After returning from three consecutive awesome birding adventures (Nevada, Panama, and Oregon/Washington), I didn't stick around too long in Massachusetts before heading out on another one. Since my dad and our friend Ted were turning 60 in September, we decided to throw the birthday party in Talamanca, Costa Rica. Ted had been dreaming about hawkwatching in Talamanca ever since I came back in 2004 with stories of 100,000+ hawk days. So down we went during the first week in October, right when the Broad-winged Hawk migration usually peaks.

The trip down to Talamanca tired us out, but three intrepid birders (Ken, Jaime, Ted) headed up to the tower early the next day:

We struggled in hot, humid conditions up the tiny footpath until we reached the tower. As soon as we got to the top we realized we made the right decision: a big day was just starting. Over the next few hours we saw somewhere around 80,000 hawks fly overhead, sometimes just skimming the tops of the trees. Binoculars weren't necessary to take in the spectacle.

I was pleased on this trip that we saw so much great wildlife because for many people it was their first trip to Costa Rica. Everyone got to see two types of monkeys (Howler Monkeys, White-faced Capuchins), a sloth with a baby, two types of poison dart frogs, one cool snake (see below), and tons of birds!
Green and Black Poison Dart Frogs (Dendrobates auratus):

Howler Monkeys:

An Oropendola nest:

In the tropics you always have to keep your eyes open; hidden through some leaves you might see a cool bird like a Collared Aracari (Pteroglossus torquatus):

Or you might happen to stumble upon a sleeping Eyelash Palm Pitviper (Bothriechis schlegelii):

I was also pleased I got to see many old friends. Iridia showed me where a beautiful ripe Biriba fruit was hanging from a tree:

While we weren't out banding, it was nice to just sit back and relax at Kaya's Place. Right in front of Kaya's Place is a beach that has a resident "wild" horse on it. For Sue, this was paradise:

For me, paradise involves lots of birding. Jaime and I were fortunate to put our recently-acquired banding skills to use when we were invited to go banding on the reservation.

I got to release a Black-throated Trogon (Trogon rufus):

Jaime and I banded a few Ochre-bellied Flycatchers (Mionectes oleagineus):

And Jaime saw her favorite bird, the Swainson's Thrush (Catharus ustulatus):

We also got to see some great hummingbirds, like this Long-tailed Hermit (Phaethornis longirostris):

Steve and Janelle were excellent company, and they did a little of everything, from relaxing in Manzanillo town... finding large stands of bamboo on the reservation:

Talamanca, and the Caribbean coast in general, are not the most beautiful beaches in Costa Rica, but they were perfect for us. And because the Caribbean is less well-known than the Pacific side, it's also much quieter, less touristy, and closer to the real Costa Rica. It's where I'll be going back to the next time I get a chance.