International Large Day has grow to be an annual collective occasion in Might that encourages hundreds of individuals to look at birds on the identical date. So far as selling birding goes, the one factor higher is perhaps October Gobal Large Day! In Costa Rica (and, I collect, another tropical locations), our native birding neighborhood will get concerned in each GBDs however we’re particularly happy with the one in October as a result of for these of us on the flyway approach south of northern breeding grounds, the tenth month is our “Might migration”.
It’s after we see extra migrants and subsequently, after we can see extra species in in the future of all out binge birding. Rivers of raptors, aerial streams of Chimney Swifts and swallows, warblers, shorebirds, and extra (oh my!). If there’s a draw back, October can be after we can get heavy rains, particularly from tropical storms and hurricanes within the Caribbean. In mountainous Costa Rica, that may translate to such disasters as flooding, landslides, and highway closures. It makes October birding unpredictable and for October International Large Day, all we will hope is for hurricanes to occur on one other date.
This yr, as luck would have it, we felt a few of the unintended effects of Hurricane Julia on October Large Day. We had a whole lot of rain in some components of the nation, some locations had landslides, and birding was considerably restricted. Nonetheless, on the birding aspect of the coin, it might have been worse. Since many of the rain occurred the night of the eighth and the next morning, many websites had good climate on the morning of October International Large Day and due to that, native birders nonetheless managed to determine nicely over 700 species in Costa Rica (!).
Personally, I needed to attempt for a critical Large Day on October eighth however as a lot as I stared at climate forecasts and yearned for them to vary, I needed to settle for that rain appeared fairly probably at varied factors and occasions on the Large Day route. There was no level in making an attempt for critical numbers if it was going to rain, particularly within the night time and at daybreak. Luckily, my accomplice and I had a back-up plan, one which was extra relaxed than an all out Large Day and that may additionally carry us to one in every of our favourite areas of Costa Rica, the southern Caribbean zone.
This could be a lengthy drive from San Jose, particularly with highway building and sluggish and seemingly everlasting truck visitors, however when you get there, the voyage is price it. Numerous fantastic and accessible rainforest habitat crammed with resident species and a great deal of migrants, a gorgeous coast with probabilities for different birds, and lots of decisions for lodging and good delicacies, the southern Caribbean is enjoyable, birdy, and implausible. To not point out, this a part of the nation will be much less affected by rain and storms in October than different areas.
On October eighth, 2022, that good climate held out and we had an exquisite day of birding in Costa Rica. In line with GBD norms, I additionally made eBird lists, together with a visit report. We began at 4:30 a.m. and ended later that eveing with a ultimate complete of 154 species. Right here’s a quick abstract of that good day of birding:
That is an inviting gravel highway located close to Punta Uva that passes by means of lowland rainforest and a few small farms. There’s a whole lot of potential and I had by no means had the prospect to hen there earlier than daybreak. I’m grateful to have lastly gotten that chance on October 8 and look ahead to doing extra pre-dawn birding on that highway and different websites within the space. Purchase why pre-dawn? Why be on the market within the tropical darkish while you will be fortunately asleep?
Birds in fact! To correctly assess owls, different night time birds, and the daybreak refrain, you actually must be out and about by 4:30. 4 could be even higher and if in case you have a thermal imager, you then may even wish to begin at midnight (I do know, that’s excessive however Large Day birding is what it’s).
Pre-dawn birding for us on October 8 gave 4 owl species, a Widespread Potoo (not so widespread), after which a number of species proper at and simply after daybreak. I appreciated listening to the calls of the birds waking up, of seeing migrant Swainson’s Thrushes from distant boreal locations cloaked with conifers hopping on a gravel highway in lowland rainforest. The calling Collared Forest-Falcon was additionally cool, so was Bronze-tailed Plumeleteer (the species on the high of this submit), and so had been the 120 different plus species we had from 4:30 to eight simply on that one highway.
After Paradise Street, we drove to the Degustibus bakery (my favourite Italian bakery within the space), bought goodies and headed again to our rented log cabin at Olguita’s Place in Punta Uva. We loved breakfast and a few relaxation whereas watching and including White-lined Tanager, Northern Waterthrush, and different birds, together with a Prothonotary feeding on an unidentifed unique fallen fruit (I child you not, these Golden Swamp Warbler can get create and loopy in Costa Rica).
Ultimately, we made our approach to the close by seashore, noticing a gaggle of Japanese Kingbirds hanging with a pair of Lengthy-tailed Tyrants en-route. On the seashore itself, we had been met by stiff winds and dozens of weekenders. Because the folks drank beer and laughed on the seashore, we watched one man foolishly swimming in very tough waters whereas additionally scanning for birds. We didn’t see a lot however fortunately, the man didn’t drown and scanning ultimately did repay with a sudden flyby of two grownup Bridled Terns!
I had anticipated a jaeger or one thing else however certain, we might take Bridled Tern for the day. It’s not a hen typically seen from shore in Costa Rica and we had fantastic appears. I’m certain different good birds additionally flew previous in some unspecified time in the future that day however the one different ones we noticed had been a younger Peregrine attacking and almost catching an unidentifed peep, and frigatebirds far offshore. I couldn’t assist however surprise in the event that they had been catching small migrants misplaced at sea.
Within the afternoon, we drove to the close by village of Manzanillo. This web site will be nice for migrants even whether it is shedding some habitat to housing. We picked up a couple of extra birds, nothing loopy however a couple of birds nonetheless. The vegetation and soccer pitch (aka soccer area) are all the time price checking; on different days, Whistling Heron and different uncommon birds have been discovered right here, final yr we had a Grey Kingbird.
With nothing happening within the village, we made a rapid cease on the RECOPE Street and picked up White-flanked Antwren and some extra species earlier than driving again to our cabin.
Extra Punta Uva adopted by Dinner
A ultimate test turned up a distant calling Laughing Falcon however not a lot else. I couldn’t assist however surprise if the hurricane had truly stopped migration to the north of us. That may have defined the dearth of swallows and different birds that ought to have been shifting by means of. After that, it was off to dinner at a close to Caribbean restaurant for a advantageous finish to a satisfying, easy-going October International Large Day in Costa Rica.