Friday, 8 November 2013

Birds, Birds and more Birds in Costa Rica !!! - Part 1

We have been off the air for a while, mainly because we have just come back from 2 weeks in Costa Rica. What a place, we were on an organised trip that included some wildlife excursions, so bearing that in mind we still managed over 140 species of birds, plus Crocs, Sloths, Monkeys, Raccoons, Squirrels, Frogs, Bats, Snakes, Lizards and Insects!

This time of year it's still rainy season, so you tends to get lovely mornings and wet afternoons so most of the wildlife activities are in the morning. We started off with a couple of nights in the Capital, San Jose, the bird count started in the trees outside the hotel, can't believe the very first bird we saw out of a City Centre Hotel was a Hoffman's Woodpecker! (ignoring the 1000's of Feral Pigeons!)

So the hard part for this post is what and how many photo's to use out of the 2800 shots that we took! That's why having been back a week we are only just getting down to putting something on the blog. I will put the best and record shots on Flickr and put the link on the galleries page and at the bottom of this post.

Whilst waiting for my photo processing to finish, I did a tot up of the birding scores:
Species Seen:   151
New Species:   141

There were a few species that eluded us that other bird minded members of our group had seen, but that's the luck of the draw, anyway only another 750 species left to see if we ever visit Costa Rica again!

So after San Jose, we spent 3 nights on the Pacific coast, where we visited the Manuel Antonio & Carara National Parks, plus a 3 hour cruise along the Tarcoles River and estuary where we experienced Heron Heaven!

Our first trip out was to Manuel Antonio NP, the highlight though was on the way there when we stopped for a scenic photo opportunity, luckily I took the big gun (500mm lens) out with me just in case and took this:

These were followed by a Magnificent Frigatebird and Brown Pelican, sadly no photo of the Frigatebird and a poor shot of the Pelican as I was concentrating on the Scarlet Macaws. On to the park..

We picked up a local guide at the entrance to the park which was well worth while as even though we had bought the Helms Costa Rica Field Guide, you can't go flicking through 900 pics looking for something, we would get nowhere! Pen and paper was order of the day and the camera of course, but you can't photograph everything (even though I try my best!)

We saw some great non-avian species in the Park, Howler,

White Faced and Squirrel Monkeys, Two and Three Toed Sloth, Raccoon, Iguana and Turtle, topped off with half an hour swim in the Pacific. On the bird front we picked up:
Barred Hawk, Black-hooded Antshrike, Broad-winged Hawk, Cerulean Warbler, Chestnut-backed Antbird, Chestnut-sided Warbler, Fiery-throated Hummingbird, Great-tailed Grackle, Inca Dove, Red-crowned Woodpecker Red-winged Blackbird, Riverside Wren, Tropical Kingbird, Tropical Pewee and Violet-crowned Woodnymph.

The next day we went to Carara NP only 10 minutes from our hotel, with a stop first on the main road to have a look at our first Crocodiles from a bridge over the Tarcoles River:

We had another local guide at Carara, this one was a bit of an eco-warrior whilst very knowledgeable about all the flora and fauna, it was bit like being preached to. Again in the rain forest it's tough to see birds unless you are really lucky, we heard plenty but saw diddly until the very end when we picked up:
Buff Rumped Warbler

Rose-throated Becard
The next day was a trip on the Tarcoles River and estuary, this was just amazing, when our guide said the highlights would be Herons I was a tad disappointed, should have done more research, they were just amazing. Plus we even managed to see a bird named after us, the Willet! (not quite the right spelling but close enough)
Little Blue Heron

Green Heron

Yellow Crowned Night Heron

Bare Throated Tiger Heron

Boat Billed Heron

In addition to the Herons, we saw Snowy Egret, Cattle Egret, Great White Egret, Black Necked Stilt, Frigatebird, Wood Stork, Neotropic Cormorant, White Ibis, Willet, Whimbrel, Semipalmated Plover, Western Sandpiper, Turkey Vulture, Black Vulture, Common Black hawk, Yellow Headed Caracara, Osprey, Mangrove Swallow, Great Kiskadee, Tropical Kingbird, Short Tailed Hawk, Turquoise Browed Motmot and Stripe Headed Sparrow, just awesome.

Part 2, to follow......................................................
Link to the photos: Costa Rica Photos

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