Trip report: Costa Rica Photo Tour #2 (February 2018) by Tropical Birding

Guided by Pablo Cervantes Daza. This was a set-departure tour.

Costa Rica is one of the most popular countries for bird photographers. It has great lodges, terrific feeders, and is small enough that you can cover many places and habitats in a short amount of time. On this tour, we visited lowland rainforest on both the Caribbean and the Pacific slopes, dry forest in the Northwest, montane cloudforest, mangroves, wetlands, and more. We photographed not just birds, but any other animals that were willing to pose for our cameras, including mammals, reptiles, and amphibians.

After arriving in San José, we headed over the mountains to the Caribbean slope and stopped at Cope Arte reserve. Here we photographed hummingbirds, parakeets, toucans, orioles, honeycreepers, owls and other great birds. We then drove to Selva Verde, our base for the Sarapiquí area. Several sites have good fruit feeders where tanagers, toucans, aracaris, chachalacas, and raccoons are just some of the daily visitors, and there are hummingbird feeders too. The Macaw Sanctuary offered superb chances for us to shoot Great Green and Scarlet Macaws along with other birds, and we also visited Frog’s Heaven for close-up shots of Red-eyed Tree Frog, Glass Frog, and others.

Our next lodge was Laguna del Lagarto, where the King Vultures put on their usual fantastic show, and we also could photograph Brown-hooded Parrot, Great Curassow, Central America Pygmy Owl, coatis, more hummingbirds, and plenty more.

Continuing to the more arid northwest, we spent a couple of days around Hacienda Solimar, adding a totally different set of birds to our photo collections, like many herons and egrets, kingfishers, motmots, owls, jacanas, Jabirus, thick-nees, and raptors, with Northern Tamandua being one of our favorite mammals too. Heading south along the Pacific Coast, we had a fun boat trip in the estuaries and mangroves of the Tárcoles River. It was packed with herons, spoonbills, frigatebirds, more kingfishers, Mangrove Cuckoo, Mangrove Warbler, among others.

We then spent two nights in a lodge in the highlands of the Talamanca Range. Feeders at our lodge attracted some really great species like Volcano Hummingbird, Violet Sabrewing, Emerald Toucanet , and even the difficult Spotted Wood-Quail. While based at our lodge, we took a day trip to San Gerardo de Dota to photograph one of the jewels of this country, the Resplendent Quetzal, along with more hummingbirds like Fiery-throated and Magnificent Hummingbirds and other birds such as Long-tailed Silky-Flycatcher. We finished off with one last night in San José to celebrate the end of a great tour.

I am including some of my favorite photos from the tour, and there is a list of all birds photographed is at the end of the report.

Click this link to view full Costa Rica Photo Tour trip report in PDF format (12 MB file)