Costa Rica Birds and Butterflies

March 31- April 11, 2006

Leaders: Rich Hoyer and Jim Brock
English names used here for the butterflies are just “suggested names” used by Jim.
See actual checklist for the latin names.

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March 31, 2006 (Friday)
I left Philadelphia around noon for the 3 hour trip to Miami and my American Airlines connecting flight to San Jose, arriving in Costa Rica around 6:30PM, about 30 minutes late. Things went very smoothly as I breezed through immigration, picked up my bags and got through customs. I was met by a representative of HORIZONTES, our local agent and off to the hotel in Heredia in no time at all. I got to the hotel around 7:30PM and found the group still at dinner so I was able to make my intros over dessert and tea. Many of the group had elected to arrive a day early which was probably a very wise decision since they got to do some leisurely birding around the hotel today.
April 1, 2006 (Saturday)
We met early (5:30AM) in the gardens of the hotel for a short bird walk before breakfast. The Hotel Bougainvillea is lovely as are the extensive gardens and we had some nice birds including my first lifer, a White-eared Ground-Sparrow. We also had Rufous-tailed hummingbirds which are the “common” hummer in this country, a Blue-crowned Motmot just a few feet away, 5 Brown Jays and Grayish Saltator. Because of the early hour there weren’t many butterflies around.

After breakfast at 6:30AM, we made an early getaway and headed south to Tapanti National Park which is about 2+ hours away. Our driver/guide from Horizontes is Juan-Carlos Rodriguez. The park is wild and lush, thanks to the heavy water fall and we saw many streams, rivers and rushing water.

After a brief stop at Providencia Road (it had started to rain) we began the long drive down into the canyon road to our home for the next few days; the Sevegre Hotel de Montana. The grounds are lovely and the many hummingbird feeders were extremely active. This amazing canyon was only “discovered” in 1954 and caters to fisherman, hunters and eco-tourists plus lots of day-trippers from the area. It is much cooler here and there is heavy moisture in the air.

Some birding highlights of the day: a large hawk migrations of Broad-wings, Swainson’s and vultures, Red-billed Pigeon, Band-tailed Pigeon, White-collared and Vaux’s Swifts, Green Hermits, Black-bellied, Magnificent and Volcano Hummingbirds, Prong-billed Barbets, Spotted, Streak-headed and Spot-crowned Woodcreepers, Scale-crested Pygmy-Tyrant, Sooty Robin, Long-tailed Silky-Flycatchers, Common Bush-Tanager, Flame-colored Tanager, Spangle-cheeked Tanager, Slaty Flowerpiercer, Tawny-capped Euphonia and Golden-browed Chlorophonia.

Butterfly highlights in the mountains included: Frosted Mimic-whites, Broad-banded Dartwhite, Common Mountain White, Blinking Mountain White, Falcate Tanmark, Cypria Tanmark, Lamplight and Doubleday’s Achtinote, Julias, Grinning, Heart-spotted and Inverse Heliconians, Banded Peacocks, Dagger Mapwing (female), Rusty-tipped Page, Common Morph, Silver-dotted Satyr and lots of Carolina Satyrs.

Not a butterfly but a moth was another big highlight. The Urania Moth is big and gorgeous. Unfortunately it never set down so I never got a good look but what a bug!!!!

Other highlights: Variegated Squirrel, Alfaro’s Pygmy-Squirrel and Oranged-banded Tarantula as well as Ruby-spotted and some Helicopter Damselflies.

April 2, 2006 (Sunday)
It was cool and damp as we met before breakfast for some birding around the hotel grounds. One of the first birds of the morning was a pair of Resplendant Quetzals that nest along the creek and we got great looks at both.

After breakfast we drove back to Providencia Road for a more serious exploration. We then returned to the lodge for lunch. Despite a light rain, several of us gathered after lunch for a late afternoon walk down the road and back through the Los Ranchos campground where we found 1 lone Fiery Skipper seeking shelter under a leaf.


female White-throated Mountain-Gems

The many hummingbird feeders around the lodge always seemed to be active despite the weather.

Feeders seem to work best at these higher elevations. This offered great opportunities for photography.


male White-throated Mountain-Gems

After dinner we drove back along the main entrance road to the upper reaches.

Birding highlights included Spotted Wood-Quail heard singing above the lodge, Swallow-tailed Kites, Ruddy Pigeons (2), Dusky Nightjar, Green Violet-ear, White-throated Mountain-Gem, Scintillant Hummingbird, Emerald Toucanet, Golden-naped Woodpecker, Ruddy Treerunner, Torrent Tyrannulet, Tufted Flycatcher, Black-capped Flycatcher, Yellow-winged Vireo, Ochraceous Wren, Timberline Wren, Black-faced Solitaire, Black-billed Nightingale-Thrush, Ruddy-capped Nightingale-Thrush, Flame-throated Warbler, Collared Redstart, Ashy-throated Bush-Tananger and Yellow-thighed Finch.


Volcano Hummingbird

Butterfly highlights included Golden Dartwhite, Orange-barred Sulphur, Costa Rican Azure, Cloud-forrest Dullmark, Mexican Silverspot, American Lady, Tailed Sister, Splendid Gem Satyr and Talamanca Oxeo.

Other highlights: Red-tailed Squirrels and Dice’s Rabbit

April 3, 2006 (Monday)
Another AM walk before breakfast around the grounds of the lodge and back to Los Ranchos before leaving after breakfast for our drive to the coast. Up and over the mountains, we drove through the little town of San Isidro headed towards the pacific coast town of Uvita. We made brief stops at Antenna Road for our highest altitude birding looking for Volcano Junco (YES), then stopped at Villa Mills Road. A brief stop at a scrubby vacant lot outside San Isidro yielded a host of butterflies.

dorsal and ventral surfaces of Bordered Patch


walkways down to the cabanas

After a brief stop at the local Sewage Ponds we headed for lunch at a local rest stop. We then continued our journey arriving at La Cusinga overlooking the pacific coast in late afternoon. What a change? Cool and damp Sevegre in the Talamanca mountains and now hot and humid along the coast.

La Cusinga Lodge is set in a magical lush forest. You walk down the hillside to lovely cabanas overlooking the ocean. What a gorgeous spot! After dinner we went out owling along the main road where we heard, but did not see, Crested Owl.

Returning to my room I found a snake curled up in the bathroom. Very exciting! Fortunately Bill was nearby and scooped him up into the trash can and deposited him over the wall. Unfortunately I forgot to get photos in the all excitement.

Birding highlights included: Gray-headed Chachalaca, 1 Black Guan, 1 White Hawk, Crested and Yellow-headed Caracara, Solitary and Spotted Sandpiper, No. Jacana, Smooth-billed Ani, Costa Rican Swifts, Chestnut-collared Swifts, Fiery-billed Aracari, Red-crowned Woodpecker, Silvery-fronted Tapaculo, Yellowish Flycatcher, Fork-tailed Flycatchers, Barred Becard, So. Rough-winged Swallow, Cliff and Barn Swallows and Tropical Mockingbird.

Butterfly highlights included: Thoas Swallowtail, Mimosa and Barred Yellow, Cassius Blue, Calephelis sp., Falcate Tanmark, Coppery Tanmark, Calospila lucianus, Zebra Longwing, White Peacock, Bordered Patch, Tropical Buckeye, Pale-banded Crescent, Orange Mapwing, Smooth-banded Sister, Marpesia marcella, Gold-stained Satyr, Blue-gray Satyr, Queens, Mimosa Skipper, Tropical Checkered-skipper, Vehilius stictomens, and Mnasitheus sp.

Other highlights: Central American Agouti, Coatimundi, No. Cateye Snake, Spiny-tailed Iguana and Slender Anole.

April 4, 2006 (Tuesday)
We began before breakfast, birding and butterflying from the terrace. Stephanie was doing her yoga on the terrace and Josh was working on his drawings while we watched the bugs. A small tree next to the terrace provided tons of butterflying excitement. The local fiery-billed Aracari is perched in his favorite tree justoff theterrace and are the flocks of Orange-chinned Parakeets that call this place their home.

We spent the rest of the day exploring the trails around the lodge, specifically the Beach Trail.

After dinner we did a quick owl walk along the road. I blew off the owl walk and so missed seeing the Crested Owl that finally came in to the tapes. Oh well....

Birding highlights: Brown Boobies, Brown Pelicans and Magnificant Frigatebirds offshore, Roadside Hawk, Short-billed Pigeon, Orange-chinned Parakeets, Long-billed Hermit, Violet-crowned Wood-nymph, Blue-throated Goldentail, Charming Hummingbird, Violaceous Trogon, Slaty-tailed Trogon, White-necked Puffbird, Chestnut-mandibled Toucan, Olivaceous Piculet, Golden-naped Woodpecker, Cocoa Woodcreeper, Black-hooded Antshrike, Chestnut-backed Antbird, Comon Tody-flycatcher, Yellow-Olive Flycatcher, Piratic Flycatcher, Rufous Piha, Blue-crowned Manakin, Black-crowned Tityra, Phila. and Yellow-green Vireo, Tropical Gnatcatcher, Golden-hooded Tanager, Blue Dacnis, Red-legged Honeycreeper, Scarlet-rumped Cacique and Spot-crowned Euphona.


Malachite

Butterfly highlights: Sky-blue Greatstreak, Mother of Pearl Hairstreak, Intense-blue Hairstreak, Zebra Hairstreak, Panthiades phaleros, Red-spotted Hairstreak, Bronzy Ministreak, Common Stripestreak, Euselesia gyta, Metacharis vitrix, Blue-patched Bluemark, White-checkered Jewelmark, Common Lenmark, Creamy Henmark, Chorina octavius, Green Heliconian, Lybia Heliconian, Tiger Longwing, Sara Heliconian, Malachite, Dynamine sp., Common Olivewing, Orange-washed Sister, Many-banded Daggerwing, Tangerine Daggerwing, All-blue Morpho, Disturbed Tigerwing, Tanna Longtail, Plain Longtail and Brown Longtail.

Other highlights: Salmon bellied Racer, Rosenberg’s Tree Frog and Basilisk Lizzard.

April 5, 2006 (Wednesday)
We had another great morning birding and butterflying from the terrace before breakfast. The weather continues sunny, hot and humid. After breakfast we walked Los Ojos trail. This great trail takes you up and through a stand of really huge, ancient trees. We had a great daylight encounter with a Spectacled Owl quitely sitting in a tree just off the trail.

After lunch we once again walked the beach trail. I couldn’t be this close to the Pacific Ocean and not make the long hike down to the beach. I had the whole beach to myself (not counting the 1 whimbrel and 1 willet). It was wild and gorgeous.

I had an amazing sighting while walking back from my cabana. I saw a Chestnut-mandibled Toucan attack a Social Flycatcher nest which looks like a huge clump of straw. It stuck its huge bill into the nest and pulled the adult out and proceeded to eat it whole while several other adults all screamed and attacked it. Then the toucan proceeded to rip great chunks out of the nest as if searching for more birds. It was amazing!!!!

Bird highlights: Great Curassow, White Ibis, Marbled Wood-quail, Double-toothed Kite, Mangrove Black-Hawk, Peregrine Falcon, Willet, Whimbrel, White-crowned Parrot, Spectacled Owl, Short-tailed Nighthawk, Ringed Kingfisher, Plain Xenops, Wedge-billed Woodcreeper, Dot-winged Antwren, Golden-crowned Spadebill, Boat-billed Flycatcher, Tawny-crowned and Lesser Greenlet, Riverside Wren, Mourning Warbler, White-throated Shrike-Tanager and Black-striped Sparrow.

Butterfly highlights: Atlides bacis, Tropical Greenstreak, Mesosemia zonalis, Sword-tailed Beautymark, Charis grynaea, Red-banded Metalmark (female), Stichelia phoenicura, Common Theope, Juno Silverspot, Least Heliconian, Erato Heliconian, Cramer’s Redring, Eunica sp., One-spotted and Two-spotted Prepona, Memphis sp., Common Morpho, Nisoniades ephora, Glassy-winged Skipper, Alana White-skipper, Remella sp. and Smeared Ruby-eye.

April 6th (Thursday)
This morning after breakfast we drove over to the Osa Peninsula, to Finca Florida on the Sierpe River. There we caught a boat for a cruise through the mangroves. The mangroves were gorgeous.

Unfortunately there were WAY too many people for such a small boat and it was difficult to see some of the birds. We did get great up-close looks at Common Potoo but the specialties (Mangrove Hummingbird and Yellow-billed Continga) were really tough to see well.

That’s the only negative comment I have about this trip. Many of the trails are way to narrow for this sized group, especially when you have so many people without good field skills.


Juan Carlos and "friend"

After lunch back at La Cusinga I decided to take some time off to explore on my own. I walked part of the beach trail and got GREAT looks at Great Tinamou. Then I walked part of the Los Ojos trail. It was pretty quiet so I came back around 3PM for a brief siesta before dinner.

After dinner came more owling. We drove back towards Osa and pulled off onto a narrow farm road where we heard Potoo and Common Paraque and saw Striped and Tropical Screech-owl.

Bird highlights: Great Tinamou, Bare-throated Tiger-heron, Little Blue and Tri-colored Herons, Green Heron, Gray-headed Kite, Purple Gallinule, Semi-palmated Plovers, Pale-vented Pigeons, Crimson-fronted Parakeets (2), Scarlet Macaw (6), Tropical Screeh-owl, Striped Owl, Veraguan Mango (based on location), Mangrove Hummingbird, Common Potoo, Amazon Kingfisher, Linneated Woodpecker, Gray-capped Flycatcher, Yellow-billed Cotinga, Gray-breasted Martin and Variable Seedeater.

Butterfly highlights: Statira Sulphur, Eastern-tailed Blue, Orange-flushed Eyemark, and Starry Night.

Other highlights: White-faced Capuchin Monkeys, Green Iguana, Common Tree Boa, Mourning and House Geckos.


immature Common Potoo

April 7, 2006 (Friday)
Early morning found us in the usual spot, the great terrace over looking the ocean. It will be hard to say good bye to this place. Despite the heat and the still air, the views are beautiful and the wildlife is incredible.

After breakfast we left for the long drive north. We broke our travel with a stop at Alexander Skutch’s house outside of San Isidro. The road to the house was so alive with birds and butterflies that we got only a short distance. We decided to have lunch here to catch more of the action. What a great place!!!

Then we continued on, making only one more rest stop to check out the hummingbird feeders at Mirador Vista del Valle.

The LONG drive continued and we finally pulled into Sueno Azul just in time for dinner.


Mangrove Black-Hawk on Nest

Bird highlights: Great Egrets, Mangrove Black-Hawk, Violet Sabrewing, Green-crowned Brilliant, Yellow-bellied Flycatcher, amazing Orange-collared Manakins, Speckled Tanager and Streaked Saltator.

Butterfly highlights: Calycopis demonassa, Melanis electron, Red-spotted Jewelmark, Dark Tanmark, White-dotted Crescent, Orion, Red Cracker, Red Banner, Mexican Catone, 4 Dotted Eighty-eight and Callicore texa titania, Archeoprepona meander, Painted Leafwing Yellow-fronted Owl-butterfly, Canopy Morpho and White Satyr.

April 8, 2006 (Saturday)
We got a chance to bird the grounds of the hotel Sueno Azul before breakfast. This is quite a posh place with lovely grounds and gardens and LOTS of birds.


female Great Curassow

After breakfast we drove north toward La Selva Biological Station making a brief stop at El Tigre Marsh.

We spent all day at La Selva. There were tons of birds and butterflies on the grounds. We had an amazing look at a female Currosow calmly grazing out in an open area along the trail. Boy, were the shutters clicking. It was also interesting to see the researchers at work. Lunch was in their cafeteria.

I blew off the PM owling walk behind the hotel and so, of course, missed Vermiculated Screech-owl.


Green Honeycreeper

Birding highlights of the day: Black-bellied Whistling Ducks, Crested Guans, Neotropic Cormorants, Green Ibis, Osprey, Least Sandpiper, Olive-throated Parakeets, Red-lored and Mealy Parrots, Gray-rumped and Lesser Swallow-tailed Swifts, Bronzy Hermit, Violet-headed Hummingbird, Broad-billed Motmot, Collared Aracari, Chestnut-colored Woodpecker, No. Barred Woodcreeper, Dull-mantled Antbird, Yellow Tyrannulet, Yellow-bellied Elaenia, Black-capped Pygmy-tyrant, E. Wood-Pewee, Traill’s-type Flycatcher, Long-tailed Tyrant, Eastern Kingbird, Snowy Cotinga, Cinnamon Becard, Band-backed Wren, White-breasted Wood-wren, Crimson-collared Tanager, Passerini’s Tanager, Plain-colored Tanager, Green Honeycreeper, Red-legged Honeycreeper, Nicaraguan Seed-finch, Black-faced Grosbeak, Red-winged Blackbird, , Black-cowled Oriole, Chestnut-headed Oropendola, Montezuma’s Oropendula, Yellow-crowned and Olive-backed Euphonia.

Butterfly highlights: Gold-rimmed Swallowtail, Florida Whites, Apricot Sulphur, Mexican Cycadian, Confusing Scrub-Hairstreak, Ceraunus Blue, Bleary Eyemark, Fox-faced Lenmark, Extroverted Theope, Dot-bordered Heliconian, Eresia clio, Eresia mechanitis, Dingy Purplewing, Blue Cracker, Banded Crackerlet, Orange Banner, Little Banner, White-edged Redring, Prepona omphale, Pale-spotted Leafwing, Baeotus baeotus, Pink Fairy Diaph, Plain Satyr, Euptychia insolata, Black and Yellow Prestonia, Ventral Blue Skipper and Trailside Skipper.

Other highlights: Central American Spider Monkey, Collared Peccary, Hoffman’s 2-toed Sloth, Strawberry Poisondart Frog, Brandsford’s Litter Frog and Central American Whiptail Lizzard.


Strawberry Poisondart Frog

April 9, 2006 (Sunday)
Once again we did some birding around the grounds of the hotel before breakfast. We walked along a small marsh and heard White-throated Crakescalling practically at our feet but we never saw them. Common Pauraques are indeed quite common here. We hear them everynight from the hotel.


the grounds of the Hotel Suena Azul

Then it was off to Braulio Carrillo National Park. This park is huge but the only safe access point is from the headquarters parking lot at the Quebrada Gonzales Bridge. There was great butterflying around the bridge and the small parking lot but we also walked the steep and narrow Los Palmas trail. It’s only 1.6K and not very birdy although we did have some nice birds. It’s sad that all the other access points have become so dangerous. People used to just park along the roadsides and walk in but thing came the muggings and robberies and all that stopped. One can only imagine what birds are still in there.

On the way back to the lodge we stopped at a private garden, the El Tapir Butterfly house where we found some great butterflies on the porterweed. There was also the most adorable little kitten that I would have loved to bring home with me.

We got back to the lodge in time for lunch and then went out and walked the grounds in the afternoon. This time Bill and I got actually see the crakes as 2 birds flew into some grass just down the hillside from where we were standing. I don’t think the others believed us but we got Rich to play the tape and we got birds calling from exactly where we saw them fly in so, even if it’s still a “heard-only” bird on the official checklist, Bill and I know we saw them.

Bird highlights: Fasciated Tiger-Heron, imm. Ornate Hawk-Eagle, White-throated Crakes, Black-crested Coquette, Green Thorntail, Bronze-tailed Plumeleteer, Lattice-tailed Trogon, Keel-billed Toucan, Yellow-eared Toucanet, Golden-olive Woodpecker, Slaty Spinetail, Rufous Mourner, White-colored Manakin, White-winged Becard, Red-eyed Vireo, Bay-breasted Warbler, Olive-crowned Yellowthroat, Wrentthrush, Blakc-and-yellow Tanager, Dusky-faced Tanager, tawny-crested Tanager, Bay-headed Tanager, Scarlet-thighed Dacnis and White-vented Euphonia.

Butterfly highlights: Two-spotted Eyemark, Charis sp., Ray-fringed Metalmark (female), Grayblue Tanmark (female), Banded Orange, Circle-spot Sister, Marpesia merops, Helvetican Diaph, Firetip sp., Dorantes Longtail, Frosted Flasher, Pyrgus adepta, Least Rayed-skipper, Ubiquitous Skipper and a Saliana sp.

Other hightlights: Orange-headed Gecko (female).

April 10, 2006 (Monday)
A brief AM walk before breakfast and then it was “on the road again”.

We returned to El Tigre Marsh and then drove south via La Virgen de Socorro Road and the La Paz Waterfall Gardens for lunch. It was like Disneyland. There were tons of feeders because the gardens were all ornamental plants. There were also tons of people. The steep hillside goes down to an amazing butterfly house absolutely brimming with butterflies. All of those hard to photograph guys were sitting right out in the open. It was a photographer’s dream and all a bit weird.

We got back to Heredia and the Hotel Bougainvillea in time for our farewell dinner.

Bird highlights: Great Blue Heron, Pinnated Bittern, Pectoral Sandpiper, Brown Violet-ear, Coppery-headed Emerald, Purple-throated Mountain-gem, Rufous-winged Woodpecker, Red-faced Spinetail, Slaty-capped Flycatcher, Black-headed Tody-flycatcher, Sulphur-bellied Flycatcher, Bay Wren, Slaty-backed Nightingale-Thrush, Golden-winged Warbler, Tropical Parula, Gray-crowned yellowthroat, Golden-crowned Warbler, Buff-rumped Warbler, Sooty-faced Finch, Common Bush-Tanager and Eastern Meadowlark.


Sooty-capped Bush Tanager

April 11, 2006 (Tuesday)
I had to leave the hotel at 4AM to make the 7AM flight back to Philadelphia but we got there in plenty of time for some “fun stuff” like getting our bags mixed up and me putting my Miami-Philadelphia ticket into Bill’s carryon which would have been OK normally except they were going to Houston and I was on the flight to Philadelphia. Fortunately the mistake was discovered BEFORE we boarded our separate flights.

We were late getting out of San Jose and the bags got misplaced in Miami but luckily things got sorted out and I arrived back in Philadelphia WITH my bags around 6PM.