Birding Costa Rica: Tirimbina Rainforest

BIRDING COSTA RICA 2016: Tirimbina Rainforest Day 1

Rick’s and Iain’s excellent adventure begins!

Birding the Caribbean Lowlands

photos by Rick Muise

Our first stop was the Tirimbina Rainforest which we reached at 4 PM on our travel day.  We choose this site as it has a lodge with 9 km of lowland forest trails, both of which are part of a center for rainforest research into birds, plants and insects.  There are experiments and outdoor lecture sites all around the lodge. The accommodations are basic and the outdoor restaurant provides typical CR cuisine.  The lodge is staffed by many young researchers who can be found all around the grounds and all are eager to help, day and night.

Iain at Tirimbina
Iain at Tirimbina photo Rick Muise

Of course Rick and I wasted no time lounging around, to rest up from the long day of travel.  We immediately threw our packs into our shared non AC room and started walking around the compound and quickly picked up several lifers.  We met Stephen, one of the local naturalists in a garden, and he pointed out the Black-cheeked Woodpecker and Purple-crowned Fairy, a hummer whose flight looks more like a flutter than a hum.  It was a good ending to our travel day.  Rice and fish for supper, then a beer outside to write up the day and plan our first full day here.  So far we had only 20 species.

Apr 21: up at 5:50 am and out by 6:10 to bird a bit before breakfast; then eggs, pancakes, rice, mangos and not sures!  Today was hiking the 9 km of rainforest trails.  Access to the trials is across a swing bridge maybe 200 to 300 meters long over the Sarapiqui River.  Lots of swaying as you try to focus on the birds below you. The trails are narrow dirt paths through fairly thick forest, so getting birds requires work, but it was worth enduring the 32-degree C heat plus high humidity. Great Tinamou casually walked near the path, several Rufous Motmots sounded their warbling hoots which helped with location, Keel-billed Motmot posed, Toucans crecked crecked, and Chestnut-backed Antbird skulked through the underbrush.

Keel-billed Motmot
Keel-billed Motmot. photos Rick Muise


Great Tinamou
Great Tinamou

We arrived back at noon, tired hungry and sweaty.  More fried stuff and leather pork for lunch followed by our now fav sight, the outdoor bar where Pilsens awaited, which refreshed us as we continued to bird.  A cooperative Long-tailed Hermit appeared at the flowers a few feet away. A large tour from Germany arrived and the older women seemed very interested in the birds we were seeing as well as Rick and I, so we helped with bird names but kept our distance.  Finally hit the bed for a siesta in the early afternoon but it only lasted 30 minutes as we decided on more birding.  We realized that the lodge was across the road from grasslands, and despite birding from the roadside which was full of trucks, cars and motorbikes racing past, the fields had a good variety of species.  Red-billed Pigeon, Grassquits, Gray-capped Flycatcher and Anis.  Eventually we returned to the bar for more beer and a summing up the day’s notes.  Our first full day ended with 51 species and 2 tired birders.

Long-billed Hermit
Long-billed Hermit. photos Rick Muise




Groove-billed Ani
Groove-billed Ani


Grey Capped Flycatcher
Grey Capped Flycatcher




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