COSTA RICA

A whole host of bird species can be en­joyed in this Cen­tral Amer­i­can coun­try

Bird Watching (UK) - - World Birding - WORDS: SETH IN­MAN

In the lower folds of Poás Vol­cano’s foothills, over­look­ing the city of Ala­juela and Costa Rica’s Cen­tral Val­ley, Xan­dari Re­sort & Spa of­fers trav­ellers what Forbes Mag­a­zine has called ‘a moun­tain­side slice of par­adise.’ The 40-acre prop­erty in­cludes di­verse trop­i­cal gar­dens and a for­est re­serve with sev­eral miles of trails that lead to mul­ti­ple water­falls – one of which is be­tween 60ft and 70ft high. A to­tal of 130 bird species have been re­ported on the re­sort’s ebird hotspot (an on­line bird­ing re­source, which you can view at http://bit.ly/2dp­cyy1), but Xan­dari is a mere 20 min­utes away from the coun­try’s main in­ter­na­tional air­port. Hum­ming­birds and tan­agers flit year-round among the flow­er­ing bushes and fruit­ing trees, Blue-and-white Swal­lows com­monly swoop down by the sun­set pool to sip water. Strange vo­cal­i­sa­tions of the Mon­tezuma Oropen­dola, di­verse tunes from the Or­ange-billed Nightin­galethrush, and eerie whis­tles from Ru­fou­sand-white Wrens drift up from the woods be­low, while var­i­ous species of rap­tor soar ther­mals in the skies above. Spot White-eared Ground-spar­rows for­ag­ing among the leaf lit­ter, Red- crowned Ant-tan­agers chat­ter­ing in the dense vine tan­gles, and Long-tailed Manakins per­form­ing their mat­ing rit­u­als. To say noth­ing of all the mi­gra­tory war­blers and other fam­i­lies of birds that find Xan­dari’s for­est and gar­dens to be a lit­tle oa­sis in the greater over­win­ter­ing haven of Costa Rica! An or­ange grove is a pop­u­lar area for the lo­cal com­mu­nity of Blue-crowned Mot­mots and one of the res­i­dent pairs of Hoff­mann’s Wood­peck­ers, as well as three types of salta­tor that fly through al­most daily for their break­fast. At dusk, calls from the Com­mon Pau­raque and Laugh­ing Fal­cons echo across the hills, and if you’re lucky and have a good torch you might spot a Mot­tled Owl or Trop­i­cal Screech-owl, as well as the cute but deadly Fer­rug­i­nous Pygmy-owl. Dawn cho­ruses re­sound with Ru­fous-naped Wren chat­ter and whis­tles from Costa Rica’s na­tional bird, the Clay-col­ored Thrush, of­ten in­ter­spersed with Yel­low-throated Eu­pho­nia and Barred Antshrike song de­pend­ing on the lo­ca­tion of your villa. One of the ad­van­tages of be­ing in the Cen­tral Val­ley is the prox­im­ity to sev­eral key Costa Ri­can bird­ing hotspots. Costa Rica’s dry sea­son, or sum­mer, runs from De­cem­ber to April and cor­re­sponds with the North Amer­i­can bird mi­gra­tion, so de­spite the higher rates on ho­tels through­out the coun­try it makes for bet­ter bird­ing. The rainy sea­son is more af­ford­able given the lower amount of tourists in the coun­try, and of­ten the morn­ings are sunny and clear be­fore the af­ter­noon down­pours. With nearly 900 species recorded in a coun­try two-thirds the size of Scot­land, Costa Rica is a top can­di­date for any bird­watcher’s hol­i­day des­ti­na­tion, whether they be ca­sual or avid!

Carara Na­tional Park is a pop­u­lar bird­ing hotspot Ru­fous-tailed Hum­ming­bird Long-tailed Manakin UNITED STATES MEX­ICO COSTA RICA Mon­tezuma Orope­dola and Keel-billed Tou­can Na­tion­al­geo­graph­ic­cre­ative/alamy All­canadapho­tos/alamy Na­turepic­ture­li­brary/alamy

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