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WEATHER; hot and sunny all day, quite windy at times which was most welcome!

It was T-shirt and shorts weather all day, how fantastic, I love it.

After our arrival yesterday evening we had a relaxing drink and meal and lots of sleep before our 7am start.  I say 7am but in actual fact most of the group were up and out at 6am.  A two hour walk around the gardens revealed a superb selection of common birds and one or two nice surprises. Considering the hotel sits alongside one of the busiest roads in San Jose there was a nice variety of birds, I think we counted over 20 species, we also added a few butterflies, a reptile and the only mammal, a Variegated Squirrel.

a nice capture by Richard Pettett of the Gray Hawk

It was a lovely start to this fabulous birding tour and our gentle introduction to Costa Rican birds began with Clay-coloured Thrush (the national bird, how apt), the Rufous-tailed Hummingbird was a lifer for most of the group, I love it when people see their first hummer, it’s amazing to watch them and not the bird. Many trees were fruiting and attracted all sorts of other species there was constant movement and sound. The Rufous-naped Wren was also a crowd pleaser but so were many other species such as: Baltimore Oriole ( a beautiful male), Summer Tanager, Hoffman’s Woodpecker, Tennessee and Yellow Warblers.

one of the most common Heliconid butterflies - Heliconius erato taken by Tony Moore

Two nice surprises were Gray Hawk, seen well perched, and later with a mate carrying nesting material. We also saw Greyish Saltator and Lesson’s Motmot. Some hirundines flew over, we saw Blue & White Swallows and Northern Rough-winged Swallows. Both Turkey and Black Vultures swirled about and many Great-tailed Grackles went on with their noisy lives.

a stunning picture of a stunning bird - Lesson's Motmot taken by Tony Moore

We ate breakfast around 9am and our local guide, Jason, the driver and bus turned up on time at 10am to start the official Tour. We travelled for about 40 minutes and stopped at roadside reservoir called San Miguel. We had a great time there watching many species, the water level was quite low so a muddy margin was exposed and many wading birds were feeding there. The star bird was Killdeer, two of them were quite close to the nearest shore, quite an unusual sighting for Costa Rica. A fair number of Least Sandpipers worked along the shoreline with just as many Black-necked Stilts and the odd Spotted Sandpiper and a few family parties of Northern Jacana.

Killdeer taken at San Miguel

On the water we found a huge number of Blue-winged Teal and just a handful of Lesser Scaup. Other birds seen around the water were: Northern Rough-winged and Mangrove Swallows, a single Osprey, Yellow-headed Caracara and Cattle Egret. In the dry scrub along the side of the road we heard Scrub Euphonia, Ferruginous Pygmy Owl and we saw Yellow Warbler and Kiskadee  above us.

Rufous-naped Wren - Richard Pettett

It got very hot and humid around 1pm and the movement around the lake reduced somewhat, so we drove off to a restaurant for lunch. At the lunch venue we overlooked a valley with dozens of Black and Turkey Vultures ‘loafing’ in the trees, we also watched Blue-and-White Swallows at close quarters. The meal was lovely and afterwards we continued our journey to the Bougainvillea Hotel.

Mottled Owl in the gardens at Hotel Bougainvillea

After settling into our rooms and short break we headed out into the lush gardens of the hotel, what a fantastic place! Orchids everywhere, the collection of native plants was extraordinary. Once we were all assembled our guide Jason took us to a clump of bamboo where not one, but two, Mottled Owls were roosting, they both sat facing one another as though guarding an entrance into the bamboo.

Greyish Saltator - another one from Richard Pettett

Other birds seen were, Lesson’s Motmot, Boat-billed Flycatcher, Red-billed Pigeon, Rufous-tailed Hummingbird, Montezuma’s Oropendola, Crested Caracara, Crimson-fronted Parakeet, Rufous-collared Sparrow and lots of common garden birds. We talked to other birders and found that both White-eared & Cabani’s Ground Sparrows ad been seen today in the garden!!! Must look out for those in the morning.

Not bad start to the trip, I think all twelve members of the group were quite happy with today’s findings.