Thursday 3 May 2018

Costa Rica - Day 8

We met Leo early for a walk up the trail that follows the river behind the hotel. Amazingly we got fabulous views of the Black-faced Antthrush here after our miss the previous day, and Dot-winged Antwren. Before we left we also managed to find Fiery-billed Aracari in the trees near our room, our final chance at these brilliant birds.

Fiery-billed Aracari. Best I got!

Our destination this morning was the dry forest along the Guacalillo Road, as well as some better mangrove habitat on the other side of the Tarcoles. Carara is in what is called the transitional zone, where Pacific slope rainforest gives way to a dryer habitat. This results in a lot of different species in a small area, and it really was not a long time before we turned off the main roads and were in a totally different kind of place. Dry and dusty, and bakingly hot.

Our Trip List started advancing almost immediately by virtue of a few opportune spots along the road. Leo seemed to be targeting open areas with larger trees. Over the course of perhaps three stops we picked up Common Ground DoveNutting's Flycatcher, Brown-crested Flycatcher, Yellow-green Vireo, Stripe-headed Sparrow, Scrub Euphonia, Southern Beardless Tyrannulet, Tropical Pewee, and three new hummingbirds - Plain-capped Starthroat, Charming Hummingbird, and Steely-vented Hummingbird. It was a bit like a route march though, we could not linger anywhere, and I think I disappointed him by running away from the car to try and photograph the White-throated Magpie-Jays.

The road turned towards the coast and we were soon seeing the Pacific again. Our one and only Pearl Kite of the trip was on wires just adjacent to the beach here. Towards the end of the road we parked up and walked into the mangroves. Excellent views here of Mangrove Wabler again, and at the river we got Prothonotary Warbler, Northern Scrub Flycatcher, Amazon Kingfisher, and best of all American Pygmy Kingfisher.

All too soon we were meandering back through the dry forest – a couple more stops got us Olive Sparrow, Long-tailed Manakin, and some roadside Double-striped Thick-knee.

And then it was time to hit the road unfortunately. San José is not too far away at this point, but there is only one road and if there is a problem on it then you are stuck and Leo wanted to get past that section towards the outskirts of the city where we would have options. Once there there was some last minute birding which got us American Kestrel, but another small side-excursion did not pull in anything new.

We had lunch at the Denny’s opposite the airport and then bade farewell to Leo to catch our flight back to London. The lounge made excellent gin and tonics with lashings of Tanqueray, much needed. Our final total was 412 birds, of which 396 were seen and the rest heard. I think that is an astonishing total – most of the 396 were seen very well thanks to the laser pen trick.

Next up - that astonishing list.