On the underbirded, super birdy route between San Ramon and La Fortuna, one of the many sites of interest is the Bosque Nuboso El Cocora Hummingbird and Butterfly Garden. It’s just a 20 minute ride from San Ramon to this sweet little site and even a short visit is well worth the $6 entrance fee. I visited a few days ago while guiding a client in the area and it turned out to be a fitting end to a morning of near non-stop bird action on the road to Manuel Brenes (that mixed flock madness merits its own account!).
I was happy to see that this little ecotourist attraction had invested in its infrastructure and built a small cafe and improved the hummingbird feeding area. The cafe serves typical Costa Rican food at fair prices and is a great place to have a coffee while watching Swallow-tailed Kites do their aerial ballet. As for the hummingbirds, I suspect that the number of species varies over the course of the year but you can always be guaranteed a fantastic frenzy of those little feathered dynamos. On that most recent visit, our most abundant hummingbird was the endemic Coppery-headed Emerald. They looked like white-tailed bugs as they went crazy with the feeders.
Male Coppery-headed Emerald.
There were a few Rufous-tailed Hummingbirds, one of which guarded a lone feeder.
Stay away from my sugar water!
Beautiful Violet-crowned Woodnymphs were pretty common too.
A couple of big Violet Sabrewings salso howed up to cause some purple havoc, male and female Purple-throated Mountain-Gems were nice to see and the excellent lighting turned the Green-crowned Brilliants into flying, glittering emeralds. A surprise Steely-vented Hummingbird also showed up and after a long wait, a female White-bellied Mountain-gem made her appearance for our final and eight hummingbird species. I was surprised that we only saw one as this uncommon near endemic has been one of the most frequent hummingbirds on past visits. Given the number of hummingbirds that were zipping around, we could have easily missed something else as other days have also seen such species as Green Thorntail, Brown Violetear, and Violet-headed Hummingbird.
In addition to the hummingbirds, this site has a short trail through a patch of middle elevation forest. Its brief 200 meter length is one of the big downsides to this place (the other being the 9 am opening time, 12 noon on Sundays) but it’s still worth a visit. Although the “width” of the forest isn’t much and is flanked by pasture, its old growth aspect and connection to more extensive forests away from the road create a wealth of possibilities. We saw little on the most recent visit but did hear Black-faced Solitaire, Black-headed Nightingale-Thrush, and Slaty-backed Nightingale-Thrush and saw Tawny-capped Euphonia and Slate-throated Redstart. In the past, I have seen goodies in there such as Rufous Motmot, Blue-and-gold Tanager, and Azure-hooded Jay. I wouldn’t be too surprised if it also harbored things like leaftossers or even Scaled Antpitta. It’s surely worth a careful look and might be worth it to hang out where the trail looks into the canopy until a mixed flock passes by or some cool ground bird pops into view.
Getting to El Cocora is also super easy. If driving, take the road towards La Fortuna from San Ramon. You will drive through a steep canyon right after leaving town, than pass through deforested areas that are frequently cloaked in fog. Not long after, you start to descend onto the Caribbean slope. Watch for signs to the place and look for it on the left (west) side of the road about 15-20 minutes out of San Ramon. It can also be reached by buses between San Ramon and La Tigra, San Lorenzo, and La Fortuna.