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Highlights from the 2022 Arenal Christmas Depend in Costa Rica – 10,000 Birds


    December just isn’t the perfect month for chook counts, a minimum of not in Costa Rica. Sure, we do have heat, tropical climate and a flowery assortment of resident and wintering species. Neither is there any trudging via snow searching for further hardy species or visits to feeders with the hope of discovering a grackle or Purple-winged Blackbird that didn’t fly south. Nevertheless, in Costa Rica, regardless of being splendidly heat in December, the birding isn’t as easy as one may count on.

    You see, December can also be when chilly fronts are inclined to soak the Caribbean facet of the nation. Whereas heavy rains can’t evaluate with blizzards or the dearth of species within the frozen lands, fixed rain does current challenges to chook counts. Even so, we nonetheless handle to discover a heck of lots of birds, even on counts the place fixed rain could be very a lot anticipated.

    One such occasion is the chook depend at Arenal, a day sometimes replete with various levels of rain. The moist climate is anticipated and but this 12 months, maybe as a result of the depend was held a bit later than common, we lucked out with a sizzling, sunny day! Given the rain dodging we now have needed to do on previous Arenal chook counts, I admit that it was a bit unusual to defend the eyes from goold outdated helios whereas on the lookout for warblers within the cover. It was bizarre to place ourselves with the solar behind our backs so we may get higher seems to be at dozens of low flying swifts. It was a pleasant change from needing to plan the depend day round when and the place the rain would fall.

    Probably due to different chook counts being held across the identical time, we had fewer contributors in 2022. This neglected of a route or two and will have contributed to a decrease general species complete than anticipated however we nonetheless managed to report greater than 300 species, we nonetheless noticed plenty of nice birds on a memorable day of birding within the Arenal space.

    These have been among the highlights.

    The Depend Assembly

    The night earlier than the depend takes place, we all the time have a gathering. This can be a mini occasion replete with espresso, pastries, and some distributors promoting tremendous cool chook artwork, shirts, earrings, and posters. A few displays have been additionally given; one by Diego Quesada of Birding Experiences relating to depend routes, and one other given by Juan Diego Vargas of Lifer Excursions that supplied attention-grabbing and novel details about the depend species, the Keel-billed Motmot. This latter discuss was wonderful, Marilen and I have been sorry to have to depart early so we may have sufficient dinner time and early loads of sleep earlier than an extended day of birding.

    Diego Quesada speaking about depend routes.

    Rufous-vented Floor-Cuckoo

    This mega lastly made it onto a depend day listing when two have been seen by native information Beto Palma at a big ant swarm at Pocosol within the Kids’s Everlasting Rainforest.


    All attainable quail-doves have been discovered. Once we take note of the sneaky, shy nature of those lovely little doves, that is fairly the accomplishment. These species can be:

    Violaceous Quail-Dove seen by our workforce, picture by Nancy Stevick.
    • Ruddy Quail-Dove- a chook of humid lowland and foothill habitats not encountered fairly often round Arenal.
    • Violaceous Quail-Dove– a uncommon and elusive chook that might flip up however isn’t anticipated. This was one we discovered and perhaps the perfect species of the depend.
    • Chiriqui Quail-Dove– a chook of center elevation habitats. At the least one was recorded by the courageous of us who trekked up and into the humid forests of Cerro Perdidos.
    • Purplish-backed Quail-Dove– A foothill species and the one most anticipated at a number of websites close to Arenal.

    Raptors and Swifts

    24 species of diurnal raptors have been recorded together with Bicolored Hawk, each Cooper’s and Sharp-shinned Hawks (uncommon birds in Costa Rica), and Black and Ornate Hawk-Eagles.

    The swift motion was additionally wonderful, a minimum of on our route. Within the morning and even throughout mid-day, dozens of swifts coursed via the skies. White-collared was the most typical however we additionally had many excellent seems to be at Chestnut-collared together with just a few Grey-rumped, two Lesser Swallow-tailed proper on the finish of the day, and views of each elusive species- White-chinned and Spot-fronted Swifts!

    16 Hummingbird Species

    Fairly just a few hummingbirds have been round. These have been largely Rufous-tailed however we additionally had Black-crested Coquette, Bronze-tailed Plumeleteer, and different species together with the one White-tipped Sicklebill of the depend. No Snowcap however a minimum of there have been plenty of different good birds to have a look at.

    A plumeleteer from one other day.

    Finca Luna Nueva and the Soltis Heart

    As they’ve all the time achieved on previous counts, Finca Luna Nueva graciously supplied our workforce with room and board for an evening. Staying in a snug room and having fun with wonderful, regionally supplied wholesome delicacies is a uncommon deal with for a chook depend! I can’t categorical sufficient how good the meals is at Luna Nueva. The encompassing habitat can also be good for birds and as common, we recorded greater than 100 species by breakfast together with Pied Puffbird (new for the depend listing), Rufous-winged Woodpecker, Inexperienced Ibis, Scarlet Macaw, and numerous different species of humid second development and rainforest.

    Many thanks additionally go to the Soltis Heart for permitting us to enter and chook the foothill rainforests of this wonderful website. Earlier than coming into the forest, we watched the hummingbird motion at Porterweed bushes and flowering timber and picked up hovering Barred Hawk, Quick-tailed Hawk, Broad-winged Hawk, and Black Hawk-Eagle. Contained in the forest, we did effectively with discovering a gaggle of White-fronted Nunbirds flocking with Scarlet-rumped Caciques, Chestnut-headed Oropendolas, Rufous Mourner, and some different birds. Then, we did even higher by discovering a primary for the depend and uncommon Violaceous Quail-Dove!

    Lack of time meant we couldn’t search for Lanceolated Monklet on the waterfall space however we nonetheless did effectively.

    Depend Totals and eBird Journey Report

    The ultimate complete for all routes was 307 species and our workforce had 152 species together with 12 not recorded on every other route. Congrats go to the depend organizers and all of the contributors who helped make the 2022 Arenal Depend a beautiful and memorable day of birding. In the event you go birding in Costa Rica, you’ll see rather a lot round Arenal!