Costa Rica- Cinchona to Hotel Gavilán (Day One)

It happened!  We went to Costa Rica!  Many thanks to Seagull Steve for organizing such an excellent adventure.  Over twelve days we collectively recorded about 400 species, though I only (!!)  recorded 370 of those, almost 250 of which were lifers.  There is no efficient way that I can think of to blog all of it so I'm going to post each day we were there separately.  Here is day one.

Jacob, Steve and I arrived in San Jose, CR early on a warm Monday morning with plans to pick up our rental car and head to Walmart.  But our car was not there.  We could take a different one but we were pretty sure we needed 4x4.  We had coffee and waited a couple hours while they hoped one would get turned in.  Eventually Caroline, our fourth on the trip, showed up at the same time that we decided to settle for a non-4x4.  No time for Walmart birds, we headed up and out of San Jose!

Our first real stop was Soda y Mirador Cinchona which features the above waterfall view and boat loads of well-stocked bird feeders.  Also, food!  My first taste of a vegetarian casado of which I had many variations on our trip.  Generally rice and beans, eggs and plantains and whatever else gets thrown in there.  Not bad, not amazing, but good food for getting full.

The feeders, on the other hand, were amazing so now I will blast you with ridiculous feeder birds.

 Clay-colored Thrush (ok, not ridiculous or amazing, but the national bird of Costa Rica)

Buff-throated Saltator

 Black-headed Saltator

Blue-gray and Palm Tanagers

Tennessee Warbler (and bonus Baltimore Oriole)

Scarlet-rumped Tanager (the rice and beans of Costa Rica) 

 Common Chlorosphingus

Summer Tanager

Prong-billed Barbet

Northern Emerald-Toucanet

Red-headed Barbet

Black Guan

Crimson-collared Tanager

Buff-fronted Quail-Dove

 Silver-throated Tanager

Good stuff, right?  And I haven't even gotten to the hummingbirds yet!

Violet Sabrewing

 Green Thorntail

 Coppery-headed Emerald

Green-crowned Brilliants

 Rufous-tailed Hummingbird

 Black-bellied Hummingbird

Green Hermit

So, yeah, that was our lunch birding.  Full checklist here.  Good food, good birds, good views, good doggo.

From Cinchona we headed north towards our final destination of Hotel Gavilán in Puerto Viejo de Sarapiqui.  Of course, there are birds and things along the way, like this pack of coatis begging for scraps:

Beyond the coatis a Bat Falcon was perched.

We pulled over again for a reason I can't recall, but maybe it was because someone saw this Double-toothed Kite?  Or just birds in general? 

At this roadside stop we also had Montezuma Oropendolas (and their nests), Crimson-fronted Parakeets, Red-lored Parrots, several kinds of swifts, and a Common Tody-Flycatcher.


 Oropendola nests

We eventually made it to the hotel where even more birds were waiting along with a couple of very nice Canadians.

A walk around the property produced more new birds.  And new friends.

Collared Aracaris

 Pale-billed Woodpecker

Once it got dark we headed into the woods behind our rooms to look for frogs and things.  We had success with blue jeans poison dart frogs which make a little high pitched sound like your smoke alarm battery is dying.

Jacob pointed out a classic red-eyed tree frog on a palm leaf but it was too far for a good cell phone photo.  Don't worry, we went back the next night with our real cameras. 

That was it for our first day in Costa Rica!  Only eleven more days to share... Good times!!!

P.S. If you need to fly to Costa Rica in February, maybe try not to fly there the day the Envision festival starts or you will be subjected to influencers and yoga-fantatics and ukuleles and lots of dudes trying to impress each other with their handstands.


  1. Extraordinary! I can't wait to see much, much more (which I'm hoping means more coatis, too)

  2. My Jaw Dropped at the first shot and it just stayed open! Just amazing birds, I saw 2 that I could recognize all the rest all a mystery and a delight to my eyes. Can't wait to see more.

    1. Thanks, Sondra! There were so many I'd never heard of before preparing for the trip!

  3. I expected to see them there but I'm still totally stoked on the BFQDs, and also just the quality of geri birding at Cinchona in general.

    I was wondering how many rifers you ended up with, that seems to be a preasant amount. As for organizing the trip...con gusto. I hope the itinerary was to your riking, sorry I can't fix WIND.

    1. I think only one real day of wind and one real day with rain is not too bad really. Plus bellbirds love wind!


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