Friday 6 May 2022

Costa Rica - Day 7 - 19th March 2022

It was an early rise for a pre-breakfast jaunt down onto the Cano Negro which was accessible less than a mile from the Hotel de Campo.  It was grey and threatening and our trip in the thankfully canopied boat was dogged by sudden sharp downpours but it was hot and sultry and did not seem to affect the birds other than a brief appearance of hunched resignation to the weather that seemed visible on every avian face.

Kingfishers were a key part of the journey and Ringed, Amazon and Green all showed closely from the boat as we drifted by and occasionally they would linger a while. 

All the above are Amazon Kingfisher - male with the chestnut

male Ringed Kingfishers

female Green Kingfisher

There were herons and egrets in the usual assortment of colours and shapes and the Boat-billed Night Herons were my favourite with that outsized shovel.  White Ibis were feeding in the creeks with the odd Wood Stork and four Green Ibis were perched up in a tree with some Anhingas and Neotropic Cormorants.

Bare-throated Tiger Heron

Boat Billed Heron

Boat Billed Heron - Andy Reid

Green Heron, Roseate Spoonbill, Snowy Egret, Tricoloured Heron & White Ibis

Snowy Egret, Neotropic Cormorant & Great White Egret

Great Blue Heron

Great Blue Heron

Great White Egret

Green Heron

Green Heron

imm Little Blue Heron

Little Blue Heron

Snowy Egret with more than it could manage

Green Ibis

Roseate Spoonbill

Roseate Spoonbill

Wood Stork

Tricoloured Heron adopting the 'oh not again' face

The Anhingas are always good value and watching that snaky neck appear above the water and then retreat without a ripple always feels so very unbird like. 

Anhinga in all its guises

Anhinga - Andy Reid

Neotropic Cormorant

Limpkins boomed from the edges and we had great views of this oversized rail out in the open especially after it rained. Smaller relatives included Common and American Purple Gallinules and our first Rufous Naped Wood Rails of the trip.  White-throated Crakes were heard and a venture from the boat to a drying lagoon got us very close to at least two rattling Grey Breasted Crakes but they would not give themselves up. Northern Jacanas were tiptoeing along the margins and there was a fair cast of waders with a mixed flock of Pectoral, Semi-palmated and Least Sandpipers doing a circuit and Spotted and Solitary Sandpipers, Greater Yellowlegs, Southern Lapwings and Black-necked Stilts on the muddy areas.


Rufous Naped Wood Rail

Black-necked Stilt

Black-necked Stilt

Southern Lapwings

Northern Jacanas

The star bird actually on the water though was once again the Sungrebes and this time we saw both sexes.  The female (like Phalaropes) is the more colourful of the two. It is possibly the calmest, most chilled bird I have ever seen; swimming slowly in and out of the overhangs picking tiny morsels from any leaf within its reach and never making a ripple or a sound.  It was completely unphased by the puttering of the boat engine.

female Sungrebe

female Sungrebe - Andy Reid

male Sungrebe

Blue-winged Teals and Black-bellied Whistling Ducks were noted and Osprey and Peregrine were both new for the trip and we also picked up another Black Collared Hawk and Bat Falcon. 

Black-bellied Whistling Ducks

Blue-winged Teals 

Black Collared Hawk


The hidden lagoon that we went to check not only produced the Crakes but three new Flycatchers with Yellow Tyrannulet, Slate-headed Tody-Flycatcher and an out of range Bran-coloured Fly along with great views of displaying Nicaraguan and Great Tailed Grackles and fluffed up Red-winged Blackbirds.  

Nicaraguan Grackle

Nicaraguan Grackles

Nicaraguan Grackle

Red-winged Blackbird

Slate-headed Tody-Flycatcher

Yellow Tyrannulet

Yellow Tyrannulet

There were Orange Chinned, Olive-throated and Finsch’s Parakeets raiding the orange flowers and Baltimore and Orchard Orioles were joining in on the act.  It was good to see a full male of the latter decked out in mahogany and black. Northern Beardless Tyrannulet and Tropical Pewee were seen  and amongst the usual selection of wood warblers were two glowing Prothonotary poking around just above water level.  They are just so vivid. Barred Antshrikes, Canebrake Wrens and Blue Ground Doves were both in song but out of sight and two Masked Tityras moved through the canopy that was also occupied by lounging Green Iguanas and the odd lazy Mantled Howler.

Orange Chinned and Finsch’s Parakeets

Orchard Orioles

Prothonotary Warbler

Prothonotary Warbler

A very wet Tree Swallow

One of the highlights was once again the close encounters with the Spectacled Caiman along the river banks.  They may not be as down right scary as the big Crocs we would be seeing later but I still would not like to be in the water with them, unlike the local fishermen who obviously know their demeanour better than I do!

Spectacled Caiman

Meso-American slider (Trachemys venusta)

Green Basilisk

Green Basilisk

Back for breakfast (passing a pair of Bronzed Cowbirds on the way) and time for another garden circuit.  I tried to find my feeding flock from yesterday but it was very quiet although I did find Yellow-throated Vireo again and a showy Lesser Greenlet. The Grey-headed Doves and Dusky-capped Flycatchers were still in situ but the Spot Breasted Wrens were playing hard to get but everyone eventually succeeded with the added bonus of a pair of Shining Cowbirds and a male Black-headed Trogon doing what they do best – staring us down.

Black-headed Trogon

Black-headed Trogon

Toad rescued from Sally's shower

Bilimbi but flowering this time - how weird



It was time for the longish drive back south towards our lodge at Sarapiqui which would put us on top of La Selva.  The journey was enlivened by the now usual ‘from the bus birds’ but started with a Bat Falcon that moved like an avian missile after an invisible snack. A Giant Cowbird then flew over the road and a Lineated Woodpecker did likewise. A couple of Roadside Hawks were on inevitable perches and lunch at the Iguana Café provided Steve with the opportunity to once again not look at House Sparrows.

 Crested Caracara

Green Iguanas

House Sparrows just for Mr Bird

The sterile Pineapple fields

The lovely La Quinta Lodge greeted us warmly with on tap coffee and Golden Hooded Tanagers feeding young in a nest before a relaxing session at the feeders gave us some almost natural views of the regular attendees including Passerini’s, Blue Grey and Palm Tanagers, Honeycreepers, Saltators and Black-cheeked Woodpeckers. The Red-throated Ant Tanagers were a little shy and only appeared briefly.

Golden Hooded Tanager

Golden Hooded Tanager

Palm Tanager

Passerini's Tanager

Passerini's Tanager

Passerini's Tanager

Passerini's Tanager

Passerini's Tanager

Blue Grey Tanager

Green Honeycreeper

Red-legged Honeycreeper

Red-legged Honeycreeper

Red-legged Honeycreeper

Buff-throated Saltator

Black-cheeked Woodpecker

Black-cheeked Woodpecker

Clay Coloured Thrush

Variegated Squirrel

Variegated Squirrel

It was almost dark when the Collared Aracaris came in

There was still time for a walk around the grounds where the drying ponds held two Green Ibis and Buff Rumped Warblers and the thatched bridge was home to both Lesser and Greater Sac Winged Bats. They looked almost identical but Steve’s gadget told us which ones were which.  

Lesser Sac Winged Bats

Greater Sac Winged Bat

Green Ibis

Turkey Vulture in the vegetable garden!

Flocks of Orange Chinned and Finsch’s Parakeets and noisy Mealy Parrots moved to and fro and we found a stunning male Golden Winged Warbler and two black and yellow Black Cowled Orioles.  A male Yellow Crowned Euphonia serenaded a female from a dead snag and Orange Billed Sparrows started squeaking as the light faded. 

Common Tody Flycatcher


Shrimp Plant

Vaux’s and White Collared Swifts moved through along with a passage of over 40 Cliff Swallows and it was good to get better views of several Chestnut Collared Swifts in the mix as well as at least four exotic looking Lesser Swallow-tailed Swifts. A Blue Black Grosbeak sang from the Cannas as we called it a night for dinner but not before a listen for an early Spectacled Owl drew a blank but gained us a wondrous Nine-banded Armadillo trundling across the car park!

A few of us had a wander after dinner with bat detectors and torch in hand. It was noisy with insect life in the woods and the previously unseen Caiman eyes glowed orange in the beams.  There were several small ones dotted around but you could see mum nearby. A Great Potoo flew over silhouetted against the sky and making a deep croaking sound that made us all jump and there were a few inverts to be seen including a cool Katydid, giant Cicada and the Mother of all Assassin Bugs at about 1.5 inches long There was no way I was going to pick it up given the proclivity of the little UK ones for sticking their ‘drinking straw’ in your hand!

Owl butterfly cat


Steve was very taken by this furry Bracket Fungus



Mother of all Assassin Bugs


We left the denizens of the night to get to business and slunk back to our rooms where the local House Geckos (definitely much smaller than at Arenal) were making more of the same.

House Geckos

New Birds: * = life tick ** = new to Costa Rica but previously seen elsewhere

34: Grey-breasted Crake *

35: Yellow Tyrannulet *

36: Slate-headed Tody Flycatcher *

37: Bran-coloured Flycatcher *

38: Lesser Swallow-tailed Swift *

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