sooty-faced Finch.

Our next stop was a scenic overlook where our guide had seen raptors in the past. No luck on any raptors, but we did have lots of White-collared Swifts flying overhead. Farther up the road, we reached a dead end at a picnic area. After an early lunch break with sandwiches and Chickys and Yipees, interesting named Costa Rican wafer bars, we began to walk up the road past the roadblocks. A Louisiana Waterthrush was bathing in a puddle on the road, and Silver-throated Tanagers and Tawny-crowned Euphonias were feeding in the trees. Farther along, we encountered a fruiting tree that contained a few birds. A single Prong-billed Barbet sat motionless in the tree alongside a Black-faced Solitaire. Nearby a flock was moving along, mainly consisting again of Common Bush-Tanagers, but it also contained our first Tawny-chested Foliage-gleaner and more Red-faced Spinetails. Not we only went a little farther up before we decided to head back down so we could do the Oropendola trail once more. At the roadblock, we heard a strange bird calling from a tree. We located it and finally got a good look at a Golden-bellied Flycatcher, not a bad way to end the walk up the road.

On the way back to the lodge, we stopped at Cachi Dam overlook where Bat Falcons were being regularly seen. Not long after arrival, a Bat Falcon perched on a nearby telephone poll giving great views for all. A Short-tailed Hawk flew overhead as did a nice flock of Sulphur-winged Parakeets. The most interesting thing however was a dead Black Vulture at the base of the dam being eaten by a Turkey Vulture.. yummy. We soon made it back to the lodge in time for our own dinner and a good night’s sleep.

Saturday February 5th.
Silent Mountain

Today’s itinerary involved a trip to Silent Mountain. We wanted to arrive there by 6:00AM, so we woke up around 5:00AM for a quick breakfast before we departed. Only a half hour away from Rancho by 4-wheel drive, Silent Mountain is higher in elevation thus a different variety of birds were possible than at the nearby Rancho grounds. We left before first light and as we waited for the car, a Short-tailed Nighthawk flew a few meters overhead, very bat-like indeed, and a Barred Forest-Falcon called in the distance. Half an hour later, we arrived at the base of Cerro de Silencio for our trek to the top. Today we were guided by Jason Horn and accompanied again by Mark Yates. We crossed a few streams and passed through some muddy cow pastures before we hit an incline and a trail up the hill.

A Golden-bellied Flycatcher called in a nearby tree along with a nearby calling Collared Forest-Falcon. As a flock of Sulphur-winged Parakeets were flying overhead, our guide Jason called out a Band-backed Wren, and White- naped Brush Finch. The wrens turned out to be fairly common throughout the day behaving much like Cactus Wrens in their social ability. An Olive-crowned Yellowthroat called from the top of a nearby bush singing its little heart out. Nearby, we came across our first Dark Pewee of the trip, and yes, it is a very dark pewee indeed.

We pressed on higher up before coming close to a patch of forest. At the edge, a pair of Blue-throated (Emerald) Toucanets emerged along the clearing, giving good scope views for all. A Yellow-bellied Sapsucker, our second of the trip also put in an appearance in the vicinity. In the forest itself, we found our first Black-thighed Grosbeak and watched it for a while as it sat motionless on a branch about 5 meters away. We encountered a mixed species flock of warblers and other birds, with a pair of Red-headed Barbets finally putting in an appearance. Scale-crested Pygmy-Tyrants called all around us, and we were also serenaded by Silvery-fronted Tapaculo’s. Lineated Foliage-gleaners started calling as did Spotted Woodcreepers before actually putting in appearances.

We paused at a small clearing and observed several species of hummingbirds patrolling a flowering tree. Green Hermits were flying fairly high, and several Black-bellied Hummingbirds perched out in the open. Purple-throated and White-throated Mountain-gems were also showing well. A Silvery-fronted Tapaculo began calling loudly right near us. We played a tape and the bird popped up out in the open for a split second enough for us to get some pretty nice looks at this very skulky bird.

We came to a barbed wire fence and an empty farmer’s field dotted with a few lone trees. A pair of Rufous-browed Peppershrikes appeared in a nearby tree singing loudly and giving us excellent looks. Tracey then called everyone’s attention to a pair of Golden-browed Chlorophonias feeding at the end of a branch fairly high at the edge of the forest where it meets the field. We all got nice scope looks at these great birds. We found a nice comfortable log to sit down and eat our packed lunch trading each other for their chickeys and yipees. Pairs of Prong-billed Barbets were singing duets all around us and Black-faced Solitaires could also be heard singing in the background. We kept scanning the treetops to look for Cotingas but hadn’t had any luck.

Jason decided to wander off a bit to scan a different area, as he was really trying hard to find a Lovely Cotinga, a bird he had yet to see in Costa Rica. Not long after, I saw a medium sized bird flying in to a tree down the hill in front of us, and it made a distinctive dry rattle-like call. I knew what it was before I even got a good look at it. A male Lovely Cotinga had just flown in to the tree. What an awesome bird with its electric blues and purples! Jason hurried back and we proceeded to watch the bird, viewing its lovely blue and purple plumage through Jason’s scope. Not long after, a second bird flew into the same tree, this time it was the female. She was beautiful in her own right with a nice scalloped pattern over most of her off-white plumage.

We observed the cotingas for quite a long time, and it was a good thing we did as a Black Guan flew into the same tree a few feet from where the cotingas were perched. It sat in the middle of a large bromeliad and we turned to scope it before it flew off a couple minutes later.

Satisfied with our long and physical trek to Silent Mountain, we turned back as the clouds began to creep in, making visibility in the forest very difficult and hard to bird. A couple of Costa Rican Pygmy Owl toots were heard as we descended back to our awaiting vehicle and a return to the lodge for dinner and some well needed sleep.

Sunday February 6th.
Rancho Naturalista grounds. Transport to Airport and fly out in Afternoon.
Jacamar Jubilation

It was our last day in Costa Rica, so we awoke fairly early before day break to have a small breakfast of toast and fruit before embarking on our last run through the forest of Rancho before our shuttle back to the airport at Hour="12">noon. It had rained during the night but had subsided by daybreak leaving wet grass and muddy trails. We enjoyed the feeding table and hummingbird feeders from the deck for the last time of our visit and were greeted by many of the same birds we saw the previous mornings. Several Chestnut-headed Oropendolas were calling at the platform. The same 3 Collared Aracaris’ we saw before and the bonus of our first Rufous-winged Woodpecker of the trip all showed well.

With breakfast over, Tracey and I began our walk up the main trail, stopping at the beginning to watch a nice mixed flock of birds move through which contained Plain Xenops, Bay-headed Tanager, Tawny-crowned Greenlet, a Tawny-chested Flycatcher and White-breasted Wood- Wren. We also paused at the hummingbird feeders in the woods for looks at the Violet-crowned Woodnymphs and White-necked Jacobins before proceeding farther along in the hope of finding some fruiting trees.

We found a nice tree full of fruit and quickly spotted a Collared Trogon among the many Clay-colored Robins. It was a female and she was taking her time gathering the fruit for herself. A Yellow-bellied Elaenia was also enjoying the berries in amongst the other birds. A mixed flock began to move through the tree tops mainly consisting of Chestnut- sided and Tennessee Warblers, but Tracey quickly spotted a lone Yellow-throated Vireo, our first of the trip. Farther along the trail we found another fruiting tree with pretty much the same birds, plus a Gray Catbird that one of the Lodge guides had first found the day before. On the way back up the trail, we were distracted by a White-collared Manakin sitting motionless in a tree calling out once in a while.

As we were watching the manakin, the loud buzz of a displaying hummingbird caught our attention. We found where the noise was coming from and found it to be a displaying male Green Thorntail doing small semi circles, tail cocked outward in front of a female. He did this for about 20 seconds before the female took off with the male in hot pursuit before she landed on a nearby branch and the pair proceeded to copulate.

We walked back towards the hummingbird feeders to take another one of the rancho trails when we ran into a group of lodge guest who were being guided by Steven and Jason. Jason broke off from the group and accompanied us up the hill to the horse pastures where we quickly started seeing many more species of birds in the more open area. Near the gate to the pastures we encountered a nice group of birds. Several Sulphur-rumped Flycatchers and a Slaty-capped Flycatcher were showing themselves well along with an unusually showy Stripe-breasted Wren, Scale-crested Pygmy-Tyrants were calling loudly in the nearby woods and our first and only Broad-billed Motmot appeared in a tree near the path.

In a clearing we encountered a pair of Collared Trogons feeding out in the open. Also we had several Crimson-collared Tanagers and Passerini’s Tanagers. A female Mourning Warbler flew to the top of a low bush as we flushed a group of Variable Seedeaters and Yellow-faced Grassquits.

We took another trail up a bit in elevation into thicker rainforest and started hearing this unusually loud call. We looked and looked until Tracey finally spotted what was making the big noise. We were blown away to find out that a male Green Hermit perched low in the understory was doing his leking call. Sure enough there were others calling around in the same vicinity. Never had we seen a lek of hummingbirds before, quite the sight. Around the bend we came across a male Dusky Antbird flying through the foliage, along with a couple of Golden-crowned Warblers. Farther up the trail we found the start of an Army Ant swarm as they trooped through the forest along the trail. We waited at a clearing for a minute and amazingly a pair of Immaculate Antbirds came out into the open, and to top this off, a pair of beautiful Spotted Antbirds also made an appearance, although brief.

It was getting towards noon so we began our descent back to the main trail. On the way down, we heard the calls of Rufous-tailed Jacamar, and finally saw a bird perched in the open. Then another one landed alongside the first with a large insect in its beak. We watched this pair for a while and obtained some nice video footage before our last stop at the hummingbird feeders in the woods.

We sat there for a while taking in the brilliant Jacobins, Wood-nymphs and Hermits. A few Green-crowned Brilliants appeared, and to top it off several gaudy male Snowcaps appeared as if to see us off with a bang. It was now 12 Noon and our car had arrived to take us back to the airport, complete with a boxed lunch to go. What a spectacular first visit to this great country, we are sure to go back again!

Species Lists

1. Little Tinamou
2. Black-bellied Whistling-Duck
3. Muscovy
4. Blue-winged Teal
5. Gray-headed Chachalaca
6. Crested Guan
7. Black Guan
8. Least Grebe
9. Brown Pelican
10. Neotropic Cormorant
11. Anhinga
12. Magnificent Frigatebird
13. Great Blue Heron
14. Great Egret
15. Snowy Egret
16. Little Blue Heron
17. Tricolored Heron
18. Cattle Egret
19. Green Heron
20. Yellow-crowned Night-Heron
21. Boat-billed Heron
22. White Ibis
23. Roseate Spoonbill
24. Wood Stork
25. Black Vulture
26. Turkey Vulture
27. King Vulture
28. Osprey
29. Plumbeous Kite
30. Cooper's Hawk
31. Crane Hawk
32. Barred Hawk
33. White Hawk
34. Gray Hawk
35. Mangrove Black-Hawk
36. Roadside Hawk
37. Broad-winged Hawk
38. Short-tailed Hawk
39. Zone-tailed Hawk
40. Red-tailed Hawk
41. Barred Forest Falcon
42. Collared Forest Falcon
43. Crested Caracara
44. Yellow-headed Caracara
45. Bat Falcon
46. Purple Gallinule
47. Black-bellied Plover
48. Semipalmated Plover
49. Killdeer
50. Black-necked Stilt
51. Northern Jacana
52. Greater Yellowlegs
53. Willet
54. Spotted Sandpiper
55. Whimbrel
56. Ruddy Turnstone
57. Sanderling
58. Semipalmated Sandpiper
59. Western Sandpiper
60. Least Sandpiper
61. Short-billed Dowitcher
62. Laughing Gull
63. Royal Tern
64. Black Skimmer
65. Rock Pigeon
66. Red-billed Pigeon
67. Ruddy Pigeon
68. Short-billed Pigeon
69. White-winged Dove
70. Inca Dove
71. Common Ground-Dove
72. Ruddy Ground-Dove
73. White-tipped Dove
74. Gray- chested Dove
75. Ruddy Quail-Dove
76. Sulphur-winged Parakeet
77. Orange-fronted Parakeet
78. Scarlet Macaw
79. Orange-chinned Parakeet
80. White-crowned Parrot
81. White-fronted Parrot
82. Red- lored Parrot
83. Mealy Parrot
84. Yellow- naped Parrot
85. Squirrel Cuckoo
86. Groove-billed Ani
87. Costa Rican Pygmy-Owl
88. Ferrugionous Pygmy-Owl
89. Black-and-white Owl
90. Short-tailed Nighthawk
91. Lesser Nighthawk
92. Common Pauraque
93. Chuck-wills-widow
94. White-collared Swift
95. Band- rumped Swift
96. Western Long-tailed Hermit
97. Green Hermit
98. Stripe-throated Hermit
99. Green-fronted Lancebill
100. Scaly-breasted Hummingbird
101. Violet Sabrewing
102. White-necked Jacobin
103. Brown Violet-ear
104. Green-breasted Mango
105. Green Thorntail
106. Violet-crowned Woodnymph
107. Blue-throated Goldentail
108. Mangrove Hummingbird
109. Rufous-tailed Hummingbird
110. Black-bellied Hummingbird
111. Snowcap
112. White-bellied Mountain-gem
113. Purple-throated Mountain-gem
114. Gray-tailed Mountain-gem
115. Green-crowned Brilliant
116. Purple-crowned Fairy
117. Black-headed Trogon
118. Baird's Trogon
119. Violaceous Trogon
120. Collared Trogon
121. Black-throated Trogon
122. Slaty-tailed Trogon
123. Blue-crowned Motmot
124. Rufous Motmot
125. Broad-billed Motmot
126. Turquoise-browed Motmot
127. Ringed Kingfisher
128. Belted Kingfisher
129. Amazon Kingfisher
130. Green Kingfisher
131. American Pygmy Kingfisher
132. White-whiskered Puffbird
133. Rufous-tailed Jacamar
134. Red-headed Barbet
135. Prong-billed Barbet
136. Blue-throated (Emerald) Toucanet
137. Collared Aracari
138. Fiery-billed Aracari
139. Keel-billed Toucan
140. Black-cheeked Woodpecker
141. Hoffmann's Woodpecker
142. Yellow-bellied Sapsucker
143. Rufous-winged Woodpecker
144. Golden-olive Woodpecker
145. Lineated Woodpecker
146. Pale-billed Woodpecker
147. Red-faced Spinetail
148. Spotted Barbtail
149. Lineated Foliage-gleaner
150. Buff-fronted Foliage-gleaner
151. Buff-throated Foliage-gleaner
152. Plain Xenops
153. Steaked Xenops
154. Tawny-winged Woodcreeper
155. Olivaceous Woodcreeper
156. Wedge-billed Woodcreeper
157. Cocoa Woodcreeper
158. Spotted Woodcreeper
159. Streak-headed Woodcreeper
160. Great Antshrike
161. Barred Antshrike
162. Black-hooded Antshrike
163. Plain Antvireo
164. Slaty Antwren
165. Dusky Antbird
166. Chesntut-backed Antbird
167. Dull-mantled Antbird
168. Immaculate Antbird
169. Spotted Antbird
170. Silvery-fronted Tapaculo
171. Greenish Elaenia
172. Yellow-bellied Elaenia
173. Ochre-bellied Flycatcher
174. Slaty-capped Flycatcher
175. Zeledon's Tyrannulet
176. Paltry Tyrannulet
177. Northern Scrub Flycatcher
178. Scale-crested Pygmy-Tyrant
179. Northern Bentbill
180. Slate-headed Tody-Tyrant
181. Common Tody-Flycatcher
182. Eye-ringed Flatbill
183. Yellow-olive Flycatcher
183. Sulphur-rumped Flycatcher
184. Tawny- chested Flycatcher
186. Tufted Flycatcher
187. Dark Pewee
188. Tropical Pewee
189. Yellow-bellied Flycatcher
190. Yellowish Flycatcher
191. Black Phoebe
192. Rufous Mourner
193. Dusky-capped Flycatcher
194. Panama Flycatcher
195. Great Crested Flycatcher
196. Great Kiskadee
197. Boat-billed Flycatcher
198. Social Flycatcher
199. Gray-capped Flycatcher
200. Golden-bellied Flycatcher
201. Streaked Flycatcher
202. Tropical Kingbird
203. Cinnamon Becard
204. White-winged Becard
205. Rose-throated Becard
206. Masked Tityra
207. Black-crowned Tityra
208. Lovely Cotinga
209. Three- wattled Bellbird
210. White-collared Manakin
211. Orange-collared Manakin
212. Blue-crowned Manakin
213. Red-capped Manakin
214. Mangrove Vireo
215. Yellow-throated Vireo
216. Brown-capped Vireo
217. Philadelphia Vireo
218. Tawny-crowned Greenlet
219. Lesser Greenlet
220. Rufous-browed Peppershrike
221. White-throated Magpie-Jay
222. Brown Jay
223. Mangrove Swallow
224. Blue-and-white Swallow
225. Northern Rough-winged Swallow
226. Southern Rough-winged Swallow
227. Barn Swallow
228. Band-backed Wren
229. Rufous-naped Wren
230. Black-throated Wren
231. Black-bellied Wren
232. Bay Wren
233. Riverside Wren
234. Stripe-breasted Wren
235. Rufous-breasted Wren
236. Rufous-and White Wren
237. (Southern) House Wren
238. Ochraceous Wren
239. White-breasted Wood-Wren
240. Gray-breasted Wood-Wren
241. Southern (Whistling) Nightingale-Wren
242. American Dipper
243. Long-billed Gnatwren
244. Tropical Gnatcatcher
245. Black-faced Solitaire
246. Slaty-backed Nightingale-Thrush
247. Black-headed Nightingale-Thrush
248. Swainson's Thrush
249. Wood Thrush
250. Clay-colored Robin
251. Gray Catbird
252. Golden-winged Warbler
253. Tennessee Warbler
254. Tropical Parula
255. Yellow Warbler
256. Mangrove (Yellow) Warbler
257. Chestnut-sided Warbler
258. Blackburnian Warbler
259. Bay-breasted Warbler
260. Black-and-white Warbler
261. American Redstart
262. Prothonotary Warbler
263. Northern Waterthrush<
264. Louisiana Waterthrush
265. Mourning Warbler
266. Olive-crowned Yellowthroat
267. Wilson's Warbler
268. Slate-throated Whitestart
269. Golden-crowned Warbler
270. Chestnut (Rufous)-capped Warbler
271. Buff- rumped Warbler
272. Bananaquit
273. Common Bush-Tanager
274. Gray-headed Tanager
275. White-shouldered Tanager
276. White-lined Tanager
277. Summer Tanager
278. White-winged Tanager
279. Crimson-collared Tanager
280. Passerini's Tanager
281. Cherrie's Tanager
282. Blue-gray Tanager
283. Palm Tanager
284. Silver-throated Tanager
285. Bay-headed Tanager
286. Golden-hooded Tanager
287. Spangle-cheeked Tanager
288. Scarlet- thighed Dacnis
289. Red-legged Honeycreeper
290. Blue-black Grassquit
291. Variable Seedeater
292. Yellow-faced Grassquit
293. Sooty-faced Finch
294. White- naped Brush-finch
295. Orange-billed Sparrow
296. Stripe-headed Sparrow
297. Rufous-collared Sparrow
298. Buff-throated Saltator
299. Black-headed Saltator
300. Black- thighed Grosbeak
301. Blue-black Grosbeak
302. Painted Bunting
303. Red-winged Blackbird
304. Melodious Blackbird
305. Great-tailed Grackle
306. Bronzed Cowbird
307. Orchard Oriole
308. Baltimore Oriole
309. Yellow-billed Cacique
310. Scarlet- rumped Cacique
311. Chestnut-headed Oropendola
312. Montezuma Oropendola
313. Scrub Euphonia
314. Yellow-crowned Euphonia
315. Yellow-throated Euphonia
316. Tawny-capped Euphonia
317. Golden-browed Chlorophonia
318. House Sparrow