NORTHERN BIRDING TOUR
|Duration:||9 days, 8 nights|
|* This tour is available for any dates of your choosing provided guide services and accommodations are available.|
DAY 1 - ALAJUELA
International flights arrive in the afternoon or evening. After arrival, transfer to nearby Hotel Aeropuerto, a 5-minute taxi ride from the international airport. Night in Alajuela.
DAY 2 - LA ENSENADA
Early departure for La Ensenada, located about 3 hours drive north of Alajuela. This reserve features a combination of lowland dry scrub, dry forest, pastures, and mangroves. Key species likely at this locale include Crested Bobwhite, Double-striped Thick-knee, Sandwich Tern, Pacific Screech-Owl, Ferruginous Pygmy-Owl, Plain-capped Starthroat, Steely-vented Hummingbird, Orange-chinned Parakeet, Orange-fronted Parakeet, Nutting's Flycatcher, Scissor-tailed Flycatcher, Rose-throated Becard, White-throated Magpie-Jay, Banded Wren, White-lored Gnatcatcher, Stripe-headed Sparrow, Streak-backed Oriole, and Spot-breasted Oriole. In addition, Nicaraguan Grackle may be expanding its range into the area as we saw several on our recent visit. Finally, the lodge staff often know where Pacific Screech-Owl roosts near the lodge. Boat trips into the mangroves are prohibitively expensive with less than 4 persons in the group. A boat trip (not included in tour price) may produce Mangrove Cuckoo, Mangrove Hummingbird, and Panama Flycatcher as well as many wetland birds. Night at La Ensenada Lodge.
DAY 3 - LA ENSENADA & SELVATURA RESERVE
Morning birding the grounds at La Ensenada. Transfer to Monteverde for late lunch there.Afternoon birding the higher elevation forest at Selvatura. The trail there goes through very good montane forest and traverses some 9 ravines by quite stable suspension bridges that provide a view of forest canopy. The key species typically seen there is Three-wattled Bellbird, which calls loudly from treetops during nesting season. Other likely possibilities include Black Guan, Buff-fronted Quail-Dove, Resplendent Quetzal, Orange-bellied Trogon, Black-banded Woodcreeper, and White-eared Ground-Sparrow. Night at De Lucia Inn.
DAY 4 - MONTEVERDE CLOUD FOREST RESERVE & BIJAGUA
Morning will be devoted to birding the Monteverde Cloud Forest Preserve. Numerous trails through mid-elevation forest are available, including some fairly level and some steeper with concrete block steps along the way. Numerous species are very possible, including Resplendent Quetzal. Other key species include Buff-fronted Quail-Dove, Orange-bellied Trogon, Red-headed Barbet, Prong-billed Barbet, Blue-throated Toucanet, Plain Antvireo, Spotted Woodcreeper, Streak-breasted Treehunter, Spotted Barbtail, Ruddy Treerunner, Olive-striped Flycatcher, Yellowish Flycatcher, Ochraceous Wren, Bay Wren, Orange-billed Nightingale-Thrush, White-throated Thrush, Costa Rican Warbler, Sooty-faced Finch, and Golden-browned Chlorophonia. The hummingbird feeders outside the entrance attract up to 10 species of hummingbirds including Green-fronted Lancebill, Magnificent Hummingbird, Magenta-throated Woodstar, Stripe-tailed Hummingbird, and the endemic Coppery-headed Emerald. After lunch transfer to the Bijagua area. After arrival bird the lodge grounds. Of particular interest there is White-tipped Sicklebill, which regularly visits Heliconia flowers along the entrance road. Night at Celeste Mountain Lodge.
DAY 5 - HELICONIA LODGE GROUNDS
Morning birding trails around Heliconia Lodge, located about 30 minutes drive from Celeste Mountain Lodge. The lodge grounds are considered by those in the know to offer some of the best birding in Costa Rica when its not too dry. The accommodations at Heliconia are more rustic, but it is possible and actually more convenient to stay there. Trails are through secondary forest on lodge property with some up and down. Of particular interest is the possibility of finding an army ant swarm with attendant followers, notable Rufous-vented Ground-Cuckoo, Bicolored Antbird, and Ocellated Antbird. These are most readily found in late rainy season during October-November or early in dry season, namely December-January. Other notable birds possible there include Black-crested Coquette, Tody Motmot, White-fronted Nunbird, Yellow-eared Toucanet, Sharpbill, Spotted Antbird, Long-tailed Manakin, White-ruffed Manakin, Nightingale Wren, and Song Wren. Afternoon birding around Celeste Mountain Lodge, possibly forest trails nearby. Night at Celeste Mountain Lodge.
DAY 6 - BIJAGUA & ARENAL
Morning drive up the road to a likely site for Lovely Cotinga if it's still being reported. Open canopy trees near the bridge have been fairly reliable for this rare species. Late morning transfer to Arenal, arriving at the lodge for lunch. Afternoon bird trails on the lodge grounds. Night at Arenal Observatory Lodge.
DAY 7 - ARENAL AREA
All day birding trails around the lodge. One trail is a very good spot to find the secretive Wrenthrush. Other possibilities of special interest include Keel-billed Motmot, Smoky-brown Woodpecker, Russet Antshrike, Spotted Antbird, Thicket Antpitta, Bare-necked Umbrellabird, White-ruffed Manakin, Stripe-breasted Wren, Song Wren, and numerous tanagers. Night at Arenal Observatory Lodge.
DAY 8 - FORTUNA & ARENAL AREA
A private reserve near Fortuna is a stake-out for several rare crakes, so this morning will be spent there. Early morning visit to a private reserve near Fortuna, a reliable site for secretive rails that come into the open during early morning. along with the much more easily seen Gray-cowleed Wood-Rail. A trail through extensive forest nearby offers a few additional possibilities such as Olivaceous Piculet, Black-cheeked Woodpecker, and Plain Xenops. Then bird the waterfall trail within Arenal National Park. This trail goes down quite steeply, so an alternative is to return to the extensive trails around the lodge instead. The waterfall trail is a good place to look for Lanceolated Monklet. After lunch bird trails around the lodge. Extensive forest offers numerous interesting species including Great Curassow, Smoky-brown Woodpecker, White-fronted Parrot, Russet Antshrike, Spotted Antbird, Bare-necked Umbrellabird, Stripe-breasted Wren, Black-headed Nightingale-Thrush, Golden-crowned Warbler, Black-and-yellow Tanager, Olive Tanager, and Yellow-crowned Euphonia. Afternoon transfer to Alajuela, arriving before dark. Night at Hotel Aeropuerto.
DAY 9 - END OF TOUR
Tour ends with breakfast at the hotel. International flights home.