29 June - 11 July 2000
by Lynea Hinchman
Because I have had so many requests for information on the Hotel Bougainvillea, Heredia, Costa Rica, I am posting it on BirdChat. Also, included is a bird list and info on the different birding places on the hotel grounds. Read on.
Heredia is about 20 minutes from the San Jose airport and has an elevation of about 3000-4000 feet above sea level. The hotel is situated on ten glorious, bird-filled acres. The grounds are completely enclosed by a masonry fence. I allowed two full days here and tallied 40 species on the hotel grounds including Blue-crowned Motmots, Crimson-fronted Parakeets, Prevost's Ground-Sparrow, and Ferruginous Pygmy-owl. Bird the grounds! My first morning, I was awakened by the singing of Clay-colored Robins and Grayish Saltators.
Below is my list of species seen at or flying over the Hotel Bougainvillea on June 29, 30, July 1, 2, 4, 5, and 11 of this year. I did bird the hotel grounds (10 acres) extensively on June 29 and June 30. The other days were only bits and pieces of days. This was the only place during the entire 18 days that I was in CR that I had Prevost's Sparrow. I discovered it on July 1, but unfortunately not everyone in my group was able to relocate it. They appear to be rather secretive birds. There is a vegetable garden area off on the right side of the grounds. At the far end of this partitioned off area is an area that is covered with a roof of vegetation. Back under this vegetation are deeply dug holes where the hotel discards its compostable vegetable waste materials. Check that area out regularly. It was one of the favorite haunts of the Prevost's and I also found White-eared Ground-sparrow there.
A long, tall hedge of vervain with small purplish flowers is growing on the right side of the grounds not too far from the bordering wall. This is an excellent place to watch for different species of hummingbirds. The most common was Rufous-tailed, however, other species were there too. More vervain grows further back on the grounds and it should be checked since some hummers favor this area. Plain Wrens can be found between the vervain and the wall. Listen for their scold. They respond to pishing. The Blue-crowned Motmots were found in the vegetation that grows around the outer perimeter of the tennis courts. The Ferr. Pygmy-owls hang out along the back part of the property and respond readily to an imitation of their call. Just outside of the wall on the back far right side of the property is a large dead tree with no vegetation. Several different species of birds including woodpeckers and Red-billed Pigeons like to perch here and survey the area. Butterfly species abound everywhere. And don't be fooled by the tiny Sphinx Moths that are attempting to imitate hummingbirds. My bird list is in no special order and I'm sure that other species have been seen there by other birders. Species may vary depending upon the time of the year.
List of Birds Seen at Hotel Bougainvillea 30 June - 12 July, 2000
Canivet's Emerald (formerly Fork-tailed Emerald)
House Wren (formerly Southern House Wren)
White-naped Brush-Finch (formerly Yellow-throated Brush-finch)
More on the Hotel Itself:
Hotel Bougainvillea was very nice. In fact, I had no complaints about it whatsoever. Absolutely INSIST on a room on the garden side when you are making your reservations. Each room has a balcony that you can bird from. Besides, the garden side is quieter. You might request a room in the newer section which is just a little bit nicer than the older section. They have hair dryers in every bathroom. The gift shop has some of the nicer Costa Rica birding type gifts including tee shirts.
The food in the restaurant is excellent. They serve a buffet breakfast with wonderful fruits. Be sure and have some of the white pineapple. It is very sweet and much nicer than the yellow that we have here. They have a wonderful assortment of different breads on this buffet and other good thing. They have very good soups. My favorite was the asparagus soup. The home-baked yeast breads are to die for. If you like salads, make a meal of the Bougainvillea salad. It has avocados and heart of palm in it and is served with a vinegarette dressing. Delicious! You can't go wrong with the Sea Bass. It is a mild whitefish that is excellently prepared.
An extra nice service is the computer that guests can use to email home. Set up an email account in Yahoo before you depart and then when you get there, you can email home from the Yahoo account. I set up a list of my birding friends before departure and kept them posted all during the trip.
They have a wonderful website that includes a bird list. I contributed to it while I was there and still have more to send them. The rooms are quite lovely and reasonably priced at about $65 US dollars per night. They have a lovely gift shop with a wide selection of T-shirts and other nice things. The surrounding area was safe enough that I walked two blocks to a small grocery store to make some purchases.
A group from Massachusetts Audubon was staying there at the same time I was there. This hotel is catering to birders.
You can check out their website. It is one of the best I have seen. You can see the rooms and take a walk through the grounds on the website. Their website is: www.bougainvillea.co.cr
I took a taxi from the San Jose airport. The hotel recommends TAXIS UNIDOS. These are orange taxis with drivers uniformed in brown pants. They have a fixed rate of US $13., but I shared my ride and saved money.
If anyone has any additional questions about Costa Rica, please email me privately and I will be happy to be of any help that I can.
Michigan City, IN