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a few days in San Jose (1 Viewer)

ovenbird43

Well-known member
I will be in San Jose for a conference from June 23-28. I may or may not have time to do an overnight trip from the city (depends on when my talk is scheduled), but at the least I want to consider some morning or day trips from San Jose. This will be my fourth visit to Costa Rica, so other than a few target species easily reachable from San Jose, it will mostly be leisurely birding.

One top target though is Prevost's Ground Sparrow. I understand they can be found in/around San Jose. After a quick internet search I found that they can be seen at Hotel Bougainvillea, but I'd welcome any knowledge of alternative sites within the city because I don't intend to stay at that hotel (but a one-night stay there is an option if it's the most reliable place for this species).

The only other easily reachable spot (as far as I know) that would offer potential lifers is Braullio Carillo National Park (I'm missing many of the mid-elevation Caribbean species). I know that buses go right by the entrance... however, if I took a bus down there, would I easily be able to flag a bus down to return to San Jose?

The conference offers day trips to La Paz Waterfall Gardens, and I will probably sign up for one. I welcome any other suggestions for day trips from San Jose for any kind of general birding.

Thank you in advance!
 

kstrating

Well-known member
We birded Quebrada Gonzalez in Baurilo Carrillo with our own car, and it was great, even when we arrived at around 11am. Road was good, going, though I expect catching a bus back may be an issue due to the construction delays at Route 4 intersection (east of QG). They are letting traffic through for 30 minutes in alternating directions, but this is really not sufficient to handle the amount of traffic. In the afternoon, the road coming north from Guapiles (and potentially with buses toward QG and San Jose) was a parking lot for more than 10km from the junction. It was quite a snarl. We were there on March 23, so perhaps the construction is done, but worth checking.
 
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Birdingcraft

Well-known member
Although Prevosts has been seen at Bougainvillea in the past and could still turn up, this doesn't seem to be a reliable spot for this species any more (hardly any reports past 3 years despite many birders and tours staying there). I kind of wonder if it has been replaced by White-eared Ground Sparrow in many areas (and info in Stiles and Skutch seems to hint at that possibility).

But anyways, a spot where it seems to still be regularly seen in San Jose is at the University of Costa Rica in San Pedro- check out any wilder looking area on campus and it might turn up. Bicolored Hawk has also been seen there once in a while along with some other interesting things now and then. Other than that, Ujarras seems to be most reliable but that's kind of far from San Jose for a day trip with public transportation.

Yeah, you can flag down buses in front of Quebrada Gonzalez. Might not be any seats and you may have to stand but can be done. Lot of foothill possibilities. Good place just to hang out in the forest and see what turns up. Roadwork should be done by then.

Yeah, the waterfall gardens can be good for middle elevation birds and many hummingbirds.

Unfortunately, not too many other choices for day trips from San Jose with public transportation. What are your targets?
 

ovenbird43

Well-known member
Thanks for the info everyone. Prevost's Ground Sparrow and Caribbean foothill specialties are my only real targets... and maybe those are the only areas I have time to visit, given that I should also spend time at the conference;) Specific Caribbean species that I haven't seen yet include Yellow-eared Toucanet, Lattice-tailed Trogon, Black-and-yellow and Blue-and-gold Tanagers, Dull-mantled Antbird, Black-crowned Antpitta (I can dream, right?), Black-crested Coquette, and Black-headed Antthrush. Probably a few I'm forgetting, I've not seen many of those specialties.
 

Jim M.

Choose Civility
Thanks for the info everyone. Prevost's Ground Sparrow and Caribbean foothill specialties are my only real targets... and maybe those are the only areas I have time to visit, given that I should also spend time at the conference;) Specific Caribbean species that I haven't seen yet include Yellow-eared Toucanet, Lattice-tailed Trogon, Black-and-yellow and Blue-and-gold Tanagers, Dull-mantled Antbird, Black-crowned Antpitta (I can dream, right?), Black-crested Coquette, and Black-headed Antthrush. Probably a few I'm forgetting, I've not seen many of those specialties.

I don't know anything about the current logistics of getting/birding there, but the private El Tapir Reserve/hummingbird gardens is near Quebrada Gonzalez and offers some of those species. According to the Barrett Lawson book, there is also an Aerial Tram site near there as well that may be good for some of those.

Jim
 

Birdingcraft

Well-known member
Except for Black-headed Antthrush, all of those targets are possible at Quebrada Gonzalez and maybe El Tapir too. I have seen the antthrush around both sites in the past. The gnatpitta is regular at Quebrada and should be at El Tapir but is always tough. Hang out near the back of the loop trail at Quebrada and it might make an appearance (of course easier with ants).

The coquette (and Snowcap) is much easier at El Tapir. Getting to El Tapir is just as easy as Quebrada but the bus driver might not know what it is called. It is the first place on the right after Quebrada that has a couple old buildings and an entrance with a small barbed wire gate- maybe 1-2 ks after Quebrada. Caretaker charges $5. Good hummingbirds and nice forest but a lot of ticks!

The aerial tram is further down the road and the birding can be very good back in there BUT you cant go in unless you take one of their costly tram tours so it is more or less useless for birding! Now if they would give people access for say $10, it would be a must visit site around there. No signs of that happening any time soon though.
 

Hamhed

Well-known member
I did quite a lot of busing last time I was in CR and found this website indispensible: http://thebusschedule.com/cr/index.php. The bus system is comprehensive, cheap and efficient! However, you may still be better off renting a car for (half) a day if you want to make the most of your time.

N
Not to be contrary, Nohatch, but we found this site to be inaccurate most of the time. Looks good but, in reality, is just a suggestion of what could happen.

Steve
 
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