Duration:11 hours Overview: This one day birding journey departs and returns to hotels in San Jose. The tour will explore Carara National Park and Tarcoles River mangroves. Rate: 4-6 pax $135 person 2-3 pax $200 person
Carara National Park is by far the best birding place in Costa Rica. The Central Pacific conservation area protects the second largest population of Scarlet Macaws, mangrove swamps, forest edges. There are very few places in the country where more than hundred species can be found in one trail. Meandrica’s trail it has become an icon for quality birding, tinamous, trogons, wrens, antpittas, manakins, cotingas, bellbirds, antshrikes are among the most common birds in the forest. The nearby forested edges give as a good number of open field birds, jays, blackbirds, greenlets, rails, ground doves, motmots, hawks, parakeets, owls are among many of the avifauna found in these habitats. The mangroves at Rio Grande de Tarcoles are very rewarding on a good day along the river edges 5 species of kingfishers can be spotted, more than a couple dozens of shorebirds, herons, egrets are also easy to find but the most remarkable species are the ones with a restricted range or to the mangroves such as vireos, warblers, cuckoos, flycatchers, the elusive Rufous necked woodrail and the only true Costa Rican endemic Mangrove Hummingbird. View full list here. http://www.costaricabirdingjourneys.org/img/MBJbirdlist.pdf
Pick up time San Jose: 6:30 am
* Return time to San Jose: 5:30 pm What to bring:
Mosquito Repellent, long pants, Rain gear, binoculars & water
Lunch money ($10 or 5800 colones) What includes
Transportation, Pro birder, Park fees Hiking level: Moderate
A great tour for those with physical limitations and a must for bird Photographers.
Physical Level: easy to moderated design for: general public, birders (professional or amateur), nature, macro & wildlife photographers (professional or amateur)
What to bring: neutral color clothing, closed shoes, pants, short sleeves shirts, camera, binoculars (if possible) mosquito repellent, sunglasses, had, sunblock. During the rainy season: Rain jacket, plastic bags for cameras, wallets, etc. What is included: Transportation round trip, park fees, professional tour guide, water & lunch.
Central Pacific Birding Journey
Central Pacific coast of Costa Rica has been little know for its aviafauna richness, its beaches has nearly taken most of the public attention yet for those with years of studies and birding hobby this área its the most diverse in the all central american ithmus. Nearly 20 years later i have been able to identify 600 species with only one record add to the list by a well trusted scientist ( that i have not seen myself).
From the small town of Orotina outskirts to Tivives Mangroves until the adjancent rocky points of Punta Mala south of Hermosa Beach. On the mountainous terrains of Bijagual to the back hills of Jaco and Hermosa with a relative high altitute of 650 meters above sea level, a more humid rainforest tracks preveals, mostly all gone few pieces remain on the hill tops and river edges given a good taste of the bird quality of the upper parts of Central Pacific. The local bird diversity overwhelms the most skillful birders. New birders will also find this área has a never ending lifers, surprises and why not a huge number to their daily list.
Nearly 120 years ago the first hand written description of the bird life in Central Pacific remains the same on terms of its biodiversity and with the growing number of birders, and scientists searching on all corners of the área the future its quite prominent yet still lots of small patches of forest, hill sides and islolated river mounts to explore.
But why its so rich??? Might the question rise although the answer its rather complex if we ge on technical data I would like to lay out some of its more important characteristics of the why and the how but more crucial the where…
In order to summarize all posible birding scenarios it will be correct to divide the booklet into áreas and hábitats without leaving behind migration, local movements, seasonal crops, but above all phenology and abiotic changes such as precipitation, winds and the two prevaling climate changes (dry / rainy seasons)
Its not my intetions to describe a scientific document but certainly to be precise at all major changes on the landscapes, or the two seasons and its impact of birdwatching.
Understanding dry season.
The central pacific dry season has its begging on the last weeks of december until the first week of May, which coincides with the high touristic season in a greater majority USA citizens and Canadians without leaving behind the thousands of locals looking for a beach spot to lay on.
Dry season has few great advantages number one its a peak time for migrant birds feeding and heading back north by the end of March but also its the reproductive time of most birds thefefore the activity increases by many factors such as searching for mate, nesting material, extra food to feed the chicks and singing perches.
Since rains had gone along with rice fields, other crops and large portion of wáter bodies had also dissappear, the concentration of birds will be more on tall drying
grasses, pastures, river edges with evergreen forests, and wooden lands such as Carara National Park.
Temperatures can reach 40celsius by the mid of the day and will drop to the mid 30´s by sunset so its important to get an early start every day, its very important to understand that most forest in the world get quite with such high temperaturas but its not the case in this área. In fact a large part of insect eaters are heavily active before 3 pm. (we will discuss those phenomena on a different chapter)
Dry season early morning.
Where to go birding? This is a very difficult question because it relies on your targets or wish list but if you are new to the neotropics then the begging of your day shall be at 530 am on open áreas ( before it gets to hot and the national park opens at 7 am ) this extra 130 hours can give an extra 50 to 80 species if you are keen.
Open áreas include river mounts like Tarcoles and beaches ( make sure its low tide )
Since the área its largely deforested so open áreas are everywhere my suggestion its to use the less trafficky and the closest to your hotel or residence.
Dry season midday
Most people will not even get out for birding at this time of the day yet in several locations watching birds it could be extremely rewarding.
Carara National Park Meandrica’s and Quebrada Bonita´s trails: Either trails offer great birding between 11 to 3 pm yet mostly insect eating birds such as woodcreepers, flycatchers, motmots, trogons, and antbirds. Specially if army ants swarms are found.
Abandoned pastures: many former pasture lands near Carara to Esterrillos East are not very active at all yet still open grounds of vegetation and scattered forest patches with small canopy trees. Raptors favorite hábitats your list will get interesting if you just take a good drive along places like Piedra Bruja near Jaco or to Hermosa wildlife refuge. Laughing Falcon, Bat Falcon, Gray Hawk, Roadside Hawk, Zone tailed Hawk, Crane Hawk Crested and Yellow headed Caracaras even a rare Black Hawk Eagle sighting.
Dry Season late afternoon: Its nearly the same as in the morning yet depends on your targets the choice of the hábitats. The best results for forest birds its always Carara yeti f you are near Jaco the golf course forest edges at Los Sueños had never led me down with species such as Fiery billed Aracari, Slaty tailed Trogon, Long tailed Manakin, migrant tanagers and warblers.