The Quebrada González station in Braulio Carillo National Park is well known as a birding destination in Costa Rica, with well over 400 species recorded on eBird. With excellent primary rainforest at approx. 500m elevation, this is a good site to try your luck for Lattice-tailed Trogon, Blue-and-gold Tanager, Olive-backed Quail-Dove, Black-crowned Antpitta, and Yellow-eared Toucanet, among other specialties.
Arriving just before 8am (note that it is possible to enter the park earlier if arrangements are made in advance), it was a slow morning for birds, with almost 4 hours on the Las Palmas loop yielding only 23 species, including Double-toothed Kite, Checker-throated Antwren, Dusky Antbird, and Scale-crested Pygmy-Tyrant.
Approaching noon and having encountered little activity, I was feeling discouraged and almost called it a day. But I’m glad I didn’t! I crossed the road and started birding the El Ceibo trail. It was dead quiet at first … until I encountered an enormous mixed-species feeding flock with over 13 species of tanagers, including Blue-and-gold Tanager, Dusky-faced Tanager, Speckled Tanager, Emerald Tanager, Bay-headed Tanager, Silver-throated Tanager, Crimson-collared Tanager, Black-and-yellow Tanager. After such a quiet morning, the dizzying activity was almost sensory overload! An Olive-striped Flycatcher on my way out was a nice addition.
All in all, this experience was consistent with my previous experiences birding here. Lesson: don’t throw in the towel too early! It’s all about finding the mixed flocks. It can be really slow until it isn’t.