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April 18 - Costa Rica in search of the Resplendent Quetzal (1 Viewer)

dandsblair

David and Sarah
Supporter
We had previously visited Costa Rica as part of a general wildlife tour and although we saw plenty due to severe unseasonal weather we missed quite a bit including the Quetzal at Monteverde. So 17 years on and timed to co-incide with a big birthday we were back in Costa Rica staying at Savegre for the Quetzal and visiting mostly places we didn’t make last time. We didn’t do OSA, Nicoya or Tortuguera having spend some time there last time.

We started and finished in the Bougainvillea in Santa Domingo (only had lunch there first time), 3 nights in Maquenque Eco Lodge, 2 Nights at Arenal Observatory Lodge, 2 Nights at Cerro Lodge for Carara, 3 Nights in Gerado De Dota (Savegre Hotel), 3 Nights at Rancho Naturalista and 2 Nights at Tirimibina Reserve (also for La Selva). We took the new direct flights from Gatwick to San Jose a huge improvement on previous indirect flights we have taken to South and Central America.

We did look at cost of 4WD self-drive option but when I compared prices using a Local Driver / Guide and local company to book the accommodation it was not much more expensive than doing everything myself (it was actually cheaper than a self-drive option via a UK company) and took away some of the need to do loads of local preparation. We booked with Bella Aventura – I dealt with Veronika who is based in San Jose and speaks perfect English. We paid through Evaneos in UK pounds and had financial protection. They seem to offer this service for a few local companies in various countries.

We had the old Stiles and Skutch Guide but used Garrigues and Dean - The Birds of Costs Rica (second edition); (Danny our guide also had a few other books in the van for reference). Taxonomy we used was from AOCR 2018 The Official list of birds of Costa Rica.

On arrival at 16.00 we had to wait ages for our luggage, and then the traffic to Bougainvillea was really bad, despite our taxi driver trying loads of shortcuts, so it was after dark by the time we arrived. So no introductory bird walk in the garden. Instead we just had a brief walk in grounds after dinner. We heard a Mottled Owl but there was a US bird tour around the place so we weren’t sure if it was a bird or a speaker and it certainly didn’t respond to us calling, we also heard a Common Pauraque but couldn’t locate it, we found it next time we were here sitting on the tennis court. Also no sign of any frogs at the ponds.

Day 1 – San Domingo and Maquenque.

Up at first light for a walk of the hotel grounds. Our guide Danny Ugalde was picking us up at 09.00 so plenty of time for a birdwatch before and after breakfast. First birds we saw were Clay-coloured Thrushes which were pretty much everywhere, it was only at the end of the trip when they were in full song that you could understand why they are Costa Rican national bird. We soon added Rufous-naped Wren, Lesson’s Motmot, Hoffman’s Woodpecker, the ubiquitous Blue-Grey Tanager, Baltimore Oriole, Rufous-tailed Hummingbird, Inca Dove and Rufous-collared Sparrow. After breakfast we only added Chestnut-sided Warbler, Red-eyed Vireo and Swainson’s Thrush we couldn’t find the Ferruginous Pygmy Owl.

Danny arrived promptly at 9.00 and after a quick discussion about paying for access for potential hotspots (typically $5-10 per person), we agreed that we would for some, we set off for Maquenque.
The first of these stops was a garden on the edge of Braulio Carrillo, a transition area in terms of altitude and central / carribean species; the targets were Black-crested Coquette and Snowcap with an off-chance of Bare-necked Umbrellabird. We quickly found the Black-crested Coquette, he seemed to have a favoured perch, we had seen female Snowcap last visit but we quickly got a male albeit showing only briefly before, being chased off by Rufous-tailed Hummers. Other birds included Purple-crowned Fairy, Violet-headed Hummingbird, Crowned Woodnymph, Green Thorntail and Ruddy Pigeon. The father said his son was out on the trails looking for the Umbrellabird but hadn’t found it’s breeding area yet. So onto Maquenque with lunch and an ATM stop at Pital – we could probably have survived just on US dollars and then getting change in Colones but wanted to have some local currency for any small purchases.

The Maquenque Eco Lodge is a new 60hectare reserve located just north of Boca Tapada, San Carlos and offers easy access to the newly created Maquenque National Wildlife Refuge of 60.000 hectares in size. A local family created the lodge to maintain and conserve wildlife habitat, while providing visitors with high quality accommodations and service in a unique framework, creating an unforgettable rainforest experience or rainforest vacation in this privileged region, still off of the beaten path. The Lodge is located inside the Maquenque Eco Preserve in the Northern Territory of San Carlos, specifically in Boca Tapada. Surrounded by tropical rainforests, and bordering the Majestic San Carlos River, you have to take a small boat crossing to get to the lodge.

On the boat trip across we had Chestnut-headed and Montezuma’s Oropendula. It was pretty hot and humid in this lowland area bordering Nicaragua so we decided to wait by the feeders until 15.30 before setting off. The feeders had Passerini’s Tanager, Black-cheeked Woodpecker, Orange-chinned Parakeets, Green Honeycreeper and surprisingly for us Grey-headed Chacalaca.
The walk around the first trail and gardens gave us Wedge-billed Woodcreeper, Common Tody-flycatcher, Golden-hooded Tanager, Black-headed Saltator, Red-winged Blackbird, Black-cowled Oriole, Philadelphi Vireo, Squirrel Cuckoo, Collared Aracari, Amazon Kingfisher, and Yellow-billed Cacique.

It was a bit drizzly tonight – this place has rain year round despite it being the dry season but hopefully a little moisture will bring out the frogs. We did do a quick look for owls but nothing tonight.

Other wildlife included Agouti, White-nosed Coati and single Caiman.
 

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MKinHK

Mike Kilburn
Hong Kong
A cracking start! Having just dipped an initial toe into Latin American birding I'm looking forward to more of this. Bring it on!

Cheers
Mike
 

dandsblair

David and Sarah
Supporter
Macaque Lodge and reserve

Macaque Lodge and reserve

It was a relaxed start at 06.00 with a walk around the gardens and down to the river before Breakfast and then a walk around the tree-house trail. In the afternoon we went round the two longer trails with Katalina a young trainee guide while Danny caught up with paperwork. Rather than a blow by blow account I’ll give highlights. Before breakfast Striped Cuckoo, Pied Puffbird, Olive-backed Euphonia and Long-tailed Tyrant, over breakfast 2 fly past macaws unfortunately Scarlet not Great Green. After breakfast Yellow-throated Toucan, Red-lored Parrot, Variable Seedeater, and then our only two Nicaraguan Grackle[/B] of the trip. Danny said they are regular here but we only saw Great-tailed Grackle after this pair. Into the forest we had our first Poison Dart Frogs of the trip two Strawberry (Blue Jeans) Poision Dart Frogs, then Plain Brown Woodcreeper, a female Manakin no ID, Broad-billed Motmot, Buff-throated Saltator, Cowled Oriole before we added Green and Black Poison Dart Frogs and Chocolate Rain Frog.

In the afternoon with Katalina we didn’t add much until we found two Manikin leks and there we saw three male Red-headed Manikins and a Bay Wren. Into the open area after our walk we added Yellow-headed Caracara, Green-breasted Mango and by the pool Bronzy Hermit.

Danny was a little worried by the lack of Great Green Macaws, usually a pretty reliable bird at Maquenque, so he had contacted friends and knew of a nest site near San Juan research area. We got the boat across and drove a few miles to the nest tree, there was lots about, Crimson-fronted Parakeets, Mealy Parrots and a couple of Bat Falcons that attacked the parrots as they came in but at the Macaw nest hole there were three Black Vultures trying to get into the cavity, it looked like the nest had failed and although we waited until dark we only added 3 King Vultures.
After the boat trip back to the lodge area we added Common Pauraque who showed well on the path to the restaurant.

Mottled Owls called overnight near our room but we couldn’t find them.
 

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dandsblair

David and Sarah
Supporter
Thanks

A cracking start! Having just dipped an initial toe into Latin American birding I'm looking forward to more of this. Bring it on!

Cheers
Mike

Thanks

I think Costa Rica or Trinidad & Tobago are ideal introductions to Central / South America without the mind blowing numbers of species that you get in Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador or Peru.
 

JWN Andrewes

Poor Judge of Pasta.
Nice Bay Wren. Tricky enough to see some of those neotropical Wrens, let alone photograph. Looking forward to the rest of this, found Costa Rica to be a most enjoyable place to bird.
 

dandsblair

David and Sarah
Supporter
Thanks - just luck

Nice Bay Wren. Tricky enough to see some of those neotropical Wrens, let alone photograph. Looking forward to the rest of this, found Costa Rica to be a most enjoyable place to bird.

Pure luck - Bay Wren popped out to take the spider while we were watching Red-headed Manakins
 

dandsblair

David and Sarah
Supporter
Maquenque Continued

Maquenque Continued

There was a real threat of a storm last night but all we had was some drizzle around bed time and today it was really humid with a mist making visibility poor. The big target was still Great Green Macaw, so we would do our usual local walks before breakfast and then get the boat across to the San Carlos area to look for them in the area near the failed nest we saw yesterday. We got many of the same species, no real surprise there; best sightings were Golden-hooded, Dusky-headed, Passerini’s and Palm Tanager, Smoky Brown Woodpecker, Piratic Flycatcher, Black-crowned Tityra, White-collared Swift, Northern Jacana, Spotted Sandpiper, Black-bellied Whistling Duck and Crested Caracara, we then had 2 macaws fly into a nearby tree but they were just Scarlet Macaws and although huge and colourful they were obscured a little in the mist we also added a pair of Pale-billed Woodpeckers.

Over the river we went adding Mangrove Swallow and Montezuma’s Oropendula on the boat crossing. We went beyond the nest tree and followed a road with a “no-hunting” sign until we were in an open area but surrounded by forest at all sides.

There were plenty of parrots and parakeets flying around but no sound of the macaws. We did add a nice Blue Grosbeak and Bronzed Cowbird to the list.

After a suitable wait we decided to just drive around with the windows opened listening for the birds calling, after about 20 minutes – success!! We heard the birds calling; Danny stopped the van and he and I quickly got on the birds from the car and then we followed them in our binoculars as we got out and the birds flew across, however Sarah who had struggled with the door opening in the back (she finally got the hang of it about 10 days in) could not get out and so she had missed the two Great Green Macaws as they took off and as they flew across the valley. Both Danny and I thought we knew where the birds had landed but as it was a little way down the winding road we disagreed exactly where it was, however we knew roughly the area so we headed that way and tried to get Sarah on the birds. However after much trying and only Collared Aracari, Plain Brown Woodcreeper, Yellow-throated Toucan and Mealy Parrot we returned to the lodge for lunch.

After lunch Sarah decided to take a nap before our afternoon walk, whilst I sat on the balcony watching a Variable Seedeater feeding his young in a nearby nest, whilst the Iguana’s played on the lagoon shore; then sodd’s law after trying for two days I saw two Great Green Macaws fly into a bare tree right across from our balcony, with no thoughts of photographs I hurried in to the room, woke Sarah and got her out in time for her to see the two birds and then follow them as they flew deeper into the forest.

That was great news, we wouldn’t go looking for them again, we would spend time on the local trails and then try the lagoons for crakes which had been calling just before dark. The trail walk was pretty uneventful with only Slaty Spinetail, Black-crowned Tityra, Striped Cuckoo and Black-cheeked Woodpecker added before we got to the lagoons. I tried calling the White-throated Crake – Danny had his backpag with his speaker, MP3 player with all his calls, spotlight, etc. stolen in Monteverde, his whole tour group had their backpacks stolen by an organised gang; and although he was using Xeno-Canto to get things onto his phone it only worked when he had a signal, he later downloaded the app when we were next on-line.

Fortunately I had downloaded most calls I thought we might need and brought a speaker. I put speaker down by the edge and we heard a response but it sounded different and from the other side of the water, but Sarah called bird here, I said no it’s a Galinule chick, she said don’t be stupid it’s behind it and sure enough there was a White-throated Crake, and a second bird also at the vegetation edge. I even managed a record shot. Danny meanwhile had found the other bird and got it in the scope it was a bird he had never seen before, he showed me it in the scope and we all got a decent look to see the rufous on the back of the head and grey on the breast, it was a Grey-breasted Crake. Danny spoke to the local guide later and he said they saw it and never tried for it here but obviously he would in future. As we walked over to the next lake and the cabins we had Keel-billed Toucan and Red-lored Parrots before a hat-trick of crakes with a Uniform Crake flying out of the reeds and into the nearby field.

Only night bird was usual Common Pauraque.
 

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MKinHK

Mike Kilburn
Hong Kong
I hereby award you a black belt in rubbing salt in the wound with all those King Vulture sightings and pix!

Cheers
Mike
 

Andy Adcock

Well-known member
England
I hereby award you a black belt in rubbing salt in the wound with all those King Vulture sightings and pix!

Cheers
Mike

David, re 'Dusky-headed' Tanager, I assume you mean Dusky-faced?

Hadn't realised that King Vulture was a tough bird to see? Although we only saw one in CR, we have seen them elsewhere, e.g Venezuela.

Put this in your 'bird porn' folder Stuart until you nail one!

Venezuela 2015, I was probably a bit ripe at the time, it may have thought I was dead from the smell.....:eek!:


A
 

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dandsblair

David and Sarah
Supporter
Maquenque to Arenal

Maquenque to Arenal

Last morning at Maquenque – and although Mottled Owl and Howler monkeys were calling right by our room we only saw the Black Howlers. Last stroll before breakfast and we saw Scaly-breasted Hummingbird, White-crowned Parrot, Keel-billed Toucan, Paltry Tyrannulet, Northern Waterthrush, Pied Puffbird, Yellow Warbler, Baltimore Oriole and Amazon Kingfisher. We also had views of Green Basilisk, Caiman, Green Iguana and White-nosed Coati.

There was a road closure that meant it was almost lunch time when we reached La Fortuna, this town had changed massively since we were last here, much developed to support trips to Arenal when the Volcano was spectacularly active, we actually stopped for lunch in the same place as last time – I can’t remember the name but it near a local nature reserve (Danaus) and has a small pond and a Boat-billed Heron roost which you can visit while lunch is being cooked, we also saw a female Manakin (Orange or White Collared) and a Passerini’s Tanager.

Lunch was good but it was unseasonably hot so not much else was moving in the trees and with time cracking on we could now go to the Arenal Observatory Lodge to check in, where as last time we had just been day visitors. Our room was quite a walk from the main building and overlooked the forest heading down hill. No sooner had we got in the room unpacked a few things and got ourselves ready than I heard a distinctive sound I had hoped for; it was a Three-wattled Bellbird, it was quite distant but I’m sure it sort of responded to play back when I played the call as loud as I could on the balcony.
Danny had been looking on the Costa Rica “WhatsApp birds” group for info on this and a few other birds but they had not been sighted here yet this year; but at least one bird was obviously around.

We met at the viewing deck – Black-striped Sparrow, Blue Dacnis, Green Honeycreeper and Montezuma’s Oropendula about before deciding to walk the short trail via the Frog pool and then go down to the green gate and then back through the garden. First birds we saw were Collared Aracari, then a few Crested Guan, at the frog pond we found a sleeping Red-eyed Tree Frog, we then spend ages trying to call in and getting views of Black-headed Nightingale Thrush, then on the trails back we flushed a Violaceous Quail-Dove. Out in the more open area we visited a spot Danny had previously seen Lovely Cotinga but no luck with that, in the garden we added Band-backed Wren, Red-winged Blackbird and Black-cowled Oriole. Then I got a major surprise when a male Great Currasow just crossed right in front of me and had the good grace to stop for a photograph.

It was a lovely sunset over Lake Arenal and we enjoyed a happy hour beer whilst adding Emerald Tanager at the feeder.

After dinner we visited a known spot near the entrance gate for Black and White Owl and after a little bit of searching we found the bird hunting from the power line.
 

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dandsblair

David and Sarah
Supporter
Thanks - it also hides the red eye

Wonderful shot of the owl! Really pops as a b/w image

Cheers
Mike

It also hides the pink/red-eye as I was trying flash for first time in years.
 

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dandsblair

David and Sarah
Supporter
Full Day around Arenal

Full Day around Arenal

What we were unaware of until we arrived was that the main trail in the Arenal National Park to walk up to the permited limit of the volcano was closed. So many more people than usual were using the Observatory lodge trails on a day pass, this meant that the area around the Falls and beyond Dante Bridge were very busy and noisy – not ideal for spotting Cotingas. We also heard that a large group of around 20 people had been disturbing leaves, using flash photography and sticking phones just inches from the frogs and had scared off all the tree frogs near the pool. That certainly seemed to be true when we went back this day and Danny reported it to the Ranger.

We went to area where the Bellbird had called yesterday, early in the morning before the trails opened to visitors but no calls and no response to playback, we did hear a White-Collared Manakin although only I got good looks and a quick photo, still it wasn’t a lifer and we should see these elsewhere. We then added Orange-bellied Trogon which is still shown as an endemic in the AOCR list, although some authorities have lumped it with Collared. In the walk through the gardens to get back for breakfast we added Brown-hooded Parrot, Bronze-tailed Plumeleteer, Black-crested Coquette, Wood Thrush and Buff-rumped Warbler.

After breakfast we went down toward the tower and I heard Thicket Antpitta, it must have taken us almost an hour to get decent view of the skulker but finally I got him to come into a semi clear area where I managed a poor record shot, and we all saw him well; a number of times we thought we had the bird but it the Black-headed Thrush Nightingale who seemed to respond when I played the call, I think I must have had him in background in the song I was playing. Danny said that the birds here had been known to come to worms but as we didn’t have any it was not something we could try.

Danny then went back to the lodge while Sarah and I did the Waterfall trail and the track to the suspension bridge. It was fairly quiet with quite a few people now around but we did keep the bird list ticking along with Cinnamon Becard, Stripe-breasted Wren, Yellow-faced Grassquit, Piratic Flycatcher, Grey-cheeked Dove, Short-billed Pigeon, and then male and female Great Currasow. Once we were back in the gardens we saw Orange-billed Sparrow, Emerald Tanager, Melodious Blackbird, Crested Guan, Collared Aracari and Brown Violetear.

After lunch Danny had got a pass so he could drive beyond the green gate up beyond the staff village to try for the Bellbird. I tried playing the call at various places but didn’t get any response but the fact that large noisy groups were all crossing the Dante Bridge probably didn’t help. In what was a disappointing afternoon we only added Spotted Woodcreeper, Tropical Parula, Yellow-crowned Euphonia, Keel-billed Toucan, Violet-headed Hummingbird and Steely-vented Hummingbird. The sunset was not very spectacular and the volcano was largely hidden as some light rain came tonight.
 

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Andy Adcock

Well-known member
England
Full Day around Arenal


Danny then went back to the lodge while Sarah and I did the Waterfall trail and the track to the suspension bridge. It was fairly quiet with quite a few people now around but we did keep the bird list ticking along with Cinnamon Becard, Stripe-breasted Wren, Yellow-faced Grassquit, Piratic Flycatcher, Grey-cheeked Dove, Short-billed Pigeon, and then male and female Great Currasow. Once we were back in the gardens we saw Orange-billed Sparrow, Emerald Tanager, Melodious Blackbird, Crested Guan, Collared Aracari and Brown Violetear.

Enjoying the read and comparing to our rip last year, nice memories and will go back one year.

Not being a pedant but which species do you refer to as 'Grey-cheeked Dove', not sure if both Grey-chested and Grey-headed are there?



A
 

dandsblair

David and Sarah
Supporter
Grey-chested Dove

Enjoying the read and comparing to our rip last year, nice memories and will go back one year.

Not being a pedant but which species do you refer to as 'Grey-cheeked Dove', not sure if both Grey-chested and Grey-headed are there?



A
No problem it was Grey-chested - I'll blame Sarah's writing for me not copying it across correctly from her notebook
 

dandsblair

David and Sarah
Supporter
Last morning at Arenal and drive to Cerro Lodge

Last morning at Arenal and drive to Cerro Lodge

In the Lodge blurb, it says the eco-lodge is perfectly positioned directly between the massive Arenal Volcano and deep blue Lake Arenal. The hotel has about eleven kilometers of hiking, horseback-riding and biking trails through the hotel’s property which is actually part of the Arenal National Park. You can explore the well–marked trails through primary and secondary rainforest and open pastureland on the 870-acre property.

We had a quick walk at first light in gloomy but dry conditions and added a nice pair of Scarlet-thighed Dacnis, to the life list, before seeing Streak-backed Oriole, Golden-hooded Tanager, Black-cheeked Woodpecker, Collared Aracari, Yellow Warbler and Great Kiskadee.

Danny had a possible place for Bellbirds near San Ramos, he showed me pictures a friend had taken of male and female on a display perch; so we would get off fairly early and try to find them. However 15 minutes in to the journey and just before we reached the lodge exit gate near the little river, we heard the male Three Wattled Bellbird calling he sounded quite close, but despite calling him he didn’t break cover and there was no trail into this forest area, really annoying this as we then heard a Bare-necked Umbrella bird booming, I don’t even know if he responds to calls but I had to try; but again despite scanning all the visible tree tops and likely areas with the scope all we had was another heard only which we don’t put on our list.

All we actually saw at this stop was a Grey Hawk, Black Phoebe and Brown Jay.

Our hopes of seeing Bellbird, or indeed anything were dashed when immediately the road climbed we were hit by fog that offered at times visibility of only about 10 meters, in fact we were glad just to get to the pacific side of the mountains safely and out of the fog.

We eventually stopped for lunch at a port north of Puntarenas, where we added Brown Pelican, Whimbrel, White Ibis, Laughing Gull, Royal Tern, Elegant Tern, Bridled Tern, Neotropic Cormorant and Great White Egret.

When we arrived at Cerro Lodge we found out that two other bird groups were also staying and both were visiting Carara tomorrow, although one group was doing the Tacoles boat trip in the morning, so we would do the main trails in the morning and the river trail in the afternoon. We were staying in room one which has an outside toilet and shower room, I had to put up a washing line with towels on it before Sarah was convinced that she wasn’t being spied on.

We just did a little birdwatching form the deck and walked around the local trails and roads, before a thunderstorm broke, this was first rain here for a while and everyone agreed it was much needed, albeit it curtailed or birdwatching. In our short walk we added Rufous-naped Wren, Yellow-naped Parrot, Black-headed Trogon, Gartered Trogon, Turquoise-browed Motmot, Hoffman’s Woodpecker and Rose-throated Becard.

With the lodge busy we decided to go out to eat and went to a steak and seafood restaurant near Tarcoles. It was very good.

When we arrived back at the lodge, around 20.00 we learned we had just missed the Black-and-white Owl sitting in the tree above the pool, we lingered over a beer but he didn’t show again before we went to bed.
 

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dandsblair

David and Sarah
Supporter
Carara

Carara

Carara NP is located about 15 miles north of the beach town of Jacó. The park protects the river basin of the River Tárcoles, near Orotina and includes one of the largest remaining populations of wild scarlet macaws in the country. Carara National Park contains more primary rainforest than the relatively close Manuel Antonio National Park. As such, it is better than the more popular National Park, and has denser tree growth and more mosquitoes and other insects. This environment makes Carara a haven for many bird species.

Off immediately after breakfast although the park didn’t open until 07.30 and closes at 16.30 in April, so Danny stopped just before Tarcoles bridge and let us out to cross the road and see the Crocodiles whilst also keeping an eye open for Yellow-billed Cotinga, he would then pick us up across the bridge. Danny said the Cotinga was pretty regular from the bridge but when I checked e-bird there were no recent sightings so perhaps a bit of old information and we didn’t see one in 3 attempts. In any event a week or so later due to lots of robberies of cars in the area and accidents as people went onto the road the tourist police were trying to stop people doing what we did.

We did the main reserve and its two trails this morning. The first thing that was noticeable was that the rain had brought out loads of Poison Dart Frogs – mainly Green and Black which on the pacific coast was really Black and Green. We made a quick move onto the accessible trail leaving the bigger group behind. We only bumped into them once at the bridge and they had not seen us many birds but had seen a huge Savanna Snake. Our first bird was a Slaty-tailed Trogon, then Black-hooded Antshrike, Barred Antshrike and Turquoise-browed Motmot. Then we saw a group of feeding Scarlet Macaws looking huge compared to the Mealy and Red-lored Parrots also in the same area. As we crossed the bridge we heard manakins calling, I’m sure they were Orange-collared but we couldn’t see them but Danny spotted a manakin in the water having a bath but it was an unexpected male Blue –crowned Manakin, other birds in this area included Bare-crowned Antbird and Baird’s Trogon, before we heard a Streak-chested Antpitta and after setting up my speaker on a log and calling for a bit we had two birds coming really close, although still not easy to photograph and a bonus Black-faced Antthrush on the same log as one of the birds.

Onto the other trail and we bumped into another guide who had seen a Puffbird, in the area we were looked we found two Fiery-billed Aracari and a Barred Antshrike before eventually finding the White-whiskered Puffbird. That was about it for the morning apart from an obliging Gartered Trogon near the car park.

Lunch was near the bridge and we passed a flooded field full of White Ibis, Roseate Spoonbill and Spotted Sandpipers.

We chatted to a German birder over lunch who we had passed in the morning, we pointed him at the Puffbird and the Trogon. He was wondering if we were going to the river trail, this afternoon. I said yes but Danny had reservations about leaving his vehicle there as the local guy who watches the cars for a dollar or two was not around today – it was a public holiday and the guides in the park were saying it wasn’t safe to leave things – I think he might have been also affected by his very recent robbery. I said lets go and we can walk a little way and if you are uncomfortable you can go back to the car, the German guy followed us as I don’t think he knew where the entrance was, if you are heading south over the bridge towards Jaco, it is a small poorly marked turning on the left hand side, 250m over the bridge, from Jaco it is a turning on the right just as the bridge becomes visible, there is parking for 6 or so cars.

This afternoon there was just the two vehicles and we cleared everything out of sight before setting off. The trails were more open and less well tended but they had good birds, we heard and then saw Black-bellied Wren, then Royal Flycatcher, then we had great views of the White-whiskered Puffbird, Chestnut-backed Antbird[/B] and Ruddy-tailed Flycatcher. At the furthest point we reached we had a nice group of Red-eyed Vireo, Scrub Greenlet, Chestnut-sided Warbler, White-shouldered Tanager and Yellow Warbler.

On the way back – we went into a side trail when we heard some manakins wing-snapping and calling, I was first on a lovely male Orange-collared Manakin but a little confused when I saw he was lekking with an immature Long-tailed Manakin, eventually I got Sarah and Danny on the Green bird with the red crown and black face as it then moved with the females. Is this normal that a young manakin copies the behaviour of another manakin species? On the way back to the car we also saw a couple of Spider Monkeys.

We thought we could get into the main lodge for a short walk but although only 16.15 the gate was closed and we couldn’t enter so we just took a drive down to the beach area where the boat tours leave. We had decided not to do the boat trip tomorrow as the last two days had reported nothing of interest. We saw Bare-throated Tiger Heron, Brown Pelican, Muscovy Duck, Snowy Egret and Wood Stork.

Dinner in Cerro Lodge – decent buffet but no sign of any owls tonight.

Footnote – we bumped into the German birder later. He left about 30 minutes after us but was stopped on the trail on the way out by armed police and given a hard time for being in the reserve after the official closing. They described it as dangerous.
 

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