Costa Rica, 1-10 August 2017, San Jose and Puntarenas Province, Carara National Park

Published by Brent Steury (bsteury AT cox.net)

Participants: Brent Steury, Family Summer Vacation

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1 August 2017 – We arrived at one of the friendliest airports in the Americas - San Jose, Costa Rica - and checked in to the Wyndham Herradura for one night. Birded around the pool area and from the hotel balcony which provided a nice overlook of a long row of mango trees on the north side of the hotel. The hotel had exceptional service, comfortable rooms, and an amazing breakfast buffet. The kids loved the pool and hot tub and settled right in to the tico lifestyle. Birds observed the first day included:

Number of individuals seen is indicated. C = conspicuous, difficult to miss during this season.

1) Black Vulture – C
2) Turkey Vulture - C
3) White-winged Dove – C
4) Crimson fronted Parakeet – 4, fly over
5) Cinnamon Hummingbird – 1, southern extreme of the species known range
6) Hoffman’s Woodpecker – 4
7) Great Kiskadee – C
8) Yellow-bellied Elaenia – 3
9) Masked Tityra – 1
10) Blue and White Swallow - C
11) Rufous-napped Wren – C, nesting, hatchlings in palm tree by pool
12) Clay-colored Thrush – 6
13) Blue-gray Tanager – 4
14) Rufous-collared sparrow – 1
15) Great-tailed Grackle – C

2-3 August – We left San Jose and made the one hour 20 minute drive to Villa Lapas Rainforest Eco-Resort in Tarcoles on the southwestern edge of Carara National Park. On the way we stopped on the Tarcoles Bridge to watch 17 huge American crocodiles basking on the sandbars and muddy banks of the Tarcoles River. The resort has comfortable air-conditioned rooms, a dining area, and a large swimming pool and numerous hot tubs. It is set in pristine tropical lowland rainforest. Some of the enormous trees on the resort are hundreds of years old. Large iguanas (Costa Rica has 38 species) and Plumed Basilisk lizards roam the grounds. The humming of giant cicadas and croaking of many species of frog and toad (including the green-and-black poison dart frog, which were commonly observed) lull you to sleep at night. Brightly colored butterflies (including the big blue morphos), and day flying Uraniid moths, add twinkling flitters of color to the grounds. This place is birder’s paradise. You could spend weeks here trying to tally all the species available. A trail head starts in the parking area and goes for miles up the hillside behind the resort. It includes at least four canopy walkways, a waterfall, and perfect access to foothill rainforest interior birds. I was able to glimpse the following species:

16) Spotted Sandpiper – 2, near swimming pool
17) Magnificent Frigatebird – 1, soaring overhead
18) White-tipped Dove – C
19) Ruddy Ground Dove – 2
20) Inca Dove – 4
21) Scarlet Macaw – 2
22) Squirrel Cuckoo – 2
23) White-collard Swift – 20
24) Steely-vented Hummingbird – 1
25) Rufous-tailed Hummingbird – 2
26) Stripe-throated Hermit – 2
27) Plain Xenops – 2
28) Gartered Trogon – 1
29) Lesson’s Motmot – 1
30) Rufous-tailed Jacamar – 2
31) Chestnut Mandibled Toucan – 1
Hoffman’s Woodpecker – 6
32) Cocoa Woodcreeper – 2
33) Streak-headed Woodcreeper – 1
34) Black-hooded Antshrike – 6 (male and female)
35) Barred Antshrike – 1
36) Dot-winged Antwren – 2
37) Dusky Antbird – 1 female
38) Social Flycatcher – C
39) Gray-capped Flycatcher - C
40) Yellow-olive Flycatcher - 1
Great Kiskadee – C
41) Southern Beardless Tyrannulet – 1
42) Yellow Tyrannulet - 1
43) White-winged Becard – 1
44) White-whiskered Puffbird – 1
45) Rufous Mourner – 2
Rufous-napped Wren – C
Clay-colored Thrush - C
46) Tropical Gnatcatcher – 4
47) Blue-black Grosbeak – 4
48) Buff-rumped Warbler – 2
49) Rufous-capped Warbler – 1
50) Yellow-throated Euphonia – 4
51) Cherries Tanager – 12 (male and female)
52) Golden-hooded Tanager – 2
53) White-shouldered Tanager – 6, male is subspecies with narrow white shoulder patch and
yellow crown.
54) Gray-headed Tanager - 1
Blue-gray Tanager – 8
55) Palm Tanager – 4
56) Buff-throated Saltator – 7
57) Orange-billed Sparrow – 6
58) Variable Seed-eater – 4
59) Blue-black Grassquit – 2

4-5 August – We crossed back over the crocodile bridge and in 20 minutes were at Hotel Cerro Lodge in Zarbito on the northwestern edge of Carara National Park. The lodge has tanager and macaw feeders, but the feeder are generally dominated by Clay-colored Thrush and provided only one bird species (Red-legged Honeycreeper) that was not seen elsewhere. The accommodations were comfortable and the buffet breakfast filling and delicious. The gardens around the pool were alive with butterflies. The viewing deck on the back of the dining area overlooks miles of rainforest forest canopy that stretch all the way to the Pacific. The vast vistas in front of the lodge overlook open, cattle country, and marsh lands toward the Tarcoles River. The dirt road in front of the lodge provides the only access to birding areas. A spotting scope would come in handy during a stay here.

60) Wood Stork – 1
61) Anhinaga – 2, soring high with large flock of vultures
62) Little Blue Heron – 1
63) Green Heron – 2
64) Cattle Egret – C
65) Great Egret – 1
66) Snowy Egret - 1
67) White Ibis – 4
68) Northern Jacana – 2
69) Purple Gallinule – 3
70) Black-bellied Whistling Duck – C, with chicks
Turkey Vulture – C
Black Vulture – C
71) King Vulture – 2
72) Common Black Hawk – 1
73) Roadside Hawk – 1
74) Short-tailed Hawk - 1
75) Yellow-headed Caracara – 4
76) Red-billed Pigeon - 2
White-winged Dove – 11
Inca Dove – C
77) Common Ground Dove – 4
Rufous Ground Dove – C, building nest by pool
Scarlet Macaw – C
78) Yellow-napped Amazon – C
79) Orange-chinned Parakeet – C
80) Grove-billed Ani – 12
White-collared Swift – 6
Cinnamon Hummingbird – C
Gartered Trogon – 6
81) Turquoise-browed Motmot – 1
Hoffman’s Woodpecker – C
82) Lineated Woodpecker – 1
Streak-headed Woodcreeper – 1
Great Kiskadee – C
83) Streaked Flycatcher – 2
84) Brown-crested Flycatcher – 2
85) Tropical Kingbird – 6
86) Common Tody Flycatcher – 4
87) Black-crowned Tityra – 6
Masked Tityra - 1
Rufous-napped Wren – C
88) Banded Wren – 2
Clay-colored Thrush – C
89) Yellow-green Vireo – 5
Tropical Gnatcatcher – 2
90) Red-legged Honeycreeper – C, on feeders
91) Yellow-crowned Euphonia – 2
Blue-gray Tanager - C
Palm Tanager – C
92) Stripe-headed Sparrow – 9
93) Melodious Blackbird – C
94) Red-winged Blackbird – 1

6-10 August – Back over crocodile bridge and in 40 minutes we were in Herradura at Los Suenos Beach Resort. We stayed in a small bungalow with beach access. The only hiking trails are along the resort golf course but the opposite edge is mature lowland rainforest. One trail-spur climbs to the top of a forested hill with breathtaking views of the Pacific coastline. White-nosed Coatis roamed the golf course in the evenings and Variegated Squirrels and White-throated Capuchin monkeys played in the forest trees. During an inshore fishing trip we saw a whale, three sea turtles, and amberjack and a roster fish. Nineteen bird species were found at Los Suenos that were not found at the other resorts including the Fiery-billed Aracari, endemic to Costa Rica and northern Panama.

95) Gray-necked Woodrail – 1, with many chicks
96) Grey-headed Chachalaca - 7
97) Crested Guan - 6
98) Brown Pelican – 10
99) Neotropic Cormorant - 1
Spotted Sandpiper – 4
100) Willet – 3
101) Sanderling - 4
Little Blue Heron – 1
102) Bare-throated Tiger Heron - 2
White Ibis - 2
Turkey Vulture - C
Black Vulture – C
103) Crested Caracara – 1
Yellow-headed Caracara – 2
104) Gray Hawk– 1
Red-billed Pigeon – 12
Inca Dove – 6
Scarlet Macaw – 12
105) White-fronted Parrot – 1
Orange-chinned Parakeet – C
Squirrel Cuckoo – 1
Grove-billed Ani – 9
Cinnamon Hummingbird – 2
Rufous-tailed Hummingbird - 1
106) Slate-tailed Trogon – 1
107) Amazon Kingfisher – 1
Chestnut Mandibled Toucan – 8
108) Fiery-billed Aracari – 6
109) Brown Jay - 12
Hoffman’s Woodpecker – 8
110) Pale-billed Woodpecker -1, nesting in hole in live palm tree
Streak-headed Woodcreeper – 1
Great Kiskadee – C
Social Flycatcher - C
Streaked Flycatcher – 8
111) Rose-throated Becard – 1 male, 2 female
Masked Tityra - 6
Rufous-napped Wren - C
Clay-colored Thrush – 10
Blue-black Grosbeak – 2
Blue-gray Tanager – 8
Palm Tanager - 8
Buff-throated Saltator – 1
Orange-billed Sparrow – 2
Blue-black Grassquit – 1
112) Yellow-faced Grassquit – 2
113) Montezuma Oropendola – 2
Great-tailed Grackle – C
Melodious Blackbird – 2