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Birding Costa Rica on a Budget for a Week (1 Viewer)

lgonz1008

Well-known member
Simple question, I am planning for a post Covid world and I would like to try out Costa Rica for a week (hopefully in 2021), I don't have much experience in the Neotropics outside of a weekend in Panama last year, most of the birds seen then were widespread species and a few good birds that only reach Central America in Panama like Boat-billed Heron, Greater Ani, Great Potoo, Panama Flycatcher, White Hawk, and 20+ species of Tanagers.

If anyone could provide a list of places to hit in a week to get some of the best endemics and Costa Rican targets that would be greatly appreciated.
 

pbjosh

missing the neotropics
Switzerland
With a week to plan for, you can't even begin to see all the ecosystems, or have a realistic go at all the endemics and hard birds. I would aim for 2-3 destinations and not try to get to the most far-flung locations - namely not going to the Osa Peninsula on a one week itinerary unless you really want to target Cotingas and the Black-cheeked Ant-Tanager. Some of the "classic" destinations/areas that are readily accessible would include the Monteverde area, the Arenal area, perhaps Rancho Naturalista, the Cerro de la Muerte area or San Gerardo de Dota, La Selva, and Carara National Park. In just a week, trying to balance enjoyment and cool birds/endemics, I would probably do something like 2 days around either La Selva or Carara, 2 days in and around Monteverde, and 2 days in Cerro de la Muerte, also trying to make a few stops along the way for a few other birds here and there.

There's a birdfinding book available, as well as a newer/more up to date eBook that is available online:
https://www.amazon.com/dp/B017TF4TD2
http://birdingcraft.com/wordpress/wherehowfind-birds-in-costa-rica/
 

lgonz1008

Well-known member
Thank you for the reply, I was thinking something along those lines as a starter of sorts, 2 days in the Caribbean Lowlands, 2 days in the mountains and 2 days in Carara, but even considering the traffic and roads. That might be too much. I already have the birdingcraft book but I wanted to get an idea of the region from more experienced birders.
 

Andy Adcock

Well-known member
England
I'd forget Carara if you only have a week, you'll lose a day getting there.

I'd stay in the top / middle of the country and visit Poas, Arenal, La Selva and Tapanti but beware also that many of the higher sites, can reduce your birding time by producing bad weather, we lost almost a whole day at Arenal.

My advice would be to get a wall map and plan your trip on that in order to have a visualisation of your route and cut down driving times, especially on a short trip.

I can send you our report from 2017, PM me with an e-mail address if you want it.
 

njlarsen

Gallery Moderator
Opus Editor
Supporter
Barbados
I agree with Andy that many of the drives in CR took longer than I anticipated. Less driving means more birding!

Niels
 

jurek

Well-known member
B Lawson - Where to watch birds in Costa Rica - includes itineraries. I recommend getting this book, or at least scan in a library, because you will see more birds than the cost of its book.
 

lgonz1008

Well-known member
Thank you for everyone's input, I'm thinking of trying this itinerary please let me know if you would recommend any guide for the Carara region as I have nobody for that area and I know the birding there can be great if you have local knowledge.

Day 1: Arrival and moving to Caribbean Lowlands (Gavilan Lodge or similar location)
Day 2: Caribbean Lowlands (La Selva)
Day 3: Caribbean Lowlands (El Tapir & Quebrada de Gonzalez) [Guide: Patrick O'Donnell]
Day 4: Caribbean Lowlands and moving to Carara Region (Cerro Lodge or similar location)
Day 5: Carara Region (Carara National Park)
Day 6: Carara Region and moving to Central Valley Region (Villa San Ignacio or similar location)
Day 7: Poas Region (High Elevation) [Guide: Patrick O'Donnell]
Day 8: Poas Region (Middle Elevation) [Guide: Patrick O'Donnell]
Day 9: Departure

I originally wanted to try Monteverde in place of Carara but I figured I'd spend too much time driving between locations.
 

Andy Adcock

Well-known member
England
I originally wanted to try Monteverde in place of Carara but I figured I'd spend too much time driving between locations.

You could easily spend three days here and include the lovely, Curi-Cancha reserve which is excellent for both the Bellbird and the Quetzal.

IMHO, including Carara on such a short trip, will waste a lot of time, speak with Patrick, he's best able to advise you.
 

lgonz1008

Well-known member
You could easily spend three days here and include the lovely, Curi-Cancha reserve which is excellent for both the Bellbird and the Quetzal.

IMHO, including Carara on such a short trip, will waste a lot of time, speak with Patrick, he's best able to advise you.

I was thinking of that but when seeing the maps, I saw that when going from the Caribbean Lowlands to Monteverde, the best route went through the Pacific dry areas being about an hour of time more than going to Carara, and Patrick even mentioned that if I did that itinerary, to make some time in the dry zone.

So not sure which of the two to pick, it is equally hard to pick and I'm fine with either location since one gives me a chance for Bellbirds and Quetzals as you mentioned while the other gives me a chance of Mangrove Hummingbird and Scarlet Macaws.

On a side note, do you think there's any remote chance of Umbrellabird anywhere in Monteverde or the Caribbean Lowlands in late March/early April?
 

Andy Adcock

Well-known member
England
I was thinking of that but when seeing the maps, I saw that when going from the Caribbean Lowlands to Monteverde, the best route went through the Pacific dry areas being about an hour of time more than going to Carara, and Patrick even mentioned that if I did that itinerary, to make some time in the dry zone.

So not sure which of the two to pick, it is equally hard to pick and I'm fine with either location since one gives me a chance for Bellbirds and Quetzals as you mentioned while the other gives me a chance of Mangrove Hummingbird and Scarlet Macaws.

On a side note, do you think there's any remote chance of Umbrellabird anywhere in Monteverde or the Caribbean Lowlands in late March/early April?

No idea about the date in particular but it's a bird that very few people connect with.
 

pbjosh

missing the neotropics
Switzerland
Umbrellabird is one of the rarest / hardest birds in Middle America it seems, and unfortunately rarer and harder every year. Up until a few years back there was an accessible lek at the Children’s Eternal Rainforest. Since that lek has been abandoned, there are no reliable sites as far as I know. People who try for the Umbrellabird tend to do so from the Arenal aerial tram, but I think even there it is seasonal and very low probability.
 

THE_FERN

Well-known member
Umbrellabird is one of the rarest / hardest birds in Middle America it seems, and unfortunately rarer and harder every year. Up until a few years back there was an accessible lek at the Children’s Eternal Rainforest. Since that lek has been abandoned, there are no reliable sites as far as I know. People who try for the Umbrellabird tend to do so from the Arenal aerial tram, but I think even there it is seasonal and very low probability.

I assume it's no longer possible in Panama?
 

pbjosh

missing the neotropics
Switzerland
I assume it's no longer possible in Panama?

I actually assume that eastern CR and W Panama are the remaining stronghold for this species, where there is more contiguous Caribbean slope forest. But there are fewer accessible sites, fewer birders going there, and as far as I know there are no known leks for this species now. So it's pretty difficult. It gets seen at PN El Cope in Panamá from time to time, perhaps a few times / year. I think though that there are more sightings in CR than PA because there are more observers at the CR sites than at the PA sites. Really, except for El Cope, the places where you might see it in Panama are all really hard to get to (expedition style, going up rivers, trekking, etc).
 

THE_FERN

Well-known member
Given how different this year has been, I changed the settings to include 2018-19 and this year. https://ebird.org/map/banumb1?neg=t...=1-12&bmo=1&emo=12&yr=range&byr=2018&eyr=2020

Here is for example a list with a photo from El Cope from 2019: https://ebird.org/checklist/S59316383

Niels

Yes: after I posted that I followed the same route. I think it's super seasonal at el cope/central Panama, and I was slightly surprised there were reports from last year. There's a recent landslide which has ripped out a large part of the fairly limited trails (I think you can actually see this in Google maps satellite view). I was there in December with not much to report: clearly one needs to be there c July-Sept, and perhaps you need to have Euclides Campos with you to boot... ...From a conversation I remember, I believe the bellbirds are in Volcan area at roughly the same time
 

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