Recap: Costa Rica

Monkies 3 060119 Bebedero River Boat Ride

Well, my trip to Costa Rica with 21 Arkansas Auduboners is now over. We saw around 189 species of birds despite three days of near constant rain.

Here’s our eBird lists as reported by our group leader:

26 May 2019
Liberia airport

Night walk
27 May
Prebreakfast birding
Santa Rosa National Park
28 May
Hacienda Guachipelin

Rincon de la Vieja volcano

PM birding walk

29 May
Cafeteria Horizonte

30 May
Monteverde Santa Elena prebreakfast birding

Monteverde Cloud Forest
Finca Life Verde Coffee farm tour

Curi Cancha Reserve Nightwalk
31 May
Prebreakfast birding Pig Farm Road

Selvatura Suspension Bridges
1 June
Prebreakfast birding walk

Tempisque River boating
2 June
Prebreakfast birding Playa Carrillo area
Chora island snorkeling trip

Purple-throated Mountain-gem3 053019 Monteverde Cloud Forest
Purple-throated Mountain Gem

Day 9: Costa Rica

IMG_3931

We went on one final walk before loading up to head back to Liberia for the airport.

While the beach resort had killer views and great staff, it’s not a place I plan to come back to. One person in our group created a list comparing what Costa Rica bird we’d seen each person would be. She said I remind her of the Lessen’s Motmot. I’m pretty happy to be back – I was greeted by my dad and nieces who will be spending the next few days with me while my sister travels for work. 🙂

Day 8: Costa Rica

IMG_3888

Today was my final full day in Costa Rica. It was a “free” day for the group, although there was a guided ocean kayak and snorkeling tour to Chora Island planned for anyone wanting to go. I couldn’t say no. I pretty much spent the entire time at the island snorkeling.

I admitted to being extremely cranky yesterday and I’m embarrassed to say that I complained about the room I was assigned. When I arrived back to the hotel this afternoon, I learned that the hotel staff had switched me to another room to resolve my issue. It was sweet of the staff to help me, especially when they gave my roommate a choice of what rooms we could switch to and she picked the room that completely ignored my concern but had a better view.

We wrapped up the day with a group farewell dinner at a local restaurant.

Day 7: Costa Rica

I love Senda Monteverde Hotel! However after a final morning walk, we left Monteverde for our final destination in Carrillo Beach in Guanacaste.

Along the way, we stopped once again in Abangares for gas, where I was entertained by the Macaws.

*Macaw 01 060119 Guanacaste
Macaw

The views along the route were also pretty amazing.

*View 1 060119 Guanacaste

IMG_3659

We later stopped for lunch and a private, guided boat tour on the Bebedero River in the Tempisque River basin bordering Palo Verde National Park.

IMG_3700

We also saw so many crocodiles and babies!

We even saw monkeys, a giant anteater and bats! I need to emphasis how excited I was to see the bats!! I finally got a video of a basilisk running on water as well.

*Giant Anteater 060119 Bebedero River Boat RideJPG*Bats4 060119 Bebedero River Boat Ride

Our final days will be spent at Nammbú Beach Resort. I’ll admit I was not in the best of moods when I arrived – I was pure crankiness. I ended up taking a quick trip to check out the beach at sunset before getting in the pool to cool off and nab a drink from the poolside bar (which definitely helped).

IMG_3856

Day 6: Costa Rica

We kicked off the morning with a morning bird walk in a country road near Monteverde.

It was interesting: we were headed through Monteverde when suddenly our driver pulls over and says he’s found a sloth for us. Apparently, our driver is fascinated with sloths and he really did find one as he drove through town. It was a Hoffman’s Two-toed Sloth, which our tour guide said we were lucky to get a good photo of.

*Hoffman's Two-toed Sloth1 053119 Costa Rica (Monteverde)
Hoffman’s Two-toed Sloth

We then headed over to Selvatura Park, a nature and adventure ecological park with over 850 acres of protected land. We toured the cloud forest via the park’s many suspension bridges that took us through and above the tree tops. Among the birds we saw were an adult male Three-wattled Bellbird and a Resplendent Quetzal that flew over us.

I ate lunch in town at Amy’s cuisine, where I had a typical Costa Rican lunch, and then sat in on a bellbird conservation talk back at the hotel, and then ate once again at the restaurant.

IMG_3639

Day 5: Costa Rica

*Photo3 053019 Monteverde Santa Elena prebreakfast birding

We started our day off with a morning hike with the goal of spotting the Three-wattled Bellbird. We did not see it, although a couple that stayed behind because they were sick later spotted it near the hotel’s lobby. We ate breakfast at the hotel’s restaurant. It overlooks the grounds, and we watched the below Lesson’s Motmot and Yellow-crowned Euphonia visit a tree just outside our window.

*Lesson's Motmot2 053019 Monteverde Santa Elena prebreakfast birding
Lesson’s Motmot
*Yellow-crowned Euphonia 053019 Monteverde Santa Elena prebreakfast birding
Yellow-crowned Euphonia

After a quick breakfast, we then went straight to the Monteverde Cloud Forest Biological Preserve. The preserve was founded in 1972, and you want to arrive early to get assigned to the more popular trails. We arrived later than we had originally planned to so we were deferred to a less popular trail (although you still can’t go wrong on whatever trail you end up on). 

Throughout the whole hike, we were on a lookout for the Resplendent Quetzal, an endangered bird known for its colorful plumage and considered one of the most beautiful birds in the world. We were just about to leave the trail when we decided to walk up another side trail to an artificial nest set up by preserve staff. We got lucky – we found both a male and a female (which visited the nest). Another tour guide was sweet enough to take my phone and get a cell phone photo (below, top left) through his scope of the Resplendent Quetzal. We actually had a pair of sisters cry because they joined the group specifically to see this particular bird and they were so thrilled they got to see it.

Before we left the preserve, we stopped by their hummingbird/gift shop/cafe area where they had multiple hummingbird feeders set up for visitors to catch a closer glimpse of the various species of hummingbirds. I have to admit: this was my favorite part because hummingbirds are so darn beautiful and funny!

While traveling to our next stop for Finca Life Coffee Tour in Monteverde, we saw the below Masked Tityra on a telephone pole.

IMG_3330
Masked Tityra

Once at the coffee farm, we ate lunch before touring the farm and sampling the coffee. It was definitely fascinating to learn how the family-managed farm operates.

While I loved hearing about the history of the coffee farm and how it operates, I also enjoyed the birds we found. We actually saw a male Three-wattled Bellbird! It sat in a tree calling near a Pale-billed Woodpecker. Near the end of the tour while looking at the coffee beans in the field, we discovered a male juvenile calling and a Montezuma Oropendola that completed a series of bows from a tree branch as part of its mating ceremony.

Tonight, we went on a guided night walk at Curi Cancha Reserve, which includes 205 acres of primary and secondary forest. Only a few folks from the group went on the night walk, and afterwards, we ended up eating together in town at a local bar before heading back to crash. It was a fun walk, but I was disappointed in the lack of diversity in the amount of species we found – mainly because I really wanted to see an owl. But, we did see multiple bats and the below snake was a cool find!

Day 4: Costa Rica

*Bare-throated Tiger Heron1 with Burrowing Python 052919 Hacienda Solimar
Solimar Ranch: Bare-throated Tiger Heron with a struggling Burrowing Python that eventually got away.

While I liked Hacienda Guachipelin, we had issues with some of the air conditioner units leaking causing several of us to wake up to water all over the place. I enjoyed the stay, but I was ready to move on. We pulled out this morning for the next stage of our trip.

IMG_3136

While traveling to Monteverde, we stopped at the Solimar Ranch for lunch and a guided tour of the ranch and wetlands. The ranch is just south of the mouth of the Tempisque River. The owner/guide was impressive – he was great at spotting birds and you wanted to stay near him at all times! I loved watching the basilisks run across the top of the water and searching for the various birds, crocodiles and flowers. Up near the ranch house, there were gardens with tons of butterflies. While we ate, we watched a male and female Rose-throated Becards build their nest. The pair took turns entering the nest and frequently sat near or on the nest the whole time we were at the house.

One member of our group – a University of Arkansas grad student – had a neat find! He caught a boa constrictor that was in the process of catching a green iguana! Below is a video of him telling the story.

IMG_3174

After Solimar Ranch, we made a pit stop in Abangares for gas (apparently, no one can be in the vehicle when you fill up so we all had to get out). We used this time to visit a souvenir store, and get sweets (mango milkshake) at Cafeteria Mi Finca. We also stopped at a roadside place – Cafeteria Horizonte – to take in the views.

We eventually arrived at Senda Monteverde Hotel. I joined a group for dinner at its restaurant, which was so dang good even if the desert was too rich for me to finish. We were greeted by staff with drinks once again and our cabins are pretty amazing. There was a mix-up with our cabins, but it was quickly straightened up.

Day 3: Costa Rica

Today, we toured Rincon de la Vieja National Park and saw “Las Pailas,” the bubbling mud pits created by a nearby volcano. It was naturally still raining but it didn’t deter us.

Once we got back to the hotel, I joined one other adult and three kids from my group for a horseback ride to Las Chorreras and Victoria Waterfalls. We had two other adults back out at the last minute because of nerves. My horse and I had a love/hate relationship and, taking a sliding ride uphill/downhill during the rain was slightly frightening at times. However, it was worth the trip. It was fun. It was also great getting in the last waterfall pictured below.

IMG_3077IMG_3089IMG_3102IMG_3109

Day 2: Costa Rica

Pacific Screech Owl2 052719 Costa Rica (Guanacaste)

Three Pacific Screech Owls greeted us as we left the hotel this morning to start the day. Like yesterday, it was cloudy and rainy so we decided to head over to the Santa Rosa National Park, which became a historical landmark in 1971. It is the site of the Battle of Santa Rosa and where Costa Rican independence was won. We walked through parts of mature dry forest to search for birds. We even found howler monkeys hunkered down to wait out the rain.

We wrapped up the day by visiting the hotel’s Volcanic Mud Hot Springs and dinner at a Curubandé restaurant where we tried various local dishes.

IMG_2900

There are optional morning and night walks each day. I opted to go on tonight’s walk.

IMG_2906