Spectacular Birds at Bahía Drake

Taking up a suggestion from new Tico friend and expert guide Steven Masis and his Spanish wife Deyanira, I drove down with neighbour Fabio to the Osa Peninsula in the south of the country to visit Bahía Drake (Drake Bay). The connection with Sir Francis Drake, who is celebrated as a national hero in my native England and reviled as a pirate by the Spanish, seems tenuous at best, but the area probably conserves the main features that the Devonian would have seen on his circumnavigation of the globe in 1578-9. The modern-day boat ride from Sierpe to Drake, after a beautiful stretch down the Río Sierpe, takes you into the Pacific itself and sometimes involves negotiating some hair-raisingly rough and large waves where the Río Térraba empties into the ocean.

Drake’s party certainly would not have been able to miss the Scarlet Macaw (Ara macao), probably the most striking bird species both then and now, and still abundant in the area.

Scarlet Macaw (Ara macao)

The Scarlet Macaw is making a spectacular comeback in several regions of Costa Rica

We stayed at the Iguana Surf House, which I can highly recommend, located 45 minutes’ walk from the boat dock. Actually, there is no boat dock; you hop out of the boat directly on the beach.


Yo ho ho and a bottle of rum

How I wish we could have stayed longer: a week, a month, a year! Hummingbirds abound, and the White-crested Coquette (Lophornis adorabilis) is among the cutest and probably the smallest that we found in the area.

Male White-crested Coquette

Male White-crested Coquette, tiny but spectacular

Many thanks again to Richard Garrigues for his kind permission to use the pics in this post. Remember, if you’re visiting Drake and need a local guide, be sure to contact Steven Masis at stevenmadi09@gmail.com

Here’s my list from the rather sporadic birding that I was able to do. It includes the town of Sierpe, La Perla del Sur (Pearl of the South!), and the river trip.

  1. Great Tinamou (voice)
  2. Gray-headed Chachalaca
  3. Neotropic Cormorant
  4. Brown Pelican
  5. Magnificent Frigatebird
  6. Storm-Petrel (sp.)
  7. Laughing Gull
  8. Sandwich Tern
  9. Green Heron
  10. Little Blue Heron
  11. Great Egret
  12. Cattle Egret
  13. Snowy Egret
  14. Yellow-crowned Night-Heron
  15. White Ibis
  16. Willet
  17. Spotted Sandpiper
  18. Sanderling
  19. Purple Gallinule
  20. Black Vulture
  21. Turkey Vulture
  22. Roadside Hawk
  23. Broad-winged Hawk
  24. Crested Caracara
  25. Mottled Owl (voice)
  26. Vermiculated Screech-Owl (at Sierpe)
  27. Common Pauraque
  28. Swift (Chaetura sp.)
  29. Mangrove Swallow
  30. Gray-breasted Martin
  31. Charming Hummingbird
  32. Garden Emerald
  33. Rufous-tailed Hummingbird
  34. White-crested Coquette
  35. Pale-vented Pigeon
  36. Ruddy Ground-Dove
  37. White-tipped Dove
  38. Crimson-fronted Parakeet
  39. Orange-chinned Parakeet
  40. White-crowned Parrot
  41. Scarlet Macaw
  42. Red-lored Parrot
  43. Mealy Parrot
  44. Squirrel Cuckoo
  45. Gartered Trogon
  46. Blue-crowned Motmot
  47. Ringed Kingfisher
  48. Fiery-billed Araçari
  49. Black-mandibled Toucan
  50. Red-crowned Woodpecker
  51. Chestnut-backed Antbird
  52. Dusky-capped Flycatcher
  53. Panama Flycatcher
  54. Great Kiskadee
  55. Boat-billed Flycatcher
  56. Social Flycatcher
  57. Tropical Kingbird
  58. Brown Jay
  59. Clay-colored Thrush
  60. Tropical Gnatcatcher
  61. Riverside Wren
  62. House Wren
  63. Northern Waterthrush
  64. Yellow Warbler
  65. Chestnut-sided Warbler
  66. Cherrie’s Tanager
  67. Blue-gray Tanager
  68. Palm Tanager
  69. Golden-hooded Tanager
  70. Red-legged Honeycreeper
  71. Bananaquit
  72. Blue-black Grassquit
  73. Variable Seedeater
  74. Summer Tanager
  75. Melodious Blackbird
  76. Great-tailed Grackle
  77. Baltimore Oriole

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