Farm Roads

We spent our last morning in Arenal on the farm roads. We started the morning by walking down to white hawk villa, but backtracked after not finding much activity. On the trail just past Phil’s villa, we were pretty excited to be able to confidently separate 2 rufous mourners from the pihas we’d seen the days before. We weren’t as confident in the initial ID until we got great looks at its lookalike.

Across the Danta hanging bridge, we paused at the shelter to watch a laughing falcon hunting a farm field. As we continued along the dirt road just past the house, we saw 2 emerald tanagers in the thicket along the river. Our biggest “boom” of the day was at the brown road shelter, where we ran into a mind-blowing pocket of bird activity! There were so many things moving in and out of the lush foliage that we couldn’t ID everything we glimpsed. We were so glad to get excellent looks at (and even bad photos of) a blue-and-gold tanager. I got a glimpse of a slate-headed tody-flycatcher that Paul saw better. I saw possibly both a tawny-capped euphonia and slate-throated redstart in the same tree, but Paul only saw the euphonia, so I only counted that too. It’s always great to get lifer warblers, and there we saw a tropical parula!

We continued back around to the work shed before taking (I think) the black blaze road back. Along this road, I was thrilled with another lifer warbler: gray-crowned yellowthroat! As we continued along our way, we saw several Morelet’s seedeaters.

We continued to bird the rest of our time there, that was a wrap on my lifer additions from this fabulous trip!

Arenal Observatory Lodge

Today was our only full day in Arenal, so we made it count! We were awakened by a common pauraque singing in the “nautical twilight” hours, which would bookend our day. We got to the observatory lodge at 6 AM and made our way on the “orange trails” to the garden. There, we saw our lifer scaly-breasted hummingbird, green thorntail and black-crested coquette. Among the plants were several black-striped sparrows. Also in the treetops were red-lored parrots and a white-crowned parrot. We went to celebrate our early morning success with breakfast at the lodge. From the window, I spotted my lifer green hermit! We went out to the deck and also saw our lifer stripe-throated hermit.

Then, we crossed the spider bridge to get back to the other trails. We walked Saino through La Hormiga, and then circled back to the connector. Along Los Monos trail, we found a scale-crested pygmy tyrant. We took a break after hiking the river trail to get lunch in town. On the way out, I got my most casual lifer of the trip: a drive-by groove-billed ani! We also drove the evacuation road for a short bit, and lucked out finding a pair of gartered trogons building a nest.

In the evening, we started on the farm road and were rewarded by spotting a rufous motmot. We walked down to the Danta waterfall before calling it a night!


Today was our journey to Arenal! Once we got to Nuevo Arenal, we got our lifer palm tanagers. Downtown, we finally got good looks at gray-breasted martins. Once we arrived at our accommodations, Paul spotted our lifer Passerini’s tanagers and long-tailed tyrant. I spotted our lifer piratic flycatcher.

Then, we went into El Castillo for lunch. Along the way, I spotted my lifer black phoebes. From the balcony, I finally felt good about calling a gray-capped flycatcher.

We came back and birded for the rest of the evening right where we were staying, at Arenal Tropical Gardens. Paul pointed out black-cowled orioles, and we worked together to ID common tody-flycatcher. I got excellent recordings of a vocalizing tropical pewee! Paul was excited to spot his quarry, the scarlet-thighed dacnis. It was a female, and we still hoped to see the male. Then, black-headed saltators flew right into the tree in front of us. Among the last new birds of the evening for us were green honeycreeper and bay-headed tanager from the lawn in front of the main building.

Santa Rosa National Park

Today we decided it was worth it to get to Santa Rosa early, and we weren’t disappointed! I finally got good looks at the banded wrens we briefly glimpsed the day before. I was also delighted by the time we were able to spend with yellow-olive flycatchers. Not only did we have great looks at several of them, we learned their song! Along the entry road, we got brief looks at lesser greenlet. We got great looks at mantled howler monkeys right in front of an administrative building.

Excitingly, we saw a crested guan at the campground! When we were able to enter the casonas parking lot, we found an ivory-billed woodcreeper along the nature trail. We walked the universal trail as well.


This morning, we heeded our bird alarm clocks and were treated to views of streak-backed orioles and black-headed trogon again right within the confines of the condo complex! We continued up the road and found stripe-headed sparrow in an area that, sadly, may be marked for development. As we walked back down the road, I saw my lifer squirrel cuckoo and rose-throated becards in the same tree.

Then, we decided it was time to head to a national park. Along the road into Santa Rosa, we spotted a lesser ground-cuckoo. We walked out to the Tierras Emergidas lookout before continuing on. Further down the park entrance road, we stopped for a white-lored gnatcatcher. We drove down to the administrative buildings, and saw an elegant trogon right from the road! We also saw my lifer white-tipped dove. At the visitor center, we got knockout looks at pale-billed woodpecker and orange-fronted parakeets. Tomorrow, we’ll do the Indio Desnudo trail.

In the evening back at home base, a small flock of white-throated magpie jays came in to the treetops visible from our deck.