Birders and Their Big Adventure
our last day in Costa Rica, at 6:00 am, and with no coffee (a
critical element in any morning!), we met our intrepid birding
guide, Freddie, whom Matt had located through his trusty Lonely
Planet guidebook. Freddie proved to be an excellent guide: spoke
English beautifully, drove calmly and carefully (any of you who has
ridden with Matt can understand the importance of that!), and has
many years experience as a bird researcher and guide.
it was our first CR birding experience, I wanted to sample as many
habitats as possible to get as many species as possible. Freddie
quickly planned an itinerary and off we went, thankfully stopping
for coffee and rolls within the first half hour. It was a
magnificent, 12-hour birding experience, with a total of 86 species!
Birds and the Bees, and the Tarantulas (Yeeeshh....)
first birding spot we visited was a small cafe at about 3000 ft. Its
balcony overlooked incredible botanical delights and a lovely
waterfall and was festooned with numerous hummingbird feeders. We
got 13 species of hummers there, from tiny to large (ok, itís all
relative; a large hummingbird is maybe 4"!).
was also the locale where Matt & John held the tarantula, brave
souls that they are!
had a zone-tailed hawk soaring low, so we got great looks. Several
migrating passerines (perching songbirds) greeted us there, too.
the bottom, a construction crew warned us about a large swam of
bees, so we took their advice and turned around. I swear it was 5
miles backup that hill, but Freddie insisted it was only 1.5
kilometers. For someone who works out regularly, it was still tough!
Oh, I forgot to mention, it was also hot!
|The big hand off...
||Golden Scarab Beetle
||Dear God help me.
special hike was in tropical rain forest, dense and damp. It seemed
quiet at first, but we persevered and got what we in the bird world
call it an interesting mixed flock!
|Matt dwarfed by the
||Islands in the stream, that
is what we are... alright, alright... I'll stop.
had a tico lunch at a nice restaurant along the way, and as Matt has
mentioned, RICE & BEANS (with chicken).
Freddie saved the best place for last--La Selva Biological Reserve
and Research Station. At one point, he had gone ahead and parked the van.
While waiting for him, we were all bird watching, and I was focused on a
beautiful and tiny green honeycreeper feasting on a plant whose fruit
(berries) hung like string beans from the branches. Freddie walks up and
as Iím excitedly pointing out my find, he exclaims that there are 5,000
raptors in the distant sky. Yea, right. But sure enough, thousands of
hawks migrating south for the winter were in a huge string across the sky!
Here in the US, there are hawk watches going on daily, as the hawks are
leaving here for CR and other destinations. It was interesting to be at
the other end of the spectrum!
yeah.... the Pecaries
|Here we also saw 6-8 peccaries, wild pigs,
including a few babies. As we excitedly moved closer to take pictures,
Freddie cautioned about their being wild. Duh!
At another stop, we saw a caiman (relative to
alligator). Thankfully, the critter list did not include snakes as CR
has some of the worldís deadliest species.
On the way back to San Jose, John twice calls out
to Freddie that he has spotted something big with feathers! Freddie
dutifully turns around both times and we get a grey hawk, then 2 crested
caracaras, large black and white raptors with reddish faces!
Okay, weíre haviní a great birding day and
itís late and no oneís saying much when all of a sudden, Freddie hits
the gas pedal and we swerve onto another road and skid to an abrupt stop.
Two types of toucans and a related species, collared aracari, all grouped
together into flocks. They graciously perched in a couple of trees, offering
us terrific look sat these large and unusual birds! Whee, what a punctuation
mark at the end of an excellent birding day!
Our Bird Guide and Our Bird List for Costa Rica
I know Iíll return to Costa Rica for more birding
and will certainly hire Freddie as a guide. If any of you is
interested in such an excursion, his web site is www.falcontourscr.com
For a visual list of all of our birds, click here
(Note - this list is roughly x Kb and will take y
seconds over a 56k connection)
Click this flycatcher to see our bird