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Costa Rica 2009

Next January will mark my fourth trip to the little southern Central American country of Costa Rica. It is a birder's paradise. More than that, anyone with an interest in natural history will be awed and dazzled by the incredible diversity of life to be found in Costa Rica's varied habitats.

Our local guide, as in the prior trips, is the incomparable Noel Urena. Few if any know the birds of this lush country like Noel does, and he is a master at recognizing calls and finding even the hardest to locate of jungle birds.

We will be visiting four primary destinations, ranging from the Caribbean to the Pacific. Last year, we saw some 330 species of birds, not to mention all of the other fascinating biodiversity.

I like to keep these trips small, about eight people, so that everyone has maximum opportunities to see all birds and other wildlife. Due to two cancellations, we have room for a few more participants. Please let me know if you are interested, and I will send along additional details. My contact info is at the end of the post.

Costa Rican roadside scenery. This stream, tinted whitish-blue by mineral deposits, coursed under a roadway on the lower Caribbean slope. Of course, we stopped to admire the view and in the process found lots of wonderful birds and plants. Any stop anywhere is almost certain to produce a lot of noteworthy sightings.

A bit higher up the Caribbean slope. One can see the origin of the aptly named cloud forests in this shot. Even though it is only about half the size of Ohio, Costa Rica abounds in habitat diversity, ranging from humid lowland jungle to mountainous highlands populated by montane flora.

Birding is stupendous. Getting great looks at many species is often not a problem. I photographed this Bare-throated Tiger-Heron from a boat in the jungles of Tortuguero National Park, a vast waterlogged coastal jungle along the shores of the Caribbean. Access is by boat only, and this method of transport offers stupendous views of birds, monkeys, sloths, caimans, and other sundry beasts. We'll be going here in 2009.

Chestnut-mandibled Toucan, photographed while ingesting sensational Costa Rican java on the deck of the villa at Oro Verde preserve. We convene on this balcony each morning, and rack up dozens of species practically at one's fingertips. The cecropia tree that this toucan is gracing attracts incredible birds, including Oro Verde's mascot species, the Baird's Trogon. Oro Verde will be another stop on our itinerary.

The dates of the 2009 expedition will be January 20 - 30, and we'd love to have you along. It will be an unforgettable tropical trip, and if you haven't been to the tropics, expect a huge swell in your life list.

For further details, e-mail me at


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