Sunday, January 19, 2014

Carara National Park (Part II)

I didn't make it back to Costa Rica this winter, but I still have plenty of material from last winter...which I'm really falling behind on. Sorry about that, some lifers and tequila got in the way. And so we carry on...Scarlet Macaws are abundant in the Carara area, and can be seen sharing the sky with Magnificent Frigatebirds as you drive through Tarcoles, although they don't exactly form mixed flocks. Such crippling birds. Photographed at Carara National Park.

They nest in huge tree cavities like this one. A grandiose bird requires a grandiose nest site. Carara National Park.

Pale-billed Woodpeckers are fairly common and widespread in Costa Rica, and it's a bird you should plan on meeting if you will be birding there for very long. Listen for the infamous "double-knock", which their Campephilus cousins the Ivory-billeds are/were famous for. Carara National Park.

We were lucky to see Spectacled Owls more than once on our trip. I still can't really reconcile their sense of fashion with what northern owls wear. Carara National Park.

Part of the luscious rainforest canopy at Carara National Park. I'm pretty sure there were a couple of Turquoise Contingas somewhere up there, which besides being very good birds are pretty unusual for the area. Brutal "warbler neck" though.

Just north of Carara is the "waterfall road", which yielded some decent birds for us. It's best to just park and walk up and down the road at intervals of good habitat. In the field where the road meets the main highway, there were several Gray-crowned Yellowthroats wallowing in their just-barely-subdued glory.

Really cool birds, I wish they ventured into the United States more often.

Blue-black Grassquits were also present in numbers. You show me open fields and I will show you grassquits.

Further up the road was this Collared Forest-Falcon, which had previously eluded me in eastern Mexico and other parts of Costa Rica. This life bird was one of the Carara-area highlights for me, despite not being particularly rare or range-restricted. It's really cool to meet raptors that are completely unlike anything you've seen before.

Higher up on the road there are some nice ridges that are conducive to seeing soaring raptors. Aside from this Zone-tailed Hawk, we also had White Hawk and King Vulture. It is weird to mention seeing the latter two birds in the same area (and not lifering), since before this trip those had been close to Grail Bird status in my mind for years.

Many mixed flocks in the country contain Philadelphia Vireos. They are hard to avoid. You may try to convince yourself that you are seeing Warbling Vireos, but you would (probably) be wrong. Photographed on the Waterfall Road.


  1. Sick sick sick sick sick sick sick.

    1. Couldn't have said it better myself...if only my quality of crushes matched the quality of birding...

  2. Awesome birds! The owl is a beauty as is the Pale-billed WP:)

    1. The PBWOs are cool, but I love me some tropical raptors.

  3. Wow. That view of the treetops is enough to make me drool. With the birds, I just died.


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