Costa Rica Dreaming (Part I of III)

San Jose - the Capital of Costa Rica. Image "borrowed" from:
San Jose – the Capital of Costa Rica. Image “borrowed” from:

All the leaves are brown and the sky is grey
I’ve been for a walk on a winters` day
I’d be safe and warm if I was in San Jose
Costa Rica dreamin` on such a winters day
– The Mamas & the Papas with a Bird It Up! remix

With temperatures the past couple of weekends getting as low as 2 degrees Fahrenheit during the day (-17 Celsius for those across the pond) and winds gusting to 25 mph (40 km), conditions have been less than ideal for birding. Although I did make it out to a few local spots last weekend, there was nothing new worth reporting. So instead of writing nothing this week, my aunt was kind enough to supply a topic by reminding me I had mentioned a trip to Costa Rica in a previous blog post and said I’d say more later. Well, this is “more” and now is “later” so here we go…….

I’ll be in Costa Rica on a two week birding tour from March 14-28. This is an ideal trip as all nine tour participants are members of the Northeast Wisconsin Birding Club (NWBC). As members of the same club, most of us have not only birded together before, but spent long days in the field or weekend trips with one-another. Having that familiarity on a birding tour to a foreign country should equate to less fighting to see a bird and more help in getting each other on a particular species (for those non-birders out there – “getting someone on a bird” means helping them locate it so they can get it in their binocular view).

Besides everyone being members of the NWBC there is also a wealth of experience. Tom and Carol – trip organizers and as Carol says “glue” to help hold things together – have led multiple trips to Costa Rica and have been in Costa Rica since mid-January. Two other members also have tropical birding experience, not to mention decades of birding experience. Dar recently returned from a trip to the Dominican Republic and while not an official birding trip, as any good birder will do – he managed to sneak in some time in the field. Finally, NWBC president Stuart also has decades of experience and multiple birding expeditions to the tropics.

Even with all that experience, having a top birding guide during a foreign tour is essential, and we have one of the best. Richard Garrigues is one of the preeminent birding guides in Costa Rica with more than 25 years experience leading birding and natural history tours. This past December, Garrigues released the second edition of his book The Birds of Costa Rica: A Field Guide. For anyone traveling to Costa Rica, this is THE field guide to have – the size, layout, information, and plates make this the standard bearer for field guides of Costa Rica.

So that’s just a brief overview of the trip. Next week in the second part of this post I’ll discuss the trip itinerary and include some pictures of the places we’ll be staying. Following that, in the third and final post in this series I’ll discuss the gear I’m bringing and look ahead to a series of posts in April which will detail the trip. Until then, checkout some facts about Costa Rica which should make you very, very jealous! Until the next post, Bird It Up!

  • More than 25% of Costa Rica is dedicated to conservation. This includes: 20 national parks, 8 biological reserves, animal refuges, and protected areas. This to me is even more impressive due to the fact…….
  • Costa Rica is slightly smaller than Lake Michigan. Based on square miles, it’s actually 12% smaller. And that is staggering when you consider…….
  • There are over 800 species of birds that call Costa Rica home at some point during the year. For perspective, the number of species for ALL of North America is less than 1,000. Besides birds……
  • Costa Rica is home to 18% of the world’s butterfly species, 66% of all neo-tropical butterflies, and 90% of all butterfly species found in Central America. As if you needed more convincing…….
  • While only occupying .03% of the world’s surface, Costa Rica hosts nearly 3% of the world’s biodiversity and is home to more than 500,000 species! And did I mention there were birds……
  • Of the 338 known hummingbird species, 50 live in Costa Rica. With all this protected land, beautiful birds, and biodiversity, it should come as no surprise that…….
  • Costa Ricans rank number 1 in the Happy Planet Index. Based on life expectancy, experienced well-being, and Ecological Footprint, the Happy Planet Index measures the happiness levels of 151 countries around the world. By comparison, the United States ranks #105. And all of this begs me to ask……..

Why didn’t I buy a one-way ticket????

Click the link to jump to the next post in this series: Costa Rica Itinerary (Part II of III)


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