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25 February - 03 March 2000

by Terry Paquet

Our destination was a resort located centrally on the Pacific side of Costa Rica, Hotel Punta Leona (URL =  This resort encompasses 750 acres of transitional forest, some primary rainforest, secondary forest, dry forest and 3 nice beaches.

A 6:15 AM bird walk is offered every day except Monday with the accompaniment of the very knowledgeable resident naturalist guide Roy.  This is a great way to see birds and other wildlife which might ordinarily be missed.  Punta Leona is home to 8 troops of white-faced monkeys and these were seen on most outings.  Other mammals on the resort included racoons, Tamandua anteater, bands of coati and the most numerous mammals in C.R., bats which displaced the swallows every evening on the beach.  As well with Roy's help we were able to locate fresh tracks of a wild cat suspected to be an Ocelot.

The most notable birds in the area were the largest and most showy, at least for us.  Scarlet Macaws were around, but mostly heard.  The Toucans on the other hand were very visible.  The very colorful Fiery-billed Aracari and the Chestnut-mandibled Toucan were nice to observe at close range.  The Blue-crowned and Turquoise-browed MotMots flipping there racqueted tails back and forth like a pendulum and making their telltale calls.  Also the colorful trogons, Violaceous and Slaty-tailed sometimes coming in bunches.  The insects as well received our attention, notably the large multicoloured arachnids, nice to watch but don't touch.  The butterflies, the Blue Morpho and Owl notable for their size and dozens of other species for their beautiful colour especially the black and green as well as the black and red patterned ones.  The leafcutter ants crisscrossing the trails all over were interesting as well as a well ordered colony of termites crossing the trail.  The termites were in a continuous stream of 2 rows of workers going in one direction with 2 rows outside of those going the other way.  And surrounding these was 2 rows of soldiers protecting the colony.  Also of interest were the killer bees which had taken over a Scarlet Macaw nest cavity.  During our time on the beach we checked out some of the tropical fish while snorkelling,lots of colourful varieties.  I also enjoyed seeing the flying fish, which I initially took for small sandpipers until they completely disappeared under the water only to appear again a few seconds later with a Brown Pelican following and diving for a meal.

Our favourite trip off the resort was to the nearby (10 minute drive) Cararra Biological Reserve.  We took a pre-arranged taxi to bring us to the trailhead at 6:00 AM.  This was perfect because it allowed us to be first on the trail when the activity was highest.  Bird sounds were overwhelming, and animals were active.  Some of the interesting birds included Boat-billed Herons, Bare-throated Tiger Herons, Royal Flycatchers, Rufous-tailed Jacomars, nice looks at the Scarlet Macaws, elegant White-shouldered Tanagers and the bright Orange-collared Manakins at their lek.  Mammals included close look at Tamandua, Agouti, White Faced Monkeys and Howler Monkeys, and some fleeting glimpses of some small deer.  One incident reminded us of the wildness of the place.  We heard the loud wing snapping of the Manakins sounding like a dozen arcing electrical circuits,we stepped a couple of yards off the trail to try to catch a glimpse.  Being very quiet and patient, after a minute we heard a rustling.  Then the Peccaries (wild pigs) came into view; they were foraging and did not see us.  They began to go on both sides of us and I wanted to make them aware of our presence, so I waved my arms to get their attention.  After seeing me they stopped, only 6-8 ft away.  They didn't back up or run away, instead taking an aggressive posture, and snorting at us.  At this point I thought we should back slowly out of there knowing that they have been known to injure or kill Jaguars and people.

At the end of this trail which runs along the Tarcoles River, there was a small pond of water cut off from the shrinking river.  After carefully checking for lurking crocodile we stepped out onto the dry river bed and in the small pond 3 or 4 Jesus Christ Lizards began running accross the water on their hind legs.  These were just a few of the many lizards, snakes and frogs we saw.  We made 2 early morning trips here and found them very rewarding.

One other tour of interest was a boat trip on the Bebedero & Tempisque Rivers, bordering Palo Verde N.P. .  This area of dry forest bordered by extensive mangroves by the rivers was home to the largest concentration of wading birds I've seen outside of the Everglades.  Herons - Great Blue, Little Blue, Boat-billed, Fasciated Tiger, Yellow-crowned Night, Black-Crowned Night, Tricolored & Green-backed + Great Egret, Snowy Egret, White Ibis and Roseate Spoonbill.  Also of interest were the numerous Whimbrel, Willet and Spotted Sandpiper.  Lots of Osprey and Common Black Hawk hunted and we watched one C B Hawk snatch a fish out of the water right in front of the boat.  Also of note were the 2 troops of Howler Monkeys which we stopped to observe on the way.  Our guide gave us his best howl and the monkeys responded with their own loud roars.

Royal Tern Magnificent Frigatebird
Brown Pelican Anhinga
Whimbrel Spotted Sandpiper
Willet Killdeer
Snowy Egret Great Egret
Cattle Egret Boat-billed Heron
Tri Colored Heron Great Blue Heron
Little Blue Heron Green Heron
Black-crowned Night Heron Bare-throated Tiger Heron
Fasciated Tiger Heron Yellow-crowned Night Heron
White Ibis Glossy Ibis
Roseate Spoonbill Wood Stork
Least Grebe Purple Gallinule
Black-bellied Whistling-Duck  Red-billed Pigeon
Inca Dove Grey-chested Dove
Mealy Porrot Scarlet Macaw
White-crowned Parrot Orange-chinned Parakeet
Pale-billed Woodpecker Linneated Woodpecker
Hoffmans Woodpecker Pygmy Kingfisher
Amazon Kingfisher Common Black Hawk
Osprey White-tailed Hawk
Crested Caracara Black Vulture
Turkey Vulture Turquoise-browed Motmot
Blue-crowned Motmot Groove-billed Ani
Great Tailed Grackle Melodious Blackbird
White-throated Magpie Jay Brown Jay
Barn Swallow Southern Rough-winged Swallow
Mangrove Swallow Great Kiskadee
Tropical Kingbird Streaked Flycatcher
Social Flycatcher Royal Flycatcher
Great Crested Flycatcher Chestnut-mandibled Toucan
Fiery-billed Aracari Red-legged Honeycreeper
Green Honeycreeper Plain Xenops
Rufous-naped Wren Rufous-breasted Wren
Riverside Wren Streak-headed Woodcreeper
Masked Tityra Black-crowned Tityra
White-whiskered Puffbird Slaty-tailed Trogon
Violaceous Trogon Buff-throated Saltator
Orange-collared Manakin Rufous-tailed Jacomar
White-shouldered Tanager Summer Tanager
Blue Gray Tanager Golden-hooded Tanager
Black-hooded Antshrike Chestnut-backed Antbird
Dot-winged Antwren Rose-throated Becard
Clay-colored Robin Squirrel Cuckoo
Northern Bentbill Crested Guan
Yellow-crowned Euphonia Blue-throated Goldentail
Rufous-tailed Hummingbird Little Hermit
Baltimore Oriole Orchard Oriole
Tropical Gnatcatcher Blue Black Grassquit
Yellow Warbler Tennessee Warbler
Chestnut-sided Warbler Kentucky Warbler
Black and WhiteWarbler Northern Waterthrush
Little Tinamou Northern Jacana

106 Species

A most enjoyable trip.

Terry And Wayne Paquet
Lower Sackville, Nova Scotia

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