Our superior bungalow accommodation, Cerro Lodge
Our final stop was at Cerro Lodge, on the edge of the Carara National Park – a fitting finale for our Costa Rica adventure. Bob & I had stayed here on our previous trip and we had fond memories of the place. Things immediately got off to good start when the receptionist informed us that, although we’d booked standard cabins, they’d upgraded us to their new superior bungalows – and superior they were too! The birding around the grounds was every bit as good as we remembered and the National Park also lived up to expectations. As we only had one full day in the park we decided to do the river trail in the morning with the main park trails in the afternoon. We enjoyed a very full day’s birding from the moment the gates opened right up until closing time. On the morning of our departure we did manage to squeeze in a couple of hours early morning birding around the grounds of the nearby Hotel Villa Lapas, at the start of the waterfall road. The birding was again excellent and provided us with a couple of ‘eleventh hour’ ticks. This hotel, though large and more touristy, would provide a very acceptable and cheaper alternative to Cerro Lodge. The rest of our time in Costa Rica was spent driving back to San Jose and finding our ‘off-airport’ car hire depot. It took us an hour to find a way across the airport runway and main road to return the car!
On our way between Sierpe and Cerro Lodge, we stopped off for a few waders and herons on one of several estuaries on route. This is Least Sandpiper
and Bare-throated Tiger-Heron
First bird we saw on our walk around the lodge grounds was this Stripe-headed Sparrow
This rather magnificent White-throated Magpie-Jay was a wary visitor to the feeding station
Middle of the afternoon and we came across this guy calling continuously around the chalets. Ferruginous Pygmy-Owl
and he really did have ‘eyes in the back of his head’!
Another ‘garden bird’ – this is the unbelievable Painted Bunting
Once in the park proper we had a succession of interesting birds – unfortunately many of them in deep, dark undergrowth, with very little prospects of getting a decent photo. This female Black-hooded Antshrike was no exception!
This Common Tody-Flycatcher was a little more obliging
At the end of the River Trail – a river!, where we watched Crocs and Green Kingfisher
In the afternoon we walked the main trails and saw some excellent birds. Two in particular stand out, Great Tinamou – not photographed unfortunately, and Ruddy Quail-Dove, which was!
as was this Red-capped Manikin – but rather badly
On our last morning we did manage a couple of ‘ticks’ in the grounds of Hotel Villa Lapas. The aptly named Eye-ringed Flatbill
and Blue-black Grosbeak
Then it was back to the lodge, load up our bags and enjoy the final few minutes of this wonderful place over a cup of coffee on the veranda with, of course, a few birds. Red-legged Honeycreeper, male and female
and the truly breath-taking Scarlet Macaw – a bit of a Cerro Lodge celebrity
Costa Rica is a ‘premier league’ birding destination. The people are friendly, the food is good and the scenery spectacular. With so much variation in habitat from sea to mountain, the Caribbean to the Pacific, wet forests to dry grassland, it’s not surprising that this small country is home to more than 800 species. In just a couple of weeks, entirely self-guided, we manage to find and identify over 320. Pushing my overall Costa Rica bird list to over four hundred, in just three weeks of birding. You can’t go wrong with this place.. if you haven’t tried it already, then give it a go!