I've just finished leading a five-day tour in Costa Rica. There was just one avid birder in the group, a 13-year-old boy who has been birding for about a year and a half and was here on vacation with his family. His keen ears and eyes garnered us a total bird list around 250 species. Several other members of the family were also interested in seeing birds, but it wasn't a dawn-to-dusk birding group.
Just a few highlights:
At Savegre Lodge we had great views of a GREEN-FRONTED LANCEBILL hunting insects over the bridge at the entrance at about 6:15 a.m. on 29 Dec. In the gardens were two STRIPE-TAILED HUMMINGBIRDS, which I hadn't seen here before. I suspect they are usually quite a bit lower in elevation on this slope. As usual, this continues to be the best place for RESPLENDENT QUETZAL, and we watched a pair feeding from a Nectandra tree visible from the picture windows in our rooms. It was being reported that Los Lagos ($2 per person entrance) also had a very active fruiting tree.
Our morning at La Selva on 30 Dec was quite productive considering we were there for just 3 hours and that we spent time watching things such as poison dart frogs and Collared Peccaries. Great views of an immature RUDDY QUAIL-DOVE, a confiding GREAT TINAMOU, and three CRESTED GUANS by the start of the foot bridge were probably the most memorable birds, though we didn't see anything unexpected. Flocks of swifts overhead were mixed VAUX'S SWIFT and GRAY-RUMPED SWIFT.
The birding at Sueño Azul resort on 30 and 31 Dec was as good as always. A SLATY-BREASTED TINAMOU was calling a dusk at the end of the "rainforest" road, two FASCIATED TIGER-HERONS were almost always visible on the rocks downstream from the lodge, and a pair of SPECTACLED OWLS sang both nights just outside our rooms. A "whitting" empid that I did not see was probably a LEAST FLYCATCHER, but it's been long enough since I've heard a WILLOW FLYCATCHER call that I'm not sure it wasn't that species. Either would be rather rare here in mid-winter. A ROYAL FLYCATCHER on the far side of the little lake by the parking area was something of a surprise.
Finally, on the morning of 27 Dec at the Bougainvillea Hotel in Santo Domingo, Heredia, I briefly saw two birds fly over that I would have called SHINY COWBIRDS had I seen them anywhere I know the species to be common. Has this species spread into the Central Valley in recent years? I saw them so briefly that I admit I may have misjudged their size and flight style, the only other possibility being Bronzed Cowbird.