Big Day 2018 at Costa Rica’s Carara National Park, And Nearby At Los Suenos Marriott

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The first lucky bird of the day, a Yellow-crowned Night-Heron at Marriott, which I hadn’t seen yet on property

Almost four years ago, James and I took a day trip to Carara National Park, on the Pacific coast of Costa Rica where the tropical dry forest meets the moist rain forest in a transition zone that provides a great mix of habitats for all sorts of birds and other wildlife. On eBird, Carara’s Hotspot has over four hundred species, which made it a natural place for me to spend part of my Global Big Day this year, since I was already documenting the avian life on the property of the Los Suenos Marriott in Herradura, just half an hour south along the coast. These photos are from my May 5th efforts!

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The Turquoise-browed Motmot is a regular at Marriott and one of my favorite “common” birds in the country

I started the morning at 5:30am, heading out onto the perimeters of the forests surrounding Los Suenos Marriott and its golf course.This rich secondary forest and mixed habitat had on May 4th already yielded 70 species in one full morning of birding. My goal was to see as much as possible before breakfast, and then head over to the national park to meet up with members of the Costa Rican Birding Club. After four or five hours at Carara, I’d return to Los Suenos Marriott for lunch and then continue birding through the evening.

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a female Gartered Trogon at Marriott

The highlight bird of the day was one that James and I heard in 2014 but never saw: the Streak-chested Antpitta. This very shy skulker came out of hiding at Carara long enough for me to take a grainy video, from which I extracted the shot below. I’ll post the video another time, but for now imagine it puffing itself up every few seconds like a little balloon, and whistling a short tune!

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Streak-chested Antpitta in the undergrowth of Carara National Park

My total for the day between Los Suenos Marriott and Carara was 109 species, which I’m very pleased with! I ended up seeing two species not previously reported at Marriott’s Hotspot on eBird, which has been part of my goal here during my stay. More on that in a future post! For now, here’s my “back-of-the-envelope” tally/calculation on my Global Big Day 2018:

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Thanks to the Costa Rica Birding Club for letting me join their group to the national park and enjoy a day with other birdwatchers!

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