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WEATHER:  warm and sunny all day, cloudy later with rain after dark

We made a terrific start to our 16-day tour of this wonderful birding country. Everyone arrived yesterday evening and we were all ensconced in the Hotel Aeropuerto near San Jose Airport. We had a brilliant start to the trip after we met at 6:30am for a garden walk.

The group birding at 6:30am in the grounds of the Hotel Aeropuerto 

Just like many years in the past we saw a good number of species in the gardens including some  migrant birds and many resident species. Some dull looking and brightly coloured, some quiet and most very vociferous. The national bird, the Clay-coloured Thrush, started singing at 5am and woke up a few of the group, they were out before our actual meeting time.

Rufous-naped Wren

Over a two hour period we clocked about 25 species and we had a great time. It is wonderful for me to watch the group finding new ‘lifers’ every few minutes. Migrant Warblers included Tennessee Warbler and Yellow Warbler, we also saw Baltimore Orioles. The bright red Summer Tanger and subtle colours of the Blue-gray Tanager were lovely to see.

Hoffman's Woodpecker - taken by Chris Perry

Common birds such as the Rufous-naped Wren, Clay-coloured Thrush and Hoffman’s Woodpecker were very common. We added Yellow-throated Euphonia, Streaked Flycatcher, Rufous-tailed and Plain-headed Starthroat Hummingbirds, as well as Rufous-collared Sparrow, Variable Seedeater, House Wren and a Philadelphia Vireo.

Streaked Flycatcher - seen only by Chris Perry and it is his picture

We ate breakfast sitting out on a nice terrace watching birds and butterflies searching for their first meal of the day and at 10am our Bird Guide, Jason, turned up with  a large bus. After loading up we set off for our first official birding excursion which was at a nearby Reservoir.

We spent the rest of the morning standing beneath some eucalyptus trees on high bank, it was really quite hot by then but a cooling breeze blew from the reservoir to keep the temperature at a enjoyable level.

Cinnamon Teal - one of  the highlights of our visit to the reservoir

The water and its muddy surrounds was covered in birds, lots of ducks, some waders, Jacanas, herons and egrets all fed out there. We saw Blue-winged Teal, Lesser Scaup, Black-bellied Whistling Ducks and Muscovy Ducks, Least Grebes and to our great surprise we found a Cinnamon Teal – which is very rare in the central valley and had never been recorded in this reservoir before!!

Fiery Billed Aracari - one of four seen today - a photo by Chris Perry

Great and Snowy Egrets, Little Blue, Tricoloured and Green Herons joined a Bare-throated Tiger Heron on the muddy banks with dozens of Northern Jacanas, Purple Gallinule, Spotted Sandpipers and Southern Lapwings.

We found a very special bird in the eucalyptus tress above us. We were watching a Turquiose-crowned Motmot when four FIERY-BILLED ARACARIS flew into the trees, wowza!!! This endemic species can be quite tricky to find and we often look for it in the Pacific coastal woodland, but to see it on our first day was a tremendous bonus.

Tropical Kingbird

We watched Blue and White Swallows in the distance and one person called a kingfisher but it flew off. It was approaching 1pm so we decided to pack up and go and find some lunch.

For the afternoon we drove though the suburbs of San Jose to Heredia to our next hotel, the Bougainvillea Hotel. After checking in we met up at 3:30pm to walk the extensive gardens in the large hotel grounds.

Brown Jay - taken by Chris Perry

It wasn’t as busy as it usually is but we managed to see enough to keep us happy. A couple of raptors were seen in quick succession, a White-tailed Kite (very similar to the European Black-winged Kite) and an Osprey. New birds for the list included Cabanis’s Wren (formerly Plain Wren), Squirrel Cuckoo, Melodious Blackbird, Brown Jay, Cinnamon-bellied Saltator, Lesson’s Motmot and several others.

Turquoise-browed Motmot - by Chris Perry

Our best bird of the afternoon was found by Rob Parsons, a Mottled Owl, he really has got a good eye for owls. The bird was tucked away in some mature bamboo plants and it didn’t give us much to look at, but it was a fantastic find, nevertheless.

this is all we could see of the Mottled Owl - tken by Chris Perry

It clouded over and rain threatened so w walked back to hotel to get really for dinner and our bird-log at 7pm.