Tuesday, 3 April 2018

Holidaying and Birding in Costa Rica (15th -31st March 2018)

This years holiday was to the fabled Costa Rica. The party consisted of our friends (Pete and Mary) my wife (Angie) and myself.
As with all our holidays this was a holiday split between beach/sight-seeing and birding - it was not a bird tour. I did all the organising and the driving was shared amongst us and in general we did not engage the use of a bird guide (unless specified).

Flight - BA direct to San Jose from Gatwick.
1st night at Hotel Bougainvillea.
3 nights at Selva Verde Lodge
3 nights at Hotel Savegra
3 nights at La Posada, Manuel Antonio
6 nights at Punta Leona.
Car hire (a tractor of a 4x4) from Vamos who were good but the bureaucracy was slow

The original plan was to spend 2 night at Bougainvillea and have a look around San Jose and visit a coffee tour company near by (Britt Coffee Tour)  but my original research showed little else nearby so it dropped to a single night. After booking all the hotels I found out about Poas volcano and the La Paz waterfall gardens and Galeria de Colibries Restaurant.

The only guided tour arranged before we set off was of the Tarcoles River using Vic Tours. Other places we intended to visit was Best Chocolate which is within walking distance of Selva Verde Lodge and Rain Forest Spices (they grow vanilla) near Manuel Antonio. We did however intend to take advantage of the hotel guides/tours where on offer (more details on these in the appropriate sections).

The flight was uneventful although long and due to the time of landing (4.45pm local with sunset at 5.45) we took a taxi to the Hotel Bougainvillea. The transfer took around 40 minutes with us arriving well after dark justifying the decision to have the 4x4 delivered to the hotel the next morning. The hotel was much more impressive than it looks on it's web site suggested so we had dinner, a drink, and an early night.
The next morning I was up at dawn (5.45am) and in the garden which was large and was joined a little later by Pete and Mary. we only had till 7.30 when we went to breakfast but in that time we have notched up 20 species and took a few reasonable shots - the highlight being Montezuma Oropendola.

Great Kiskadee

Philadelphia virio

Red-billed pigeon

White tipped dove

Montezuma Oropendola

In general I didn't keep bird lists for each place as it was too time consuming but I did for the Bougainvillea:- rufous collared sparrow, rufous naped wren, red-billed pigeon, white tipped dove, white winged dove, tropical kingbird, great kiskadee, blue-grey tanager, rufous tailed hummingbird, clay coloured thrush, Baltimore oriole, white tailed kite (Elanus leucurus), turkey vulture, Philidelphia virio, yellow warbler, melodious blackbird, great tailed grackle, Hoffman's woodpecker, brown jay. and Montezuma Oropenola.
The Vamos rep arrived on time at 8,.00 to start the paper work but the car was about an hour late however all that time was taken by the formalities. As we went out to inspect the vehicle there was a large bang in the road outside - a car had cut across the front of a motorbike who had crashed into the rear wing. Eventually the bike rider moved to the side of the road and awaited the police and ambulance. In Costa Rica the vehicles must not be moved after a crash until inspected by the Police and insurance companies so after every crash the road is partially blocked for a long time. We saw another 3 motorbike/car crashes on our drive out of San Jose. It is not a place to ride a motorbike. It was also a reminder to drive very carefully!
Due to the delays getting the car and the crashes we were caught up in we didn't arrive at the Waterfall gardens until midday - I had hoped to be there by 9.30 - and it was very hot. If I had stuck to the original 2 nights at Bougainvillea we could have had longer in the hotel gardens, done the coffee tour and taken possession of the car at leisure. We could then have gotten away early the next day to the Waterfall Gardens. C'est la vie.
Next Up La Paz Waterfall gardens.

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