El Rodeo Drive at Ciudad Colon

Female Cherrie's Tanager (Ramphocelus costaricensis)

Female Cherrie’s Tanager (Ramphocelus costaricensis), Pacific counterpart of the Passerini’s Tanager (Ramphocelus passerinii)

I’m behind on posts for this blog but I received my official Costa Rican residency card this week. That means I’m now a half Tico and gives me rather nice feeling since I have come to really like this place. There are enough great birding spots to explore to last me the rest of my life, and last week I found another one.

After a brief trip to a friend’s in Atenas, I did a detour on the way home and explored El Rodeo Drive, which is located just outside Ciudad Colon, just south of San Jose, and leads to the Universidad Para La Paz. I didn’t enter the University grounds, which will be the subject of another visit as soon as I can manage it.

As usual, I could manage only a couple of hours of birding, with some of it spent driving, but El Rodeo is a winding drive through a hilly and reasonably wooded landscape. You can stop at any convenient spot on the road and there are good possibilities, but cars are fairly frequent and it’s hard to find any paths away from the road to escape the traffic. When you get close to the Universidad Para La Paz there is a side road with very little of the traffic that is on El Rodeo Drive itself. There are numerous places devoted to family excursions to get away from the city, and most of the houses are upscale. Other parts are coffee plantations with big shade trees, excellent birding habitat.

Female Gartered Trogon

Female Gartered Trogon

Best view of a bird was of a female Gartered Trogon (Trogon caligatus, previously Violacious Trogon) that sat on a wire above the aforementioned side-road paying no attention either to me or the occasional passing vehicle. Many thanks to Richard Garrigues for permission to use the pics above.

I hadn’t realised that I was now almost on the Pacific slope and so I was quite surprised to see the Cherrie’s Tanager (lead photo). I saw only females, but the breast and rump seemed even brighter than in the picture. Another Pacific-slope species I found is the Streaked Flycatcher (Myiodynastes maculatus) , a look-alike for the Sulphur-bellied Flycatcher (Myiodynastes luteiventris), a passage and breeding migrant that arrives in the country any time from August onwards and has nested in the garden. Both are fairly common species.

Rufous-naped wren

Rufous-naped wren

The commonest wren at El Rodeo, as at Atenas, is the large and noisy Rufous-naped Wren (Campylorhynchus rufinucha) also a Pacific-slope species, though found principally in Guanacaste in the dry north-west. The great pic above is by courtesy of Karel Straatman (Hi Karel!).

El Rodeo Drive and the Universidad Para La Paz need a full day’s birding. Let’s hope I can get back there soon.

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