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.
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.
Regarding the decline of understory species at La Selva according to Patrick,
"It looks like researchers from Tulane have been studying the effects that Collared Peccaries have on forest ecosystem dynamics (http://gradworks.umi.com/35/11/3511560.html), and many others have noted the decline in understory birds (and leaf litter frogs) and wondered if peccaries might be part of the answer. I am sure that other edge effects don't help either but since peccaries seem to have a big impact on the forest understory in parts of La Selva, it seems that an overabundance of Collared Peccaries could be the biggest factor in reducing understory insectivores and some ground nesting birds there (such as White-fronted Nunbird)."
That's a good walk I hear, one day, when I get my new knee, and maybe a hip or two!
Walking down is Ok - it's getting back up that is a bit of a strain. Great place though. I took one session off and just enjoyed scanning from the balcony - but my mates got the umbrellabird and I never caught it up.
Understory birds at La Selva- I was speaking recently with someone who participated in those studies, he said that it is probably several factors working together that affect understory birds, most related to edge effects. Althought it's a sizeable area of lowland forest, La Selva is only loosely connected to other areas of lowland forest, most of them small in size. A real shame but probably shows that healthy populations of lowland rainforest birds in CR probably require larger areas of intact forest, or at least a mosaic of larger forested areas. A hotter, drier climate has probably also played a role, especially in recent years.
Just curious -- what understory species are we talking about here? Antbirds and such? Definitely noticed a lack of birds once we got into the deeper areas of La Selva when I was there, but I assumed that was mostly due to the fact our guide showed up an hour and a half late and we didn't get hiking until after 9:00. We did find a pretty big ant swarm though but it had 0 antbirds at it (just a ton of woodcreepers and a Buff-rumped Warbler). Eventually found a Chestnut-backed Antbird but that was essentially it.
Had over 100 species in the 5 hours we had at La Selva, though, so it was worth it in my opinion. Definitely wish we had more time there as we missed some species I would've loved to see there but as I was attending a birding camp I couldn't really do anything about it.
Yeah, hard to assess what's really happening during a short visit and a walk that starts so late- such a shame!
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.