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BEST OF COSTA RICA

Wednesday 20th February - Wednesday 6th March 2013

Dani López-Velasco

Baird's Trogon (Dani López-Velasco)

Baird's Trogon (Dani López-Velasco)

Our Best of Costa Rica 2013 tour was a great success. Birdquest has been operating tours to Costa Rica for 26 years now, and our knowledge of the country is probably unrivalled, as are our itineraries. At just twice the size of Wales, this little country has an impressive list of no less than 906 species, with the latest addition being a species we found during our tour! The many specialities only found in Costa Rica and Panama, good lodges, easy trails and overall great birding- certainly make this one of the most enjoyable birding trips in the world. This year, we recorded an impressive 507 species in just 13 days of birding. There are too many highlights to list them all, but amongst others, we had great views of the scarce and often elusive Slaty-breasted Tinamou, several Jabirus, walk-away views of perched Barred Forest Falcon and Semiplumbeous and White Hawks, several Black Guans and impressive Great Curassows, Sunbittern, 4 species of Quail-Doves including mega views of the highly sought-after Chiriqui Quail-Dove, singing Lesser Ground-Cuckoo and very good views of the endangered Great Green Macaw. We were lucky enough to also see no less than 8 species of owls including Costa Rican Pygmy, Spectacled, Striped, Bare-shanked and Vermiculated Screech Owls. Costa Rica is a wonderful place for hummingbirds, and we certainly did very well with these little gems, seeing an impressive 41 species, including the endemic and endangered Mangrove Hummingbird, plus excellent views of both near-endemic White-crested and Black-crested Coquettes and the delightful Snowcap. Resplendent Quetzals, one of the most stunning birds of the world, are always a favourite, and we had the chance to study several splendid males in detail. Always a welcome sight, Baird´s Trogon, the tiny American Pygmy Kingfisher, Rufous-winged and Chestnut-colored Woodpeckers, the rarely seen Keel-billed Motmot, near-endemic Streak-breasted Treehunter and Ochraceous Pewee, the secretive Grey- throated Leaftosser, the scarce Bare-crowned Antbird, as well as Pied Puffbird and Northern Royal Flycatcher all showed well. Estrange-looking Boat-billed Herons were studied at close range, a very cooperative Streak-chested (Spectacled) Antpitta gave the best possible views, as did 6 species of manakins, including lekking Long-tailed, Orange-collared, Red-capped and Blue-crowned. A couple of stunning male Turquoise Cotingas and a single male Snowy Cotinga were certainly highlights, as was the traditionally difficult Lovely Cotinga, of which we saw a brilliant male just outside of our accommodation. No less than 17 species of wrens were recorded, as were the 5 species of nightingale-thrushes that occur in Costa Rica. The highly sought-after Wrenthrush, or Zeledonia, skulking Black-faced Annthrushes and Silvery-fronted Tapaculos, beautiful Golden-browned Clorophonias and huge-billed Nicaranguan Seed Finches also performed, and the rarely seen bamboo specialist Peg-billed Finch also gave very good and prolonged views, together with Volcano Juncos and Timberline Wrens. Excitingly, a California Gull found by us during the tour, near Tarcoles, has already been accepted by the Costa Rican rarities committee as a new addition to the country’s list.

Orange-collared Manakin (Dani López-Velasco)

Orange-collared Manakin (Dani López-Velasco)