Costa Rica: A Relaxed & Easy Tour Jun 17—25, 2017

Posted by David Ascanio


David Ascanio

David Ascanio, a Venezuelan birder and naturalist, has spent 30+ years guiding birding tours throughout his native country, Colombia, Costa Rica, Panama, the Amazon River, ...

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Our tour to magical Costa Rica started in the beautifully arranged gardens of the Hotel Bougainvillea. In these gardens, we came across our first target species of the tour, the Lesson’s Motmot. It was foraging between native and exotic plants, small ponds, vines, bromeliads with brightly colored inflorescence, and flowering orchids. This brought the opportunity to give a brief explanation of old and modern taxonomy and the challenges raised with the development of molecular biology. A good example was indeed this motmot, a species formerly considered as part of the Blue-crowned Motmot and now separated into five species.

Fiery-throated Hummingbird

Fiery-throated Hummingbird— Photo: David Ascanio


From San José we drove south, to the Cerro de la Muerte. Once we reached the ridge, we took a short detour to the Paraiso Quetzal where hummingbird feeders provided views of the regional endemic Fiery-throated Hummingbird. There were also Lesser Violetears and Magnificent Hummingbirds. After lunch, the clouds were still dispersed, and there was no sign of rain. Thus, we decided to play with luck and drove to the highest point of the road, to the antenna dirt road. Soon after we arrived we found a pair of Volcano Juncos hopping around the area. We also noticed the vegetation size that is found above treeline and explored some of the commonest species, including a native bamboo. After quite a search, we came across a pair of the secretive Timberline Wren, a species that everyone got to see very well.

But, the reason to come to Cerro de la Muerte wasn’t only to find the extravagant tanagers or experience the secretive birds of the forest interior. We came to look for a bird named after the Aztec god of wind and learning, who was represented by the Resplendent Quetzal. To look for it, we went out to the field prior to breakfast and waited at a location where Persea sp. trees were loaded with small avocados. First, we saw a female gulping an avocado, and later a male flew across the road with its elongated upper tail coverts moving as if it were swimming across the air. What a moment! As we enjoyed this wonderful bird in the scope, a second male came and landed on an open branch, allowing extended photo opportunities. Back at the hotel we enjoyed a sweet and soft pineapple, along with a great breakfast, and later explored the forest understory where a group of about 6 Spotted Wood-Quail walked very close to us.

Read David’s full report in his Field List.