Saturday 31 December 2022

2022 Part 2: March and April (Costa Rica, California, Arizona, New Mexico)

March (continued)

Laura and I flew to San José, Costa Rica on March 8 for the next leg of our travels. As this was our second trip to Costa Rica, we had some specific areas we wanted to visit. During the first couple of weeks we completed a loop in the northwest, visiting coastal regions, dry forest and wetlands and finding many new (to us) species. Following that, Laura's mom, Margaret joined us for a week. It was a whirlwind but varied trip and we experienced the humid, Caribbean coast of Tortuguero and La Selva, the dry Pacific coast near Jaco, and the foothills of Arenal. It was lovely to share our passion of nature with Margaret. 

To close out the month of March, Laura and I retreated to the mountains just outside of San José; ostensibly for some "r and r", though birding was a big priority as well. We caught up with some nemesis species like Peg-billed Finch, Bare-shanked Screech-Owl, Ochraceous Pewee and Silvery-throated Jay, and we enjoyed long hikes in this gorgeous corner of the world. 

Stripe-headed Sparrow

White-fronted Parrot

Turquoise-browed Motmot

Long-tailed Manakin

Double-striped Thick-knee

Tody Motmot

Oxybelis koehleri

Cope's Vine Snake (Oxybelis brevirostris)

Ornate Hawk-Eagle

Agami Heron

Green-and-rufous Kingfisher

Boat-billed Heron


Yellow-breasted Crake

Pinnated Bittern

Laughing Falcon

Heliconius hecalesia

Red-legged Honeycreeper

Crimson-collared Tanager

Great Green Macaws

Green Ibis

Northern Tamandua

Cope's Parrot Snake (Leptophis depressirostris)

Poekilloptera sp.

Spot-legged Bromeliad Spider (Cupiennis getazi)

Great Kiskadee

Terciopelo (Bothrops asper)

Red-eyed Treefrog (Agalychnis callidryas)

Cloudy Snail-eating Snake (Sibon nebulatus)

Eyelash Viper (Bothriechis schlegelii)

Common Pauraque

Blue-gray Tanager

Peg-billed Finch

Costa Rican Pygmy-Owl

Volcano Junco

Bare-shanked Screech-Owl

Resplendent Quetzal

Silvery-throated Jay


Laura and I slowly worked our way eastward, crossing over to the Caribbean slope and visiting beautiful mountainous regions like Tapantí and Reserva El Copal, eventually making it to the Caribbean coast. During our last few days together we visited some reserves in southeast Costa Rica near the Panama border. Heavy rains threatened to derail our plans but we still managed a number of great sightings, especially snake-wise! Laura remained behind to volunteer at a wildlife foundation while I traveled back towards San José. Before departing Costa Rica, I targeted a few additional birds (Gray-headed Piprites, Lovely Cotinga) on my final day and experienced a lot of success thanks to the help of a local birder. 

Laura spent the rest of the month at the foundation while I flew to Los Angeles, California. My brother and sister-in-law reside in Pasadena and I had yet to visit them on their home turf. I rented a vehicle for a couple of weeks and Isaac and I covered a lot of ground towards central California and then eastwards to the Salton Sea, Yuma, Madera Canyon and finally Tucson. It had been almost 15 years since we had been able to spend so much time together! 

Some of my great memories include watching lekking Greater Sage-Grouse at dawn, tracking down a calling Sooty Grouse, walking through the endless Buttercup Sand Dunes, finally connecting with my lifer Black Rail, discovering a Western Diamondback Rattlesnake during our first sixty seconds of hiking in the desert, late night chats and stargazing at numerous campsites, and hiking in the beautiful pine forests of Madera. After Isaac flew back to California I spent a final week in this part of the country targeting birds in Arizona and New Mexico including Gray Vireo, Lewis's Woodpecker, Lucifer Hummingbird, Montezuma Quail and Five-striped Sparrow. I spent my birthday in LA with Isaac and even had some birthday lifers such as Least Tern and California Gnatcatcher. 

Maroon-chested Ground Dove

Fiery-throated Hummingbird

Adult and young American Dippers

Black Guan

Erythrina gibbosa

Decorated Anole (Anolis insignis)

Yellow-eared Toucanet

Colobeutrypanus ornatus

Geophis brachycephalus

Hoffmann's Two-toed Sloth

Rainforest Hognose Viper (Porthidium nasutum)

Neotropical Green Anole (Anolis biporcatus)


Lovely Cotinga

Mono County, California

Sagebrush Sparrows

Gray-crowned Rosy-Finch

Tricolored Blackbird

Isaac at the Buttercup Sand Dunes

Western Diamondback Rattlesnake (Crotalus atrox)

Gilded Flicker

Rivoli's Hummingbird

Rosy-faced Lovebird

Lewis's Woodpecker

Harris's Antelope Squirrel

Red-faced Warbler

Zone-tailed Hawk

Gila Monster (Heloderma suspectum)

Northern Beardless-Tyrannulet

Ornate Tree Lizard (Urosaurus ornatus)

Rufous-winged Sparrow

California Towhee

White-headed Woodpecker

Greater Roadrunner

Least Tern