Monday, 19 August 1985

COSTA RICA August 1985: Santa Rosa, La Selva & La Georgina

6 August 1985:  We rather reluctantly left Monteverde getting a bus from Santa Elana to Santa Rosa.  We broke the journey at La Victoria where we had a two hour stop by getting off one Santa Rosa bus and onto the next.  It was a site for Boat-billed Herons which we saw along with Rufous-naped and Banded Wrens.  Back on the bus we got dropped off by the turning for Santa Rosa and it was a longish walk in from main road.  We took in our food and camped by the HQ as there was no food or accommodation available.  We just had Nick’s two-man tent between us but I had a bivy bag and slept in that squeezed partly under the tent's flysheet. 

adult Boat-billed Heron at La Victoria
superb birds
well worth a two hour stop
Nick and Colin on the Santa Rosa approach road
7-8 August 1985:  Santa Rosa was much drier forest than the other sites we visited in Costa Rica.  One day we walked to the coast visiting a beach where Green Turtles come ashore to breed but unfortunately not at that time of year.  Colin reminds me that I nearly got wiped out by the surf as an unexpectedly big wave came in while I was attempting to swim, a memory I'd happily expunged!  Another day a couple of American researchers showed us a large rattlesnake as it disappeared down a hole.  It was at least as thick as my arm and not seeing its head a sit slid away made it even more evil looking.  The researchers were wearing heavy boots, denim jeans and knee high snake-bite proof shin-pads.  As we were walking around in trainers and shorts we hoped their attire had more to do with paranoia than necessity.  It also added to my concerns about sleeping in a bivy bag but I survived.  At Santa Rosa we saw King Vulture, Grey-headed and Double-toothed Kites, Collared Forest Falcon, Great Currasow, Crested Guan, Spot-bellied Bobwhite, Wilson's Plover, Double-striped Thick-knee, Orange-fronted Parakeet, White-fronted, Red-lored and Yellow-naped Parrots, Lesser Ground Cuckoo, Paraque, Plain-capped Starthroat, Citreoline and Elegant Trogons, Turquoise-browed Motmot (brilliant), Pale-billed Woodpecker, Ivory-billed Woodcreeper, Barred Antshrike, Long-tailed Manakin, Nutting's and Northern Royal Flycatchers, Slate-headed Tody-Flycatcher, Cliff Swallow, White-throated Magpie-Jay, Rufous-naped and Banded Wrens, White-lored Gnatcatcher, Long-billed Gnatwren, Grey-crowned Yellowthroat, Chestnut-capped Warbler, Streak-backed Oriole, Scrub Euphonia, Blue Grosbeak and Olive and Stripe-headed Sparrows.

open grassland at Santa Rosa
Stripe-headed Sparrow

Inca Dove
White-throated Magpie-Jay, not at crepuscular despite the impression that this image gives
coastal forest at Santa Rosa
The Pacific from Santa Rosa
large Iguana at Santa Rosa
turtle beach and the Pacific

coastal mangroves at Santa Rosa
Wilson's Plover
playing hide and seek in the mangroves
Brown Booby
Brown Pelicans
waiting on the main road for a San Jose bus, weather didn't turn out nice, again
9 August 1985:  We packed up the tent, walked out to main road and flagged down a bus to San Jose.  We checked back into the ‘Peace Corps’ hostel to find many of the same occupants there watching the same TV programmes.

10 August 1985:  We caught a bus from San Jose to Puerto Viejo where we found a room for three in a basic hotel.  We walked down the road 3-4 kms to the entrance of Finca La Selva and back before dark to make sure we could find it and see how long it would take as we wanted to arrive at dawn.

11-13 August 1985:  Each day we left Puerto Veijo before dawn and walked to Finca La Selva in the dark, arriving as it was getting light.  We’d booked our visits in San Jose and paid the daily admissions charge on arrival.  The cost of visit included lunch which was apparently very good although I always ended up missing it in preference to staying out on the excellent forest trails and superb grid system.  At most forest sites where we spent any length of time we tended to split up and wander quietly around on our own – in the hope of seeing some forest skulker that 2 or 3 of us together might disturb.  Nowhere was that more so than at La Selva where we all saw loads of good birds and each had memorable encounters with an ant swarm and attendant ant-things.  Good birds were not restricted to the forest with the diminutive Snowcap hummingbird, another of our main targets being fairly common at this time of year on the flowers around the headquarters.  At La Selva we saw Great Tinamou, Slaty-breasted Tinamou, Green Ibis, Bat Falcon, Great Currasow, Rufous-fronted Wood Quail, Grey-chested Dove, Olive-backed Quail-Dove, Olive-throated Parakeet, White-crowned, Red-lored and Mealy Parrots, Bronzy Hermit, Black-crested Coquette, Green Thorntail, Snowcap (brilliant), Bronze-tailed Plumeleteer, Purple-crowned Fairy, Black-throated and Violaceous Trogons, Broad-billed and Rufous Motmots, White-fronted Nunbird, Collared Aracari, Keel-billed and Chestnut-mandibled Toucans, Chestnut-collared, Rufous-winged and Pale-billed Woodpeckers, Barred, Black-striped and Spotted Woodcreepers, Slaty Spinetail, Slaty Antshrike, Streak-crowned Antvireo, Dot-winged Antwren, Dusky, Chestnut-backed, Bicoloured, Spotted and Ocellated Antbirds, Black-faced Antthrush, White-collared Manakin, Rufous Piha, Purple-throated Fruitcrow, Sulphur-rumped Flycatcher, Eye-ringed Flatbill, Northern Bentbill, Black-capped Pigmy Tyrant, Band-backed, Stripe-breasted and Bay Wrens, White-breasted Wood Wren, Louisiana Waterthrush, Buff-rumped Warbler, Montezuma's Oropendola, Scarlet-rumped and Yellow-billed Caciques, Black-cowled Oriole, Yellow-crowned and Olive-backed Euphonia, Golden-hooded and Dusky-faced Tanagers, Red-throated Ant Tanager, Black-headed Saltator, Black-faced Grosbeak, Thick-billed Seed Finch and Orange-billed Sparrow.  At La Selva we also saw Tayra and Armadillo.

entering La Selva, buy suspension bridge over the river
one of the excellent forest trails crossing a stream
Keel-billed Toucan at La Selva
14-15 August 1985:  We stopped off at Finca El Bejuco on our return from Puerto Veijo.  We stayed on reserve where we were put up and fed by a very friendly lady who was looking after the place for an American University.  We saw some nice birds and another Tayra but it was not a patch on La Selva and our time would have been spent more productively staying longer there.  We did see Little Tinamou, Double-toothed Kite, Bat Falcon, Grey-headed Chachalaca, Blue Ground Dove, Grey-chested Dove, Olive-throated Parakeet, White-crowned and Mealy Parrots, Striped Cuckoo, Broad-billed Motmot, Keel-billed and Chestnut-mandibled Toucans , Great Antshrike, Black-faced Antthrush, Red-capped and hite-collared Manakins, White-winged and Cinnamon Becards, Bright-rumped Attila, Yellow Tyrannulet, White-breasted Wood Wren, Montezuma's Oropendola, Yellow-billed Cacique, Black-cowled Oriole, Olive-backed Euphonia, Golden-hooded Tanager, Red-throated Ant Tanager, Black-headed Saltator, Black-faced Grosbeak, Thick-billed Seed Finch and Orange-billed Sparrow.  After two days at El Bejuco we caught a bus back to San Jose and the ‘Peace Corps’ hostel.
Nick at El Bejuco
16-19 August 1985:  The next morning we caught a bus south down the Pan American highway getting off at the restaurant at La Georgina where we stayed for three nights.  We spent most time on the road back up to Cerro de la Muerte and along interesting looking side trails but low clouds rolled in each afternoon making birding very difficult and often curtailing it.  La Georgina was cold, especially at night, but going back to the room to read was often the only alternative to staying out in the cloud and rain.  Unsurprisingly we were the only people staying at La Georgina although there was a steady passing trade of truckers and busses.  We lived on rice, meat and beans (arroz con carne con frijoles) - fortunately in my pre-veggie days – although they sometimes took a while to arrive.  Fortunately we were patient and didn’t make the mistake of another group of friends who visited a couple of years later and when no food appeared ordered again, and again and finally ended up with three plates each!  Birds seen included Red-tailed Hawk, Green Violetear, Fiery-throated, Magnificant and Volcano Hummingbirds, Grey-tailed Mountaingem, Resplendent Quetzal, Emerald Toucanet, Acorn and Hairy Woodpeckers, Spot-crowned Woodcreeper, Ruddy Treerunner, Buffy Tuftedcheek, Streak-breasted Treehunter, Silvery-fronted Tapaculo, Black-capped Flycatcher, Silver-throated Jay, Timberline Wren,  Black-billed Nightingale-Thrush, Long-tailed Silky Flycatcher, Black & Yellow Phainoptila, Yellow-winged Vireo, Slaty Flowerpiercer, Flame-throated and Black-cheeked Warblers, Collared Whitestart, Wrenthrush (several, excellent to see some more), Yellow-billed Cacique, Sooty-capped Bush Tanager, Yellow-thighed and Large-footed Finches and Volcano Junco.  After a final morning at La Georgina we caught a bus back to San Jose and checked back into the ‘Peace Corps’ hostel.
La Georgina, our base at Cerro De la Muerte for three nights
Restaurant La Georgina, we stayed in an upstairs room at the back, not that there was a lot of noisy traffic on the road
Nick & Colin on the Pan-American Highway at La Geogrina
Volcano Junco
Sooty Thrush
view from La Georgina to Volcan Irazu, lots of forest and, as yet, little cloud
view from La Georgina to Chirripo, forest as far as one could see in this direction too
view west from La Georgina showing distant cleared hillsides
clouds coming in, must be lunchtime
Pan American highway in the cloud, fortunately the road was never very busy
Sooty-crowned Bush-Tanager
squirrel near La Georgina
out of focus Large-footed Finch
Silver-throated Jay auditioning for a part in Hitchcock's the Birds
Long-tailed Silky-Flycatcher, a smarter bird than this image suggests
out of focus Collared Whitestart
Black-capped Flycatcher
Hairy Woodpecker
Black-billed Nightingale-Thrush
two Black-billed Nightingale-Thrushes
one of several species of Nightingale-Thrush seen in Costa Rica
forest clearing near La Georgina
female Volcano Hummingbird

male Volcano Hummingbird

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