This was my third trip to CR, the first being 27 years ago as a backpacker, and the most recent - 14 years ago in a vain attempt to learn to surf. So apart from one day guided birding in Monteverde when I was still thin and good looking, most of these birds would be new to me. The main target was both the trogons still missing from my checklist – Lattice-tailed and Bairds as well as the crake from the header, as who does not like all things “ocellated”.
As the actual trip was focussing on the South, I flew out for 4 nights before hand to try to nail the harder of the trogons. Let’s go!
27/2 – San Jose to Brauillo Carillo
A late arrival despite a direct BA from Gatwick, and coupled with Avis not actually being near the airport, means we set off in the dark to find Tapirus Lodge by the Brauillo Carillo National Park. The road was hell, due to it being the main route to Limon and thus full of trucks heading to the port. Tapirus had no signage on the roadside that could be seen and a heavy chain ran across what should have been the road to the lodge.
Frustrating – but we made it there by 8.30 pm to find a deserted “hotel”, no food available and a fridge full of beer as heavily chained and padlocked as the entrance was. Not a good start. But with ingenuity, a large stick and threats of ram-raiding said fridge, a night-watchman helped me rescue 6 of the imprisoned Imperials. The rest of the night was spent planning for the big day tomorrow with a large tarantula a few feet from my head in the room’s eaves. I braved it out.
28/2 – Brauillo Carillo NP
Today was going to be my lattice-tailed day. For the last 4 months I had been liaising with a local guide called Cope for his help. He was due to meet me at 7 a.m at the Lodge, but having been up and around since 05:30 in eager anticipation and a coffee-hunt, there is no sign of him. A text arrives later with a map. It transpires Cope has forgotten to tell me he has no car and can’t even drive. I eventually get to his place at 09:30. A total clustermess of a trip start.
His garden is pretty good though, a small pond with a myriad of good birds. Best is the White-tipped Sicklebill at point blank. I drove him to the “spot” for the trogon, and we hike up to the “BC ridge”. It’s a steep up, then when you hit the ridge you basically look for freshly fallen fruit the trogon likes and listen out for it. It is fairly taped out in this area, so you are best off looking for a large bird flying in the sub-canopy. We lucked out here and again at the other half of the park below the road, but at least I knew where to come back to later.
On the way to drop Cope back he called by some closed gates – within here lay an ex-butterfly garden being converted to a hummer garden. It wasn’t open yet, but with his coercive calls- the owner let us in quickly. BLACK-CRESTED COQUETTE posed immediately by us. At last, a lifer. [They are all in CAPS by the way]. Back to the lodge to check on Mrs non-Birdy Eden and whether the tarantula had made it into the room after I had left the door ajar. She was in the dining room, with coffee and at last the Lodge had some staff around the place. The manager was shocked to hear of the lack of dinner and available caffeine that morning and kindly gave us a 10% discount later for the Rainforest Aerial Tram. It still cost 50 bucks for the round trip – but it was worth it. You are allowed out at the top of the circuit, but only with a lodge guide. The guy who has been standing all day at Pillar 14 has only gone and staked out a BARE-NECKED UMBRELLABIRD as well as Yellow-eared Toucanet. Apparently the umbrellabirds are common around this lodge and even come down to the main car park quite often. We had a reasonable dinner there before it all shut down at 8pm once again. Slaty-breasted Tinamous called frustratingly close outside my room for an hour or so, before I resumed acquaintance with the tarantula, now with a name – Stevo.
29/2 – La Selva and BC ridge.
I had figured that la Selva was an easy drive from Tapirus Lodge before the trip, but found their website so confusing that I had not booked anything. But the Tapirus boss, increasingly pitiful of me, had arranged a 6am guide there for me. It’s $102 for the 2 hour “early-birding” session. “You must not be late – 5.45, Sir”. I got there so ridiculously early that the gateman at Selva assumed I was drunk and lost from a local bar. At 6 my guide shows and we spent the first hour waiting in the car park there for the cotinga. No luck – so into the main grounds where he gets me WHITE-COLLARED MANNAKIN, WHITE-RINGED FLYCATCHER and SEMIPLUMBEOUS HAWK in our remaining 45 minutes. [15 were spend with my caffeine needs, and his toilet needs].
At 8am the show was over and having paid, I was allowed a degree of freedom to wander the grounds. Still no cotingas, but a BLACK-FACED GROSBEAK and from my guide’s description outside of La Selva [take a left on exit, past the heart of palm plantation then right to a big tree stand with an Oropendola colony] I got onto 2 perched in the sunlight GREAT GREEN MACAWS. Amazing colours and behaviour.
Back to Tapirus to persuade A to come with me to BC ridge. Her mistake to trust me as it poured down all afternoon, a royal soaking with no bird activity at all. The tinamous were calling again at dusk, but remained unseen.
1/3 – La Selva to La Fortuna
We left Tapirus at 5.30 am, helped by my false claim that Stevo was now in the room to hit on the La Selva carpark for Cotingawatch. Security seemed OK with this, but got a bit twitchy when A used the toilet and came back with a coffee. At last, after an hour a SNOWY COTINGA hit the big tree, my luck as it flew across my binocular field and perched whilst I was looking at tityras. A female only, but that would have to do.
We left for La Fortuna.
It’s a short drive, like 2 hours and we arrived at the Lost Iguanos resort beyond the Arenal Dam bridge way before check in time.
I found a very helpful blog with Fortuna’s best birding sites and called one of them up – a voice told me that the rare crake appeared at 3.30 most afternoons.
Impatient I got to the “Bogarin Trail” right in town 2 hours before this time. It’s a small privately owned piece of forest, with a few intersecting trails, normally catering for tourists who want to see toucans and monkeys. The girl at the desk was surprised to hear of the 3.30 crake time and told me I had to be back at 6am the next day for any chances of it. Before I could even start swearing properly about the misinformation – a voice said – “It is there, other side of the pond”. I told the guy he was mistaken, it was a Gray-necked Wood-Rail, he answered “No, after that”. And there skulked the UNIFORM CRAKE – at totally the wrong time of day, and even before I had paid my 10 bucks entry fee. The good eyes belonged to Don Giovanni the owner of the forest. I paid, did a couple of trails, but the tourists whooping at sights of snakes and honeycreepers put pay to anything new.
2/3 – Fortuna – Cataratas del Toro – San Jose
A swing by the Bogarin Trail at about 9ish nailed a KEEL-BILLED MOTMOT, perched with a Rufous cousin, so we left Dodge quickly to get up to some highlands at the Cataratas as there were 2 new hummers waiting. This place is newly set up by a Dutchman and his Tico wife – a really nice venue with a mass of vervain, good food and a few feeders. There is an open garden area a short walk through some forest. The newbie hummers were elusive but a SOOTY-FACED FINCH appeared right by the restaurant. We set a 2pm latest departure, but sadly neither hummer ever came in amongst the several commoner species.
The road from here to San Jose was rural, not on the sat-nav and foggy. But we eventually arrived at the Robledal Hotel near SJ Airport with enough time to dump the car back at Avis – with no damage, and get a lift back to await the start of the tour official the next morning.
3/3 – Melvin arrives – Rancho Naturalista
A and I are staring into tureens of rice, eggs and bacon at 6am when a young, good-looking guy rocks up with a top end Swarovski scope, ED binoculars and a charming smile. “Are you Jules?” he asks. I answer to the affirmative shooting rice grains at him from a full mouth. He says he has been here an hour already checking the hotel garden as an amigo of his once saw a rare warbler here a month ago. To tell the truth, I had not bothered looking in the garden as the runway ends so close to it and who ever sees anything good that close to a flight path. He dragged me there anyways and in the time it took before my coffee even got cold at the table, we had 3 newbies – SPOT-BREASTED ORIOLE, YELLOW AND GREEN VIREO and CRIMSON-FRONTED PARAKEET. Amongst the Yellow warblers, Grayish Saltators, Cinnamon Hummer and Red-billed Pigeon, that was an unexpected triple-tick, pre-breakfast whammy. Melvin was clearly going to be good.
He is a driver guide, which saves on cost – so after some sat-navving we hit the road through SJ to get to Rancho Naturalista.
This is a “must-stay” birding lodge. Set up many years ago by Erb and family, he swapped a bunch of land in Arkansas for this smaller plot but with a house. It extends through elevation and is set up for birder groups of all abilities. Wifi works in the common areas, and there are feeders bringing in Gartered trogons, motmots and a host of new hummers including SNOWCAPS. We went up a higher trail to get YELLOW-BELLIED FLYCATCHER and a DULL-MANTLED ANTBIRD whilst staking out a no-show leaftosser at some pools in the forest. All the food is home grown, wonderfully cooked and you share tables with all guides, guests, staff and owners each meal. A great atmosphere.
4/3 – Rancho Naturalista
There’s a new cotinga in town – for the last few days Harry, the resident birding honcho has found a fruiting tree down from the Rancho where it feeds at first light, just a few minutes away, and we nailed it immediately – LOVELEY COTINGA. Before breakfast as well. The rest of the day was spend on the closer trails, as I had 2 wren shaped holes in my target list – we got them in the end, despite my forever being leaf blocked or a tiny focus turn too late. Mel was very patient – I so did not want our first full day to end up by me being the “client from Hell”. BLACK-THROATED WREN, by the bridge outside of Erb’s house, and STRIPE-BREASTED WREN up on the Quail Trail. Or perhaps the No-quail Trail after 8 sweeps at all times of the day.
We finished off with the TAWNY-CHESTED FLYCATCHER, right outside of my room , which has now become the must-see bird for Rancho.
5/3 – VOLCAN IRAZU – RIO PERLAS HOTEL
There’s no point going way high on this volcano, so most people find a parking spot by the Irazu Museum and bird a trail through some open fields and then into a bamboo lined area next to a stream. It was extremely birdy and the newbies came thick and quick. BLACK-CAPPED FLYCATCHER and LONG-TAILED SILKY FLYCATCHER shared the same field. Mixed flocks above of 5 species of American warbler – our first SOOTY THRUSH. Mel’s super-vision picks out a lump in the bamboo – it’s a roosting BARE-SHANKED SCREECH OWL. FLAME-THROATED WARBLER and Irazu sp VOLCANO HUMMER round the next bend. This is total heaven for a birder – new sp’s around every corner. Mel manages to coax out a pair [one of each morph] of COSTA RICA PYGMY OWL, and has them scoped. This was my 5999 bird – what would be the 6K? – rather disappointingly a BLACK-BILLED NIGHTINGALE THRUSH. Shame it wasn’t a ZELEDONIA, but that came next with the LARGE-FOOTED FINCH. Wow, this wasn’t just a “roll” we were on – it was a gold covered massive bloomer of bread and birding metaphors.
It finished, though I say this humbly, with my idea to fish for a SPOT-CROWNED WOODCREEPER. 2 came to the call. We found A in the restaurant by the museum and got her on to an incredibly showy Resplendant Quetzal.
We headed off to Rio Perlas Hotel – a full on spa resort to get a thermal bath and buzz with birdy-adrenaline from the morning.
6/3 – RIO PERLAS – TAPANTI NP and QUELITALES LODGE
A was happy, she had more massages and treatments booked than an NFL team at half time in Wisconsin. We hit up to the park, but once again, and this is my only complaint about Costa Rica – it does not open until 8.30 am.
Such a pain for birder, or really anyone with a liking for nature as it is really 2 hours too late every morning. All the private reserves are open at 6am, but National ones? Nope – the rangers need their lie-ins.
So we birded the road right by the gates and pulled out a few common tanagers – White-winged, Speckled and a Spotted Barbtail, then drove the 20 minutes back to Perlas. The joy of private guiding is that we can be flexible – Mel’s attribute is he is in constant contact with all his twitcher pals in CR as well as getting all the e-bird feeds. He suggested we go back to Tapanti and not what was in his schedule for me as he reckoned on a higher chance for a couple of targets. Great call – we hit 5 new birds in as many minutes in a stretch of road about 2 km from the entry gate – PRONG-BILLED BARBET answered a call, followed by BLACK-BELLIED HUMMER, GOLDEN-BELLIED FLYCATCHERS, a DARK PEWEE and finally SILVERY-FRONTED TAPACULO – good to get that out of the way – as the T word just brings heart-sink and frustration to me normally.
We headed off to Quelitales Lodge, a 25 minute drive around the north side of the park – and dear birder – if you are serious about your past-time and are not with a non-birder, this is a better option to stay than the spa we were at. The grounds are way better, the food way better and the owner/chef really helpful. By the waterfall the last missing hummer from Cataratas del Toro – WHITE-BELLIED MOUNTAIN –GEM and our first SCINTILLANT HUMMER, as well as a full on male Black-breasted hummer before the evil Violetears came in for the attack.
7/3 – CASA DOWII – PARADAISO QUETZALES – SAVEGRE MOUNTAIN LODGE
One of Mel’s contacts is Sergio – he runs Birding Hotspots in CR and has some property on the way to the mountains. He wasn’t officially open yet but allowed us to come in and stake out his new feeders that pull in 2 great birds. They don’t have a set pattern yet and so can take an hour or 8 hours – you need your four leafed clover at hand. We did and BUFF-FRONTED QUAIL-DOVE and BUFF-CROWNED WOOD-PARTRIDGE showed within 2 hours, with a SLATY FLOWERPIERCER in their buffy sandwich. The wait is fun though – comfy sofas, unlimited coffee and Sergio has a great sense of humour and is quite chatty.
Lunch was at Paradaiso Quetzales Lodge with its famous hummer feeders adorned with FIERY-THROATED HUMMER, TALAMANCA HUMMER and a few Talamanca sp Volcano Hummers. We got to the Savegre Lodge with light enough to get RUDDY-CAPPED NIGHTINGALE-THRUSH as well as SPOTTED WOOD-QUAILS in the forest behind reception. This is a proper lodge, full of bird groups, photographers and general tourists – they come for quetzal views, which are a plenty – but we had tougher targets.
Night birding was screwed by the howling wind above the lodge – we did hear 2 Dusky Nightjars but they stayed put up the hill somewhere. No sign of the Saw-whets though.
8/3 – SAVEGRE MOUNTAIN LODGE
Since Mel’s last visit, the lodge has reduced the feeders but created a photo-heaven feeder zone the other side of the valley. It’s an extra 20 bucks and run by the son of the lodge founder.
It’s worth every cent – an amazing set up, perfect for all you ‘toggers. The best place to get GRAY-TAILED MOUNTAIN-GEM as well as circling SULPHUR-WINGED PARAKEETS, a local delicacy. Mel heard the distinctive call of the chlorophonia here, but the little bugger flew right up the mountain-side. He was not deterred and after a mad rush up the slope with me in wheezy pursuit, he managed to pish down to eye level a GOLDEN-BROWED CHLOROPHONIA. A spectacular species – there is something about its colour combination that really embiggens the soul.
A YELLOWISH FLYCATCHER by the river was the icing on our breakfast croissant.
The best trail for mountain forest goodies here is the Los Robles trail – drive as high as you can and it’s still a 2km steepish uphill to get to the zone. The activity is pretty good, with several mixed locks, our first with STREAK-BREASTED TREEHUNTER and YELLOW-WINGED VIREO, but the Jays we wanted were silent. The walk down after an hour or so threw up an OCHRACEOUS PEWEE, and a side trail on the drive down gave us the much needed BLACK-CHEEKED WARBLER. Lunchtime – best get A out of yet another massage.
That side trail was birdy, so we hit it again, especially as Mel was sure he had heard a distant target. So with time to spare , we played, pished and coaxed to finally get the BUFFY TUFTEDCHEEK into view. That was it for daytime. Plenty to play for at night.
Mel had called around, pulled a few favours and finally got hold of as local who had not 1, not 2, but 29 spots for the Saw-whet owl. We teed him up with agreed fees and waited for the when and where call. Sadly “when” was never – “where” was go back to the hotel – the wind was now accompanied with fog and rain. It was a write-off. Such is nature though. Maybe next time.
9/3 – CERRO del MUERTE – La GEORGINA – BOSQUE del TOLOMUCA – BUENOS ARIES – WILSONS BOTANICAL GARDENS
I shall always call this Mel’s Day – as such was his bird guiding excellence, that frankly it was incomparable.
We hit on the Cerro to pull out the 3 specials there – TIMBERLINE WREN, VOLCANO JUNCO and PEG-BILLED FINCH. Easy
But then on the way down the slope to the Pacific, he pulled in to a track off the road where once he had seen the jay. The normal areas were quiet, and we both looked down a side trail off the track and agreed to give it a go. Within a hundred metres he realised it was perfect habitat and SILVER-THROATED JAY came in to call. Awesome. There were Blue Seedeaters there too but it all was a bit crazy with their calls going one way and more jays going the other. A great spot. To be kept secret!
Further down the Pac slope is a great place for hummers, owned by 2 Canadians. Bosque del Tolomuca is a lodge with a pool which comically a few years ago, one of Mel’s clients - a Chinese photographer fell into with his $10k camera. The vervain there quickly attracted WHITE-CRESTED COQUETTE and WHITE-TAILED EMERALD so we headed off to allow the owners to come out as they assumed our European-ness to equal coronavirus. I also assume on that note that with previous events, they had put more chlorine in the pool than you find on an American chicken.
So now to business. An hour away is Buenos Aries. No, not that one, a sleepy pineapple producing town that Del Monte seems to own. This is the Crake Tour after all.
The crake was found by a birder pal of Mel. He was an electrician working on the pylons going up the mountain. Whilst up a pole he heard something crakey – recorded it and the birding Illuminati of CR recognised its call and had now seen it to playback. That has been over the last few months. I was the first gringo to go up and check it out. The road is poor, but way better than Africa or Santa Marta – the wind equal to the owl-stopping night before, but we gave it a go. Efforts 1 and 2 drew only blood from my entanglement in rusty barbed wire. Effort 3 drew a closer call, but hard to be sure with the gale. Mel made a grass tunnel and stuck the speaker in. I went SAS and lay flat in the cow cakes and focused on the back of the tunnel. RESULT. These birds never come in to the hole but hold their position behind the gap. So with a grassy view I was Gringo No1, or at least the first birder from Battersea to get the OCELLATED CRAKE in CR. We headed quickly to Las Cruces to get to our rooms at Wilsons Botanical Gardens. Fortunately I had managed to get a flatpack of beer before we got there - for the Crake Party. Wilsons sell no alcohol because of the presence of students there. A very different story to my college days.
10/3 – LAS CRUCES [WBG] MY BIRTHDAY
Most visitors bird the grounds here in the hope of coquettes, but thanks to Mel’s knowledge the day before we had no need. A few k’s drive away from the Gardens is a track called Cerro Paraguas. In his words, it should be bought, lodged and birded as so good is the forest here. It hangs by a thread as local farmer owners cut slowly into it for more pasture. COSTA RICA BRUSHFINCH came to call immediately by the roadside. The same for the split CHIRIQUI FOLIAGE GLEANER and the confusing Blue-throated Toucanet. Since that species went 5 ways I am still not sure I have seen the Emerald nominate. Mel thought this was it, but I reckon its nearer Mexico. We spent the rest of the early morning trying to get one target left. And behold – a quick and rubbish view of ELEGANT EUPHONIA. Usual story – when you need them they show like this, when you don’t they perch on your balcony and sip gin and tonic with you.
Back for student brekky – we were told that if we were after 7.30am the youngsters would have stripped the buffet cleaner than vultures on the Serengeti. There was bacon and watermelon left and delicious that was too. Note to Michelin chefs – wrap bacon around the melon and call it “Devils on Fruitback”, your next star is on its way.
A slow walk around the myriad of trails, sub-trails and dead ends resulted with a GRAY-CHESTED DOVE. There are maps but confusing here, so we headed back to Cerro Paraguas after lunch to get a troupe of FEIRY-BILLED ARACARIS.
My birthday evening was spent with A watching Detective Pikachu on her laptop and me studying the lowland Pacific birds of CR.
11/3 – LAS CRUCES – GOLFITO – ESQUINAS RAINFOREST LODGE
An early meander through the grounds gets a COSTA RICA WARBLER from the tower plus Blue-crowned Manakin, then on to the Pacific lowlands. The rice fields at Ciudad Neily are not ready, still ploughing, so no crakes but just an Isthmian Wren.
We head towards Esquinas but via Golfito to list-pad a few waders and get some circling COSTA RICA SWIFTS.
Esquinas RF is quite amazing. Owned by an Austrian violinist, but run by a great team of locals, the chalets are wooden and fan cooled. There’s a pool and 5 or so trails to get deep in to the forest there. The food is 4 star and a set menu for each meal. Wifi good in the common areas, but not in the rooms. We had 3 nights here.
A few minutes from the lodge was the Bird Trail, a simple flat loop anyone can do. We had BAND-TAILED BARBTHROAT easily, TAWNY-WINGED WOODCREEPER as a walk away and RIVERSIDE WREN too. Mel got onto a rather skulky SPOT-CROWNED EUPHONIA and we scoped it high up behind leaves. [Note to CR euphonias – show yourselves or no-one will bother anymore and you will be trapped and sold by unscrupulous traders]
There is one bird on the trip, I knew I would get. It was so important that the deal was that we stayed until I died to get it. Or I would shoot Mel. Whichever was quicker. I think his sweat and palpitations were from the heat however, not my 28 years of pain of missing this bird. Mel’s huge sigh of relief preluded the BAIRDS TROGON in the scope. OMG – as the first Lord of the Admiralty said to Churchill in 1939 – I went beserk. All violet bluey and red. Where’s the nearest tattoo parlour. Still buzzing Mel only goes and scopes a TURQUOISE COTINGA from the car park, both sexes. My birthday presents. Better than socks. Oh, there was a BRONZY HERMIT right by the cleverly placed smoking area to end the day.
12/3 – RINCON BRIDGE, OSA PENINSULA
This is Mel’s home turf. He’s an Osa-Homie. We switch days to make sure we hit Rincon on time and have a spare day in case of a disaster. But no, Rincon Bridge is the spot for YELLOW-BILLED COTINGA. A female early doors then several males later in flight and one perched and scoped. There are a few Scarlet Macaws around the bridge with the usual herons and egrets.
We move on for a Soda brekker. [BTW – a soda in CR is a cheap diner, but the food is the best with shared tables and a good ambiance. Never turn down the opportunity.]
We are aiming for the Corcovado NP, where Mel has his day job, but swing by some grasslands first and get a MORELET’S SEEDEATER on the way. So to Ecotouristica La Tarde, Corcovado. A long name for a lot a forest hill trails and a proper sweaty walk. After a long shlep we get high enough for TAWNY-CROWNED GREENLET, a miss for me many times before, and likewise another Amazon critter missed but gettable here – GOLDEN-CROWNED SPADEBILL.
Mel’s spot for another target was impossible as some idiot had decided to strim some grass for an hour. We waited patiently until the din had subsided then went for it. ORANGE-COLLARED MANAKIN eventually came despite my ability to keep looking at the wrong tree, wrong branch and then be positioned behind the biggest cecropia leaf in town. Frustrating.
We swung by Puerto Jimenez for lunch. Now in my addled older view of life – if there is a nicer place to hang out, live and chill for the rest of your life then show it to me. Mystical elegance. The plots are 50k US and you get a lifestyle far removed from a locked down London as I write this.
Next up , some awesome birdage. Melster used to have a rental her where a hummer would sit on a tree over the road and feed of the vervain by the front door. His neighbours dug up said plant so they could park their car. As we drove through town, he saw some roadside vervain and unconsciously looked the other way to see if the same were true here. Oh yes. MANGROVE HUMMINGBIRD, centre of this sweet town. In the bag.
13/3 – ESQUINAS RF
An early session to get the BLACK-CHEEKED ANT-TANAGER at the lodge. A proper CR endemic and common here. The Waterfall Trail also gave up a NORTHERN BENTBILL as well as a surprise RUFOUS-WINGED WOODPECKER.
At breakfast I heard a non-birder talking loudly about her morning’s sightings. Between frog and a bee nest I heard her say the words “flycatcher” and “royal”. I asked the in-house guide if this were true, and yes, there was a nest down the road. Surprisingly he had failed to mention this before when Mel and I had asked what was around, he said “I didn’t know you wanted to see this bird”. It’s a bit like the guide in the Louvre pointing people to a shabby old Cezanne when the Mona Lisa is 10 metres the other way. Muppet.
We eventually got onto it, despite bad directions – NORTHERN ROYAL FLYCATCHER preening with a half-up crest.
14/3 ESQUINAS – CARARA NP
Up and attem, 1 target left for the lodge. And boy this was tough. 3 trails, back and forth a whistlin’ and a playin’. Then the right place right time – YELLOW-BELLIED TYRANNULET showed. In fact 2 birds fighting over a moth. We were done here – time to get to Carara.
It’s a short drive but most of the targets were actually not in the famous park. They were in the dry lands just north. We hit a triple whammy of OLIVE SPARROW, SCALY-BREASTED HUMMER and YELLOW-NAPED PARROT on a track near the celebrated Croc Bridge. That was enough for the day, and so back to the hotel to join A by the bar for another full house of tourist groups all with the same “unlimited alcohol” wrist-bands as I had. We won.
15/3 – CARARA NP
I had a sense of Déjà Vue – 28 years ago I had stayed here at Tarcoles Beach, before launching my pathetic attempt at a Bairds. Mel laughed before understanding the information preceded e-bird and mobiles. But it was interesting to see how it had all changed in that time. We were there for the hard to get, but gottit – MANGROVE VIREO, the pallidus ssp. One left to go.
And for a wren that is common up country here, it was a big ask for him down here. But he got the road, found the habitat, made the call and out came the BANDED WREN.
All sorted. The boat trip through the mangroves became unnecessary- but we did it for A to see a croc, me to not smoke for a couple of hours and Mel to get onto some skimmers and pad a few more waders.
16/3 – SAN JOSE
As I sit and write this in Lockdown London – perhaps I regret that I ever took the flight home. Mel dropped us back in the capital where we had a day to see the sights. There were none but a Picasso exhibition at the local museum. It was sad to see him go as we were all very close after the last 2 weeks together, and my next 3 bird trips look like they will be cancelled.
I highly recommend him as a guide. His details are at the top of this report.
I will definitely be back for the Lattice-tailed and Saw-whet, virus or no damned virus.