Brown Jay & Elegant Euphonia

Brown Jay
Curi-Cancha Reserva, Monteverde, Costa Rica

Elegant Euphonia Male
Curi-Cancha Reserva, Monteverde, Costa Rica

Elegant Euphonia Female
Curi-Cancha Reserva, Monteverde, Costa Rica

Got home this afternoon and been busy! So only these 3 birds tonight. But I will be adding more over the next week as I find time to go through the hundreds of photos. It was a great trip even with me missing the Sunday morning hike because I did not want to get home late. It is a hard 4.5 hour drive with about 40 km of gravel road that’s a killer for me! And Sunday afternoon traffic into Central Valley is extremely heavy with people returning from the beaches. Next time I go to Monteverde, I will go by bus even if it does take longer. And I will save money! 

Pura Vida!

Planning a Weekend Trip

Reserva Monteverde

The Birding Club is going to Monteverde this weekend and I responded early enough to get to be included in the group of only 15 because of limited cabin space available. And as usual, I am going a day early to explore on my own Thursday and Friday before the club activities Friday afternoon until Sunday morning.

You can check out the links to see my plans for my first trip to Monteverde, originally a Friends Community of mostly dairy farmers, thus the cheese capital of Costa Rica in one set of mountains.


  • I take bus to Alajuela  to get a rent car at San Jose Airport, early. 
  • I drive by my house for bag and camera. Then a 2.5 to 3 hour drive to Monteverde. As my Spanish gets better I will go places like this by bus, usually going through San Jose. But everyone in the club has a car and it usually works better to have rent car, though much more expensive. 
  • Check into Los Pinos Cabinas for my first night only in the edge of a forest preserve and rated internationally as a Sustainable Tourism location. 
  • I have made acquaintance with the owner and director of the Monteverde Butterfly Garden,  so that afternoon I plan to visit it. It is supposedly one of the best in the country. We will see!
Butterfly Garden at Selvatura Park
  • I plan to spend the morning through lunch at Selvatura Adventure Park which will not includ zip-lining which I’ve already done and once is enough for a 75 year old!  🙂   But I may walk

    the canopy bridge of 2 miles and will see as many of the animal gardens as time allows: Herpetarium & Frogs, Hummingbird Garden, and another Butterfly Garden. Lunch at the park and 20 minutes back to Monteverde and . . . 

  • Check in to Cabanas La Pradera where the birding club has reservations. I plan to look for birds on their property that afternoon and meet club members for brought appetizers before going to dinner. Then we have a . . . 
  • Night Hike  into surrounding 14 hectares of forest belonging to the cabanas for owls, bats, and frogs + who knows what else!  🙂  We have a local guide for that tour. 
  • 6 AM Breakfast and . . .  
  • Morning hike/birding in the Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve which I’m expecting to be very good with hopefully some new birds for me!
  • Lunch at Caburé, an Argentine Restaurant and Chocolate Shop. 
  • Afternoon birding at Curi Cancha, a private reserve near the public Cloud Forest Reserve seen in the morning with usually different birds we are told. This will be a full day of birding in some different mountains than the Talamanca Mountains I have visited three times and I may also get a photo of the Resplendent Quetzal here too! Looking forward to a new place! 
  • Check our birding lists with guides and have evening bocas at Janelle’s house who lives nearby.
  • Early morning birding around the cabins with one of the authors of our Costa Rica birding guidebook, Bob Dean, before breakfast. 
  • Drive home to dump bags, then to airport to drop off car and back on foot, bus, and taxi!  🙂

Birds of San Gerardo de Dota

All photographed in the San Gerardo de Dota, along the road or at Mariam’s Quetzals Cabins in the steep mountain canyon along the Savegre River, Talamanca Mountains, Costa Rica, at an altitude of 2200 meters above sea level (72,178 feet). It was cold in the nights and early mornings!

Acorn Woodpecker (1st sighting for me)
San Gerardo de Dota, Costa Rica

Sooty Thrush (1st sighting for me)
San Gerardo de Dota, Costa Rica

Flame-colored Tanager Male (1st sighting for me)
San Gerardo de Dota, Costa Rica

Flame-colored Tanager Female (1st sighting for me)
Immature Rufous-collared Sparrow below her
San Gerardo de Dota, Costa Rica

Emerald Toucanet (1st sighting in wild for me)
San Gerardo de Dota, Costa Rica
(Fruits are wild avocados, favorite food of Quetzals)

Black-capped Flycatcher (1st sighting for me)
San Gerardo de Dota, Costa Rica

Black-billed Nightingale Thrush (1st sighting for me)
San Gerardo de Dota, Costa Rica

Possibly a White-throated Thrush or Nightingale (?)
San Gerardo de Dota, Costa Rica

Flame-throated Finch (1st sighting for me)
San Gerardo de Dota, Costa Rica
Resplendent Quetzal Female
No males seen even though they were the reason we went to this place.
I had better luck on my two other trips here. See my Quetzal Gallery.
San Gerardo de Dota, Costa Rica

Violet-headed or Magnificent Hummingbird
San Gerardo de Dota, Costa Rica

Magnificent Female or Green Hermit Hummingbird
San Gerardo de Dota, Costa Rica

Fiery-throated, Magnificent or Violet-headed Hummingbird (?)
San Gerardo de Dota, Costa Rica
I did this birding experience with the Birding Club of Costa Rica after my personal 2-day retreat at Rio Chirripo in the same mountain range. A productive and full week! Lots of new birds!
Tomorrow I go to the Pacific coast and the port city of Puntarenas with the Atenas Community Band to a band festival and parade with bands from all over the country. The public high school near me, Colegio Liceo, is also going from Atenas. It will be an interesting one-day bus trip to the hot coast with a bunch of noisy kids. Then Thursday I go to the Nicaragua border again to renew my visa. So it may be a couple of more days without a post. We’ll see!  🙂  Then October 8 I go back to to the Caribbean Coast to explore some more and birding with the club at Manzanillo.  Pura Vida!

Labeling My Wildlife Photos

Some of the books I use plus the internet now.

Before the Yorkin Trip I had four books specifically for Costa Rica wildlife (in above photo) and the bird book, A Guide to the Birds of Costa Rica, was the best of those (seen in above photo by Stiles & Skutch, 1989). I am now replacing it with a 2014 book by one of the members of the birding club I just joined, Robert Dean, The Birds of Costa Rica, A Field Guide. It is obviously more up to date and has more birds. This is the second edition of his book. I’ve ordered it from and it should be here by next week via Miami.

Our birding guide for the club and my first club trip, Pat O’Donnell, also recommends an app (he co-authored) which I got for both my phone and Kindle called “Costa Rica Birds – Field Guide” which is available from most app stores or directly from the producers at  It is very good with lots of photos of all the birds of Costa Rica and a filter to help you label your bird photo. I may end up using it more than the book. We’ll see! With my Kindle Fire I have gone to almost all electronic books anyway.

The Panama bird book (in first photo)is very good, more recent than my first Costa Rica book, and can be used as a backup for identification. We almost have the same birds with a few exceptions. It is our southern birds and their northern birds that overlap. Likewise our northern birds overlap with Nicaragua.

The Costa Rica butterfly book in the top photo is very limited, so I also use the U.S. National Audubon Society guide (glad I kept it!). The only more thorough butterfly book for Costa Rica I’ve found is a college textbook for $80+ and I haven’t gone that far yet! Plus it is probably more technical than I want. I just want images to help me identify my photos.

The internet is good for some creatures, but not all. I still have unidentified butterflies and birds in my photo collection! I have also joined some websites or online organizations to help with birding and bird identification, but not a lot of help yet. So please know that when I label something “Unidentified,” it is not because I didn’t try!   🙂

Likewise I have one book on Costa Rica plants and it is about as limited as the butterfly book. So plants are sometimes even more difficult to label and I’m learning that the common Spanish names and English names are not simply translations of each other. Maybe I should go with the Latin!  🙂

Research is what I’m doing when I don’t know what I’m doing.
~Wernher von Braun

“Costa Rica Extra” Sports Tidbits:

Was Recreational Ziplining Really Invented in Costa Rica? Yes indeeeed! No data on whitewater rafting which is also big here.

The most popular sport in the little farm town of Atenas is el voleibol (volleyball) with one high school the national champion most years! We have a park with a beach volleyball court, all sand! I don’t know how it ranks in popularity in the country of Costa Rica, but is definitely popular, especially on the two coasts along with surfing there.

Though el futbol (soccer) is the most popular spectator sport in Costa Rica, el beisbol (baseball) is a close second as is el practicar surf (surfing) and el ciclismo (cycling) where we were just ranked high in the El Tour de Francia. And Costa Rica has the Latin American Champion Surfista (surfer) almost every year!

The happiest people on earth love their sports and recreation and smart gringos avoid driving to the beach on weekends when the highways are literally packed bumper to bumper with Ticos at the beaches! Pura Vida!


“Time is a game played beautifully by children.” 
― Heraclitus, Fragments

Bill Watterson

“Weekends don’t count unless you spend them doing something completely pointless.” 
― Bill Watterson

Shots of Birding Club Members

Though my focus is always on nature, I did make a few shots of the 18 club members on trip.

Pat is our club birding guide and very good at finding birds!
He is from states but married to a Tica with CR children now!

“Now are you sure everything is in a waterproof bag?

Our feet were wet before we ever got to canoe.

Dugout canoes with outboard motors on the rear and traditional pole in front.

Right outside our thatched roof housing we find many birds!
At least once we didn’t have to wade the stream!

There are about a hundred members of the “Birding Club of Costa Rica” with expats possibly being in the majority (or at least were for this trip). Each and every person is so nice and very interesting with people like my roommate who still works for the World Bank, another retired from the United Nations, and another who sold his software company to Steve Jobs and built a home in Costa Rica. Then there’s the writer and the fun Dutch couple, the author of the latest Costa Rica birding book and so many many more to get acquainted with! I look forward to it!

The only meeting is an annual business meeting with everything else being field trips to find birds. And a cool Christmas Party they tell me! I never made time for a birding club in the states, so this is going to be fun! I’ve already bought the club T-shirt!  🙂
“I think the most important quality in a birdwatcher is a willingness to stand quietly and see what comes. Our everyday lives obscure a truth about existence – that at the heart of everything there lies a stillness and a light.” 
― Lynn Thomson, Birding with Yeats: A Memoir