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Best on site birding lodges in Costa Rica (2 Viewers)

Andy Adcock

Well-known member
England
Hi Andyadcock,

The scarlet macaw at Chilamate and elsewhere in Sarapiqui are fairly common now.
At Chilamate I had almost daily sightings of them, particularly flybys over the river in the late afternoon.
The morning that I left there were a pair perched near the rooms. I had multiple sightings of them also at La Selva.

From what I gather they occur so often some people in the area view them as a threat to the great green macaws as they are said to be overtaking their habitats. One lead guide at a nearby station told me he was trapping the scarlet macaws on his property because of that purported problem.

Thanks Les,

unless they have spread from their given range in Garrigues, that would be a very disjunct population?

Cheers, A
 

Birdingcraft

Well-known member
The problem with La Selva cost wise is that they charge everything on a per person basis.

We paid $90 per person per night although that is all meals included so $180 per day but considering the quality of meals and accomodation this is a lot we thought.

Scarlet Macaw at Chilamate, must be very rare or has the range expanded considerably since Garrigues wrote the book?


A

Scarlet Macaw- as Les mentioned, yeah, they are doing well in that area. Population increase is recent, I suspect that most of the birds have come from the burgeoning populations on the Pacific. Some of them being released birds are also possible. Historically, both species occurred on the Caribbean slope. With that in mind, hard to say if they would be displacing Great Greens although I would guess that there is probably more competition over fragmented available habitat. Most competition would probably be for nest sites. On a side note, I'm really hoping we get a Scarlet down that way on the Global Big Day, May 13. Even more so, I hope it doesn't rain the entire time!
 

Birdingcraft

Well-known member
I'd like to thank all those who have given their time to respond to this thread.
You've all given me much food for thought and ideas for some places I'd never even considered.
Based on the advice given, I have the bare bones of an itinerary.

Two nights Cerro Lodge. First night looking for Scarlet Macaws on the grounds.
Next morning riverside trail at Carara. Pm Tarcoles Boat trip.
Next day am birding back at Carara then transfer to Santa Elena.

One night in a cheap pension in Santa Elena. Pm birding at the Reserva Ecologica just outside town ( if anyone's been there would love to hear feedback but it seems like just my cup of tea. Ignored by the crowds and with some decent birds / wildlife onsite).

Two nights at San Gerardo field station. This place looks perfect for me, but I was saddened to read a recent trip report on Cloudbirders, which suggested that this site may be past its best, and detailed a severe decline in diversity and numbers of birds seen. I've also read that climate change is having a noticeable effect on the birds and animals of the general Santa Elena / Monteverde area.
If anyone can confirm this I may give the Santa Elena area a miss and have a closer look at the suggestions offered about the Savegre Valley.
Oh, almost forgot, can anyone suggest a good location for singing Bellbird in the Monteverde area, and what time of year are they vocal?

Two nights in a cheap pension in La Fortuna. Guided trips with Giovanni to his private reserve, and day trip to Cano Negro.

Two nights at Arenal Oasis Eco lodge for chilling and birding from a hammock, with a beer in one hand an my binoculars in the other.

Three nights at Arenal Observatory Lodge, wandering around the grounds and trails seeing what I see.

Three nights at either La Selva or somewhere in the Savegre Valley for cloudforest birds.
If I get any recent feedback about San Gerardo still being worth it I'll got there and later go to La Selva.
If the feedback on San Gerardo is that it really is an area of former glory, I'll give that a miss and go to La Selva and then Savegre.

Thanks in advance for any feedback on this proposed itinerary, and any suggestions for tweaks or alterations would be most welcome.
Cheers, Mark

Reserva Ecologica- I haven't been in an while but should be good for Long-tailed Manakins, many other birds, and good place to look for Black-breasted Wood-Quail, and Chiriqui Quail-Dove.

San Gerardo- Actually, unfortunately, it's not just San Ger., quite a few sites in CR seem to be suffering from climate change (including Savegre area), so far, I get the impression that this is especially the case in foothill forests. San Ger. is still good and worth a visit it's just that it used to be even more fantastic. However, the same could be said for many places in CR (and elsewhere on the globe). It's still exciting, it's just that there used to be even more birds and wildlife and that is reflected in that trip report. I would still go to San Ger. because you will still likely see several uncommon species and various things not seen at other places.

Hard to choose between La Selva or Savegre- you have a chance at a fair number of La Selva species around Arenal and with a boat trip to Cano Negro but not all of them of course. Since you don't have any other high elevation site listed, I would go with the Savegre area- not a whole lot of overlap with Monteverde.
Also, regarding Savegre, it's a nice lodge but if you want to cut costs, there are other options in the valley including Myriam's cabins. Myriams also has trails with most of same species as Savegre. Good birding also along the road in the valley in many spots and on the trail at the bottom that goes along the river.
 

Birdingcraft

Well-known member
Hi andyadcock
Thanks for the tip on Gavilán Lodge, I hadn't heard of it before. I had a quick look at their website, looks like a nice alternative to La Selva. When were you there last and how is the restaurant?

Its my understanding that La Selva will only allow folks to wander around the grounds after they've taken the tour with the La Selva guide. If thats the case and I imagine it is then paying the "day/guide" rate at La Selva and staying at Gavilán might start creeping up to La Selva fee territory. Then again one might just do the La Selva guided visit for just the one day.

Have you birded along that little road to La Selva? I've slowed down a few times but never stopped. Looks promising but I'm always focused on getting to La Selva at that point so tend to miss bits along the way.
Bryan

Gavilan is OK especially for bird photography, not as much habitat as La Selva though but an alright place to stay while visiting La Selva for a day.

La Selva entrance road- great area to bird especially when not staying at La Selva. Many species possible including Snowy Cotinga, often good looks at various woodpeckers, White-ringed fly, Pied Puffbird, trogons, etc.
 

Andy Adcock

Well-known member
England
Chiriqui Quail Dove was claimed at Cinchona while I was there.
A local called it out and I got utv's as it walked around the corner and never came back.

Would it be a likely bird here Patrick?

Let me know if you get the Scintillants ay Tiquicia, fingers crossed for you, what's the projected day total likely to be?



A
 

BryanP

Well-known member
Gavilan is OK especially for bird photography, not as much habitat as La Selva though but an alright place to stay while visiting La Selva for a day.

La Selva entrance road- great area to bird especially when not staying at La Selva. Many species possible including Snowy Cotinga, often good looks at various woodpeckers, White-ringed fly, Pied Puffbird, trogons, etc.

Hi Patrick
Thanks for the tip regarding Gavilan and the road into La Selva. Sounds like its worth a walk so next time I'll actually get out of the car and poke around a bit. That Snowy Cotinga is high on my list of must sees.
Regarding Savegre, I didn't know Myriams has trails as well as the cabins and restaurant, if I'm lucky enough to be up there in August I'll give them a shot.
Cheers,
Bryan
 
Hi Patrick,
Thanks for the heads up on Miriam's Quetzals. It looks like a gem of a place.
How far away are the other stes in Savegere from Miriams's. Is it feasible to do on foot?
Likewise, is it feasible to walk from lodge to lodge in the La Selva area?
That's what I did in Ecuador. Saved a bunch of money, and barring daily battles with the local canines it worked out great.
Cheers,
Mark
 
Forgot to ask on my last post.
It says on Miriam's website that the Quetzals are regular from October to March.
Does anyone know their status for the rest of the year? Do they remain resident within a breeding territory or disperse outwith the breeding season?
Cheers
 

Andy Adcock

Well-known member
England
Forgot to ask on my last post.
It says on Miriam's website that the Quetzals are regular from October to March.
Does anyone know their status for the rest of the year? Do they remain resident within a breeding territory or disperse outwith the breeding season?
Cheers


Here's the answer, probably from the same website

'The Quetzal is considered by many as the most beautiful bird of the world,This fantastic jewel of nature is nesting in the nearby forest and can be seen all year round, nevertheless they are more abundant during the months of October to January'

I'm not sure 'more abundant' is actually correct, perhaps, 'easier to see' is more accurate? Always easier to find when Avocadoes are fruiting, that's when the locals know where they are, based on where the fruiting trees are. Also during breeding, males are to be seen chasing females, we saw up to three males chasing single females.


A
 
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Birdingcraft

Well-known member
Chiriqui Quail Dove was claimed at Cinchona while I was there.
A local called it out and I got utv's as it walked around the corner and never came back.

Would it be a likely bird here Patrick?

Let me know if you get the Scintillants ay Tiquicia, fingers crossed for you, what's the projected day total likely to be?



A

Good one, sure, they occur at that elevation. Interesting to hear that, Buff-fronted has also been showing up there but both species are quite distinctive, especially Chiriqui.

I hope so! Projected total- impossible to say really because there are so many factors at play. For example, although we will be within range or more than 500 species, given the natural rarity of many of those species, it's hard to predict what will turn up. Rain will likely happen and maybe even all day (hope not!), and there could be some unforeseen traffic issue that eats away at time. We will tick more species if more birds are singing (especially at dawn), if we get some sun but mostly cloudy with a bit of rain, and if we find certain flowering and fruiting trees. What's for sure is that we will be in quality habitat for much of the day and since we will be focused on birds from 1 am until 7 or 8, it's going to be good!
 

Birdingcraft

Well-known member
Forgot to ask on my last post.
It says on Miriam's website that the Quetzals are regular from October to March.
Does anyone know their status for the rest of the year? Do they remain resident within a breeding territory or disperse outwith the breeding season?
Cheers

Like Andy said, depends on what fruit is available. They are present in cloud forest year round, might just wander around a bit more outside the breeding season.
 

Birdingcraft

Well-known member
Hi Patrick
Thanks for the tip regarding Gavilan and the road into La Selva. Sounds like its worth a walk so next time I'll actually get out of the car and poke around a bit. That Snowy Cotinga is high on my list of must sees.
Regarding Savegre, I didn't know Myriams has trails as well as the cabins and restaurant, if I'm lucky enough to be up there in August I'll give them a shot.
Cheers,
Bryan

Yeah, the entrance road is always worth a look although is staying at La Selva, you probably have a better chance at the cotinga by watching the tree tops along the river- like from the HQ area and bridge.
Myriams- yeah, trails are pretty good, fairly long, and go from the cabin area through primary forest.
 

Birdingcraft

Well-known member
Hi Patrick,
Thanks for the heads up on Miriam's Quetzals. It looks like a gem of a place.
How far away are the other stes in Savegere from Miriams's. Is it feasible to do on foot?
Likewise, is it feasible to walk from lodge to lodge in the La Selva area?
That's what I did in Ecuador. Saved a bunch of money, and barring daily battles with the local canines it worked out great.
Cheers,
Mark

It would be a pretty long walk from Myriams to Savegre area, especially going downhill and then back uphill. Some local taxi/transport should be possible.
La Selva area- I think most lodges are kind of far apart although Chilamate is next to Selva Verde, and Gavilan is maybe 2-3 ks from the La Selva entrance road.
 

Andy Adcock

Well-known member
England
It would be a pretty long walk from Myriams to Savegre area, especially going downhill and then back uphill. Some local taxi/transport should be possible.
La Selva area- I think most lodges are kind of far apart although Chilamate is next to Selva Verde, and Gavilan is maybe 2-3 ks from the La Selva entrance road.

You can definitely walk from Gavilan to La Selva.

Snowy Cotinga was seen on the trail in the park that runs paralell to the main road from the accommodation, while we were there but no by us sadly.



A
 
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Thanks to Patrick and Andy for the replies re Sarapiqui and Savegre.
It seems as though La Selva is generally regarded as the best site in that area so I'm gonna bite the bullet and pay for a stay there.
It was mentioned in a previous post that understory birds are in decline in that area. Is there any known reason for this?
I would have thought that in premium habitat, with no poaching or encroachment, that sites like that would have relative;y stable populations.
Is it possible that the birds are taped out and therefore recorded less frequently?
I'm a big antpitta fan and hope to see a few in CR.
Cheers
Mark
 

Andy Adcock

Well-known member
England
Thanks to Patrick and Andy for the replies re Sarapiqui and Savegre.
It seems as though La Selva is generally regarded as the best site in that area so I'm gonna bite the bullet and pay for a stay there.
It was mentioned in a previous post that understory birds are in decline in that area. Is there any known reason for this?
I would have thought that in premium habitat, with no poaching or encroachment, that sites like that would have relative;y stable populations.
Is it possible that the birds are taped out and therefore recorded less frequently?
I'm a big antpitta fan and hope to see a few in CR.
Cheers
Mark

There is no allowed use of tapes in any reserves in CR, I'm sure the odd person does but it shouldn't be a factor.

If you contact a guy called Cope (Kopay) near El tapir / Braulio Carillo, you are almost guaranteed to see Thicket Antpitta and there's a staked out Streak-chested at Carara though without a car I don't know how you'd do the former.

A great deal of luck is required with Scaled I believe though Patrick will know more and we were told that Ochre-breasted is very rarely seen anywhere these days?


A
 
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lewis20126

Well-known member
There is no allowed use of tapes in any reserves in CR, I'm sure the odd person does but it shouldn't be a factor.

If you contact a guy called Cope (Kopay) near El tapir / Braulio Carillo, you are almost guaranteed to see Thicket Antpitta and there's a staked out Streak-chested at Carara though without a car I don't know how you'd do the former.

A great deal of luck is required with Scaled I believe though Patrick will know more and we were told that Ochre-breasted is very rarely seen anywhere these days?


A

I saw Scaled at San Gerado in 2015: http://www.surfbirds.com/gallery/share_photo.php?imgname=20150416171931780.JPG

I think they are still occasionally seen there; probably easier in South America.

cheers, alan
 

BryanP

Well-known member
We seen the Ochre-breasted Antpitta at Quebradas Biological reserve but that was more than a few years ago. I've been told they've been seen there once or twice recently.
Bryan
 

Steve Lister

Senior Birder, ex County Recorder, Garden Moths.
United Kingdom
We seen the Ochre-breasted Antpitta at Quebradas Biological reserve but that was more than a few years ago. I've been told they've been seen there once or twice recently.
Bryan

And we saw one or two along the main track through Tapanti two years ago.

Steve
 

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