Birding Costa Rica 2016: Tapanti and Home

Birding Costa Rica 2016: Tapanti and Home

PART VI: Rick’s and Iain’s excellent adventure!

NOTE: All photos by Rick Muise

One full day left in Costa Rica so we decide we should make the most of it; up at 4:30 am, eating at 5 and off by 5:15.  Despite the 11 hours of birding and hiking every day I seem to be only able to sleep for 6 to 7 hours.  Perhaps the realization that every minute sleeping is one less birding.  The night before we decide on Tapanti National Park, two hours west of our lodge.  It is comprised of primary forests still mostly untouched by man for thousands of years.  Our driver Tato and Rene the lodge birder lead the way as we wind through very mountainous country with less agriculture than yesterday.  Sometimes Tato thinks he is Stirling Moss as he slides the van around corners and at other times he is looney tunes when he tries to pass a truck as the road narrows to one lane for a bridge.  But in general, he is a safe driver.

tapanti-npBefore the park we bird an abandoned coffee plantation and picked up another Nightingale Thrush.  Sweet calls like our thrushes but very shy.  As we enter the park a Slate-throated Redstart plays right by the van and seems to want to fly in the window.  We are first at the park so they have to open the gates for us.  Tato stays with the van as we walk for several hours up the mountain.  The road-side birding is excellent but soon it puts us in the hot sun so we zigzag up the road from shade spot to shade spot.  The first few 100 meters produces plenty of birds; Silver-throated and Spangle-cheeked Tanagers, Bush-Tanagers and Red-faced Spinetail.   Beside the road at the edge of a shallow rocky stream we find a Sooty-faced Finch.

Slate Throated Redstart


Sooty Faced Finch
Sooty Faced Finch

We follow a wet river trail off the road where Antpittas are possible but instead get a Flatbill, Scale-crested Pygmy-Tyrant and Black-faced Solitaire which sounds exactly like an iron gate slowly squeaking open and closed.  Rick is the only one to sight a Tapaculo which has only one member in the family in CR.  Lots of members in South America.

We lunch at a picnic table then off to near the top of the mountain while Tato sleeps in the van.   Eventually we see a raptor across the valley, Hook-billed Kite, which takes effort to identify given the distance.   Eventually it is time to descend the mountain and as we walk there are some Mountain-gems, Chlorophonia and various Flycatchers.  It is a good day but not as many new species as the day before.  At the end the day, Tato takes us to a small wooden cafe by the roadside which provides excellent coffee, helping to revitalize us and then the long drive back to Rancho.

Purple Throated Mountain
Purple Throated Mountain Gem

That night Rick and I tally our lists and find we have 258 species!    It turns out that I have got one more lifer on this trip than Rick.  We end the day with a scotch to celebrate.  The next day produces no new species but then it involves nothing more than a long long drive back to the San Jose airport and our flight back to Toronto at noon, so little opportunity to bird.  Our driver once again is Darwin who I wrote about earlier.  Once again he finds us a top notch coffee and pastry place in San Jose before we have to check in at the airport.


So this ends my reports of our trip.   Costa Rica is a paradise; I have been three times and despite it being a relatively small country I still have at least one more region to see so I may return.  When you travel away from home take a friend, meet the locals, try the local cuisine, and let something unplanned happen.  It is an amazing world.  Enjoy.

Cheers from Rick and Iain


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