Categories
Birding Costa Rica Introduction

Highlights from Birding in Costa Rica, 2014

For biophiles in Costa Rica, you can’t help but be treated to avian and other highlights on a daily basis. Just spend some quality time in tropical forest, pay close attention to your surroundings, and “stuff” will appear. That said, I still have some personal birding highlights from 2014 that merit a mention. They are, in no particular order:

  • Birding around La Gamba: White-crested Coquette, Golden-naped Woodpeckers at feeders, and lifer Veraguan Mango are always a wonderful way to start the year. The birds just kept appearing at the Troppenstation and near La Gamba, I would love to go back.

    This Golden-naped Woodpecker was at the Troppenstation.
  • Updating birding apps for Panama and Costa Rica: I was pleased with this because both apps now in the iTunes store have a respectable 700 plus species, and more search functions, including searching by name. Hopefully, the Android versions will have the same updates soon.

    Striped Owl - one of the new species on each app. Image provided by Josh Beck.
  • Birding with the guys from 10,000 Birds: It rained the entire time but it was still fun to hang out with and see birds with Corey and Mike.
  • Hudsonian Godwit: Documenting the second record for Costa Rica turned it into the best bird of the year. Not to mention, this was also a memorable, 20 plus shorebird day that included Rufous-necked Wood-Rail and good times with Josh Beck, Kathi Borgmann, and Susan Blank.
  • Maroon-chested Ground-Dove: This super elusive dove treated us to a show on Irazu thanks to gen from Ernesto Carman.
  • Some other new country birds for the year: Honestly, I’m not sure if I got any lifers other than Veraguan Mango but I did pick up several new birds for my Costa Rica list including Redhead, Rufescent Tiger-Heron, Baird’s Sandpiper, Red Knot, American Avocet, Long-billed Curlew (finally…), Veery, and Yellow-breasted Chat (another finally…).
  • Great food and service at some nice lodges: Guiding brought me to several nice locales with excellent service and cuisine including Rancho Naturalista, Finca Luna Nueva, and Luna Lodge.

    Visits to the Nature Pavilion for pictures like this were another highlight.
  • More than 650 species: I identified by sight or sound, more than 650 species in Costa Rica. Very pleased with that and might still pick up one or two more before January 1st!

    I saw several Green Thorntails.
  • Birding with friends old and new: Corny sounding but true. Memorable, good life days sharing birding with Susan, Robert, Johan, Ineke, the Birding Club of Costa Rica, and many other people.

Looking forward to birds in 2015 and the Biggest Day ever.  Say hello if you see me in the field!

    Categories
    bird photography Birding Costa Rica caribbean slope Hummingbirds middle elevations

    Some Good Reasons for Visiting the Catarata del Toro

    The Catarata del Toro is a massive, scenic waterfall at the edge of Juan Castro Blanco National Park. if you are wondering where that is, think central Costa Rica, the mountains between Poas and La Fortuna. If it helps, it’s also near Bosque de Paz. If you aren’t headed to Bosque de Paz, it’s a bit of a detour off the route between Arenal and Sarapiqui but here are some reasons why the detour is worth it:

    • A couple of loop trails through good cloud forest: Although I have only birded on them twice, I think there is a lot of birding potential. The elevation is around 1,200 meters, the forest has a lot of big trees (indicators of quality habitat), and the forest is connected to the national park. On my limited time on those trails, I have had Highland Tinamou, Emerald Toucanet, Prong-billed Barbet, Pale-vented Thrush, and various common middle elevation species. I bet a lot more could occur.
    • Hummingbird feeders:  This is the main reason for paying a visit. Sometimes, they can be slow but during rainy weather and, when hummingbirds are hungry, the Colibridae action is out of sight.
    Some of that sweet hummingbird action.
    The feeders are also scenic.
    Lots of fantastic Violet Sabrewings to look at.

    • Crazy, close shots of hummingbirds:
    Juvenile Green-crowned Brilliant.
    Adult Green-crowned Brilliant.
    Adult male Green-crowned Brilliant with photo-bombing White-bellied Mountain-Gem.
    White-bellied Mounatin-Gem
    Green Hermit
    • Black-bellied Hummingbird: Not a whole lot of accessible sites for this one.
    Black-bellied Hummingbird
    Black-bellied Hummingbird showing its flat crown.
    • Coppery-headed Emerald: Common, near endemic (one population was found in Nicaragua).
      Coppery-headed Emerald shaking off the rain.

      Coppery-headed Emerald showing its colors.
    • Black-breasted Wood-Quail: They used to come into the garden but one of the owners told me that she thought their recent absence might be related to Coatis showing up now and then. She is probably right but the wood-quail should still be in the forest. I wonder if Ochre-breasted and Scaled Antpittas are also around.

    Not to mention, the owners also provide good service, can provide meals, and also offer 3 simple rooms. Sounds like a good place for a lone birder or small group to stay and check out. If you do, please send me a report to publish on the blog.

    There's also that waterfall to look at. Probably harbors some good swifts.
    Categories
    Birding Costa Rica

    Press Release for Version 3.0 of the Costa Rica Birds Field Guide app

    Birding Field Guides Releases New Version of Birdwatching App for Costa Rica

    For Immediate Release: December 15, 2014

    The first birding app for Costa Rica is a digital field guide that includes photos, sounds, text, and range maps for more than 700 species of birds.

    San Jose, Costa Rica – A new version of the Birding Field Guides app for Costa Rica became available in the iTunes Store on December 12, 2014. This is the only digital field guide app in the iTunes Store that is completely focused on the bird species of Costa Rica.

    Costa Rica has been a pioneer for ecotourism since the early 1990s and continues to be a major destination for birders and people in search of outdoor adventure. As birding has increased in popularity as a hobby, many have paid a visit to Costa Rica in search of the near-mythical Resplendent Quetzal, dozens of glittering hummingbirds, exotic toucans, macaws, parrots, and literally hundreds of other bird species. This small Central American country appeals to birdwatchers and other tourists on account of its stable, democratic government, stunning scenery, and protected areas that host a wide array of wildlife.

    This recent version of the Costa Rica Birds Field Guide app has been updated with new images, information, and range maps for more than 700 species, and vocalizations for more than 500 species. Along with a suite of new species, sounds, and improved images, version 3.0 also has a search by name function along with other easy to use search functions.

    Michael Mullin, head of programming for Birding Field Guides, expects that the new images, species accounts, vocalizations, and search functions will make it easier to study before the trip, and identify birds while watching them in the rainforests of Costa Rica.

    He said, “I’m excited about this new version because we have improved the search functions, images, vocalizations, and now have more than 700 species on the app.  We listened to what our customers had to say and made changes to improve their experience. I am looking forward to hearing how this new version enhances time in Costa Rica for beginning birders, experts, and birding guides.”

    This app is currently available for version 4.3 or higher iPod Touch, iPad, and iPhone devices, and will be updated for 2.3.3 and higher Android devices in early 2015.

    About Birding Field Guides

    Birding Field Guides was started in 2012 and develops birding and nature-related apps and products for digital devices. For more information, please visit http://birdingfieldguides.com.

    Categories
    Birding Costa Rica caribbean foothills caribbean slope Christmas Counts Introduction

    The 2014 Arenal Christmas Count

    The first thing that comes to mind when I reminisce about the recent Arenal Christmas Count is rain. At this time of the year, cold fronts often come on down to Costa Rica. Unlike other visitors from the north, cold fronts aren’t so welcome because they bring constant rain. While the forests on the Caribbean slope do need tons of falling water (they really do), if you don’t happen to be an amphibian, constant rain is kind of annoying. It’s pretty self explanatory but to give an idea of what it’s like, imagine light rain followed by heavier rain followed by light rain and repeat that process for several days and nights.

    Getting ready for the count!
    Note the umbrella on the ground- a break in the weather.

    Such very wet weather is par for the course in the Arenal area in December so we couldn’t have expected less. However, despite the precipitation, we still managed quite a few bird species on our Finca Luna Nueva route, mostly during times of light rain and breaks in the weather. Such breaks lifted our hearts and gave birth to sighs of relief until the pressure dropped and the rain fell again (along with our drowned, soggy hopes). Ok, enough complaints, now for some highlights!:

    • Birding with the guys from 10,000 Birds, Tomohide Cho, Ismael Torres, and Johan Weintz: Mike Bergin and Corey Finger a la 10,000 Birds were visiting Costa Rica and we did the Arenal count together. Lots of fun before, during, and after the count with these guys in our search for lifers and shelter from the rain. Tomohide takes lots of great pictures of birds, Ismael is the resident guide at Luna Nueva and Johan is a guide.birder from Cartago. This was our team and I am grateful for spending the day with them.

      Mike and Corey wading through yet another stream.
    • Cinnamon Woodpecker: First, we had one so close that it seemed like it wanted to help out with the count. Three or so more during the day showed that Luna Nueva is a good spot for this beautiful species.

      I want to count birds!
    • Great Curassow: Regular around Arenal and at Luna Nueva but always a highlight. Although we didn’t get the barred morph and honorary count bird at Luna Nueva, we did see one of those semi-psychadelic creatures at Arenal Observatory Lodge on the following day.
      This was the count mascot.

      This was the one we saw.
    • White-fronted Nunbird: Mike Bergin gets the prize for spotting this target! The quality forests around Arenal are good for this formerly common species but it’s still easy to miss.
    • Hooded Warbler: Uncommon in Costa Rica and a year bird so it was a highlight for me. We did not re-find the much rarer Nashville that Mike, Corey, and Ismael had seen the day before the count!
    • Keel-billed Motmot: We got one from the tower just before lunch! Great looks but too far for a good shot with my camera.

      View from the canopy tower.
    • Magnificent Frigatebird: Weird stuff goes on during cold fronts and this was one of them. Nope, not even near the coast and no other team happened to see this juvenile fly past during the count!
    • Song Wren: Another good one, we got looks up on the trails at the Texas A and M Soltis Center. We did super good for wrens before and after the count too, with 10 species seen and Plain Wren the only heard only (yes, great looks at the almost invisible Nightingale Wren at Arenal Observatory Lodge).

    Big misses included Chestnut-backed Antbird, Black-headed Tody-Flycatcher, owls, and other birds that probably didn’t call because they were sick of the rain. I forget how many species we got but I think it was around 130 and that’s not bad, not bad at all for a day of birding!