In order to really cover everything that I experienced while I was in Costa Rica and to do justice to all of the amazing things the country has to offer, I decided to break my posts down by each lodge that we stayed. So now, the first part of my adventure - arriving in San Jose and our first day at Rancho Naturalista.
On my first day, I arrived in San Jose a little before noon and quickly made my way though customs after seeing my first lifer for the trip at the airport - a Gray-breasted Martin. I was hoping to have some time to go birding that afternoon, but it was pouring outside so the local guide that I hired for the week took me straight to my hotel.
My group arrived the next morning, and we immediately started our drive to Rancho Naturalista. Along the way, we took time to stop at a lookout point and then made our way to the Ruins of Ujarras. This was a great place to get out and stretch our legs while seeing some really cool birds. The highlights were Provost's Ground-Sparrow, Blue-crowned Motmot, Common Tody-Flycatcher, and Crimson-fronted Parakeet.
|This Blue-crowned Motmot was extremely cooperative and was posing for the cameras!|
|Common Tody-Flycatchers are small, but they have a lot of personality. This bird was was checking us out and trying to figure out what we were doing with our cameras!|
|A large flock of Crimson-fronted Parakeets spent a long time flying around the ruins and would land from time to time. Luckily this one landed near me so I could snap this photo.|
|One bird that I really wanted to see while in Costa Rica was the Provost's Ground-Sparrow. It was really amazing to find them on the first day of birding!|
|I was surprised by how striking this Red-breasted Blackbird was.|
|The local guide that I had hired didn't tell us that he was taking us to a location that had Southern Lapwings. Man were we surprised when we saw these guys!|
|White-necked Jacobins are the most common hummingbirds at Rancho Naturalista and do their best to chase all of the other hummingbirds off when they can.|
Once the rain started to ease up a bit, we decided to take a hike down the entrance road of the property. We had barely started hiking when we found one of the highlights of my whole trip, a Black-crested Coquette! Over the next couple hours, we found 75 species, and everyone saw many lifers. My favorite birds that we saw during the hike were Lesser Swallow-tailed Swift, Eye-ringed Flatbill, Cinnamon Becard, Stripe-breasted Wren, and Slate-throated Redstart. (Complete eBird List)
|I've seen Long-billed Gnatwrens before, but they have never been easy to photograph. I was very happy to get this shot!|
The hike had some elevation change but wasn't too tough, and it produced some awesome sightings. We were surprised to happen upon a group of four Crested Guans high up in the trees. Just around the corner from the guans, we found 2 White-crowned Manakins on a known lek! (For those that don't know, a lek is a location that male birds go to in order to put on breeding displays for females.) We knew we still had quite a hike back to the hummingbird pools to watch the afternoon show so we made our way back as quickly as possible. It was at the pools that we got our first looks at the amazing Snowcap. While watching the hummingbirds, Harry, the guide from the lodge, found a Dull-mantled Antbird which was a lifer for our whole group! You can see our complete list from the afternoon (Complete eBird List).
|The photo is a little blurry but it was the best I could do with this Rufous Motmot.|
|It was getting quite dark in the forest when we found this White-crowned Manakin. The photo isn't great but we did have amazing view of this species.|