Costa Rica - South & East

Saturday 2 - Saturday 16 February 2002

Neil Arnold
Rolando Delgado


Costa Rica was a delight, displaying a huge variety of venues, wildlife and experiences. It is always a pleasure to meet the Ticos. My thanks go to all those who made the holiday such a success, especially to Jackie who organised the trip, and to Rolando and Juan Carlos who guided us so ably. My thanks also go to all of you for your enthusiasm and good cheer.

Neil Arnold, February 2002



The flight was comfortable and uneventful. We met Rolando and Juan Carlos at San José airport and then quickly settled into the Hotel Torremolinos.



WEATHER 1-4/8 Cu. Mainly sunny with the odd shower NW 2-3

A pre- breakfast walk from the hotel gave us a chance to cut our teeth on a cross section of Neotropical birds.

This was no ordinary Sunday. As we drove through the streets of San José and beyond we were inundated with electioneers waving coloured flags and besporting garish T-shirts. At one spot we found that the road had been blocked by enthusiasts, causing us to make a minor detour.

Our destination was the Tapanti National Park. Once there we drove up a private road to the hydro-electric dam well upstream. Here we were invited into the pumping station which gave us an unparalleled view of the river. The highlight in this area were sightings of American Dipper, Torrent Tyrannulet, Black Phoebe and Spotted Sandpiper. Perhaps the most exciting bird of the morning, though, was a Sooty-faced Finch, not only because it is strikingly attractive but also very local in its distribution.

We then walked downhill towards the Visitor Centre, encountering a wide variety of forest birds and a single Central American Agouti. We were also delighted to meet Stephanie and Jim Coghlan with a group from Snails' Pace.

Lunch was taken at Kiri Tapanti, which was strangely devoid of birds. As we left the area we came across a mixed feeding flock of forest birds which included a woodpecker, a woodcreeper and a variety of flycatchers, warblers and tanagers. We then set off for Rancho Naturalista, noting White-tailed Kite and Amazon Kingfisher en route.

The day closed on a high note. Whilst in the middle of the evening call-over we were called outside to see a very vociferous Mottled Owl, another very local species.

There was only a moderate degree of confusion in the party as Central American bird identification began to dent our skulls. Early to bed as an early start was promised in the morning!


WEATHER 3-7/8 Cu. Sunny morning, clouding over in the afternoon. NE 2-3. Rain at nightfall.

The pre-breakfast ritual of watching birds coming to an extensive feeding station was spellbinding and somewhat bewildering at first. As we arrived on the balcony overlooking the garden and the valley beyond, Parauque were still calling. The first birds to arrive were a flock of garrulous Brown Jays, soon to be followed by Montezuma's Oropendola and Grey-headed Chachalacas. In no time we were inundated with visiting hummingbirds, tanagers, warblers, woodpeckers, flycatchers and many more. Notable visitors were the rather scarce Blue-winged Warbler and the quite delightful diminutive hummingbird, Black-crested Coquette.

Later in the morning we walked the lower trail ably guided by the lodge resident guide Stephen Easley, Rolando and our driver Juan Carlos, who is developing a deep interest in birds. The sun shone and the birds behaved impeccably, well nearly all of them.

We soon came across an Army Ant swarm, an event which always sets the heart racing. Feeding on insects disturbed by the ants were Immaculate and Spotted Antbirds, Barred and Plain-brown Woodcreepers and flycatchers including the elusive White-throated Spadebill and Tawny-chested Flycatcher, probably one of the rarest birds in Costa Rica.

As if this were not enough of a thrill we then visited the hummingbird feeders set in the forest. We were enthralled as we watched a number of hummingbird species that do not visit the garden. These included the very local Snowcap and the dramatic Violet Sabrewing. We also noted the elegant Green Thorntail, the dashing Green Hermit and the rather retiring Red-footed Plumeleteer. Further along the trail we encountered a Tawny-throated Leaftosser, another species noted for its stealth. To this was added a fine male Green Honeycreeper, an Eye-ringed Flatbill and a magnificent male Lineated Woodpecker.

After a fine lunch and a siesta we headed down the drive to the Rio Tuis. We were joined by Steve and couples from the USA and Canada. The overcast weather did little to inspire activity from the bird population. Eventually though we found a Sharp-shinned Hawk, Keel-billed Toucan and a very alert Sunbittern. Regretfully the Sunbittern was faster than some of the group. The day was a delight.



WEATHER 3-7/8 Cu. Overnight rain. Sunny morning NE1-2

The day started with an examination of a myriad of moths which were sitting on a sheet adjacent to an ultra-violet light which had been lit throughout the night. The moths ranged from Atlas and Rothchild's Moths, as big as a hand, to the minute. It was an exciting start to the day.

Once again we watched the feeding birds from the balcony. Blue-crowned Motmot, Collared Aracari, Golden-olive Woodpecker, Crimson-collared Tanager, Rose-breasted Grosbeak, Barred Antshrike and Violet -headed Hummingbird were all seen well before breakfast.

The rest of the morning was spent on the trails. At first the birds were determined not to show themselves but eventually we had some success, finding Scale-crested Pygmy-tyrant, White-collared Manakin, Golden-crowned Warbler and Olivaceous Woodcreeper. The watching then proved difficult until we came across a flock of birds which included a brilliant male Green Shrike-vireo and an Ashy-throated Bush-Tanager, both species that are difficult to see in Costa Rica. Other species noted included Spotted Woodcreeper, Plain Antvireo, Russet Antshrike, Plain Xenops and Purple-crowned Fairy. It was time to eat and rest again.

The most unexpected event of the day was the visit of a White-throated Crake to the tiny bathing pool on the lawn. This species is usually very timid, barely breaking from the cover of marginal vegetation; we were amazed at our good fortune.

In the early afternoon a few members of the group accompanied Steve on a trail walk, once again benefiting from his expertise. One of the highlights of this trip was the sighting of a Crested Guan. Others spent time at the hummingbird feeders, finding a Hognosed Viper en route.

Later in the afternoon we walked the trail to some shallow pools in a tumbling stream, which were a magnet to hummingbirds. It was fascinating seeing them bathing by hovering over the water, diving in and then instantly flying to a perch to preen. During the washing process the birds erected their feathers giving us splendid views of their iridescent colours. While we watched, male and female Violet-crowned Wood-nymph, male and female Snowcap and a male Purple-crowned Fairy showed off their splendour. We also received a bonus: a Swainson's Thrush came to bathe. It was exciting to close the day with fine views of this rather shy bird.



WEATHER 3-4/8 Cu. Sunny except on the mountain - heavy cloud. NE 1/2

The pre-breakfast vigil resulted in the group seeing Orange-billed Sparrow for the first time and a repeat performance by the White-throated Crake. After breakfast we set out for Trogon Lodge.

Our first port of call was CATIE, the agricultural research station. Here we visited the lake, including the clump of bamboo famed as a root for Boat-billed Herons. We were not disappointed; there on open boughs were three adults in full breeding plumage. This was an unparalleled experience as 'boat bills' are usually rather difficult to see, often buried deep in the foliage. We also enjoyed good views of Northern Jacana, American Purple Gallinule and two passing Cowled Orioles.

We were soon at the Lankester Botanical Gardens. The sunny conditions resulted in the gardens displaying a wealth of plants and butterflies but an understandable paucity of birds. We had a fine picnic lunch in the grounds.

The Pan-American Highway was strangely devoid of traffic so we made good time to the cafe at Los Chepiritos. Inevitably we had to visit a rubbish dump at some time during the trip. The one behind the cafe had attracted Large-footed Finch and Black-beaked Nightingale-thrush.

The descent to Trogon Lodge was punctuated by short walks down the hill. The climax of one walk was the discovery by Juan Carlos of a dazzling male Resplendent Quetzal being thoroughly resplendent. We also encountered a flock of birds which included Sooty-capped Bush Tanager, Barred Becard, Ruddy Treerunner, Yellow-thighed Finch, Black-thighed Grosbeak and Flame-throated Warbler. Townsend's Warbler and Long-tailed Silky-flycatcher also made an appearance, the latter becoming an instant star, admired by all.

The afternoon finished by our walking the River trail to Trogon lodge to find Juan Carlos waiting to greet us. Another varied day was complete.



WEATHER 1/8 Cu, cool, clear, in the morning. Cloud on the mountain except at the peak - Cerro de la Muerte.

The day started with a bang, literally, for at 00.50 an earth tremor shook our beds, waking all but the most dedicated slumberers!

Magnificent Hummingbird, Band-tailed Pigeon, Osprey, Flame-coloured Tanager and Mountain Elaenia were the salient birds of the morning walk. The rest of the morning was spent on a Quetzal hunt at Finca Mirador Quetzales. As we made our way to the Highway we saw Black-capped Flycatcher, Louisiana Waterthrush, Red-tailed Hawk and a Streak-breasted Treehunter.

At the Finca the Resplendent Quetzals had just arrived on their breeding grounds. They were very noisy so they were quite easy to locate but somewhat less easy to watch. We had several close sightings, however, of at least two males and two females. Other features of the site were Green Violet-ear, Flame-throated Hummingbird, Flame-throated Warbler and Spot-crowned Woodcreeper.

After a fine trout lunch we headed for the peak of Cerro de la Muerte, where for once it was fine. Here the birds were very inactive. Despite that, we found a number of Volcano Junco.

Later in the afternoon we explored down-river from the Lodge. The most surprising record of the afternoon was the sighting of a pair of Emerald Toucanets, a delight anywhere in Costa Rica. A brief visit to the Savegre Hotel de Montana gave us a chance to meet the charming owners and to observe Acorn Woodpecker, Yellow-bellied Siskins, Scintillant Hummingbird and White-throated Mountain-gem.



WEATHER 1/8 Cu, sun, calm early. 3/8 Cu. on the mountain, clear visibility. Clouding over in the lowlands in the afternoon.

Before breakfast we drove the short distance to the 'Fountain Apple Farm'. Once there we climbed the hill to an area where apple orchards met primary forest. In no time we were watching Resplendent Quetzals. At first two males and a female perched in an 'open' tree. Before long one of the males opened its wings and glided from the top of the tree. It then began its wing fluttering aerial display. Eventually we saw seven male and four female Quetzals. One male perched within four metres of the group, seemingly quite content to receive our admiration.

Later in the morning as we left Trogon Lodge we saw a sparkling male Quetzal from the bus!

As we neared the highest point on the Pan American Highway we were able to see the Pacific Ocean to the west and a wonderful highland array to the east, including Chirripo, Volcan Irazu and Volcan Turrialba. This was a rare event as Cerro de la Muerte and the surrounding highlands are usually cloud covered.

Our drive to San Isidro was broken as we descended at the restaurant 'Vista du Valle'. Coffee was taken whilst watching a variety of feeding birds including a quite splendid Violet Sabrewing and a rather more sombre Philadelphia Vireo. We also enjoyed he antics of an abandoned White-faced Capuchin Monkey that frequented the garden. As we left an American Swallow-tailed Kite soared overhead.

Once we had negotiated the traffic of San Isidro we were in open grassland where Fork-tailed Flycatchers and Eastern Meadowlarks took centre stage. Los Cosingos was quiet in birding terms but it was a delight to meet Alexander Skutch once again. In his ninety-eighth year he seemed frail but in full command of life. A Squirrel Cuckoo, two wonderful Blue-crowned Manakin and a Laughing Falcon entertained us at length.

Once again we drove through San Isidro, visiting the sewage farm on the edge of the town. The water level was high so there was only one wader, a Spotted Sandpiper. As we drove over the coastal range we came across a Roadside Hawk, another American Swallow-tailed Kite and two Crested Caracara. The prize of the day though was a male Three-toed Sloth hanging from a bough over the road. It was hanging in an inverted position vigorously preening the coat around its head, neck and arms. Its patterned face and long toes could be seen quite clearly. This was a sloth giving us the full treatment, including 'rapid' movement!

A brief stop at Dominical enabled us to gain our first views of water birds in some variety. Herons, White Ibis, a Neotropical Cormorant, a Willet, Brown Pelicans and Magnificent Frigatebirds were all actively feeding. A Red-crowned Woodpecker also made an appearance on a riverside tree.

As we passed the bridge over the Rio Terraba near Palmar Norte we discovered a flock of Black-bellied Whistling-duck which must have numbered at least two hundred.

We had had a full day of travelling. On our arrival at the Wilson Botanical Gardens we somewhat stumbled into dinner, a rare event on a Travelling Naturalist trip.



WEATHER 1/8 Cu. sun, calm. Afternoon ,warm and fairly humid, 6/8 Cu.

Before breakfast we stood on the balcony of the restaurant watching birds come to a bird table and a bunch of bananas hanging from a tree. There were tanagers galore including the very attractive Thick-billed Euphonia and Cherrie's Tanager. Speckled Tanager was also one of the delights of the morning. Fiery-billed Aracari also came to join us. Not to be outdone the hummingbirds were represented by Snowy-bellied and Rufous-tailed Hummingbirds and a spectacular Long-billed Starthroat. After breakfast as we gathered for a walk on the trails a Garden Emerald came and fed close by.

Heysen, the local guide then took us on a walk that proved full of variety in terms of both plant and bird life. Almost before we had started we found the charming little Orange-billed Nightingale-thrush. We then had a stroke of luck when we found a fig tree full of ripe fruit and equally full of birds including White-throated Robin, Emerald Toucanet and, the gem of the day, a male Turquoise Cotinga. Grey-headed Tanagers, Spotted Woodcreeper, Rose-throated Becard and Grey-capped Flycatcher were also noted. Another thrill was to see Yellow-headed Caracara at close range. Yet another siesta.

The evening walk started with the sighting of White-tailed Emerald, another very local species of hummingbird. By and large, though, the songbirds were very inactive as the cloud cover and therefore the humidity increased. These conditions seemed to have a positive effect on the birds of prey; Black and American Turkey Vultures soared high in the sky, one 'kettle' containing the very similar Zone-tailed Hawk. Then to our amazement ten American Swallow-tailed Kites flew over our heads, circled and then flew off west, presumably to roost. Another fun filled day!



WEATHER 0/8,sun, still at Wilson. 4/8 Cu. sun, very humid at Esquinas.

The main feature of the early morning walk at Wilson was prolonged views of Grey-necked Wood-rail. After breakfast we walked the Rio Jaba trail where we came across a number of true forest birds including Brown-hooded Parrot, Ruddy Foliage-gleaner and Slaty Antwren.

On the way back from the river we stood under the twisting trunks of a huge Strangler Fig Tree and were able to look up some thirty metres to the centre of the branching area of the tree. We estimated that the tree was forty metres in height.

On our way to La Gamba, the nearest village to Esquinas Lodge we saw four Squirrel Monkeys from the bus. The four kilometre drive from La Gamba to the lodge was full of interest. We had arrived at the first extensive grassland area of the trip. Herons and egrets competed with seedeaters and doves for our attention. We also had great views of Red-breasted blackbird at its only Costa Rican site.

On our arrival at the lodge we were greeted by Golden-naped Woodpeckers, Long-tailed Hermit and Beryl-crowned Hummingbird. We were also in for a surprise at Cabin Five when we found a party of White-lined Sac-winged Bats roosting under the eaves.

The evening walk brought us into contact with a wide variety of species including Least Flycatcher, Orange-chinned Parakeet, Tree Swallow and Ruddy-breasted Seedeater. Juan Carlos then met us in the coach and we drove slowly towards the village. As we made our way back to the Lodge we saw a single Lesser Nighthawk, closely followed by a fly-by Striped Owl. Nearer the lodge we caught four Common Parauque in the headlight, giving us splendid views. It was an exciting end to the day.



WEATHER Misty, cloudless, still a.m. Boat- 2/8 Cu. Hot. Light breeze. Calm sea.

We spent the early morning within the garden of the lodge. Dot-winged Antwren and Black-hooded Antshrike were seen in the adjacent primary forest, and, at last we saw a trogon, a fine male Slaty-tailed Trogon. Other species noted included a perched Double-toothed Kite, a male Red-legged Honeycreeper and a soaring King Vulture, a prize indeed.

Later that morning we drove to Golfito, stopping en route to the quay to look at herons and a handful of waders. The real stars here, though, were Green, Ringed and Amazon Kingfishers fishing from a power-line across the river. We were fortunate that the rising tide occurred at exactly the right moment. We were soon out in the Gulf of Osa in a very comfortable boat. As luck would have it we came across a huge shoal of fish which were being exploited by diving Brown Pelicans, a host of Neotropical Cormorants and considerable numbers of terns and gulls. The gulls were all Laughing Gulls accompanied by Royal and Sandwich Terns.

As soon as we had left the feeding frenzy we found a flock of waders on a sandbar. We were unable to get close to the flock so the boatman edged the boat up to the shore and we waded the few metres to the bank. We were amazed at how warm the shallow water had become; it was like wading into a warm bath. Once ashore we walked up to the flock with great care, soon establishing that there were six species of migrant waders.

Our next port of call was the mangroves. Almost the first bird we saw was the delightful South American Pygmy Kingfisher, a real gem. Herons and waders abounded here, including a Bare-throated Tiger-heron and a singe Semipalmated Plover. An Anhinga, a Mangrove Hawk and a Panama Flycatcher were also noted. By the time we returned to Golfito in the early afternoon we had recorded nine species of herons and ten species of waders. We were especially grateful to the boatman for his skill and local knowledge.



WEATHER 3/8 Cu., sunny, hot, sea breeze.

The early morning walk was notable for flycatchers, including Streaked Flycatcher and Yellow-bellied Tyrannulet. We were also lucky enough to see Riverside Wren.

Later, as we drove between Esquinas and Sierpe we saw a kettle of Black and Turkey Vultures. They were joined by eight American Swallow-tailed Kites, a White-tailed Kite and a Short-tailed Hawk. As we watched this flying display we were being watched. A juvenile White-tailed Kite sat in a nearby tree. On our arrival at Sierpe we boarded a boat to take us to Marenco Lodge on the Osa Penninsula.

The early part of the journey was sedate, enabling us to find White-faced Capuchin Monkeys, Mantled Howler Monkeys, and Amazon Kingfisher, an immature Mangrove Black Hawk, a Yellow-crowned Night-heron and a Wood Stork. We then sped to Marenco, only slowing to cross the bar at the mouth of the Sierpe River.

We were greeted at Marenco by a cocktail and a fine lunch. While we ate we watched a flyby of Scarlet Macaws. A late afternoon walk in the adjacent primary forest plunged us into a cathedral- like atmosphere where pillars were replaced by huge trees and the choir consisted of thousands of cicadas.

Once we reached Rio Claro we turned back, walking along the beach. Here we admired the variety of seeds on the tide-line and the even bigger variety of shells, most of which were occupied by hermit crabs. As we walked we saw Willet, Spotted Sandpiper, squadrons of Brown Pelicans and Brown Boobies.

After photographing the sunset we walked back to the lodge.



WEATHER 1/8 Cu., sun,hot,sea breeze

At 07.30 we set off by boat to San Pedrillo, the Headquarters of the Corcovado National Park. We were soon walking the primary forest trail adjacent to the shore. There were few birds but nevertheless we were far from bored. We discovered a fruiting fig tree which had attracted monkeys, agouti and coati. Central American Spider, White-faced Capuchin and Mantled Howler Monkeys were gorging themselves on figs, dropping many to the ground to be eaten by Central American Agouti and White-nosed Coati. There were young Howlers and Capuchins with their parents. At one stage two troupes of Howler Monkeys met and a 'howling' match ensued. We watched the spectacle for over an hour.

There followed -

Swimming with Pelicans

Lunching with Macaws

Relaxing with Trogons

................ leaving the trails to others!



WEATHER Clear, calm and hot on the coast.

Some cloud over the foothills during the flight. Fine in San José

We woke to the sound of Howler Monkeys whilst Capuchins leapt from branch to branch in the nearby trees.

The boat trip to Sierpe was rapid and uneventful except for the sighting of a flock of Blue-winged Teal and a handful of other water birds. We flew to San José in an eight seater twin engined Piper Aire. The weather was wonderful enabling us to enjoy fine views of Chirripo, Cerro de la Muerte, Volcan Poas, Volcan Irazu and Volcan Baru.

Our next port of call was the Cafe Britt Coffee Centre where we were shown the process of coffee production from seed to cup. We were also thrilled by a fine dramatic presentaion of the history of coffee performed by very accomplished professional actors.

By 15.00 we were back at the Hotel Torremolinos. Some of us rested, some went out explore the city. In the evening we joined Jackie, from the Horizontes office, Juan Carlos and Rolando at the Le Chandelier restaurant for a splendid meal.




We were 'promoted' to an earlier flight to Miami so that by mid-day we were able to enjoy a leisurely meal before flying on to the UK.




T Tapanti

RN Rancho Naturalista

TL Trogon Lodge

LC Los Cosingos

W Wilson

E Esquinas

G Golfito

M Marenco

TINAMOUS Tinamidae

Great Tinamou Tinamus major Heard (RN)

Little Tinamou Crypturellus soui Heard (RN)(W)(E)


Brown Booby Sula leucogaster A handful of records off (M)

DARTERS Anhingidae

Anhinga Anhinga anhinga One (G)

CORMORANTS Phalacracoracidae

Neotropic Cormorant Phalacrocorax brasilianus Up to one hundred (G)

PELICANS Pelicanidae

Brown Pelican Pelecanus occidentalis At least 700 (G) and common (M)


Magnificent Frigatebird Fregata magnificens Common on the south Pacific coast, At least fifty (G)


Great Blue Heron Ardea herodias One (C) and one (G)

Cattle Egret Ardeola ibis Widespread near domestic animals.

American Great White Egret Casmerodius albus Only on the Pacific coast.

Tricolored Heron Egretta tricolor Two (D) and five (G)

Little Blue Heron Egretta caerulea Common on the Pacific coast.

Snowy Egret Egretta thula Scattered records on the Pacific coast.

Green Heron Butorides virescens Only at (G) and (E)

Yellow-crowned Night-heron Nyctanassa violacea A single bird on the Sierpe River.

Boat-billed Heron Cochlearius cochlearius Wonderful views of three adults in breeding plumage (C)

Bare-throated Tiger-heron Tigrisoma mexicanum One seen briefly in the mangroves, (G)

STORKS Ciconiidae

Wood Stork Mycteria americana A single record on the Sierpe River

IBISES & SPOONBILLS Threskiornithidae

American White Ibis Eudocimus albus Scattered records o the Pacific coast.

WHISTLING-DUCKS Dendrocygnidae

Black-bellied Whistling-duck Dendrocygna autumnalis A flock of at least two hundred near Palmar Norte.


Blue-winged Teal Anas discors Eight in a flock on the River Sierpe


Turkey Vulture Cathartes aura Common and widespread

American Black Vulture Coragyps atratus Widespread and common

King Vulture Sarcoramphus papa A fine adult (E)

OSPREY Pandionidae

Osprey Pandion haliaetus One at (TL) and several sightings on the Pacific coast

HAWKS Accipitridae

American Swallow-tailed Kite Elanoides forficatus Twenty sightings on the Pacific slope

White-tailed Kite Elanus leucurus One at Palmar Norte and four sightings at (E)

Double-toothed Kite Harpagus bidentatus One (E)

Sharp-shinned Hawk Accipiter striatus One (RN)

Mangrove Black-hawk Buteogallus subtilis One (G) and one on the River Sierpe

Roadside Hawk Buteo magnirostris Several sightings on the Pacific slope

Broad-winged Hawk Buteo platypterus At (T)(RN)(LC) and(W)

Short-tailed Hawk Buteo brachyurus One (W)

White-tailed Hawk Buteo albicaudatus One (E)

Zone-tailed Hawk Buteo albonotatus One(W) with Turkey Vultures

Red-tailed Hawk Buteo jamaicensis One (TL) and one as we descended the slope to San Isidro


Crested Caracara Polyborus plancus Only at (LC)(E) and (G)

Yellow-headed Caracara Milvago chimachima A handful of records at (W)(E) and (M)

Laughing Falcon Herpetotheres cachinnans A fine bird (LC)

Barred Forest-falcon Micrastur ruficollis A brief view (RN)

American Kestrel Falco sparverius Single birds at (T) and (RN)


Gray-headed Chachalaca Ortalis cinereiceps Numerous (RN)

Crested Guan Penelope purpurascens One (RN) and heard (E)

RAILS & COOTS Rallidae

Grey-necked Wood-Rail Aramides cajanea Two (W)

White-throated Crake Laterallus albigularis Wonderful views of this usually elusive species visiting the tiny pond (RN). Heard (E)

American Purple Gallinule Porphyrio martinicus Three (C) and two (E)


Sunbittern Eurypyga A brief encounter (RN)

JACANAS Jacanidae

Northern Jacana Jacana spinosa At least six (C), three (D) and several (E)

PLOVERS Charadriidae

Grey Plover Pluvialis squatarola At least ten (G)

Semipalmated Plover Charadrius semipalmatus One (G)

Wilson's Plover Charadrius wilsonia Forty (G)

SANDPIPERS Scolopacidae

Whimbrel Numenius phaeopus Twenty (G) and five on the river Sierpe

Greater Yellowlegs Tringa melanoleuca Two (G)

Spotted Sandpiper Actitis macularia Widespread on rivers and in the mangroves

Willet Catoptrophorus semipalmatus One (D), twenty-one (G)and one on the River Sierpe

Sanderling Calidris alba Eleven (G)

Western Sandpiper Calidris maur Three (G)

Least Sandpiper Calidris minutilla One (G)

GULLS Laridae

Laughing Gull Larus atricilla Numerous (G) and a handful (M)

TERNS Sternidae

Royal Tern Sterna maxima Ten (G) and two sightings (M)

Sandwich Tern Sterna sandvicensis At least fifty (G)

PIGEONS & DOVES Columbidae

Rock Dove (Feral Pigeon) Columba livia Common in towns

Band-tailed Pigeon Columba fasciata Ten (RN) and a single bird as we decended to San Isidro

Pale-vented Pigeon Columba cayennensis Only at (E) and (G)

Red-billed Pigeon Columba flavirostris Mainly on the Carribean slope. One record (LC)

Ruddy Pigeon Columba subvinacea

Short-billed Pigeon Columba nigrirostris Very widespread. Heard more often than seen

White-winged Dove Zenaida asiatica One San José

Ruddy Ground-dove Columbina talpacoti Common in the Pacific lowlands

Blue Ground-dove Claravis pretiosa Close encounters with this delightful bird (E)

White-tipped Dove Lepotila verreauxi Widespread. Heard more often than seen

Gray-chested Dove Leptotila cassini Seen in the forest (RN),Vista du Valle and (W)

PARROTS Psittacidae

Scarlet Macaw Ara macao At least eight birds (M)

Crimson-fronted Parakeet Aratinga finschi Only in San José and (W)

Sulphur-winged Parakeet Pyrrhura hoffmanni A flock of twenty (T)

Orange-chinned Parakeet Brotogeris jugularis A flock (E)

Brown-hooded Parrot Pionopsitta haematotis A noisy flock (W)

White-crowned Parrot Pionus senilis Widespread and numerous

Red-lored Parrot Amazona autumnalis Pairs seen (M)

ANIS Crotophagidae

Smooth-billed Ani Crotophaga ani Only on the Pacific slope

Groove-billed Ani Crotophaga sulcirostris Only (RN)

Striped Cuckoo Tapera naevia Heard (E)


Squirrel Cuckoo Piaya cayana Six sightings on the Pacific slope


Spectacled Owl Pulsatrix perspicillata Heard (E)

Striped Owl Pseudoscops clamator One in flight (E)

Mottled Owl Ciccaba virgata One perched (RN)

NIGHTJARS Caprimulgidae

Lesser Nighthawk Chordeiles acutipennis One in flight (E)

Common Pauraque Nyctidromus albicollis Four perched (E) and heard widely

SWIFTS Apodidae

Black Swift Cypseloides niger Several sightings on the Carribean slope

White-collared Swift Streptoprocne zonaris At least forty (RN), eight (W) and five (E)

Band-rumped Swift Chaetura spinicauda A small party (E)

Vaux' Swift Chaetura vauxi Small groups (TL) and (E)


Green Hermit Phaethornis guy At (RN) and (W)

(Eastern) Long-tailed Hermit Phaethornis superciliosus Only at (E)

Little Hermit Phaethornis longuemareus Confined to (RN)(E) and (M)

Scaly-breasted Hummingbird Phaeochroa cuvierii Two (E)

Violet Sabrewing Campylopterus hemileucurus Stunning views at (RN) and Vista du Valle.

White-necked Jacobin Florisuga mellivora Common at (RN),less so (E)

Green Violet-ear Colibri thalassinus Only at Finca Mirador Quetzales

Green-breasted Mango Anthracothorax prevostii Common (RN)

Violet-headed Hummingbird Klais guimeti One (RN)

Black-crested Coquette Lophornis helenae Males seen twice (RN)

Green Thorntail Discosura conversii Only at (RN)

Garden Emerald Chlorostilbon assimilis Two records (W)

(Violet-) Crowned Woodnymph Thalurania colombica Very common (RN)

Fiery-throated Hummingbird Panterpe insignis Two Finca Mirador Quetzales

Beryl-crowned Hummingbird Amazilia (Polyerata) decora Only at (E)

Snowy-bellied Hummingbird Amazilia edward Males on teo days (W)

Rufous-tailed Hummingbird Amazilia tzacatl Common throughout the trip, except at Marenco

Stripe-tailed Hummingbird Eupherusa eximia

Black-bellied Hummingbird Eupherusa nigriventris

White-tailed Emerald Elvira chionura A male (W)

Snowcap Microchera albocoronata Several (W), a little gem

Red-footed Plumeleteer Chalybura urochrysia One (RN)

Purple-throated Mountain-gem Lampornis calolaema Two (T)

White-throated Mountain-gem Lampornis cinereicauda Several (TL)

Green-crowned Brilliant Heliodoxa jacula Noted regularly (RN)

Magnificent Hummingbird Eugenes fulgens Common (TL)

Purple-crowned Fairy Heliothryx barroti At (RN)

Long-billed Starthroat Heliomaster longirostris One (W)

Volcano Hummingbird Selasphorus flammula Common (TL)

Scintillant Hummingbird Selasphorus scintilla One (TL)

TROGONS Trogonidae

Resplendent Quetzal Pharomachrus mocinno An impressive run of records (TL), probably numbering seventeen individuals

Slaty-tailed Trogon Trogon massena Remarkably the only 'trogon' seen during the trip. Noted (E) and (M)

Collared Trogon Trogon collaris Heard (RN)


Ringed Kingfisher Ceryle torquata One (D) and one (G)

Amazon Kingfisher Chloroceryle amazona One (T), one (G) and two Sierpe.

Green Kingfisher Chloroceryle americana One (G)

American Pygmy Kingfisher Chloroceryle aenea One (G)

MOTMOTS Motmotidae

Rufous Motmot Baryphthengus martii Single birds (RN)

Blue-crowned Motmot Motmotus momota One (RN) and several (W)

JACAMARS Galbulidae

Rufous-tailed Jacamar Galbula ruficauda One (RN)

TOUCANS Ramphastidae

Emerald Toucanet Aulacorhynchus prasinus Two (TL) and (W)

Collared Aracari Pteroglossus torquatus Up to seven (RN)

Fiery-billed Aracari Pteroglossus frantzii Up to seven (W)

Keel-billed Toucan Ramphastos sulfuratus At least three (RN)

Chestnut-mandibled Toucan Ramphastos swainsonii Common on the Pacific coast


Acorn Woodpecker Melanerpes formicivorus Several TL)

Golden-naped Woodpecker Melanerpes chrysauchen Only (E)

Black-cheeked Woodpecker Melanerpes pucherani A pair (RN)

Red-crowned Woodpecker Melanerpes rubricapillus Noted at (D) and (W)

Hoffmann's Woodpecker Melanerpes hoffmannii Only San José and (RN)

Hairy Woodpecker Picoides villosus Only San José and (TL)

Smoky-brown Woodpecker Veniliornis fumigatus Only (RN)

Rufous-winged Woodpecker Piculus simplex One (RN)

Golden-olive Woodpecker Piculus rubiginosus Only at (RN)

Lineated Woodpecker Dryocopus lineatus Males (RN) and (E)

WOODCREEPERS Dendrocolaptidae

Plain-brown Woodcreeper Dendrocincla fuliginosa Two (RN)

Olivaceous Woodcreeper Sittasomus griseicapillus One (RN)

Wedge-billed Woodcreeper Glyphorynchus spirurus Noted (RN)and (E)

Northern Barred Woodcreeper Dendrocolaptes certhia Only (RN)

Spotted Woodcreeper Xiphorhynchus erythropygius Noted at (RN) and (W)

Streak-headed Woodcreeper Lepidocolaptes souleyetii The most widespread member of the family

Spot-crowned Woodcreeper Lepidocolaptes affinis One at Finca Mirador Quetzales

OVENBIRDS Furnariidae

Red-faced Spinetail Cranioleuca erythrops Two (RN)

Ruddy Treerunner Margarornis rubiginosus One (TL)

Buff-fronted Foliage-gleaner Phylidor rufus One (T)

Streak-breasted Treehunter Thripadectes rufobrunneus One (TL)

Buff-throated Foliage-gleaner Automolus ochrolaemus One (W)

Ruddy Foliage- gleaner Automolus rubiginosus One (W)

Tawny-throated Leaftosser Sclerurus mexicanus One (RN)

Plain Xenops Xenops minutus Two (RN)


Barred Antshrike Thamnophilus doliatus A male (RN)

Black-hooded Antshrike Thamnophilus bridgesi At (E) and (M), heard more often than seen.

Russet Antshrike Thamnistes anabatinus Two (RN)

Plain Antvireo Dysithamnus mentalis At (RN) and (W)

Slaty Antwren Myrmotherula schisticolor A pair (W)

Dot-winged Antwren Microrhopias quixensis A female (W)

Dusky Antbird Cercomacra tyrannina A pair (W)

Chestnut-backed Antbird Myrmeciza exsul Heard (E)

Immaculate Antbird Myrmeciza immaculata Two (RN)

Spotted Antbird Hylophylax naeviodes A male (RN)

Thicket Antpitta Hylopezus dives Heard (RN)


Mistletoe (Paltry) Tyrannulet Zimmerius vilissimus Common (RN) and (W)

Yellow-bellied Tyrannulet Ornithion semiflavum Two (E)

Yellow-bellied Elaenia Elaenia flavogaster At (T), (RN) and (E)

Lesser Elaenia Elaenia chiriquensis At (W) and (E)

Mountain Elaenia Elaenia frantzii Only in the highlands.

Torrent Tyrannulet Serpophaga cinerea Common near rivers

Olive-striped Flycatcher Mionectes olivaceus Only (RN)

Ochre-bellied Flycatcher Mionectes oleagineus One (RN)

Scale-crested Pygmy-tyrant Lophotriccus pileatus One (RN) and two (W)

Black-headed Tody-flycatcher Todirostrum nigriceps One (RN)

Common Tody-flycatcher Todirostrum cinereum Only at (RN) and (W)

Eye-ringed Flatbill Rhynchocyclus brevirostris Single birds (RN) and (W)

Yellow-olive Flycatcher Tolmomyias sulphurescens At (RN) and (W)

Yellow-margined Flycatcher Tolmomyias assimilis One at (LC)

White-throated Spadebill Platyrinchus mystaceus One (RN)

Sulphur-rumped Flycatcher Myiobius sulphureipygius One (RN)

Tawny-chested Flycatcher Aphanotriccus capitalis A single bird at (RN). This could well be the rarest breeding bird species in Costa Rica

Tufted Flycatcher Mitrephanes phaeocercus Common (T) and (TL)

Dark Pewee Contopus lugubris At (T) and (TL)

Eastern Wood-pewee Contopus virens Only at (T)

Tropical Pewee Contopus cinereus Only in the highlands and at mid elevation

Least Flycatcher Empidonax minimus Only (W)

Black-capped Flycatcher Empidonax atriceps Common (TL)

Black Phoebe Sayornis nigricans Near rivers (T) and (TL)

Dusky-capped Flycatcher Myiarchus tuberculifer Widespread

Sulphur-bellied Flycatcher Myiodynstes luteiventris One (E)

Great Kiskadee Pitangus sulphuratus Common and widespread

Boat-billed Flycatcher Megarhynchus pitangua Only at high and mid elevation

Social Flycatcher Myiozetetes similis At high and mid elevation

Gray-capped Flycatcher Myiozetetes granadensis Only (W) and (E)

Streaked Flycatcher Myiodynastes maculatus Two (E)

Tropical Kingbird Tyrannus melancholicus Common and widespread

Fork-tailed Flycatcher Tyrannus savana In the Pacific lowlands

Rose-throated Becard Pachyramphus aglaiae At (W), (E) and (M)

Masked Tityra Tityra semifasciata At (RN) and (E)

Black-crowned Tityra Tityra inquisitor At (RN)


White-collared Manakin Manacus candei Several (RN)

White-ruffed Manakin Corapipo altera Heard (RN)

Blue-crowned Manakin Pipra coronata Two (LC)

COTINGAS Cotingidae

Rufous Piha Lipaugus unirufus Heard (W)

Turquoise Cotinga Cotinga ridgwayi A fine male (W)

SWALLOWS Hirundinidae

Mangrove Swallow Tachycineta albilinea Present wherever there are mangroves

Grey-breasted Martin Progne chalybea On the coast

Blue-and-white Swallow Notiochelidon cyanoleuca Only in the highlands

Northern Rough-winged Swallow Stelgidopteryx serripennis Only (T)

Southern Rough-winged Swallow Stelgidopteryx ruficollis Widespread

Barn Swallow Hirundo rustica On the Pacific coast

Cliff Swallow Hirundo pyrrhonota Vrey local (E)


Long-tailed Silky-flycatcher Ptilogonys caudatus Common (TL)

Black-and-yellow Silky-flycatcher Phainoptila melanoxantha Only at (T)

DIPPERS Cinclidae

American Dipper Cinclus mexicanus One (T)

WRENS Troglodytidae

Black-throated Wren Thryothorus atrogularis Heard (TL)

Riverside Wren Thryothorus semibadius One (E)

Stripe-breasted Wren Thryothorus thoracicus Heard (RN)

Plain Wren Thryothorus modestus Only (RN)

House Wren Troglodytes aedon Widespread

White-breasted Wood-wren Henicorhina leucosticta Heard (RN)

Gray-breasted Wood-wren Henicorhina leucophrys Widespread, heard more often than seen


Black-faced Solitaire Myadestes melanops Heard (TL)

Black-billed Nightingale-thrush Catharus gracilirostris Common (TL)

Orange-billed Nightingale-thrush Catharus aurantiirostris One (W)

Swainson's Thrush Catharus ustulatus One (RN)

Sooty Robin (Thrush) Turdus nigrescens Only (TL)

Mountain Robin (Thrush) Turdus plebejus Only (TL)

Clay-colored Robin (Thrush) Turdus grayi Common and widespread

White-throated Robin (Thrush) Turdus assimilis At least two (W)

GNATCATCHERS Polioptilidae

Tropical Gnatcatcher Polioptila plumbea One (E)

JAYS & CROWS Corvidae

Brown Jay Cyanocorax morio Common lowlands

BUNTINGS Emberizidae

Rufous-collared Sparrow Zonotrichia capensis Common, except on the Osa Peninsula

Volcano Junco Junco vulcani Five Cerro de la Muerte

Blue-black Grassquit Volatinia jacarina Only (E)

Variable Seedeater Sporophila aurita Widespread in grassland

Yellow-bellied Seedeater Sporophila nigricollis A female (E)

Ruddy-breasted Seedeater Sporophila minuta A male (E)

Thick-billed Seed-finch Oryzoborus funereus Only (E)

Yellow-faced Grassquit Tiaris olivacea Common

Orange-billed Sparrow Arremon aurantiirostris Widespread. Heard more often than seen

Black-striped Sparrow Arremonops conirostris Widespread

Sooty-faced Finch Lysurus crassirostris One (T)

Large-footed Finch Pezopetes capitalis Only (TL)

Yellow-thighed Finch Pselliophorus tibialis Only (TL)

CARDINALS & GROSBEAKS Emberizidae - Cardinalinae

Rose-breasted Grosbeak Pheucticus ludovicianus One (RN)

Black-thighed Grosbeak Pheucticus tibialis One (TL)

Black-headed Saltator Saltator atriceps Only (RN)

Buff-throated Saltator Saltator maximus Widespread except Osa Penninsula

Streaked Saltator Saltator striatipectus Only (W)

TANAGERS & ALLIES Emberizidae - Thraupinae

Common Bush-tanager Chlorospingus ophthalmicus Only (T) and (W)

Sooty-capped Bush-tanager Chlorospingus pileatus Common (TL)

Ashy-throated Bush-tanager lorospingus canigularis Two (RN)

Gray-headed Tanager Eucometis penicillata Common (W)

White-shouldered Tanager Tachyphonus luctuosus A pair (RN)

White-lined Tanager Tachyphonus rufus Scarce (RN (E)

Black-cheeked Ant-tanager Habia atrimaxillaris Heard (M)

Flame-colored Tanager Piranga bidentata Common (TL)

Summer Tanager Piranga rubra Widespread

Crimson-collared Tanager Ramphocelus sanguinolentus A fine male (RN)

Passerini's Tanager Ramphocelus passerinii Common on the Atlantic slope

Cherrie's Tanager Ramphocelus costaricensis Common on the Pacific slope

Blue-grey Tanager Thraupis episcopus Common and widespread

Palm Tanager Thraupis palmarum Common and widespread

Yellow-crowned Euphonia Euphonia luteicapilla Only (E)

Thick-billed Euphonia Euphonia laniirostris Only (W)

Spot-crowned Euphonia Euphonia imitans Only (E)

Olive-backed Euphonia Euphonia gouldi Only (RN)

Tawny-capped Euphonia Euphonia anneae Only (RN)

Silver-throated Tanager Tangara icterocephala Common except Osa Peninsula

Speckled Tanager Tangara guttata At (RN) and (W)

Bay-headed Tanager Tangara gyrola Common

Golden-hooded Tanager Tangara larvata Common

Spangle-cheeked Tanager Tangara dowii Only at (T) and (TL)

Green Honeycreeper Chlorophanes spiza At (RN) and (W)

Red-legged Honeycreeper Cyanerpes cyaneus At (E) and (M)

Slaty Flowerpiercer Diglossa plumbea At (T) and (TL)


Bananaquit Coereba flaveola Widespread in small numbers


Golden-winged Warbler Vermivora chrysoptera Only at mid elevation

Blue-winged Warbler Vermivora pinus A fine male (RN)

Tennessee Warbler Vermivora peregrina Widespread

Flame-throated Warbler Parula gutturalis Only (TL)

Tropical Parula Parula pitiayumi One (RN)

Black-and-white Warbler Mniotilta varia At mid elevation

Yellow Warbler Dendroica petechia At (T) and (W)

Chestnut-sided Warbler Dendroica pensylvanica Widespread, mainly females

Townsend's Warbler Dendroica townsendi Males at (TL) and (W)

American Redstart Setophaga ruticilla At (RN) and (W)

Northern Waterthrush Seiurus noveboracensis One (E)

Louisana Waterthrush Seirus motacilla One (TL)

Wilson's Warbler Wilsonia pusilla Common at mid elevation and in the highlands

Slate-throated Redstart Myioborus miniatus Only (RN)

Collared Redstart Myioborus torquatus Two (W)

Golden-crowned Warbler Basileuterus culicivorus Several (TL)

VIREOS Vireonidae

Green Shrike-vireo Vireolanius pulchellus A fine male (RN) Wonderful views of this elusive bird

Yellow-throated Vireo Vireo flavifrons One (TL)

Philadelphia Vireo Vireo philadelphicus At Vista du Valle and (W)

Tawny-crowned Greenlet Hylophilus ochraceiceps Only (RN)

FINCHES Fringillidae

Yellow-bellied Siskin Carduelis xanthogastra Six (TL)


Chestnut-headed Oropendola Psarocolius wagleri At least sixty (RN)

Montezuma Oropendola Gymnostinops montezuma Only (T) and (RN)

Subtropical (Scarlet-rumped) Cacique Cacicus uropygialis Only (RN)

Baltimore (Northern) Oriole Icterus galbula Very widespread

Black-cowled Oriole Icterus dominicensis Two CATIE

Red-breasted Blackbird Sturnella militaris Males (E)

Eastern Meadowlark Sturnella magna Only near (LC) and (E)

Great-tailed Grackle Quiscalus mexicanus Very common

Bronzed Cowbird Molothrus aeneus Two (RN)


Brown-throated Three-toed Sloth Bradypus variegatus A male seen as we were approaching Dominical

White-lined Sac-winged Bat Saccopteryx sp. At least eight (E)

Central American Squirrel Monkey Saimiri oerstedii Four near (W)

White-fronted Capuchin Monkey Cebus albifrons A troupe of at least eight (M)

Mantled Howler Monkey Allonatta palliata Up to twenty (M)

Central American Spider Monkey Ateles geoffroyii At least four (M)

White-nosed Coati Nasua narica At least three (W) and ten (M)

Red-tailed Squirrel Sciurus granatensis Widespread

Variegated Squirrel Sciurus variegatoides Only (RN)

Dusky Rice Rat Melanomys caliginosus Several (RN)

Central American Agouti Dasyprocta punctata One (T) and at least two (M)

Forest Rabbit Sylvilagus brasiliensis One (RN)


Cane Toad Bufo marinus At (RN) and (E)

Tink Frog Eleutherodactylus diastema Heard in many locations


Green Iguana Iguana iguana Pacific lowlands

Black Spiny-tailed Iguana Iguana negra At (G)

Ground Anole Norops humilis At (RN) and (E)

Central American Whip-tailed Lizard Ameira festiva Several (M)

Green Spiny Lizard Scaloporus malachiticus One (M)

Basilisk Basiliscus basiliscus At (E)

Snapping Turtle Chelydra serpentina At least three (E)

Hognosed Viper Porthidium neontum One (RN)

© The Travelling Naturalist 2002