Reserva Las Brisas – Cerulean Warbler Count

There’s no doubt about it. The Las Brisas private reserve, located near the small town of La Alegría and not far from Siquirres in Limón Province, should be on the must-do list for every birder visiting Costa Rica. Why has it taken me so long to get around to seeing it?

Here’s the link, which includes beautiful photographs of the reserve and its many attractions:

One likely reason for my delay is that the road from Turrialba that goes to the Caribbean via the villages of Santa Teresita and Pascua was a difficult dirt surface in many parts. With the newly asphalted surface of the most difficult sections, that road is now a beautiful drive of only about an hour and is rapidly becoming a favourite for locals out enjoying the weekend. From the Monumento Nacional Guayabo, also now connected from below by a paved road, it takes perhaps only 45 minutes, with the turn-off for the Reserva Las Brisas (2 kms on an easy dirt road) appearing on the left after the village of Las Lomas and before the descent into La Alegría. On a future visit I hope to continue the dirt road after the Reserve as far as Ojo de Agua, supposedly located in or near thick forest.


Male Cerulean Warbler, courtesy of Gustavo Flores Yzaguirre and the Asociación Ornitológica de Costa Rica

This year I attended the annual Cerulean Warbler Count led by top guide Ernesto Carman and joined by committed environmentalist and nature lover Eric Berlin, the owner of the Reserve. What a wonderful experience! The Reserve forms part of an important effort to record the migratory path of the endangered Cerulean Warbler (Setophaga cerulea), to promote research into its habits, and to discover how best to prevent the decline in its numbers. The breeding male Cerulean Warbler is a strikingly beautiful blue and white bird, but its perpetual motion and its preference for high tree tops make it hard to pin down. Gustavo did well to get the photo of the male bird above at Altos de Pascua, in roughly the same area as Las Brisas. We managed a modest total of 5 birds of this species for the count, but Ernesto and group totalled at least 144 different other species of birds in one day alone!

This was a bonanza for me, as I was able to see 6 species that were quite new to me. See a later post for those details!  I must end with a photograph of the female Cerulean, which is not quite as easy to identify as the male:


Female Cerulean Warbler, courtesy of Jeffrey Ortega and the Asociación Ornitológica de Costa Rica

This is just one of several fine pics that Jeffrey managed to take at the Parque Ambiental Río Loro, just off the main highway from San José to Cartago.

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