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January 4 - 12 , 2020 

It’s our yearly pilgrimage … a wonderful trip to Costa Rica. Of course, our good friend and expert guide, Diego Quesada made all arrangements, drove us around this lovely country, and spotted so many beautiful birds.

After landing in San Jose, Diego met us and drove us to the beautiful Finca Rosa Blanca Lodge in Santa Barbara, not far from the airport and not far from his house.

Our strategy for this trip was to stay in only two lodges for the duration of the trip and do day trips from these locations.


   • 2 nights at Finca Rosa Blanca Lodge

   • 5 nights at Arenal Observatory Lodge

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at Finca Rose Blanca Lodge

Highlights of this trip:

Carara National Park: We have taken the short hike at Carara National Park several times and this is the hottest bird spot of all our traveling around Costa Rica. Antbirds, tanagers, manakins, woodcreepers, parrots and flycatchers were abundant. We came across a couple of swarms of army ants with a high collection of birds trailing, taking advantage of fleeing insects. The oddest thing happened when we were watching one of the swarms of army ants. A Great Tinamou, a bird we rarely see, strolled right up behind us as if we weren’t there. Caracara is just a great birding spot but it gets damn hot. We arrive when the park opens (7:00 or 8:00am) and try to leave by noon. Afternoons are too hot and humid for us.

Jardines del Rey de Cocora: This is a newly constructed birding destination in Costa Rica. It is located within a mile of Cinchona. There is an excellent shelter for viewing and photographing hummingbirds. Under construction is a larger shelter with picnic tables and plans for light food and coffee. I photographed ten hummingbird species at the viewing shelter and the big hit of the day was a leucitic Bananaquit.

A leucitic and normal Bananaquit

Bananaquit  -  leucistic

Mirador De Cinchona: A birding visit to Costa Rica is incomplete without a stop at Mirador De Cinchona. The restaurant is doing well (even has a new sign in front), and the back porch is still standing. With its amazing view of Catarata San Fernando Falls and variety of birds at the fruit feeders, Mirador De Cinchona is one of our favorite stops.

View of Catarata San Fernando for the back deck at Mirador De Cinchona

Papa’s Place, Gerald & Priscilla Cornelio: These are good friends of Diego who have a house just outside La Fortuna. In the backyard are fruit feeders setup for photography, and the birds just flock the feeders. A special regular visitor to the backyard was a juvenile Great Black Hawk.

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    Papa's Place

Arenal Observatory Lodge trails: On our last day at Arenal Observatory Lodge we hiked the Waterfalls trail at AOL and were amazed at the number and variety of birds, especially the number of antbirds and wrens.

Mistico Arenal Hanging Bridges Park: This is a major park for tourist as well as local families. Weekend crowds are a little overwhelming but the birding along the trails is just excellent. Highlights were a pair of Crested Owls and a Chuck-will’s-widow, all perched high in a unphotographable locations.

Birding Results:

Nancy and I are not die-hard bird listers. We don't  kill ourselves in trying to see as many birds as possible. But we always keep a list during international birding trips. For our style of birding this latest trip to Costa Rica was a very good both in number of birds seen, new birds, and those photographed.

     •  244 species

     •  23 Hummingbird species

     •  24 new species from Costa Rica with good photos to add to my catalog (i.e., photos from Costa Rica I previously did not have decent photos of)

Costa Rica: Jan. 2020 New Species/Good Photo

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