Esquinas Rainforest Lodge is a genuine birdwatchers’ paradise adjacent to Piedras Blancas National Park, approximately 30 minutes from Golfito. This small but well-equipped ecolodge was founded as part of an Austrian-led project combining ecotourism, conservation, reforestation, research, and community development. It is the largest employer in the village of La Gamba, providing at least 15 permanent positions to residents.
Birding the gardens and trails at the lodge was exceptional. Black-cheeked Ant-Tanager (endemic to the Osa region of Costa Rica) was a life bird as was Tiny Hawk! Additional highlights included Black Hawk-Eagle, Spectacled Owl, Uniform Crake, Baird’s Trogon, Blue-headed Parrot, Streak-chested Antpitta, Black-tailed Flycatcher, Rusty-margined Flycatcher, Orange-collared Manakin, Scrub Greenlet, Green Shrike-Vireo, Black-bellied Wren, and Thick-billed Euphonia.
Here I also had the good fortune to meet Andrew Vallely (whose recently published Birds of Central America helped inspire my Central America big year) & we would go on to spend the next week birding together in Costa Rica.
La Gamba and the road towards Golfito are also great for birding. Some highlights from an early morning walk included Costa Rican Swift, White-crested Coquette, Black Hawk-Eagle, Baird’s Trogon, Royal Flycatcher, Rusty-margined Flycatcher, and Black-bellied Wren.
It was especially fascinating to watch a male Band-tailed Barbthroat bringing food to two nests within close proximity to each other. One nest had two chicks and the other was occupied by a female. I’m not certain but perhaps it was the same couple and the female was already started with a second clutch?
Esquinas Rainforest Lodge also makes a good base for seeking out other regional specialties, and local guide Daniel Hernandez knows where to find them! Following are some of the highlights from the region —
Coto 47 (Colorado River area): Striped Cuckoo, Mangrove Cuckoo, Gray-breasted Crake, Savanna Hawk, Pale-breasted Spinetail, Yellow-crowned Tyrannulet, Rusty-margined Flycatcher, White-winged Becard, Scrub Greenlet, Red-breasted Meadowlark, Ruddy-breasted Seedeater
Finca 54 (and nearby): Crested Oropendola, Veraguan Mango, Lesser Yellow-headed Vulture, Tropical Screech-Owl
Nearby Finca 50-51: Red-rumped Woodpecker
Ciudad Neily Rice Fields: Blue Ground-Dove, Gray-lined Hawk, Peregrine Falcon, Blue-headed Parrot, Scrub Greenlet, Red-breasted Meadowlark, Isthmian Wren, Giant Cowbird, Yellow-bellied Seedeater, Streaked Saltator, Tricolored Munia
Private Farm near Copabuena: Scaled Pigeon, Blue-headed Parrot, Lesser Elaenia, Orange-collared Manakin, Rosy Thrush-Tanager, Streaked Saltator
Las Cruces: Bran-colored Flycatcher, Costa Rican Brushfinch, Olive-crowned Yellowthroat (Chiriqui), Streaked Saltator