One of my favorite sites for birding in Costa Rica is La Selva Biological Station: Located in the Caribbean lowlands and bracketed by the Sarapiquí and Puerto Viejo Rivers, La Selva is covered with what is technically known as tropical pre-montane wet forest and more commonly referred to as rainforest. With over 400 species recorded in the area, La Selva is a most to see for birdwatchers.
I have been to La Selva several times including during many of the Christmas Bird Counting, and still after so many visits I would not mind driving for 4 hours from Manuel Antonio to come there when there is a change.
This time I have invited two of my friends and workmates Manuel Cabalceta and Danny Vasquez; We left from Manuel Antonio the 28th by 11:00 a.m. The first leg of our trip took us through the Rice and Palm fields along the Costanera Sur from Quepos to Parrita, where we saw some of the common power line birds including a couple of Roadside and Gray Hawks, Great Kiskadee, Crested and Yellow-headed Caracara, Tropical Kingbird, Great-tailed Grackles, Ruddy Ground Dove, Pale-vented and Short-billed Pigeon.
October is part of the official rainy season in Costa Rica. Each year low pressure systems get together to create pouring rain upon Costa Rica and other parts of Central America. The results often include landslides, flooding, and lower temperatures. And rain was what we face as we approached the Central Valley, and as we drove through the Braulio Carrillo National Park.
We were realy hoping to make it on time to walk the trails of the Braulio Carrillo at Quebrada Gonzales, unfortunately we did not make it there until 3:30 p.m. so only had 30 minutes (national parks in Costa Rica close at 4:00p.m.) and it was still raining. Though in half an hour under the rain we saw one of my favorite antbirds the Spotted Antbird, who was accompanying a flock of army ants (antbirds are among the birds I enjoy the most, I don’t know why, there is not really a special reason but when I find an antbird I get very excited). We thought we had “hit the luck” as often several species of antbirds and the Rufous-vented Ground Cuckoo go a long with the army ants but that time the Spotted Antbird was the only one. On the way back to the car right by the parking lot at Quebrada Gonzales station was a Buff-throated Warbler performing is beautiful call.
Next day, the 29th we left early morning at 4:30a.m. to make a brief stop to walk the trails and surrounding of Heliconia Island with my friend and local guide Jose Solis, as he has been seeing a Nicaraguan Seed there. That morning we were full of hope and ready for a great day of birding, the day was overcast but it wasn’t raining at the moment. As soon as we got our scopes and camaras out we start seeing birds including Yellow Warblers, Variable Seed-eater and the uncommon and cool looking Smoky brown Woodpecker. Right when it was getting to become great the rain start and a few minutes later it was pouring.
I considered Heliconia Garden B&B a nice and comfortable place to stay specially if you are a birdir or if you are into any manner wildlife, the lodge is surrounded a bifurcation in the Río Puerto Viejo Río the Isla Grande. It is a wonderfully designed botanical garden with lots of heliconias and many other flowers, plants and trees, and trails to walk a piece of secondary forest. Here in the garden right next to the restaurant area there was a couple of Spectacle Owls, who according with the owner’s of Heliconia Island have lived there for a years. Others bird we saw at Heliconia Garden were: Great Kiskadee, Yellow Warbler, Chestnut-sided Warble, Crimson-colored Tanager, Smokey-brown Woodpecker, Variable-Seedeater, Gray Hawk, Osprey, Spectacle Owl, Dusky-faced Tanager, Black-cowled Oriole, Green Honeycreeper, Blue and gray Tanager, Clay-colored Robin, Orange-billed Sparrow, Blue and black Grassquit, Black Phobee, Fasciated Antshrike, and my first Dickcissel.
Caroline and Henk (owners of Heliconia Island) were very friendly and were kind to have some hot coffee and cookies for us, that was just perfect as we were wet and a little bit cold. We then went to La Selva, as normal even under the rain La Selva offers great birding opportunities, right around the restaurant in the gardens there are always different species of tanagers and flycatchers, hummingbirds, toucans, and lots more. After lunch there day clear out and we then had wonderful birding including the change to see a couple of the endangered Great green Macaws grooming each other.
Below the complete list of the birds we saw at Heliconia Island and La Selva Biological Station:
Gray-breasted Martin, Great Kiskadee, Yellow Warbler, Chestnut-sided Warble, Crimson-colored Tanager, Smoky-brown Woodpecker, Variable-Seedeater, Gray-rumped Swiff, Gray Hawk, Osprey, Spectacle Owl, Dusky-faced Tanager, Black-cowled Oriole, Green Honeycreeper, Blue and gray Tanager, Clay-colored Robin, Dickcissel, Orange-billed Sparrow, Blue and black Grassquit, Blue Dacnis, Golden-hooded Tanager, Olive-backed Euphonia, Summer Tanager, Bananaquit, Rufous-tailed Jacamar, Scaly-breasted Hummingbird, Rufous tailed Hummingbird, White-collared Manakin, Keel-billed Toucan, Chestnut-mandible Toucan, Buff-rumped Warbler, Northern Waterthrush, Tennessee Warbler, Tropical Gnatcatcher, Common Tody-Flycatcher, House Wren, Plain Wren, Dusky-capped Flycatcher, Tropical Kingbird, Red-lored Parrot, Orange-chinned Parrot, Buff-throated Saltator, Banded-backed Wren, Slaty-tailed Trogon, Chesnut-headed Oropendula, Eastern Wood-Pewee, Passerini’s Tanager, Great green Macaw, Great kiskadee, Social Flycatcher, White-ringed Flycatcher, Eastern Flycatcher, Collared Aracari, Gray-chested Dove, White-crowned Parrot, Bronzy Hermit, Violet-crowned Woodnymph, Black-throated Trogon, Crested Guan, Squirrel Cuckoo, Chestnut-sided Warbler, Broad-billed Motmot, Black-checked Woodpecker, Streak-headed Woodcreeper, Rufous Morner, Palm Tanager, Bananaquit