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Birdfinders' 2002 tour of Costa Rica recorded 487 species in 14 and a half days. But for three days of unseasonable rain at La Selva the total would have been well over 500. Highlights were all five species of tinamou, an incredible Sungrebe under the bridge at La Selva, 35 species of hummingbird, Lovely and Snowy Cotingas, multiple sightings of White-whiskered Puffbird and of course the ant swarm.

Both ground-sparrows gave themselves up easily on the first morning before we transferred to the excellent Rancho Naturalista for four nights. White-throated Crakes and Little Tinamou gave excellent views from the balcony but the trails required harder work than normal. Nevertheless, a combination of hard work and visits to Tapanti and Montagne de Silencio gave us many of the specialities of the area with the highlights being Costa Rican Pygmy-owl, Bronze-tailed Plumeleteer, Lovely Cotinga and Spotted Antbird. As usual the food and welcome at Rancho was excellent - thanks Lisa. On to Savegre and Timberline Wren, Volcano Junco, Peg-billed Finch, Black-cheeked and Flame-throated Warblers and Barred Parakeet all fell en-route. A Fiery-throated Hummingbird on the feeders was an unusual sight, and thanks to Marino and his transport we recorded some special birds here including Ochraceous Pewee, Silvery-throated Jay (even a lifer for Tony!) Spotted Wood-quail (unbelievable views of three) and Bare-shanked Screech-owl. Oh, and the quetzals: numerous sightings of a number of birds this year including several stunning males.

Our three day stay around the La Selva area was punctuated by heavy rain but nevertheless, birds like Slaty-breasted Tinamou, Sungrebe, Snowy Cotinga, Pied Puffbird and Nicaraguan Seed-finch were special. Carara was the highlight of the tour for many as in the morning we encountered a swarm of army ants on the rampage. We sat spellbound for over two hours as normally shy birds like Bicoloured and Chestnut-backed Antbirds, Black-faced Antthrush, White-whiskered Puffbird, Black-hooded Antshrike, Cocoa, Tawny-winged, Plain-brown Woodcreepers, Northern Barred-woodcreeper and Grey-headed Tanager fed on the fleeing insects literally feet from us. With Boat-billed Heron, Bare-throated Tiger-heron, Scarlet Macaw, Fiery-billed Aracari, Dusky Antbird, Dot-winged Antwren and Streaked Antpitta for a supporting cast during the day, it was pretty memorable! The boat trip the next morning gave us wonderful views of American Pygmy-kingfisher, Yellow-naped Parrot, Mangrove Vireo and Red-breasted Blackbird before we transferred to Palo Verde. It was a lot hotter here but we did extremely well with Lesser Ground-cuckoo seen well for the second year, excellent views of Jabiru, Cinnamon Hummingbird, Olive and Stripe-headed Sparrows, White-lored Gnatcatcher, incredible views of King Vulture and Double-striped Thick-knee, Spot-breasted and Streak-backed Orioles and a big surprise, Striped Owl at 10.30 in the morning!

This year we were able to visit Monteverde on the way back to San Jose because of revised flight timings. This bonus helped us to see a number of other specialities including lekking Long-tailed Manakins, Stripe-tailed Hummingbird, Magenta-throated Woodstar, Three-wattled Bellbird, Orange-bellied Trogon and wonderful views of Black Guan.

Collared Aracari

Collared Aracari