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COSTA RICA 2003

As usual, we started at our superb hotel in San Jose where we had incredible views of both Prevost's and White-eared Ground-sparrows. You can judge how good the views were by the photograph at the top of this report! Rancho Naturalista was excellent as usual and our excursion up the Montagne de Silencio was rewarded with several much sought-after species including a male Lovely Cotinga and amazing views of two Sharpbills! En-route to Savegre at Cerro de la Muerte we saw Timberline Wrens and Volcano Juncos whilst at a nearby café Fiery-throated Hummingbirds vied for attention with Large-footed Finch! At Savegre our excellent local guide showed us Spotted Wood-quail, Ochraceous Pewee, Silvery-throated Jays and an amazing Dusky Nightjar at roost in daylight but it was the Peg-billed Finch that stole the show, normally an incredibly difficult bird even in the Paramo but almost unheard of here. But of course it is the Resplendent Quetzals that everyone wants to see and we were not disappointed with multiple views of birds including several nests.

Moving down to the Caribbean lowlands we stayed at Selva Verde for three nights. Of course, we added numerous new birds to our lists here and highlights are difficult but Semiplumbeous Hawk sat just above our heads on a forest trail, Great Potoo spotlighted 'singing' and hawking insects, Spectacled Owl at it's daytime roost, Purple-throated Fruitcrows displaying overhead and multiple views of Snowy Cotingas featured very highly. En-route to Carara on the Pacific coast we stopped at our usual site for Black-and-white Owls and Hoffmann's Three-toed Sloths. At Carara we found an antswarm for the second year running and were treated to amazing views of Northern Barred and Tawny-winged Woodcreepers, Chestnut-backed Antbird and Dot-winged Antwren whilst the lek of Orange-collared Manakins was as entertaining as ever.

A Northern Royal Flycatcher was building a nest above the past and both Great Tinamou and Black-faced Antthrush both gave themselves up after hearing them many times before.

In the mangroves on the Tarcoles river we watched Boat-billed Herons and Mangrove Hummingbirds whilst the Pacific Screech-owl at the lodge gave absolutely stunning views, as did an Olivaceous Piculet en-route. On to Palo Verde and Jabiru was more conspicuous than normal and after struggling to get views of a Lesser Ground-cuckoo, Ramon found one in the open right next to the bus! The much reduced marshes were packed with Black-bellied Whistling Ducks interspersed with Fulvous Whistling-ducks and Limpkins. A Snail Kite waited patiently whilst a fearless juvenile Bare-throated Tiger-heron kept us entertained by sitting in a boat parked in the carpark!

Moving up to Monteverde we found a number of difficult species including Black-breasted Wood-quail, Chiriqui Quail-dove, Long-tailed Manakin and Plain Wren. The hummingbird feeders at the giftshop were packed with Violet Sabrewing, Magenta-throated Woodstar, Purple-throated Mountain-gem and Stripe-tailed Hummingbird whilst an Orange-breasted Trogon was kindly pointed out to us by a local. Returning to San Jose, we hadn't quite finished yet and Bare-shanked Screech-owl was spotlighted at the hotel and in the morning before the flight home many people managed to catch up with missed birds like Yellow-green Vireo, Orange-billed Nightingale-thrush and Yellow-throated Brush-finch.

Collared Aracari

Collared Aracari