Guided by Cameron Cox. This was a set departure tour.
Costa Rica has long held a special place in the hearts of tropical birders. It is often the first place someone goes to encounter the New World tropics and in few places is tropical birding so accessible and so civilized. While Costa Rica is always popular, July might not be the time period most associate with a trip there. Despite perception, July is an excellent time to visit this famed Central American gem. We had an outstanding trip tallying around 370 species, a bit fewer than are found in winter since the North American migrants are not present, but we did very well on Costa Rican target species. We enjoyed 12 species of parrots, 28 species of hummingbirds, and an extraordinary 9 species of woodcreepers. We had a number of Resplendent Quetzals, great looks at the skulking Wrenthrush, and lengthy scope looks at a calling Three-wattled Bellbird. We located scarce species like Long-tailed Woodcreeper and Dark Pewee, and enjoyed colorful species like Scarlet Macaw and Fiery-throated Hummingbird. We had some great encounters with other wildlife as well, including Geoffroy’s Spider-Monkeys, a rare Greater Grison, a neon-yellow Eyelash Pit Viper, and a baby Hoffman’s Two-toed Sloth clinging to its mother as it looked down on all the crazy people with scopes trained right at it.
Costa Rica though is more than just numbers of birds and other wildlife. It really comes down to the quality of the experience; fantastic birds every day, outstanding views of most species, a beautiful country, more abundant and tame mammals and other wildlife than just about any other place in Central America. The combination creates a fun and exciting, never-know-what-will-be-seen-next vibe. All this in a country that is so geared to Eco travelers with generally good roads, wide, well-maintained trails, and pleasant Eco lodges that you may never wish to leave!
As voted by the group the top five birds of the trip were:
1. Lesser Ground-Cuckoo
2. Three-wattled Bellbird
3. Purple Gallinule
4. “Mangrove” Yellow Warbler
5. Scarlet Macaw
The list only highlights one of the issues that must be dealt with in Costa Rica. While the group chose a great top five, So many unbelievable species did not make the list! Agonizing over which incredible species was the best bird of the day or of the trip is a regularly encountered dilemma in Costa Rica. It’s a very, very good problem to have!