Costa Rica Day 7, 12 February 2014 - Volcan Poas & La Selva Biological Station

We bid farewell to Poas Lodge today to begin our travels in earnest. Our main destination for the day being La Selva Biological Station in the lowlands to the north. Before dropping down out of the mountains and as we were so close it would have been a shame not to give Volcan Poas NP another look. The weather looked good and so it proved with some awesome clear views right down into the huge crater of the volcano with its almost lunar landscape and bubbling sulphur lake - what an experience! Along the path between the carpark and the crater c5 Black-billed Nightingale Thrushes showed well in the early morning.

Black-billed Nightingale Thrush

We then made our way north along a winding but very picturesque road to La Selva Biological Station near to the town of Puerto Viejo de Sarapiqui. The habitat here is lowland tropical rainforest so would hopefully give us a whole new raft of species. We found the place better signposted than we thought and quickly checked in. This place is owned and run by the Organisation for Tropical Studies and caters mainly for research students and volunteers. Increasingly they are opening their doors to visiting birders and the website through which accommodation can be booked (full board only) can be found here . It's a slightly peculiar place with communal dining room, accommodation blocks that are 1km walk from the reception/dinng room (luckily with a car you can drive round to you room!) and students tramping around in welliesd but some truly mind blowing birding! The extensive trail system starts on the far side of a long hanging bridge over the Rio Sarapiqui but when we arrived it was hard to move away from the area around the reception which had Passerini's Tanagers everywhere, Variable Seedeaters (of the black Pacific race), Buff-throated Saltator, a Yellow-crowned Euphonia, several Social Flycatchers, Black-cheeked Woodpecker, Montezuma Oropendulas, Rufous-tailed Hummingbirds, a flock of c12 Olive-throated Parakeets, Grey-rumped Swifts overhead and then to cap it all off a pair of Great Green Macaws flew noisly over. And we hadn't even dropped our bags off at our room yet!

Passerini's Tanager 

Buff-throated Saltator

Variable Seedeater
With our room not quite ready as we'd booked in at lunchtime it was time to walk one of the trails. Heading over the bridge there were c4 Mangrove Swallows and a Green Kingfisher on the river before we headed left from the clearing and into the forest. On the walk here things were initially quiet, probably because of the time of day but soon things started to appear with 2 Slaty-tailed Togons, 1 Lattice-tailed Trogon, both Wedge-billed Woodcreeper and Streak-headed Woodcreeper, 2 Squirrel Cuckoos and 2 White-breasted Wood-Wrens. On the walk back a marvellous Chestnut-mandibled Toucan showed very nicely high above the path. With the temperatures and humidity rather high it was time to head to our room, drop off our baghs and then return a little later when things had cooled a bit.
Wedge-billed Woodcreeper

Chestnut-mandibled Toucan
Even the area round our lodge held new birds with just a 10 minute walk while Belinda was unpacking revealed Masked Tityra, Long-tailed Tyrant, Chestnut-sided Warbler and Golden-hooded Tanager. Back by the bridge in the late afternoon we ambled around the main research clearing where a White-crowned Parrot was being watched by a tour group and Green Honeycreeper and Black-cowled Oriole showed nicely. In the tall trees on the edge of the clearing both Chestnut-mandibled Toucan and Keel-billed Toucan appeared and although quite high up they were gorgeous in the late afternoon sun. 
White-crowned Parrot

Green Honeycreeper

Keel-billed Toucan
 Walking back towards the bridge things really livened up a notch or two and in about 30 really memorable minutes we'd had Golden-winged Warbler (oh the memories from Kent in 1989!), 3 Collared Aracari, Cinammon Becard, a pair of Shining Honeycreepers, Rufous Mourner, a noisy Bright-rumped Attila, Summer Tanager, Rufous-browed Tyrannulet and Plain-brown Woodcreeper. Then to top it all off a couple of birders pointed us to a close perched Broad-billed Motmot by the bridge and a couple of Golden-hooded Tanagers showed photographically well. Even after dark we managed 5 Common Pauraque by flashlight near the dining room. I was beginning to wish we'd booked more than one night here!
Shining Honeycreeper

Broad-billed Motmot

Golden-hooded Tanager

Bright-rumped Attila
Common Pauraque


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