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A Few Highlights from Recent 2013 Birding in Costa Rica

I apologize to the folks who keep checking this blog for a new post. Guiding, writing, and finishing an app. for birding in Costa Rica have occupied most of my time and explain my virtual absence. As you can probably imagine, the birding in Costa Rica has been wonderful and I might be close to 300 species for the year after just three or four trips afield.

So, here are a few recent highlights and updates on the Costa Rica birding front to whet your appetite:

  • Carara is a great place to start the year: Last week, I visited Carara a couple of times for regular birding and guiding. The biodiversity of that area never ceases to amaze and at the end of the day, you always seem to end up with well over a hundred bird species identified. The only problem is that it’s as hot as blazes! Stay out of the sun, bring more than enough hydration supplies, and get ready for lots of birds. That’s what I try to do and it routinely pays off with crazy sightings of Great Tinamou, Rufous Piha, Thrush-like Schiffornis (or Brown or whatever the one in Costa Rica is called nowadays), woodcreepers galore, Green Shrike Vireo at the exit to the far set of HQ trails, and lots of other forest species. The first day, I recorded something like 140 species by sight and sound, and around 120 on the second day.

birding Costa Rica

A couple of Mealy Parrots were feeding in an understory shrub and gave unusually good photo opps.

birding Costa Rica

    This male Turquoise Cotinga was seen at Rincon de Osa, a reliable spot for them but the ones at Carara looked like this only much higher up.

    • Cotingas: I never see Turquoise Cotinga in Carara. Well, almost never because our group had two males in a huge fruiting fig! I also picked up two male Yellow-billed Cotingas that same day- the usual extremely distant one from Cerro Lodge and then another on the lower part of the Cerro Lodge road in the afternoon. It appeared to be just passing through and shows why we need to establish a better corridor between the mangroves and the  rainforests of the national park. It was great to get these for the year on the first day out, especially since I missed the Turquoise in 2012!

    birding Costa Rica

      A surreal image of the male Yellow-billed Cotinga from the other day.

      • El Toucanet birding: On the weekend, I was up at El Toucant. This was a much welcome, cool respite from the heat down on the coast. The feeders weren’t as active but we still got lots of wonderful looks at Scintillant Hummingbird. This is one darn tiny bird! We picked up lots of nice birds near the lodge and higher up in the oak forests including Yellow-bellied Siskin, Barred and Sulphur-winged Parakeets, Dark Pewee, Silvery-fronted Tapaculo, White-throated Mountain-Gem, Golden-winged Warbler, and lots more. No quetzals but Gary, one of the owner’s of El Tocuanet, expects more to show up in a month or two when the local avocados are in fruit.

      birding Costa Rica

      The miniscule Scintillant Hummingbird.

        • Franklin’s Gull: This was a highlight because I missed the prairie seagull the previous year! Luckily, I was birding with Seagull Steve because he noticed one that I had passed one off as a Laughing Gull!

        birding Costa Rica

        I used to be excited to see vagrant Franklin’s Gulls on the Niagara River. There are like thousands of them in Lima, Peru right now.

        I still need to head to the Caribbean slope but that should be remedied tomorrow when I am scheduled to guide for the morning on the road to Manuel Brenes. The client wants to catch the dawn chorus- sounds good to me!!

        Hope to see you birding in Costa Rica soon!

        6 replies on “A Few Highlights from Recent 2013 Birding in Costa Rica”

        Wow, look how close you were to that YB Cotinga!!!

        Glad I could help out with a decent bird, I didn’t know you missed them during your RECORD SETTING big year. At the river mouth in Quepos there were dozens of Franklin’s, which outnumbered the Laughings about 10 to 1…that was a couple days before we saw you.

        I’ll be putting up a ton of CR stuff on BB&B soon if youre interested, keep checking!

        @Steve- Yeah, we were just leaving the mostly dried out marsh (and putting a birding hex on any unseen zorro ducks) when Susan says, “Hey, there’s a really white bird right there!” It was low and it was crazy and then it left as soon as I got that one weird shot.

        Yeah, thanks! No Franklin’s Gulls for me during record setting 2012, just wasn’t in the right place at the right time. They seem to be a lot more common during passage, sounds like this winter will be a good one for them.

        Yes, looking forward to more of your CR posts! Anyone reading this should also check them out at Steve’s Bourbon, Bastards, and Birds blog!

        Congratulations, 300 birds is a very good number. It seems to be a good year for Franklin’s Gulls… we have seen many in Panama along the Pacific coast in several sites this year!

        @Jan- Interesting to hear that there are a bunch in Panama. I hope you have a good birding year!

        Going to central Costa Rica in March 2013, very interested in what type of birds I will see? Trying to get together a birding list…this really helps! Any other pointers or birds to look for?

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