Thursday, December 24, 2015

Costa Rica - Osa

Feb 19

Last night I had tried to sleep in my car, but after deciding that was far too hot and cramped, I set up my tent at some late hour, and ended up waking up well before my alarm...oh well - it was worth it to hear a Tropical Screech-Owl as I was packing up my tent. I made it to the Rio Rincon bridge around sunrise and spent most of the morning walking the highway as well as the road out to Drake Bay.

 Rio Rincon in the early morning light

The road to Drake Bay

As my eBird checklist shows, this was highly productive! This spot is definitely worth a stop if you happen to be on the Osa. Highlights included Turquoise Cotinga, Yellow-billed Cotinga (12 of them, representing a good-sized chunk of the population of this endangered species), Uniform Crake, Golden-naped Woodpecker, Mangrove and Charming Hummingbirds, a female White-crested Coquette and Black-bellied Wren.

Yellow-billed Cotinga

Partway through the morning I ran into a group of birders scanning from the bridge, and went to see if they'd found any goodies. After exchanging info (I let them know where I'd seen some of the goodies listed above), we headed our separate directions. I slowly made my way toward Puerto Jimenez, stopping along the highway to look for some open-country species (mainly seedeaters, but I added Smooth-billed Ani and Southern Lapwing for the trip) before stopping at Playa Sandalo for lunch. This was a very pleasant spot, with some nice mangroves (Mangrove Hummingbird) as well as a few larger trees, a stream and a nice beach (Louisiana Waterthrush, Whimbrel, Common Tern).

Mangrove Hummingbird

 The mangroves at Playa Sandalo

Afterward I went into town to check out the mudflats and scan the bay, turning up a decent variety of gulls, terns and shorebirds (Franklin's Gull, Elegant Tern) as well as a few Brown Boobies cruising over the bay. After doing a quick cruise around town to orient myself, I headed out toward Dos Brazos, basically just slowly driving the road and getting out every now and then to look at promising habitat. This added Gray-headed Chachalaca, Scrub Greenlet, Ruddy-breasted Seedeater and Yellow-crowned Euphonia for the trip. A quick stop in Dos Brazos didn't produce anything new for the trip, but I had a good-sized flock of Costa Rican Swifts cruising around which was nice. Making my way back to Puerto Jimenez, I spent the rest of the afternoon relaxing by the bay and drying out my tent (which I hadn't taken out since it got rained on in Tikal - aghh!!!). Luckily the tent was fine and quickly dried in the hot afternoon sun. This turned out to be one of my highest-diversity days of the trip with 157 species, and put me on the verge of cracking 600 for the trip, a number I had set as my sort-of-expected goal before leaving! I spent the night at a campground on the edge of PJ, with nice cold showers and free wifi from a restaurant across the street.

The marina at Puerto Jimenez
Running trip total: 599

Feb 20

I was once again up very early, as I hoped to be back down in Dos Brazos for sunrise. Waking up to bird #600 of the trip (Striped Owl) calling outside my tent was a good omen! Making it to Dos Brazos for first light, I added Brown-hooded Parrot to the trip list before walking up the trail along the river near the Bosque del Rio Tigre lodge. Discovering that this trail didn't go as far as I thought it did without requiring boots or water shoes, I wandered around near the entrance to the lodge, checking out some mixed flocks. At this point one of the workers noticed me and disappeared - after a few minutes the lodge owner came out to talk to me, and it turned out to be Abraham, the guide I had met at the Rincon bridge the day before! He invited me in for a snack and after chatting for a bit, said he had to go do something but I was free to walk the trails if I wanted. Score! I ended up spending most of the day here, birding both on my own and with some of the guests (Dave and Laura from Ohio, hope the rest of your trip went well!), and racked up a pretty decent list. The obvious highlight was Black-cheeked Ant-Tanager (my third and final Costa Rican endemic for the trip), which were fairly easy to find along the trails, but there were numerous other good birds around (Marbled Wood-Quail, Black-hooded Antshrike, Long-tailed Woodcreeper, Black-tailed Flycatcher, White-winged Becard, Scaly-breasted Wren among others) to keep me occupied.

Blue Ground-Dove at the rice feeder

Around noon I walked back to Dos Brazos (Bosque is right on the edge of town) to grab some lunch, only to discover that the only restaurant in town was closed (out of food)! One of the locals took pity on me and invited me in for lunch with his family - typical Costa Rican hospitality! After a delicious lunch I made my way across town to check in at the hostel (finding American Pygmy Kingfisher along the way), where for something like $12 I had a whole cabin to myself. I relaxed for a bit then headed back to Bosque to meet up with Dave and Laura for some birding along the Quebrada Pizote, a small stream that is reliable for a few Osa targets. It turned out that my hostel was right beside the entrance to the trail that runs along the stream, and I hadn't even realized it! Our main target was White-tipped Sicklebill, which was nesting along the stream somewhere. We walked up the stream and found the nest without too much effort, and then just sat and waited...and waited...and waited. We gave up with not much daylight left, having missed the hummingbird but adding Blue-crowned Manakin for the trip. On the way out we had a very close encounter with my lifer Olivaceous Piculet, watching it pull a grub out of a small tree about 1m away! It seemed pretty oblivious to our presence until it had it's prize, at which point it promptly took off. After driving Dave and Laura back to Bosque (where we watched some Black-faced Antthrushes at the compost pile), I settled in at the hostel for the night, having an amazing dinner with the owners and the only other guest, a guy from Germany who was wandering the country for a few months, seeing the sights and learning Spanish.

Olivaceous Piculet with grub

Running trip total: 623

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