Storm with Maple, Macaws and quail doves. Nov 18th-26th,2016

Diana and Rick Werezak.

Great amigos from Canada, we had a very nice trip of 9 days.

Carara, San Gerardo de Dota, Sarapiquí, Arenal and Monteverde were the selected locations. Birds from central pacific, north caribbean, high lands, north zone. Besides avian fauna, sloths, monkeys, peccaries, coatis, snakes, frogs and more wild life were part of this trip.

The black spot along our journey was the huricane that affected part of CR´s north zone. Even when we had lots of rain whiile we were in Sarapiqui we still saw lots of birds and other animals.

The good spirit was all around us and we had a super good trip.

The winning area: CARARA..

The best bird: Olive backed Quail Dove, we found at least 5 slow walking individuals at La Selva OTS station, covered under the leaves of aroid plants..

Very special species: Great green Macaw, Rudy quail Dove, Quetzal, Red headed Barbet, Royal Flycatcher, Russet Antshike, Dark Pewee, Magenta throated Woodstar, Cape May Warbler, Streak chested Anpitta.

Gracias Rick and Diana..mi casa es su casa..!

Hawks, turquoise Waterfall and Tanagers, Nov 8th-12th. 2016

Nov 8th-12th, 2016

We costumized a short trip for Elizabeth and Michael Collins, two enthusiastic birders and nature lovers.

Our trip started from Dreams Las Mareas in Guanacaste. First bird found: an elusive Ferruginous Pygmy Owl at 10 am, great beginning!!

This time we stayed at Heliconias Lodge Tenorio Volcano and Observatory Lodge so we could end near San Jose on the last day. We had our last stop on highlands around Poas Volcano. The locations as planned gave us lots of tanagers, antbirds, motmots, Trogons, hummingbirds and some raptors

Best bird of the trip: The winner this time is Ocellated Antbird!! second place for Ornate Hawk-Eagle.

Michael and my self  we had a short but complete body view of this bird just a few meters away from us, I´m sorry Ilizabeth !!This bird came out at Tenorio Park. Also we had fantastic eye level views of Black capped Pygmy Tyrant in this park. Some very special birds to mention not only here but the rest of the trip: Rufous winged Tanager, Black and yellow Tanager, White throated Shrike-Tanager, Fiery throated Hummingbird, Black and yellow Silky-Flycatcher,Smoky brown Woodpecker, White Hawk, Dull mantled Antbird.

Great visit to local family for night walk near Heliconias Lodge, named Bijagua Ranas ( phone: 8435 9792) where we were guided by the family who showed us over 9 sps of frogs in their garden!! I loved the 3 year old kid who spot some of the frogs for us!! During the trip we had 5 species of mammals and including some beautiful snakes as Eye lashed Pit Viper and Fer de Lance.

182 sps for 4 efective birding days.



David Larssen and Robert Adamo. Feb 11-19th, The owl and Potoo encounter

I designed a program from Feb 11th to 19th, 2016 for David and Bob, two retired friends from USA.

Both of them had been previously in Costa Rica so we wanted to increase their list, places like Poás Volcano, Sarapiqui, Caño Negro and Arenal volcano were put together to keep short driving distances among places but also David had never stayed on these places before so I knew many species were new for him and also for Bob.

The winning area this time goes for: Caño Negro; all the kingfishers of CR in one day plus several great birds like Yellow breasted crake, Pied puffbird, Sungrebe, Black collared Hawk, etc..Very few times one area can defeat La Selva but it happened!!.

Even with hot temperatures and a lot of rain at Observatory Lodge, these two gentlemen took an amazing amount of hard species in their pockets..

The Best Moment:  I took Bob and David at night on Caño Negro to look for Common Potoo, well we saw it perched really clear, even we scoped it, while the potoo was calling, we saw a black figure that came down, right in front of us a beautiful Black and White Owl decided to stay in the middle!! was wonderful..very nice surprise..

The best species:

Barred Hawk Northern Harrier
Thicket Anpitta Jabiru
Black crested Coquette Yellow breasted Crake
Pied Puffbird Pinnated Bittern
Great green Macaw Least Bittern
Snowy Cotinga Nicaraguan Grackle
Sungrebe Resplendent Quetzal
Common Potoo Crested Owl
Great Potoo Black and white Owl
American Pygmy Kingfisher Vermiculated Screech-Owl
Red headed Barbet Spectacled Owl

Total seen: 295 sps..


Elena Holly and family, Jan 21st,2016. Cinchona area

I was recommended to Elena by a friend, we took a half day birding tour around Cinchona since they were staying near Póas Volcano. We visited Virgen del Socorro and Cinchona. Down to Socorro we had great views of 2 White Hawks soring around, road was in bad shape so we drove back to main road and used our time to see the feeders where we had white bellied mountain-gem, green thorntail, rufous tailed hummingbird, violet sabrewing, green crowned Brilliant, a couple of prong billed Barbets and emerald Toucanet (blue throated). After that productive stop we went up road towards peace lodge where we had 2 amazing Sooty faced finches to end the day..Great family and very nice afternoon.

Todd Sahl, Puma Tour, Dec 19th-Jan 4th

Todd is a great and avid birder, fit and able to walk difficult terrains. We had two weeks of birding from early mornings to dusk, also he learned pretty well the id pages of Garrigues´ Book.

One rule was clear, I´d find him the birds and take him to the hotspots but he would call the ID. That was tottally new for me and sometimes  I called the id of some birds spontaneuosly since my rutine. I got to say Tood did a great job telling the IDs of the species we found, I was so amazed with his memory and enthusiasm that we barely ate our meals to maximize time on the birds and general fauna.

The best moment: We faced a slow walking PUMA!!! 10 feet away from us at La Selva right before dusk, after that adrenaline shock we had a Vermiculated Schreech Owl eye level in the same place!!! Amazing, Tood I will never forget that moment amigo!!

We scored 452 sps, the best species:

Striped Owl Great green Macaw
Sunbittern Resplendent Quetzal
Vermiculated Screech Owl Nightingale Wren
Great Potoo Red headed Barbet
Snowcap Emerald Toucanet
Olive backed Quail Dove Fiery billed Araccari
Ruddy Quail Dove Inmaculated Antbird
Streaked chested Antpitta
Tawny chested Flycatcher

Todd also added these:

In addition to the birds you list, here are a few more of my favorites:
Both Puffbirds
All the Motmots
The Magenta-throated Woodstar, Violet-headed Hummingbirds, and Crowned Woodnymphs.
The pools at Rancho and Carara
The antswarms at Carara
The Black-facedd Antthrush at Carara
The display by the Stripe-tailed Hermit to the Long-billed Hermit
The Puma
The Howler Monkeys coming across the bridge at La Selva
Pygmy-tyrants (2), Tody-Flycatchers (3), and Spadebills (3)

Mach 17th– April 6th 2015


Birding groups, small birding groups Costa Rica, birding companies in Costa rica

Tim (on the ground) Steve (left standing) John (right standing) watching 2 Spotted Wood-Quails

I had the pleasure to lead a great target trip with Tim, John and Steve. Three fantastic and avid birders from England, having 20 effective birding days we went out to get some of the most elusive birds of Costa Rica, plus some of regular targets that were part of the journey. I created a program according what they needed; some birds were skipped since some regions were too far to get one or two birds or negative possibilities for some species seen few times during the last 50 years.

One important part of the trip was based to see all cotingas of CR (except for Rufous Piha and Purple throated Fruit-Crow already in their seen list). I´m glad to say WE FOUND THEM!!!

We had a 4 wheel drive car and I was driving, all lodges were small to give a convenient budget price, these places were out of the regular hotels we normally stay at. It´s one of the benefits to travel with a local birding guide where we are flexible and not overpriced as many international companies are.

Blessed with great weather conditions for good part of the trip, empty trails in many areas and few places were typically touristy as Monteverde and Arenal Volcano, considering we had this trip during high season.

Some of the best species seen in this program:


Bare-necked Umbrellabird. Buffy crowned Wood-partridge
Lovely Cotinga Yellow eared Toucanet
Snowy Cotinga Black breasted Wood-quail
Yellow billed Cotinga Silvery fronted Tapaculo
Three -wattled Bellbird Bare crowned Antbird
Turquoise Cotinga Ochraceous Pewee
Yellow breasted Crake Azure hooded Jay
Central American Pygmy-Owl Costa Rican pygmy-owl
Slaty breasted Tinamou Thicket Antpitta
Highland Tinamou Nicaraguan Grackle
Wrenthrush Great Potoo
Black checked Ant-Tanager Great green Macaw
Buff fronted Quail-Dove Sooty faced Finch
Purplish backed Quail-Dove Striped owl
Spotted Wood-quail Bare shanked Screech Owl
Cabanis´s Ground Sparrow (Prevost´s) Dusky Nightjar
Mangrove Vireo Keel billed Motmot

Even when all these are amazing birds, my favorite Ochre breasted Antpitta!! We had wonderful views of 2 individuals, about 2 meters high in a little tree.

Special recognition to Central American Pygmy Owl and Bare necked Umbrellabird, really hard work to be seen. Two memorable battles and we saw them.

Visited Areas:

Rincón de Osa, Perez Zeledon, San Gerardo de Dota, Irazú volcano, Tapantí, central Caribbean, Sarapiquí, , Caño Negro, Arenal volcano, Tenorio, San Gerardo Monteverde, Monteverde, North Pacific.

Even when this was a target trip, we scored 470 sps. Usually general 20 day programs give over 500 sps.


Carlos Luis Jiménez

Birding Guide, Ave Nativa Travel.


MAY 20th – 11th JUNE 2014.

MAY 20th – 11th JUNE  2014. Costa Rica. Jon Hornbuckle. One of the Top Five persons with the most seen species in the world. The Target Trip of Rufous vented Ground Cuckoo.

The best bird of the trip

Rufous vented Ground-Cuckoo. The best bird of the trip!!


I visited Costa Rica and the Pipeline Road in Panama with Mike Archer in March 1987 and returned to Costa Rica from Feb 23 to March 27 in 2001. The second trip included 19 days participating in an American ringing/banding project at Tortuguero. I decided it was the time to try to see more birds here as there were still some very good species I needed so I drew up a list of 23 possibilities. Brian Foster and Rod Martins kindly agreed to join me and we hired Carlos Jimenez to lead and transport us for 15 days, and stayed on a further week with a hire-car by ourselves. Carlos and was excellent at finding and identifying the birds, and attending to all the logistics. We had a very successful trip, seeing many good birds including Buff-fronted and Chiriqui Quail-Doves, Great Green Macaw, Tody Motmot, Black-crowned and Thicket Antpittas, and Lovely and Yellow-billed Cotingas. To my pleasant surprise we saw all but 2 of my Wanted list and even had one unexpected addition, a mega Rufous-vented Ground-Cuckoo giving excellent views in trees.

JH Hit List                                Sites where recorded

Buffy-crowned Wood-Partridge  Volcan Irazu – heard and briefly seen, heard San Gerardo de Dota – more time spent trying to see this bird than any other

Black-breasted Wood-Quail       La Paz Waterfall gardens on Volcan Poaz and Finca Ecologica near Monteverde Lodge

Uniform Crake                           Esquinas Rainforest Lodge

Yellow-breasted Crake               Caño Negro Wildlife Refuge

Buff-fronted Quail-Dove            San Gerardo Research Station and San Gerardo de Dota

Chiriqui Quail-Dove                    Finca Ecologica, Monteverde

Great Green Macaw                   Sarapiqui

Rufous-vented Ground-Cuckoo  Volcan Tenorio road

Bare-shanked Screech-Owl        Santa Elena Reserve and Volcan Irazu

Central American Pygmy-Owl     Veragua RainForest Reserve

Spot-fronted Swift                     over the Ruinas de Ujarras

Mangrove Hummingbird             mangroves at La Gamba, well north of Golfito Bridge

Keel-billed Motmot                    old road to Arenal Observatory Lodge

Black-crowned Antpitta              Braulio Carrillo

Thicket Antpitta                         Trail below Arenal Observatory Lodge

Lovely Cotinga                          Forest below Arenal Observatory Lodge and Volcan Tenorio road

Yellow-billed Cotinga                 Golfito Bridge, Rincon de Osa

Ochraceous Pewee                    near Savegre Lodge, San Gerardo de Dota

Black-cheeked Ant-Tanager        Esquinas Rainforest Lodge

Cabanisi’s Ground-Sparrow        coffee plantations at Ruinas de Ujarras

Nicaraguan Grackle                   Caño Negro Wildlife Refuge

Spot-breasted Oriole                 road below Monteverde


JH misses

Maroon-chested Ground-Dove   Volcan Irazu (probably seen in flight) – not on JH list (too unlikely)

Unspotted Saw-whet Owl           Volcan Irazu and San Gerardo de Dota – tried hard

Veraguan Mango                       Rincon – not aware that it was a recent addition to Costa Rica

Bare-necked Umbrellabird          San Gerardo and Santa Elena Reserve – tried hard. Common at Veragua in Dec – Jan




May 20: Fly Manchester to San Jose with KLM, via Amsterdam and Panama City. OVN Europa Hotel, downtown San Jose.

May 21: Braulio Carrillo am, La Selva/ Sarapiqui area. OVN Los Portones Cabins.

May 22: La Selva Biological Station am, La Paz Waterfall gardens at 1500m on Volcan Poaz pm. OVN Los Portones.

May 23: La Selva 0700-0800, Medio Queso wetland, drive to Caño Negro Wildlife Refuge via Chiles. OVN Cabins at nearby Kingfisher Lodge.

May 24:  Caño Negro boat trip am, old road to Arenal Observatory Lodge. OVN Cabins Mayol, La Fortuna.


May 25: Trail below Arenal Observatory Lodge then rest of wet day on Arenal Lodge trails. OVN at Cabins Mayol, La Fortuna.


May 26:  Old road to Arenal Observatory 0600-0800, drive 3 hours to Volcan Tenorio road, birding there after brunch at 11.30, then to Heliconias Lodge at 4pm, OVN there.

May 27:  Heliconias Lodge trails in rain am, decide to leave a day early, drive to Monteverde. Walk down muddy trail to San Gerardo Research Station, OVN there.

May 28:  0500 take Tabacon Trail to Umbrellabird lek-site, then other trails all morning. Leave after lunch, walk up 400m elevation to Santa Elena Reserve and take Encantado Trail to look for Umbrellabird. OVN at Cabins Eddy, Monteverde.

May 29:  A dry day at last. 0645-1135 Santa Elena Reserve, then Finca Ecologia near Monteverde Lodge till 1515, back to Cabinas Eddy at 1645.

May 30:  Santa Elena Reserve 0600-0830, checked out at Eddy’s then long drive south to Rincon de Osa. OVN at Osa Palmas, La Palma, Osa Peninsula.

May 31:  0530 departure for Golfito Bridge – Yellow-billed and Turquoise Cotingas. 0710-0830 drive to Esquinas Rainforest Lodge, Piedras Blancas National Park for day’s birding. Slower return to Osa Palmas due to heavy rain. Carlos takes car to mechanic for repair but he shears a high pressure oil-pipe – no spare! OVN Osa Palmas.


June 01:  Departure delayed till 0930 while car is repaired then drive to Cerro de la Meurte with stops. OVN at Miriam’s cabins.

June 02:  San Gerardo de Dota area all day including a trail at Savegre Lodge. OVN at Miriam’s.

June 03:  Mirador del Quetzal am, drive down to Cartago and on to Grandpa’s Hotel. Pm wasted as Carlos tried to get the car repaired again in Cartago. OVN at Grandpa’s.


June 04:  Volcan Irazu am, Ruinas de Ujarras pm. then drive to San Jose and rent a car. Farewell to Carlos. OVN Hemingway Inn, San Jose.


June 05:  Drive to El Tapir Reserva Ecotouristica near Braulio Carrillo, then to Liverpool near Limon turning right for 16km to Veragua Rainforest Reserve – bird with the manager Daniel Torres. OVN at Cabinas La Uvita in Moin near Limon.


June 06:  0415 drive to Veragua for the day with Marco as guide. OVN at La Uvita.


June 07:  Brisas de la Jungla and Veragua road am, pm drive to Turrialba town,visit Guayabo National Monument ruins 1600-1745. OVN El Rio Hotel, Turrialba.


June 08:  0530 drive to Rancho Naturalista, stay till 2pm then drive to Silent Mountain. Back to Turrialba and up Volcan Turrialba to the Lodge – cold, low cloud, short of petrol so decide to return to El Rio Hotel, Turrialba.


June 09:  Set off for Guayabo ruins but as Volcan Turrialba looked clear drive there instead – entrance gates locked. Return to El Rio after some birding, then drive direct to Volcan Irazu in one hour without going through Cartago. 16.30- 20.30 birding with Ernesto as guide. OVN at Grandpa’s.


June 10:  0430- 1120 Volcan Irazu, including Prusia reserve. After brunch at café near Grandpa’s, meet Eduardo near his farm at Ujarras and bird with him in that area till he has to leave at 15.30, staying on till 5pm. OVN at Hemingway Inn, San Jose.

June 11: El Tapir near Braulio at 0600- 0945, some rain, drive to San Jose airport for Copa Airlines and KLM flights home.

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Big Day

Carlos Luis Jiménez, Fito Downs, Paco Madrigal and Leo Garrígues went out for a big day, our destinations included:

Sarapiquí, Poás volcano and Central Pacific.