Exotic Bird Bingo

By Colin McFadden
This post is part of a series called Costa Rice 2014
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We woke up at 5:30am for our day of birding, as apparently one does. We had a quick cup of coffee and met up with Jorge, our guide for the day.

The first outing today was on the same hanging bridge trail we took yesterday, though in the opposite direction. The pace was markedly slower.

It took us a while to adjust to using the binoculars. The real birders (read: everyone else) thought our little toy binocs were rather humorous. A sign our binocs are a bit old – they proudly state that they’re made in West Germany. Watching the rest of them get so excited as they spotted each new bird was a lot of fun.

Jorge, our guide, was amazing. We was able to call in a specific bird, instantly identify others, and keep us constantly informed. He also had a tripod-mounted scope, with variable zoom, which was great for those of us who aren’t as tuned into to the birdly-surroundings. He was able to set it up, aim it at our target, and then let us take turns viewing.

Our first sighting was an owl. Probably some sort of specific owl. But, you know. owl.

We also saw some white-faced capuchin monkeys, and later some brown spider monkeys.

Jorge spent half an hour calling a bird that only lives in this part of the forest. We knew the bird was coming closer, but couldn’t spot him among the trees. Finally, we gave up and carried on, only to run right smack into the bird. Much excitement.

The best bird viewing came from the tree in the middle of one of the hanging bridges. It’s a 360-degree view of the birds around you, flitting from branch to branch.

A few hours in, it was time for some breakfast. We made our way back to the lodge for breakfast (rice, beans, eggs). After breakfast, we did a bit more wandering around the lodge and then got in the cars for a new destination.

We saw a lot of amazing birds, and got to enjoy being outside in a different setting. The highlights were the King Vulture, tucans, parakeets, and the lovely cotinga. Which, we must agree, is a rather boastful name.

We headed back to the pizza restaurant from last night (not a lot of restaurants in town) for lunch and, more importantly, for world cup. Costa Rica versus Greece.

After Greece tied the score, we wandered down to the grocery for some snack food and ice cream. We got caught in a big downpour, but that’s inevitable. We made it back to the restaurant in time for the end of regulation time. All tied up, they went into overtime. We decided to walk back to the lodge (everyone else drove).

Our walk was gorgeous – the sun came out and we got to see birds, friendly dogs, and happy locals. As we walked, we could get a good sense of how the game (and later, the shootout) was going. The cheers told us when Costa Rica scored in the shootout. And the massive cheers told us when they’d won. Much celebrating!

We made it back to the lodge, happy and sweaty. A cup of coffee, a shower, and now it’s time for happy hour. Time to update the bird book!

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