Thursday, January 17, 2019

Costa Rica - Week 2, The Central Highlands and Caribbean Lowlands

Arenal Volcano
From Cano Negro we moved to the central highland mountains at Arenal Observation Lodge and Arenal Volcano National Park. The grounds and surrounding forest are just spectacular, and the beautiful volcano views just add to the magic. The volcano has quit flowing lava from the summit since our last visit in 2002 but it is just as impressive. 

Arenal bird list

Waterfall near the lodge
Arenal Reservoir from the observation deck
Coatimundi were easily seen on the grounds

Central American Spider Monkey

White Hawk
Montezuma Oropendula
Laughing Falcon
Male Great Currasow

Female Great Currasow
A night outing produced a Black-and-White Owl
And a Kinkajou
We headed due east from Arenal for the Carribean lowlands of La Selva Biological Station. Our first stop was at Bogarin Trails, a private nature preserve near the town of La Fortuna. The fruit feeders and trails provided many great birds.

Bogarin bird list

A stop along the way at Rio Fortuna Waterfall for a chance at Lanceolated Monklet didn't produce that bird, but a consolation White-whiskered Puffbird did put in an appearance.

La Fortuna Waterfall

White-whiskered Puffbird

The tropical lowlands extend for miles at close to sea level from the base of the mountains to the coast. La Selva is an important research station adjacent to Central Volcanic Conservation Area and Braulio Carrillo National Park in this area. Susan reached 3000 world life birds here with a beautiful Snowy Cotinga. Yipee!

La Selva bird list

Birding the trails at La Selva
A river runs through it
Semiplumbeous Hawk
Black-throated Trogon

Male White-whiskered Puffbird
Rufous Motmot
Green Honeycreeper
Endangered Great Green Macaw
Great Green Macaw
Spectacled Owl
Dusky-faced Tanager
We finally picked up a few Nicaraguan Seed-Finches here
Nicaraguan Seed-Finch

A quick stop at the El Tapir Reserve on the way back into the mountains netted a Black-crested Coquette, among other hummers.

El Tapir bird list

Black-crested Coquette
Moving back into the highlands, this time on the Pacific side of the mountains, we spent a day plus at the high mountain area of Savegre River Valley (San Gerardo) and the Paraiso Quetzal Lodge. The down jackets we carried in our suitcases for days were busted out for the near freezing temperatures at dusk and dawn. As expected, the birding and scenery were exceptional.

Mountain view from the lodge
And the sunset was amazing
Rio Savegre
Dusky Nightjar
Golden-browed Cholorophonia
Female White-throated Mountain-gem
Flame-colored Tanager
Black-cheeked Warbler
Lesser Violetear
Collared Trogon

Ruddy-capped Nightengale-Thrush

Even though we've been birding hard from dawn to dusk for two weeks, we were up for a night excursion to see one of the toughest owls there is - the Unspotted Saw-Whet. We were out until 1:30 am after a semi-successful outing where we heard three saw-whets and saw a pair of Bare-shanked Screech-Owls.

Bare-shanked Screech-Owl

We awoke bleary-eyed the next morning, and before leaving the central highlands we made one more stop at the high point of the Inter-American Highway - Cerro de la Muerte - at 11,400 feet elevation. Here the target was Volcano Junco, only found in this high altitude Paramo habitat.

Cerro de la Muerte bird list

Volcano Junco
One week to go, the south.


  1. You guys tired out Bob B. Amazing job and adventure. Three thousand species each. Way to go. Congratulations!

  2. Great photo of you and Susan and Arenal.
    More great birds and scenery.
    I loved watching Oropendulas building their nests and going in and out of them.
    I found roosting bats at La Selva and a great iguana in a tree at eye level.
    Thank you for sharing.