Costa Rica and Panama Elderhostel Cruise January-February 2006

Before the Cruise (January 20-22)

We flew from Miami and arrived in San José, Costa Rica on Friday afternoon, January 20.  We stayed three nights at Hotel Barcelo San José Palacio.  Mary Lou and Ken were accompanied by Ken's brother, Dan and his wife, Mary.

The next morning  (Saturday) we took a private birding tour to Tapanti National Park with Dennis Rogers.  We entered the second gate, above the Ranger Station and drove several miles up into the mountain. 

On the way up, we birded along the trail. We passed several waterfalls, then parked and walked up an electric utility access trail.  All of us wanted to see a Quetzal, and Dennis found one perched about 50 feet from the trail. Unfortunately, after Ken sighted it and before the others could see it, the bird flew off, never to be seen again! After our walk, we had a delicious lunch of fresh broiled trout at a rustic restaurant just outside the park entrance.  The restaurant had a "bird table" stocked with fresh fruit that attracted several species of tanagers. We then visited the Cathedral in Cartago. Ken had last seen it back in 1968 while serving an LSU/Tulane University tropical medicine fellowship, after the Cathedral narrowly missed being destroyed by a landslide caused by the eruption of Volcano Irazu a few years earlier. We watched a funeral procession and afterwards saw the faithful making their way on their knees up the long center aisle to the altar.  Back at the hotel, the lush grounds and the commanding view from our hotel room window provided good views of over a dozen bird species.

The Cruise: Day 1 (January 23)

The Elderhostel program began Monday morning with a visit to INBio Park in San José.  After lunch we traveled by bus to Los Sueños, on the Pacific coast east of Puntarenas, where we boarded the   PACIFIC EXPLORER.
, a 100 passenger CruiseWest ship. This was not a specialized "birding" cruise, but a few shore and Zodiac excursions included bird observation, and the Cruise West interpreters were all excellent birders.
  --Click on photos for a full-screen high resolution image; hover over or right-click "properties" for photo description--
Along trail in Tapanti NP
Waterfallin Tapanti NP
Dennis Rogers
Restaurant at Tapanti NP
Cathedral in Cartago
Worshippers on knees
Mary Lou, Dan and Mary at Hotel

 At Tapanti, we saw several birds not noted here, as we recorded only those that provided us with satisfactory views.  Fleeting glmpses of many hummingbird species and wrens did not so qualify! As our intent was to be bird "watchers" more than "listers," Dennis Rogers accomodated our needs nicely. As this was our first birding trip outside the  USA, Canada and Puerto Rico, most of the birds were new to us (and are indicated by an asterisk). They are listed by location, in the order seen for the first time on the trip.

SAN JOSE : 19 Species (7 New)
TAPANTI NATIONAL PARK, OROSI, CARTAGO and en route: 37 Species (29 New)
(Hotel grounds and from  our room window):

Rufous-collard Sparrow*
Hoffman's Woodpecker*
Western Kingbird
Tropical Kingbird
Blue-gray Tanager*
Orange-fronted Parakeet*
White-winged Dove
Black Vulture
Clay-colored Robin
Blue and White Swallow*
Great Kiskadee
Scissor-tailed Flycatcher
Baltimore Oriole
Great-tailed Grackle

INBio Park:

Blue-crowned Motmot*
Northern Jacana*
Green Heron
Cattle Egret
Turkey Vulture

Tropical Pewee*
Brown Jay
Common Bush-tanager*
Tawny-capped Euphonia*
Red-billed Pigeon*
Mountain Robin (Dennis preferred "Mountain Thrush)*
Spangle-cheeked Tanager*
Black and Yellow Silky Flycatcher*
Silver-throated Tanager*
Passerinni Tanager (split from Scarlet-rumped Tanager)*
Goldern-hooded Tanager*
Buff-throated Saltator*
Red-faced Spinetail*
Tufted Flycatcher*
Dark Pewee*
Torrent Tyrannulet  (along the stream pictured above)*
Black Phoebe
Black-faced Solitaire*
Golden-bellied Flycatcher*
Green-crowned Brilliant*
White-collared Swift*
Rufous-tailed Hummingbird*
Magnificent Hummingbird
Variable Mountain-gem*
Resplendent Quetzal (female, seen only by Dennis and Ken)*
Slate-throated Redstart*
Broad-winged Hawk
Green Thorntail*
Yellow-throated Bush-finch*
Social Flycatcher*
Yellow-faced Grassquit
Southern Rough-winged Swallow*
Crimson-fronted Parakeet*
Montezuma Oropendola*
Chestnut-headed Oropendola*
Inca Dove
Rock Pigeon

Three-toed Sloth (on telephone wire along road to Los Sueños)
White-nosed Coati (along road in Tapanti NP)


Go to next page as we cruise to Manuel Antonio National Park