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17- 27 June 1998

by Darrell Lee

Part 1 - Savegre Valley

16 June

As I took off from Jacksonville, smoke from the forest fires closing I-95 was visible 360 degrees around us.  I met my traveling companions in Miami, lady friends from a singles group in California.  Floyd (names changed to protect the innocent) is an overweight birder handicapped by a stroke and blood pressure medications.  They combine to make it hard for her to find camouflaged birds, and all-but-impossible to identify fast-moving ones.  Boom-Boom is a non-birder, but a nature enthusiast.

Our first trip to Costa Rica, and I discover it's either misrepresented on American Airlines' map as being on Central Time, or it doesn't observe Daylight Savings Time, since our trip is taking 3 hours instead of the scheduled 2.  Our plane circles San Jose waiting for the weather to clear.  It doesn't, and we're off to Panama City as our fuel dwindles.  Now we're told there's a radar problem and we're staying overnight.  Fine, I can start a Panama bird list tomorrow - but I worry about entering Panama without clearing Customs or Passport control.

17 June

A good start in Panama.  Weather is sunny, about 85 degrees and humid (typical trip weather, we'll soon learn).  From our hotel balcony I add (lifers in caps):

Smooth-billed Ani

Great-tailed Grackle

Northern Mockingbird.  It's not in the Stiles/Skutch Costa Rican bird guide, but I'm not in Costa Rica, and I know this bird.  I learn later it's established in San Jose now.

Tropical Kingbird


RED-CROWNED WOODPECKER.  I guess this species (later confirmed by Indio) due to Panama's S.  Pacific habitat.  Later, I'll see a pair of birders misidentify the red-throated ant-tanager as the red-crowned ant-tanager, because they didn't check the range descriptions.

BOAT-BILLED FLYCATCHER (a kiskadee variant)


WHITE-RINGED FLYCATCHER (another kiskadee variant)

SOCIAL FLYCATCHER (yet another kiskadee variant.  God tried his full palette of mix and match variations with this group) After breakfast, I walk into the garden and add



YELLOW-BELLIED ELAENIA.  I didn't see a very yellow belly, but the crest was unmistakeable.  I'll soon learn that some of the colors in my field guide aren't that good, anyway

At the airport, I add:


Gray Kingbird

Neotropical Cormorant

We're off to San Jose again at 9:00 a.m.  Maybe THIS captain won't hijack a whole planeload of people and smuggle them into another country as undocumented, illegal aliens.  Can I count Panama birds if I've never officially entered the country?  In San Jose, we meet Jose (nicknamed Indio), our guide for the next 8 days, and we're off to the Savegre Valley in search of the resplendent quetzal.

At lunch at Cresperitos #2, a ferreteria, I see the following trip birds:

MOUNTAIN ROBIN.  Indio's value is apparent, as he calls the species immediately, and I would have fumbled in my guide sorting out clay-colored robins and sooty robins and possibly not noticing the bird's bill color.

SCINTILLANT HUMMINGBIRD (poorly seen, but later we see a female on a nest outside our cabin at Cabinas Chacon)

Rufous-collared Sparrow

Band-tailed Pigeon

Blue-and-white Swallow

We arrive in the Savegre Valley.  Although we've never been to Monteverde, Indio tells us the other quetzal area in Costa Rica is much more developed and touristy.  We're staying at Cabinas Chacon.  I'd read on the internet about Don Efriam hacking his way into the area in 1955 or so, and his son Marino leading quetzal tours.  Indio recognizes Marino working on the road, and asks him the same question everyone always asks - where are the quetzals?  Up the mountain above the hotel, we're told.  We'll go there tomorrow.  On the way in, I add:



VOLCANO JUNCO *Bird of the Day*.  While we're looking at the large-footed Finch, Floyd can't find it, but she notices a bird attacking its image in a window.  It turns out to be this infrequently seen mountain species.







Cabinas Chacon has diverted water from the river for rainbow trout farming.  Outside the dining room, several hummingbird feeders are set up.  One advantage of traveling during the rainy season is that we're the only guests at the lodge, something we'll appreciate until our last two lodges.  They're nice enough to give us two rooms at no extra charge, so the ladies can have their privacy.  Before we go out for some afternoon birding, I add the following species on the hotel grounds:


FIERY-THROATED HUMMINGBIRD *Winner of the daily beauty contest*


CLAY-COLORED ROBIN (Costa Rica's national bird)



We drive along the road paralleling Rio Savagre (Savage River), looking for the quetzal and adding:


COLLARED REDSTART *First runner-up, daily beauty contest)



OCHRACEOUS WREN.  The only wren in the area that climbs trees.  I couldn't have identified it without Indio's knowledge, a scene that will be repeated dozens of times

RESPLENDENT QUETZAL.  Yes!  But it's only a female, and Floyd doesn't see it before it leaves the area.  Indio looked in an area where he saw the avocados they feed on, and emulated a quetzal call to bring it in.  Chalk another one up to his credit

BARRED PARAKEET.  I'm hesitant to list this species, but Indio says there are only two parakeets in the area, and he recognizes their calls and flight behavior.  We see several hundred in several flocks, high in the air.  Later, I'll see the other species, the much larger Sulfur-winged Parakeet.  I add the species.  It's my list and my guilt

SPOTTED-CROWNED WOODCREEPER.  Indio again.  I only have to confirm the light-colored bill and the general markings.  Without him, I'd have to recheck all 20 woodcreeper plates, recheck the bird, recheck the 3 light billed woodcreeper plates, recheck the bird, read the species habitats, and by then the bird may have flown away and left me without an identification.

Our first trip day yields 44 species, 35 lifers.  At our dinner compilation (soon to be a daily routine), Indio asks who set up the trip (Floyd and Boom-Boom did).  What he's trying to say, is that if it was strictly a birding trip, we could have planned it better by shortening our stays at Manuel Antonio amd Tortuguera, dropping Las Pumas cat sanctuary in Guanacaste, lengthening our time in Carara, etc.  We explain that our trip is birding oriented, but (apparently) more well-rounded than a pure birding trip.  I ask, and he says I may get 250 species.

18 June

We greet a drizzly, foggy morning at 7200' elevation by seeing yellow-bellied siskins feeding on the lawn.  I soon learn that lodges with cats conspicuously lack lizards, frogs, and ground birds.  Floyd, who owns five cats (two running free), politely (and rudely) ignores the facts.  Cabinas Chacon, with its Common Spiny Fence Lizards (a turqoise blue-green lizard) rates higher on my list than several other Costa Rican lodges.  After breakfast, before we head up the hill to look for quetzals, I see a male quetzal fly 30' over my head.  Unmistakable.  I yell, but it's gone, nobody else sees it, and Floyd is still quetzalless.  We drive up-canyon before breakfast to where Marino Chacon reported quetzal sightings, but we add only Ruddy Pigeons and Yellow-faced Grassquits.  Floyd still hasn't seen the quetzal.

We go back to where we saw yesterday's female quetzal and Indio starts whooping like a quetzal again.  Soon, we get answering calls.  Then a male and two female quetzals come flying in to us, and perch accomodatingly for a long period of time.  Floyd gets her quetzal, courtesy of Indio's 80 mm Swarovski 45 degree eyepiece scope.  I wonder how a guide can afford a scope that costs roughly 2-1/2 times the $900 that Floyd's Zeiss roof-prism binoculars cost.  (I start to learn the lesson the next morning, when I knock my Bausch and Lomb 10X42 Customs off the table onto the floor.  knocking the prisms out of alignment.  My pounding awakens everyone, but I finally get a semblance of binocular vision back - unnoticeable to my right-dominant vision.  Before that, the left eye was looking significantly high and left of the right eye).

After the quetzal tension is released, I've got 5 quetzals, Floyd is a happy camper, and we walk downstream from the lodge along a cataract trail.  By the time we leave, we'll have 4 more quetzal sightings, including a male that perches on a wire in view of the dining room at Cabinas Chacon.  I semi-reluctantly give the male resplendant quetzal both bird of the day and beauty contestant of the day awards.  It's the one bird I really wanted to see, but it came too easily to contend for the Bird of the Trip award.  That award goes to a bird you can't even hope to see, but do.

New trip birds for the day:







ELEGANT (WAS BLUE-HOODED) EUPHONIA.  Lovely bird, as are all the euphonias.  Until I saw real mannikins (those Hawaiian mannikin/munias are trademark infringers), I would have voted for euphonias as prettiest sub-family, over tanagers


Vaux' Swift

Hairy Woodpecker.  They're MUCH darker than any hairies I've seen in the states

Black Phoebe.  And these guys were so black I thought they were a new species until I checked their specific name.  The white on their bellies is much more limited in area

House Wren



TORRENT TYRANNULET.  On the rocks near rushing water.  Eventually saw 4 or 5 individuals

SULFUR-WINGED PARAKEET.  Our first good looks at native parrots.  We eventually saw 11 species


EMERALD TOUCANET.  Our first good look at a toucan.  We eventually saw 5 species.  Boom-Boom spotted it while we were watching a quetzal feeding a fledgling


Acorn Woodpecker

Magnificent Hummingbird

I find our nightly compilations a good reminder, as I frequently fail to record birds I've previously seen elsewhere (such as Turkey Vultures, Magnificent Hummingbird and Vaux' Swift), until their names are read off by Indio as part of the daily lists.  By birding day 2, I'm up to 68 species and 50 lifers.  Floyd has 52 species and 40 lifers.  I'm bothered by the discrepancy, which persists to the end of the trip, but Floyd is happy with what she sees.  Essentially, if Indio and I see a fast-moving species four or five times, Floyd will finally get it, either because Indio manages to get it in the scope, or Floyd finally manages to get it in her binoculars.  Boom-Boom, who's carrying subcompact Nikon 7X26 (or similar) binoculars, usually sees the birds the first time, but she's often looking at the lizards, fungi, butterflies, flowers, spiders, and other Costa Rican wonders.  (One wonder, which I hadn't mentioned in Part 1, was the sheer number of Band-tailed Pigeons I saw yesterday.  I've seen 100 or so at one time in southern California, but at Cresperitos, I saw numerous flocks of 20-40 pigeons flying above the oak forest).  Birding is a side activity to Boom-Boom, much as butterflies and lizards are a side activity to Floyd and me.  I wonder who's getting the best experience, and decide that we all are, each in our own way.

6/19/98 Cordillera de Talamanca to Quepos

Oops.  I contradicted myself in yesterday's notes.  We went up up-canyon after breakfast.  This morning, at Savegre, I add:


Gaining altitude and climbing to something like 12,000 feet, we begin our descent to the South Pacific region, with only one birding stop enroute.  At that high elevation stop, I add:




Still high in the mountains, we see several American Swallow-tailed Kites.  We pull off the Pan-American Highway, but are immediately distracted by a male Flame-colored Tanager.  Before Floyd can find it, Indio spots a Bat Falcon soaring overhead.  More birds for the list:

American Swallow-tailed Kite



At and near San Isidro, I add:

House Sparrow






We also see our first 3-toed Sloth near the road

Near Baru, in a cattle pasture, I add Black-bellied Whistling Duck


Crested Caracara

Cattle Egret

Great Egret

White Ibis






Outside Quepos, we arrive at our second lodge, Rancho Casa Grande.  The food is excellent (as at all our lodges except one, rice and beans were on the menu) and the grounds (as in all the lodges we stayed at) were beautiful.  One negative is the presence of a family of cats, whose mother kills a rodent while I watch.  We see our first Jesus Christ lizards (Basiliscus sp.) there.  Maybe they're fast enough to escape cats, but I suspect the cats are a recent addition, and fear the lizards and gray-necked wood-rail we see at lunch will disappear from the immediate lodge area soon.  The lodge expands our lodging gratis so I have a separate bedroom from the ladies again.  Not only do off-season birders avoid the clutter of North American bird winterers, but also NorteAmericano tourists.  Birding the lodge's gallery (riparian) forest after lunch, the increased temperature and humidity drains (drenches?) us quickly.  Indio teaches us how to identify cecropia trees and balsa.  Cecropia, I'm told, is hollow and occupied by aggressive ants which swarm to protect the tree.  Nonetheless, it seems popular with the birds in the area, which include:


Groove-billed Ani



OLIVACEOUS PICULET *Bird of the Day and Bird of the Trip to date*.  Indio has only seen 5 of these in 9 years of guiding


BLUE-CROWNED MOTMOT *Beauty Contest winner of the day*.  I've always been partial to the woodpecker family and relatives, so this bird has the inside track



White-tipped Dove



The evening's compilation ends with 104 trip species and 77 lifers in 3 days, but the real highlight of the day is a pair of lesser bulldog fishing bats fishing insects off the surface of our swimming pool soon after dark.  They make their rounds both nights we we're there.  Boom-Boom saw her first fireflies (she's obviously led a sheltered life - I tried to rescue her, but the lovely, blonde Boom-Boom said I remind her too much of her ex-husband - sigh).  This is the most interesting day of the trip so far, adding such neotropical stereotypes as sloths, the blue-green butterfly that's really a moth, and a blue-green poison arrow frog (Dendrobatis sp.).

20 June

Parque Nacional Manuel Antonio

Visit a national park on a Saturday, especially one like this with beaches, and you get crowds.  Indio warned us this was not a quality birding park, so we leave for lunch, but I add (first 4 sp.  at Rancho Casa Grande):



FIERY-BILLED ARCARI *Beauty of the Day*


Green Heron


Magnificent Frigatebird

Brown Pelican

Brown Booby











After lunch, Indio takes the women shopping in Quepos, and I (with shaky identifications) add:




Trip totals through today (day 4) are 125 species, 93 lifers.  We saw Ctenosaur Lizards, Agoutis, leaf-cutter ants, a "park" capuchin monkey, a snake eating a frog, another 3-toed sloth and a 2-toed sloth, and a 7' plus boa in a tree.  We're fortunate with only occasional drizzles so far.  Little do we know what tomorrow will bring.

21 June

Today we're driving from Quepos in the south Pacific region to Carara in the north Pacific region.  Throught the miracles of e-mail, instant replay, and time delay reporting, I get to answer post-trip e-mail from Birdchatters before the trip is over.  The Jesus Christ lizard gets its name because it's capable of running on water, something which I observed at a stream behind Rancho Casa Grande.  We begin the day birding the Quepos airport, across the street from Rancho Casa Grande, and I see:

Little Blue Heron


MUSCOVY DUCK.  4 birds in flight.  I used to raise muscovys, and it amazes me to see wild muscovy drakes flying,.  My drakes were so heavy (12 lbs) that they couldn't get off the ground


STRIPED CUCKOO.  We get an excellent 15 minute window for this difficult species

We begin our drive to Carara.  Near Parita, I spot several whitish birds in a distant marshy area.  We stop, and I add:

AMAZON KINGFISHER.  Actually a drive-by bird, which we'll see again at Tortuguera


Roseate Spoonbill

Wood Stork

Inca Dove

Tricolored Heron

Snowy Egret

Great Blue Heron

Mangrove Hawk (Common Black Hawk).  Some sources split it as a separate species, but I'll stick with Stiles and Skutch


Ringed Kingfisher

Arriving at Villa Lapas for lunch, we find it's the nicest hotel on our tour, and the last one before San Jose with air conditioning (Rancho Casa Grande had A/C, but I didn't use it - the ladies did).  Cabinas Chacon didn't need it, but the other hotels do (or more properly, we do).  Villa Lapas is the only hotel on our trip that doesn't serve casados (rice and beans) on the menu.  Once again, we are the only guests at the hotel, but now we share one room.  The grounds are beautiful, bordering a stream, with a huge tree above the parking lot, a butterfly garden, plants shrouded to protect caterpillars from bird predation, and butterflies galore.  Adult ctenosaurs (and cats, but no small lizards or ground-feeding birds) are present.  Before leaving for birding in Carara in the afternoon, I add the following species on the hotel grounds:



Green Kingfisher




SCARLET MACAW.  *Beauty of the Day*.  Two, flying overhead




We drive to Carara and walk in on a trail, planning to be back out and on the Rio Tarcoles bridge at 5:30 p.m.  for the Scarlet Macaw flight.  Somewhere on the Internet (you can check for yourself on Yahoo searching for "Carara"), there's a web page claiming the area receives 30 mm (1.17" of rain) annually.  I ask Indio about it, and he laughs, saying it's closer to 100 times that amount of rainfall.  As we go in, we see some truly "countable" Capuchin Monkeys.  Sure enough, it begins to rain once we're in the forest - hard.  For 90 minutes it rains at a 3"/hour rate (I worked for the U.S.  Geological Survey's Water Resources Division - trust me).  After 4-5" of rain, the dry streambed nearby fills with water, and we find out why the concrete overpasses cross the stream beds.  We agree this is an experience we MUST have to appreciate Costa Rica, and a good one, as we trudge through and around the puddles and stream that were our dry road when we walked in.  I add:







TURQUOISE-BROWED MOTMOT *Bird of the Day*.  Hey, I've already admitted my motmot bias, and I gave the beauty title to the macaw.  It's not a contender for Trip Bird, though.  That honor still belongs to the olivaceous piculet

At the Rio Tarcoles, we admire some crocodiles that measure 12-15', far bigger than any alligator I've seen in Georgia.  Floyd is trying to find some White-vented Euphonias we've seen among Yellow-crowned Euphonias, when she sees a "funny" bird.  It's a Barred Antshrike.  We watch the macaw flyover - maybe 30 birds, but had better looks at a group of 9 pre-roosting near us on the trail.  Definitely the Beauty Bird of the day.  New species:




The rain has fogged my B&L Custom 10X42s.  NOW I understood why Indio wore Swarovski hat and shirt, used Swarovski (8 X 30) binoculars, and carried a Swarovski scope.  (Another post-trip Birdchat e-mail tip is that Costa Rican guides who helped at last year's ABA conference were given free binoculars or scopes.) Costa Ricans and desparate gringos in Costa Rica also have only two binocular brands to choose from, Swarovski and Tasco.  Indio suggests (and I readily agree) that I should upgrade my binoculars to avoid potential disaster.  He offers to call his friend, the Costa Rican Swarovski distributor, to try to get some binoculars delivered from San Jose.  With a 15% discount, the price will slightly exceed US prices, but since I'll have to pay with a credit card at the Costa Rican 7% markup, my cost will be dearer.  Faced with the prospect of a fogged right side of misaligned binoculars with my right-dominant eye, I ready myself for the added trip expense as we put my binoculars in the restaurant's salt dryer.  "Salt dryer?", you ask.  Sure.  How do you think Costa Ricans keep their salt from caking up in 90% humidity?  I hand over my binoculars and pray for a better day tomorrow as 5 restaurant employees look on.  Why would anyone want to steal a pair of misaligned, fogged binoculars?  To steer my thoughts away from the prospect of (shudder) buying and using Tasco binoculars should Indio's friend not be able to deliver a pair of Swarovskis to me, I think about the 161 species and 119 lifers I've seen in 5 days of birding (and hope it won't end at that)

22 June

As morning dawns at Villa Lapas on day 6, we thank Chatter Pat Sully for her advice to pack extra toilet paper, as Costa Rican lodges routinely use 1-ply paper, and don't even want you to flush it.  We also thank her many times for her advice to pack our own washcloths, as half the lodges lack them.  My added advice to you is to pack an extra pair of binoculars for your group.  My binoculars come out of the salt dryer CLEAR.  Hallelujah!  And the Swarovski dealer never calls back - probably out of town on a business trip.  I'm spared the cost of buying new binoculars (and paying customs duty - or lying), and mine are working.  We bird Carara again in the morning before breakfast.  We've gotten into a routine.  Floyd and I, the birders, make a pre-breakfast birding excursion while Boom-Boom sleeps.  If she rises early, she explores the hotel grounds - this morning, the butterfly house.

On the Carara trails his morning, we meet a pair of Swedish birders and a Japanese film crew on the trail.  Indio points out how all the Japanese wear snake leggings and dress for safari conditions.  The Canon 800 mm lens one man carries would pay for my two Minolta Maxxum 7xi cameras, lenses (including my 400 mm), my camcorder, my spotting scope, binoculars, and my entire vacation cost, and I could still take Boom-Boom along - or buy Indio's scope - in addition!!!  The Swedish birders misidentify a bird, which Indio overhears.  Always generous to share information and sightings, he corrects their error, and I appreciate his expertise all the more.  New trip birds:



RED-CAPPED MANNIKIN *Beauty of the Day*, if we don't top him this afternoon.  What an incredibly lovely bird, with its red head, black body, and yellow thighs

ORANGE-COLLARED MANNIKIN.  Another incredibly lovely bird, with black cap, orange face, nape, and breast, black wings and back, and olive-green vent, belly, and rump.  Little do I realize that their plain cousin, the White-collared Mannikin, will soon blow them away in my mind




WHITE-WHISKERED PUFFBIRD *Runner-up Bird of the Day*



BARE-THROATED TIGER-HERON.  Another guide tips Indio off about this bird, yet another way Indio adds to my list

COLLARED FOREST FALCON *Bird of the Day*, if we don't see something better this afternoon.  I glimpse him landing ahead of us, and we sneak up on the spot, getting an exceedingly brief glimpse before he leaves.  Indio says the Trip Bird is still the piculet

I'm up to 173 trip birds and 131 lifers now, but the day's not over.  We're driving to Guanacaste, the dry portion of Costa Rica, this afternoon.

22 June

Carara to Cañas

Thanks to Chatter Murray Lord from Sydney, Australia for tipping me off about the Swarovski guide giveaway.  I didn't have his message handy when I added that information from memory, and regret not crediting him by name earlier.  After lunch, we drive to the Guanacaste province, to visit a cat sanctuary for Floyd and Boom-Boom.  Enroute, I add gray hawk.  At Punta Caldera, I see some large doves, and Indio says they're white-winged doves, locally common.  I confirm their white wings to add: gray hawk white-winged dove

We stop for a group of howler monkeys with an accomodating male who howls for the camcorder, and check in at our hotel, La Pacifica.  For the fourth time in 4 lodges, we're the only guests.  I start wondering why birders want to confuse themselves with winter warblers and put up with crowds.  Are they masochists?  Are they escaping Minnesota and Wyoming winters?  Do they want longer trip lists to brag about?  Do they fear the rainy season?  Are costs lower somehow?  Can one of you Birdchatters e-mail me with the answer?  I don't have a clue.  La Pacifica has cats, no lizards or ground-feeding birds.  The connection is deadly-clear by now.  Our cabin is a little run-down, but the gathering areas, swimming pool, and grounds are very nice.  A gecko barks or chirps outside our room, and will do so all night, as he hunts insects by the porch light.

Our Guanacaste visit isn't a birding stop, but is a concession to my traveling companions.  Las Pumas, the cat sanctuary, turns out to be right across the fence from our hotel.  A Belgian lady started adopting unwanted pets, and ended up with a menagerie of all 6 Costa Rican cat species , javelina, 7 scarlet macaws, hundreds of budgerigars and other parrot species, and more.  Surprisingly, we see more tourists there than at Carara or Savegre.  I'm shocked, as I couldn't find a thing about Las Pumas by searching for "sanctuary" and "Costa Rica" or "cat" and "Costa Rica" on the WWW.  Indio, our guide, said the tour company had a hard time locating this place.  Las Pumas' proprietress is the stereotype of animal rescuers, surviving on donations out of love for her charges.  On the way out, I notice a smaller-than grackle-sized blackbird, all black - including its eyes.  It's the melodious blackbird, so new to the field guide that it's on the last plates, out of taxonomic order.  The species is expanding its range from Nicaragua.  We donate, but not before adding:

WHITE-FRONTED MAGPIE-JAY.  For decades I've wanted to see a magpie jay in the wild, so this is my favorite bird for this area.  They're traveling in a family-sized group, and pose obligingly for good views.  I dream of finding a woman who'll retire with me in San Blas, Mexico, where I can see the San Blas Jay, but Ms. Wonderful hasn't entered my life yet.  Until then, this jay will have to do.  It's the right size and shape, but it's not nearly as impressive in coloration, being sort of a pastel blue.


Brown-crested Flycatcher


Dusky-capped Flycatcher


Red-winged Blackbird

Post-dinner bird compilation follows Floyd's half century + 10% birthday.  They served Off at our table in the open-windowed dining area, and rumors are that Floyd sprayed some on her food, thinking it was seasoning.  Otherwise, I can't understand why she wasn't happy with the fine dinner we had.  By now, I've discovered that some Costa Rican vegetable causes me to have green stools and diarrhea for a day.  Hearing of GS and DD, Floyd sprays more Off on her food.  Says it numbs her lips and taste buds.  I end Day 6 with 182 species and 135 lifers.

23 June

We birded the grounds of La Pacifica in the morning before breakfast.  After breakfast, we'll drive to La Selva/Selva Verde.  The grounds contain a beautiful specimen of the Guanacaste tree, the national tree of Costa Rica, with a form that is truly magnificent.  It spreads out with straight, strong major branches, and is nearly as wide as it is high.  The Guanacaste region has a Mediterranean or drier climate, with a dry season that browns the grasses and defoliates the trees.  Due to the short growing season, guanacaste wood is hardwood, and the tree was decimated for its lumber.  Another guide later tells us the kapok tree we see at Tortuguero is the national tree of Guatamala (and points one out to us).  We leave after breakfast.  Guanacaste birds I add this morning before reaching Lake Arenal include:





I leave the area mid-morning with 186 species and 139 lifers.  I'll need 64 more birds at La Selva/Selva Verde to make 250 before Indio leaves us at Puerto Viejo for our boat trip to Tortuguero.  Can I get that many the rest of today and tomorrow?  I'm averaging 30 species/day, but Guanacaste's meagre 13 species and 8 lifers hurt the average significantly.  Do I have a chance for 200 lifers on this trip?  I put my faith in INDIO (JOSE CALVO SAMAYOA - - P.O.  BOX 208-6150, SAN JOSE, COSTA RICA, CENTRAL AMERICA.  FAX (506) 228-8372), who has proven to be a superb guide.  Lodge guides may know the common birds in their area, but Indio has the PASSION to know the rare ones.  He appears to know *all* the birds in the entire country.  I've checked and double checked him numerous times on his identifications, and he's been right on every detail.  If he says the bird has blue toenails to separate it from the species with pink toenails, it will have blue toenails, and the field guide will confirm it.  Indio tells us that other groups have asked for birding guides and have been so disappointed, they contact the tour organizers and demand a *birding* guide.  It's all too easy to believe, and Floyd and I agree we're most fortunate to have our trip planned to include Jose (Indio) as our guide.  Indio demands, deserves, and gets a higher rate to bail out such operators.  If you're planning a trip, Floyd and Boom-Boom and I all recommend Indio with highest accolades.  I guarantee you will not be disappointed if you hire him.

As I said earlier, Floyd and Boom-Boom planned our trip.  Floyd met Ken Wilson of Talon Tours, 388 Ferguson Road, Sebastopol, CA 95472, phone 707-823-8408 and he put the trip together for them.  Somehow our money got diluted through a southern California travel agency and a Costa Rican tour company before some of it was filtered to Indio, who's a freelance birding guide.  Apparently, a company named Eclipse Tours hired him.  Once I got permission from the War Dapartment to go (we may still be at war - I haven't raised my head high enough yet to know), I joined our little 3 person customized tour.  WD has no interest in animals.  All of our hotels are well-described on the WWW, with the exception of Villa Lapas, which had a minimal presence.  That's somewhat surprising, as it was the nicest lodge we stayed at.

Stay tuned as we drive to Costa Rica's Caribbean side with a new GOAL, 250 birds before Indio leaves us.

23 June

We drive from Lake Arenal to La Selva after breakfast.  It's a long drive around the lake, a magnet for windsurfers.  Our guide, Indio, spots a Laughing Falcon perched in a roadside tree.  It's eating a headless snake.  Indio explains that snakes are a preferred food and the falcon bites their heads off ASAP.  Its masked face is startling, perhaps to fool snakes into missing its eyes when they strike?  Road-birding is the best of the trip, as we add the following species with (at best) brief stops:

LAUGHING FALCON *Bird of the Day*


Northern Rough-winged Swallow

PASSERINE'S TANAGER.  This is the Caribbean species resulting from the split of the Scarlet-rumped Tanager.  We saw many of the Pacific species, the Cherry Teenager, in Quepos.  Freudian slip?  No, Floyd and I call all the tanagers teenagers, just like phoebes are hoopoes



CHESTNUT-MANDIBLED TOUCAN.  Luckily, Boom-Boom and I had the chance to study this bird and its similar-plumaged cousin, the Keel-billed Toucan, at hotel La Pacifica, where they kept two captive injured birds.  They also had a raccoon with cataracts.  Spillovers from Las Pumas?  His mask didn't help him in a snake encounter?

MONTEZUMA OROPENDOLA.  Black Headed Grosbeaks and Red-eyed Vireos sing like robins on steroids.  Oropendolas are orioles that bulked out on steroids, and they're parasitized by the Giant Cowbird, another oriole that kicked the habit.  Indio sees the latter, but I miss it.  Another birder at La Selva tells me in areas where botflies are a problem, oropendolas allow giant cowbird parasitism.  Young giant cowbirds eat the botflies, and young oropendolas don't, apparently providing an advantage to the brood if Giant Cowbirds are in it.  Fascinating.  I check the book for the size difference.  Oropendolas are 20" and giant cowbirds only 13".  They can afford to hire domestic help for the energy savings, as they don't have to give away their firstborn sons and daughters.


At La Fortuna, we stop for lunch and I add:


We reach Selva Verde Lodge on the Rio Sarapiqui in mid-afternoon.  Tomorrow, we'll bird La Selva and the famous Organization for Tropical Studies (a research station similar to the SW whateveritis station in Arizona's Chiricahua Mts).  Right now, it's raining lightly, the visibility is low, and my hopes are dwindling.  We unpack our rented 2.8L diesel Toyota SUV and bird the lodge property for a few hours, finding orange poison arrow frogs with blue-jeans legs and the following birds:




ORANGE-BILLED SPARROW.  An ugly duckling in the sparrow world


WHITE-COLLARED MANNIKIN *Beauty Bird of the Day* This guy blew my socks off.  He was dazzling to begin with, but then he raised his ruff and displayed.








Selva Verde Lodge has elevated housing, a cafeteria-style dining room, and OTHER GUESTS!  Hordes of other guests.  Busloads of other guests.  No cats.  That's why we get wrens and finches and poison arrow frogs here.  Maybe the cats taste poison arrow frogs - once.  As at every lodge since Quepos, the three of us share a room with 3 beds.  At dinner, we discuss homobatrachotoxin and how it could have evolved in such taxonomically different groups as amphibians and birds (the hooded pitohui).  Floyd's 55th birthday must have had lasting effects, as once again she doesn't enjoy dinner.  Truth be told, it isn't very good, as it's cooking for the masses, and there are no choices for entree (since I don't eat chicken, I am forced to turn vegetarian for a day).  One tour company apparently books tourists by the droves at Selva Verde.  The rain didn't help today, and I'm 10 birds short of the pace I need for the GOAL, ending Day 7 with 209 birds and 160 lifers.  Can I add 41 species tomorrow to reach the increasingly pressure-filled GOAL, especially if it's raining?  I'll need my best day since Day 1 My daily numbers have been 44, 24, 34, 23, 36, and 21, with 27 today.  Can the OTS be that good?  I doubt it.

24 June

We're up before breakfast birding the grounds at Selva Verde Lodge.  It's not raining.  I add:







After breakfast, we meet Indio, only to have him tell us we missed Great Green Macaws that flew overhead minutes earlier.  Ouch!  Then we're off to the Organization for Tropical Studies, about 20 minutes down the road.  Indio tells me the guide he wanted to get for us won't be available.  Double ouch.  We drive into the parking lot and before we can even sign in, a group of people wave us over to two spotting scopes (both Swarovskis) which they've got trained on an ORHE (take that, you abbreviators :-))!  Undoubtedly the Trip Bird to date.  The fellow who waved me over turns out to be Joel, the guide that Indio want for us, and we're able to join his group, after all.  They hadn't departed yet because of that great sighting.  Even if I don't get 35 more species today, it's going to be a great day with that sighting.  We walk into the OTS, where I add:

ORNATE HAWK EAGLE *Trip Bird* and *Bird of the Day*





SNOWCAP.  A beautiful White-capped Hummingbird, Joel's favorite.  I'll make this bird *First Runner-up Beauty of the day*, since birds don't have to be flashy to be beautiful, like the WD


PALE-BILLED WOODPECKER.  *Beauty of the Day*.  I like woodpeckers, remember?  They got me reading Alexander Skutch's (yes, Indio has met the Great One) writings.  This Lineated and Pileated Woodpecker clone resembles Woody Woodpecker even more than its cousins do

SCARLET-RUMPED CACIQUE.  An Ivory-billed Oriole that didn't do drugs


GREAT CURASSOW (with chick)


STRIPED-BREASTED WREN.  We sight both these wrens close together.  My luck is good!



BLACK-HEADED TODY-FLYCATCHER.  This bird eluded me several times before when Indio tried to point it out.





Twenty-six more birds down, and 16 to go for the GOAL.  Can I do it?  We leave the OTS for lunch at Selva Verde lodge.  After lunch, we go back to OTS and bird the road outside the station for Pink-billed Seed-finch (which we don't find), and I add:

YELLOW-TAILED ORIOLE.  *First Runner-up Bird of the Day*.  This bird is a lifer for Indio!




LONG-TAILED TYRANT.  We watched one flycatching, with that gorgeous tail streaming behind like a combat control line model airplane's streamer in slow motion



WHITE-THROATED CRAKE.  *Honorable mention Bird of the Day* We're looking over a short-grass area between tall rushes and Indio sees a bird come out.  I spot it and yell that it's a rail.  We (even Floyd) get a great view of this bird with positive field marks.  We pull out the plates and field guides, and discover it's ANOTHER lifer for Indio.  Two lifers today for him, and I know this is a great day with 34 birds already, even if I don't get the seven more I need.  The countdown starts.  I add two more species as we leave OTS to bird the Selva Verde lodge grounds again:

Purple Gallinule.  Six to go


Back at Selva Verde, we park the SUV and leave Floyd and Boom-Boom at the ladies' room.  While we're waiting, I see a Collared Aracari in a tree.  I see another birder, Jack Conner (from a New Jersey college with a group of neotropical studies students).  Two Chestnut-mandibled Toucans and a Montezuma Oropendola perch in the same tree.  We admiring this great view and start talking about the Great Green Macaws.  I missed them by minutes.  He missed them by seconds.  As Indio and I start walking away, Jack yells "Macaws", and there they are, three Great Green Macaws.  As evening approaches, Indio and I see four more.  I add:

GREAT GREEN MACAW.  Indio's in on my count.  Four

What a great day.  37 bird species today, most of them lifers.  At the post dinner compilation, I've got 246 species and 196 lifers through Day 8.  Indio is optimistic he can get 4 more species tomorrow morning before he leaves us at Puerto Viejo, but he can count on seeing only two, neotropical cormorant and anhinga.  I don't tell him I got the cormorant in Panama.  As it turns out, I won't get the anhinga before Indio leaves, but I won't know that until tomorrow.  Countdown is at four for both the GOAL and for 200 lifers on this trip.  I wish I could increase my IQ this quickly.  After dinner, we look for fruit bats on the ripe bananas the lodge leaves out, but see only moths with orange eyes.

I haven't said much about Boom-Boom and Floyd lately.  They're saints.  We've pushed harder today than any other, and they're still with us.  The weather's been hot and humid and drizzly (better than coastal Georgia summer weather, though), and we've been birding from dawn to dusk for a week with (at most) half- hour breaks after lunch.  They're sweaty (although Boom-Boom says women don't sweat, or even perspire - they glisten) and hot, but game to go out every time except this afternoon, when they mutiny.  We compromise with half an hour at the OTS gift shop, after which they've surprisingly rejuvenated to tackle the afternoon.  Boom Boom has surprised me before, when she gashed her hand open climbing into a boat in the Galapagos.  As the concerned guides and passengers watched the blood spreading, the always-immaculate Boom-Boom put us all in stitches by commenting how that was going to ruin her fingernail polish.  For a couple of California wusses deprived of shopping malls, they're doing pretty well under the circumstances.  I'm proud of them.  Floyd's count is lagging, but she's pushing 200 species for the trip, and happy with it.

We see javelinas and a group of about 20 coatimundis at OTS, so Boom-Boom's happy - especially since she saw the moths and beetles at the light traps there, iguanas in the treetops, and butterflies at feeding stations.  She couldn't find the walkingstick that Joel pointed out (it was well-camouflaged and out of reach - identifiable only as the twig with 2 pairs of legs radiating out in an x-pattern), but she's touching sensitive mimosas and communing with nature.

25 June

We see insectivorous bats this morning flying a circuit around the overhead lights under the eaves of the roof which extends over our room's balcony boardwalk.  We bird before breakfast, as we're leaving to Puerto Viejo after breakfast.  We've been meeting another birding couple regularly on the lodge grounds.  Apparently they're content to bird the property, and tell me they've seen some hummingbird species that I've not seen, like the White-necked Jacobin.  We meet them and Jack Conner's students this moning.  Indio points out some birds we've seen before, like the mango and the Plumeleteer and Rufous-tailed Hummers.  I add:



LESSER SWALLOWTAIL SWIFT.  Indio looks at the swifts flying overhead and calls this species.  I find the bird he's singled out, and yes, it has a long, forked tail.  I don't catch its white throat, but I see it well enough to narrow the count to ONE.

Floyd's in on the count, of course.  I know she misses a lot of birds because she's not a hunter.  Indio and I search a half-dome for 360 degrees for movement and shapes, while Floyd sometimes appears to stare at her feet or gazes blankly straight ahead.  It is in one of these semi-trances that Floyd declares she sees a lemon-shaped bird in the shrubbery.  I pull it into my binocular field of view, and yell its group name!  Indio can't see it, and thinks we're looking at a Clay-colored Robin.  I tell him where it is, and he calls Floyd's feathered grey limon (Espanol for lemon) a LITI (the devil made me do it, honest).  He comments that it's nice that my significant bird is one that's a little hard to get.  It's certainly smaller than its larger relative I saw yesterday.  High Five from Indio and I shake hands all around, as the birding couple are there, and maybe Jack, too.  He drifted away, but whether it was before or after, I don't remember.  The LITI brought a friend, and they're very obliging as I record this 250th trip species and 200th trip lifer on the camcorder.  We see its diagnostic yellow feet, and my day and trip are made.

LITTLE TINAMOU *25Oth Bird and 200th Lifer*

Indio drives us to Puerto Viejo, leaving about 9:30 a.m..  We arrive early for the scheduled 10:30 a.m.  pickup.  We say our goodbyes.  Indio's expertise has easily doubled the number of birds I could have gotten on my own in the same period of time, as I mentioned earlier.  We transfer to our boat with a Spanish-speaking captain named Marvin, and we're off to Tortuguero for part 6, the concluding chapter.  Today's Bird of the Day is listed in that chapter.

25 June.

Puerto Viejo to Tortugero.  This is Day 9 of our trip.  We leave Puerto Viejo about 10:30 a.m.  in a covered 6 passenger boat powered by an 85 hp Yamaha outboard.  Indio has warned me to only expect 5 or 6 new trip species in Tortuguero, which we're visiting for its sea turtles (green, leatherback, loggerhead), not its birds.  Marvin (our boat captain for this 3 hour boat trip to Tortuguero) is excellent, although he doesn't speak English.  We spot an Anhinga and he stops for it.  He spots crocodiles, caimans, Howler Monkeys, a 3-toed Sloth, Iguana, immature Bare-throated Tiger Heron, hanging nests of oropendolas, and a row of tiny little camouflaged Gray Bats about two inches across including their folded wings.  They have opposing light zigzag pattens on their backs.  They're roosting in the open on a the gray bark of a dead tree just 2 feet above the waterline.  Marvin stops and circles back to show us every one of these animals.  We repeat the same routine every time, as language difficulties prevent us from understanding what Marvin wants us to see, except when he utters the similar-sounding Spanish pronunciations of crocodile and caiman.  First we have to find it as he points the animal out.  Then we identify it.  We have an incredibly difficult time finding the bats, as we're looking for 4" brownish bats hanging from a limb or hidden inside a hole on the tree trunk.  After at least five minutes of searching, I spot the unusual string of darker 2" dots that turn out to be our bats.  Later, our Tortuguero guide will describe these same bats EXACTLY, right down to their lining up in a row on tree bark near the waterline (although he doesn't find them).  The only interesting bird I see that Marvin doesn't is a pato real (Muscovy Duck).  I add 1 trip species: Anhinga

Our boat leaves the Rio Sucio and joins the Rio Sarapiqui, then the Rio Toro, and finally the Rio San Juan as it borders Nicaragua and nears the Caribbean Sea.  We clear Nicaraguan passport control ($5 entry fee, payable in Costa Rican colones) and continue with Nicaragua on our left and Costa Rica on our right.  I see a large group of Black Vultures and point them out to Floyd, suggesting we start a Nicaraguan bird list with that species, when Marvin turns the boat around.  At first I think he's accomodating us to look at the Black Vultures, but he points to an arriving Turkey Vulture that's headed for the thermal.  No, he's pointing at a different bird soaring with short neck and straight black-tipped white wings, and the name he calls it, rey zopilote, rings a bell as I confirm it in my field guide - king of the vultures.  I add:

KING VULTURE.  *Bird of the Day*

We arrive at Tortuguero's Mawamba Lodge about 1:30 p.m.  Lunch is served in a screened dining area with a waiter bringing our meals.  I suspect it's to impress arriving guests, but the good side of me credits the lodge with serving fresh-cooked food when groups are arriving at different times from different places.  Other meals are buffet style in an oudoor dining area near the pool with (as at Selva Verde) only one choice of entree.  Again, there are other guests at this lodge.  Again, they serve pollo.  Again, I turn vegetarian.  Our room is rustic, completely wood with hardwood floors, just like most (all?) of our lodge rooms on the trip.  The lodge has young iguanas, green Jesus Christ lizards, plus toads in the pool at night.  A lodge employee confides that the iguanas have prospered since a couple of the town cats disappeared from the lodge grounds.  I confirm it by finding Five-striped Sparrows and Varible Seedeaters on the lodge grounds.  I later find 3 young iguanas resting at night in bushes inches from my head at the dining table, slowed to torpidity from low internal temperatures.  No wonder cats do a number on them.

After lunch, we have a couple of free hours and then we walk the beach to town with our guide, Leo, and a Norwegian couple who are also assigned to Leo.  Mawamba lodge's pace is leisurely, just the right thing for Floyd and Boom-Boom, tired from our earlier pace, to unwind in preparation for going home.  The weather is milder than Georgia's heat and humidity, but we've been out in it daily for many hours.  I spot a large pigeon and tell Floyd it's probably a Red-billed Pigeon.  Leo corrects me, and I note its pale vent.  Do I need a guide, or what?  I add:


Leo and I see a bat falcon and then an immature pale plover resembling a Wilson's or Snowy Plover.  Neither he nor I can call it, since there's no adult plover nearby.  It's pretty active, about 1/3 scale, running ahead of us on the sandy coastal beach.  Three days after I return to Los Estados Unidos, I check the field guide and determine that Wilson's plover isn't known to breed on the Caribbean coast of Costa Rica, piping plover is "possible" on the Caribbean coast, and Snowy Plover is a fall and spring migrant.  Semipalmated Plover is also uncommon on the Caribbean coast.  The breeding plover is the Collared Plover, another lifer.  So THIS is what Costa Rican birding is without Indio.  I add:

COLLARED PLOVER.  My list, my guilt

In the town of Tortuguero, Boom-Boom sees a fledgling fall out of a tree.  It's not capable of flying, but it hops gamely away.  Leo throws his hat on it, and as he places this immature passerines teenager back in its home tree, its squeals bring in dozens of Clay-colored Robins, Palm Teenagers, Blue and Gray Teenagers, and human teenagers.  Post-trip, I wonder if I didn't miss olive teenagers (they're a Caribbean species, look a lot like Palm Teenagers, and Palm Teenagers aren't supposed to associate with mixed flocks) through ignorance and inattentiveness.  Do I need Indio?  Is the Pope Catholic?  No new birds, but an interesting experience on a slow birding day.  I observe this little community's recycling bins, and wish that Georgia had a similar committment to the environment.

Day 9 ends with 254 species, 203 lifers.  Only 4 new birds for the trip list since leaving La Selva.  After dinner, we go out on the first open day of the turtle-watching season.  I learn how to observe nesting sea turtles without disturbing them, as our guides walk the beach without flashlights until they see tracks.  Then they wait until the female has dug its nesting hole, as any disturbance earlier will cause her to abandon nesting attempts.  Once egg-laying begins, tourists are allowed to approach from behind the turtle, so she can't see us.  A red-filtered flashlight with AA batteries supplies illumination of the egg chamber and we can see the eggs dropping.  We watch her cover the nest, and have observed one of those wildlife documentary films outside of the plastic wrapper.  I've seen nesting loggerheads in Georgia (where they're seen 50 times more frequently than #2, leatherbacks), but the predominant species here is the green sea turtle, a turtle I've snorkeled with in the Galapagos.  Boom-Boom and I have watched her species mating in another magical moment in the mangroves in the Galapagos, so I have a kinship with her and thank her for sharing her intimate moment with us.  Returning to the lodge, I spot a lanky red-eyed Green Tree Frog male, gular pouch extended, in a tree.  He's gorgeous, bigger than I expected (about 3" long) with red eyes, green body, orange toes on hands and feet, and a lateral row of green spots on a yellow stripe background on his flanks.  Boom Boom falls for him harder than she's fallen for me, so I kiss him, but it doesn't help.  Since todays birds aren't very spectacular, I dub the frog *Beauty Bird of the Day*.  Someone has to show me how to find one the next day, as they sleep on matching green vegetation with their eyes closed, their toes tucked under their bodies, and their legs covering their flanks.

26 June

We take morning and afternoon boat rides (in uncovered boats powered by the same 85 hp Yamahas) around the canals on the sheltered side of Tortuguero, and walk to town to visit the Caribbean Conservation Foundation popularized by the late Dr. Archie Carr, who's surely guarding sea turtles from heaven, or taking pride in their recovery as others continue his work.  We see Keel-billed and Chestnut-mandibled Toucans and Collared Aracaris, Bare-throated Tiger-heron, Northern Jacanas, three species of parrots, and Pale-billed Woodpeckers, but nothing new for the trip other than a Boat-billed Heron.  Other animals include Howler and Spider Monkeys, 3-toed Sloth, Caiman, and Black River Turtles.

Our Norwegian companions, Thor and Lu, come from a small town that Floyd has visited.  Thor comes from an even smaller town of about 250 people (Brendahl) that Floyd stayed in.  Floyd is even wearing a t-shirt with the Norwegian flag on it.  Of course, they speak perfect English and perfect Spanish (to our ears), but Floyd fools them into thinking we're okay in spite of our typically American horrible Spanglish.  Plans are made to watch the first half of tomorrow's Worlds Cup match between Norway and Italy together before we leave tomorrow.  We have a couple hours of free time in the afternoon to write trip notes and we spend it at the pool, where I observe half a dozen clusters of red-eyed green tree frog eggs laid on the undersides of leaves.  I'm told they take 6 days to hatch, and the tadpoles drop into the water.  Although a lodge employee claims they cut the fronds and place them over a nearby pond with unchlorinated water, I see no tadpoles in that water, and lots of evidence of hatched tree frog eggs here.

I console myself with watching more teenagers, a group of lovely, shapely, high school or college-aged olive-skinned beauties who are at the lodge.  Lu comes over to the Jacuzzi area, stunning in a 2 piece bathing suit with an all-over tan, and I show her the hidden tree frogs and an egg cluster with eyed tadpoles wriggling around their individual cells.  Obviously, I've been away from home too long.  It pours at night, just like it did last night, and during this morning's boat ride.  Tortuguero reportedly has around 20 feet (236 inches) of precipitation annually!  Although we add spider monkeys to Boom-Boom's list, and neotropical cormorants and mangrove swallows to Floyd's list, my only new addition today is: BOAT BILLED HERON.  This bird roosted in thick vegetation looking much like a roosting night heron as our boat maneuvered under him

27 June

Facing mutiny, our guide allows us to finish most of the first half of the Norway-Italy soccer match before start our boat ride paralleling the Caribbean coast to our bus pickup.  We stop for a caiman, but this trip is expedient rather than scenic.  I've picked up a bug which is to plague me for the remainder of the trip.  I'm thankful Mawamba Lodge has 2-ply toilet paper - the only lodge on our trip that exceeds the Costa Rican standard 1-ply TP.  About 1-3/4 hours later, we transfer to a bus in the middle of nowhere (but not isolated enough to keep Thor from learning that Norway lost, 0-1) and begin a drive back to San Jose.  I sleep through the worst roads of the trip as we drive back through potholes and foot-deep hundred-foot stretches of water on a one-lane road to get to the highway to San Jose.  We have lunch enroute at Grupo Mawamba's Rio Dante property, where Floyd and I hunt for new birds unsuccessfully.  I think I see common ground doves from the bus on the way back, but can't differentiate them from several similar species, so my trip list ends at 255 with 204 lifers.  Floyd's is roughly 200 with 150 lifers.  I sleep from 3:00 p.m.  when we arrive in San Jose straight through to the next morning.  (Boom-Boom and Floyd make snide remarks about how coincidentally every time I need to go shopping, I get sick, but they buy the de riguer coffee and t-shirt gifts and souvenirs for me).  Hey, I'm from Mars, and standing in line to give money away doesn't make any sense at all.  Our hotel, the Villa Tournon, is splendid in a grand style, with old furnishings.

We were extremely fortunate with rain on our trip.  We had mostly sunny days and mid-80s temperatures (to be expected, only 10 degrees above the equator), except for drizzly days at Savegre, Quepos, and Selva Verde.  Only that one downpour in Carara and a brief squall one morning at Tortuguero really dampened our daytime outings.  The rest of the time, it rained at night.  People were friendly, tap water is safe to drink (well, maybe), and the mosquitoes weren't as bad as expected.  What are you waiting for?


17 June

Panama City

1.      Smooth-billed Ani
2.      Great-tailed Grackle
3.      Northern Mockingbird
4.      Tropical Kingbird
5.      Common Tody-flycatcher
6.      Red-crowned Woodpecker
7.      Boat-billed Flycatcher
8.      White-collared Seedeater
9.      White-ringed Flycatcher
10.     Social Flycatcher
11.     Blue-gray Tanager
12.     Palm Tanager
13.     Yellow-bellied Elaenia
14.     Brown-chested Martin
15.     Gray Kingfisher
16.     Neotropical Cormorant


17.     Mountain Robin
18.     Scintillant Hummingbird
19.     Rufous-crowned Sparrow
20.     Band-tailed Pigeon
21.     Blue and White Swallow


22.     Sooty Robin
23.     Black-capped Flycatcher
24.     Volcano Junco
25.     Long-tailed Silky Flycatcher
26.     Black-billed Nightingale-thrush
27.     Large-footed Finch
28.     Slaty Flower-piercer
29.     Yellow-thighed Finch
30.     Gray-tailed Mountain Gem
31.     Green Violet-ear
32.     Fiery-throated Hummingbird
33.     Sooty-capped Bush Tanager
34.     Clay-colored Robin
35.     Volcano Hummingbird
36.     Ruddy-capped Nightingale-thrush
37.     Tufted Flycatcher
38.     Collared Redstart
39.     Black-cheeked Warbler
40.     Collared Trogon
41.     Ochraceous Wren
42.     Resplendent Quetzal
43.     Barred Parakeet
44.     Spotted-crowned Woodcreeper

18 June


45.     Yellow-bellied Siskin
46.     Yellow-faced Grassquit
47.     Ruddy Pigeon
48.     Dark Peewee
49.     Common Bush-tanager
50.     Yellowish Flycatcher
51.     Elegant (Was Blue-hooded) Euphonia
52.     Ruddy Tree-runner
53.     Vaux' Swift
54.     Hairy Woodpecker
55.     Black Phoebe
56.     House Wren
57.     Silver-throated Tanager
58.     Mountain Elaenia
59.     Torrent Tyrannulet
60.     Sulfur-winged Parakeet
61.     Brown-capped Vireo
62.     Emerald Toucanet
63.     Mistletoe Tyrannulet
64.     Black Vulture
65.     Turkey Vulture
66.     Red-tailed Hawk
67.     Acorn Woodpecker
68.     Magnificent Hummingbird

19 June

Transfer from Savegre to Quepos
Cordillera De Talamanca

69.     Flame-throated Warbler
70.     Buffy Tuftedcheek
71.     Tropical Peewee
72.     American Swallow-tailed Kite
73.     Flame-colored Tanager
74.     Bat Falcon

San Isidro

75.     House Sparrow
76.     Ruddy Ground-dove
77.     White-collared Swift
78.     Blue-black Grassquit
79.     Golden-hooded Tanager


80.     Cherry (Pacific Split of Scarlet-rumped) Tanager
81.     Black-bellied Whistling Duck
82.     Yellow-headed Caracara
83.     Crested Caracara
84.     Cattle Egret
85.     Great Egret
86.     White Ibis
87.     Northern Jacana
88.     Roadside Hawk
89.     Streaked-headed Woodcreeper
90.     Southern Rough-winged Swallow
91.     Orange-chinned Parakeet


92.     Gray-necked Wood-rail
93.     Groove-billed Ani
94.     Little Hermit
95.     Yellow-crowned Euphonia
96.     Olivaceous Piculet
97.     Chestnut-backed Antbird
98.     Blue-crowned Motmot
99.     Masked Tityra
100.    Lineated Woodpecker
101.    White-tipped Dove
102.    Red-legged Honeycreeper

20 June


103.    Variable Seedeater
104.    Buff-throated Saltator
105.    Bananaquit
106.    Fiery-billed Arcari
107.    Long-tailed Hermit

Manuel Antonio

108.    Green Heron
109.    Bridled Tern
110.    Magnificent Hummingbird
111.    Brown Pelican
112.    Brown Booby
113.    White-necked Puffbird
114.    Black-hooded Antshrike
115.    Purple-crowned Fairy
116.    Band-tailed Barbthroat
117.    Scaly-breasted Hummingbird
118.    Rufous-tailed Hummingbird
119.    Violet-crowned (Crowned) Woodnymph
120.    Brown-hooded Parrot
121.    Black-crowned Tityra
122.    Golden-naped Woodpecker
123.    Buff-throated Foliage Gleaner
124.    Double-hooked Kite
125.    Gray-chested Dove

21 June

Quepos Airport

126.    Little Blue Heron
127.    Plain-breasted Ground-dove
128.    Muscovy Duck
129.    Mealy Parrot
130.    Striped Cuckoo

Drive Quepos to Carara

131.    Amazon Kingfisher
132.    Gray-breasted Martin
133.    Roseate Spoonbill
134.    Wood Stork
135.    Inca Dove
136.    Tricolored Heron
137.    Snowy Egret
138.    Great Blue Heron
139.    Mangrove Hawk
140.    Bicolored Hawk
141.    Ringed Kingfisher


142.    Squirrel Cuckoo
143.    Streaked Flycatcher
144.    Green Kingfisher
145.    Rose-throated Becard
146.    Hoffman's Woodpecker
147.    Gray-capped Flycatcher
148.    Scarlet Macaw
149.    Rufous-naped Wren
150.    Yellow-green Vireo
151.    Yellow-olive Flycatcher
152.    Northern Bentbill
153.    Rufous-breasted Wren
154.    Buff-throated Woodcreeper
155.    Plain Xenops
156.    Ocre-bellied Flycatcher
157.    White-shouldered Tanager
158.    Turquoise-browed Motmot
159.    Barred Antshrike
160.    Slaty Spinetail
161.    White-vented Euphonia

22 June


162.    Dusky Antbird
163.    Violaceous Trogon
164.    Red-capped Mannikin
165.    Orange-collared Mannikin
166.    Brown Jay
167.    Barred Woodcreeper
168.    Wedge-billed Woodcreeper
169.    White-whiskered Puffbird
170.    White-winged Becard
171.    Short-billed Pigeon
172.    Bare-throated Tiger-heron
173.    Collared Forest Falcon

Transfer to Guanacaste

174.    Gray Hawk
175.    White-winged Dove
176.    White-fronted Magpie-jay
177.    Yellow-naped Parrot
178.    Brown-crested Flycatcher
179.    Piratic Flycatcher
180.    Dusky-capped Flycatcher
181.    Melodious Blackbird
182.    Red-winged Blackbird

23 June


183.    Canivetti's (Fork-tailed Emerald) Hummingbird
184.    White-lored Gnatcatcher
185.    Cinnamon Hummingbird

Drive to La Selva

186.    Short-tailed Hawk
187.    Laughing Falcon
188.    Osprey
189.    Northern Rough-winged Swallow
190.    Passerine's Tanager
191.    Red-billed Pigeon
192.    White-lined Tanager
193.    Chestnut-mandibled Toucan
194.    Montezuma Oropendola
195.    Mangrove Swallow
196.    Black-cheeked Woodpecker

La Selva

197.    Bay Wren
198.    Keel-billed Toucan
199.    Bright-rumped Atilla
200.    Orange-billed Sparrow
201.    Olive-backed Euphonia
202.    White-collared Mannikin
203.    Black-headed Saltator
204.    Red-throated Ant-tanager
205.    White-crowned Parrot
206.    Gray-headed Chachalaca
207.    Long-billed Starthroat
208.    Buff-rumped Warbler
209.    Red-lored Parrot

24 June

La Selva

210.    Chestnut-headed Oropendola
211.    Collared Aracari
212.    Bronzy Hermit
213.    Green-breasted Mango
214.    Blue-black Grosbeak
215.    Great Antshrike


216.    Ornate Hawk Eagle
217.    Blue Ground-dove
218.    Blue-chested Hummingbird
219.    Rufous-winged Woodpecker
220.    Slaty-tailed Trogon
221.    Snowcap
222.    Rufous Motmot
223.    Pale-billed Woodpecker
224.    Scarlet-rumped Cacique
225.    Black-striped Woodcreeper
226.    Great Curassow
227.    White-breasted Wood-wren
228.    Striped-breasted Wren
229.    Crested Guan
230.    Tropical Gnatcatcher
231.    Black-headed Tody-flycatcher
232.    Chestnut-colored Woodpecker
233.    Red-footed Plumeleteer
234.    Great Tinamou
235.    Blue Dacnis
236.    Yellow-tailed Oriole
237.    Shining Honeycreeper
238.    Black-cowled Oriole
239.    Olive-throated Parakeet
240.    Long-tailed Tyrant
241.    Black-striped Sparrow
242.    Crimson-colored Tanager
243.    White-throated Crake
244.    Purple Gallinule
245.    Lesser Greenlet

La Selva

246.    Great Green Macaw

25 June

La Selva

247.    Black-faced Grosbeak
248.    Plain-brown Woodcreeper
249.    Lesser Swallowtail Swift
250.    Little Tinamou

Transfer from Puerto Viejo to Tortuguero

251.    Anhinga
252.    King Vulture


253.    Pale-vented Pigeon
254.    Collared Plover

26 June


255.    Boat-billed Heron


Darrell Lee
Brunswick, GA

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