Saturday, July 8, 2017

Playa Tamarindo

While visiting Liberia, we had set a day aside for a trek to the nearby Playa Tamarindo.  We were hoping to find some sea birds along the beach and estuary. 

One of the biggest discussions for this trip was whether or not we'd rent a car.  It's easy and many tourists do it. We spoke with several of them about their experiences and for the most part, they were glad they had their car. However, it is also costly and can be stressful during severe weather situations.  Sometimes the conditions of the roads were terrible.  Sometimes we observed that parking was an issue. And other times, we discovered that having a car would have added hours onto our route because we couldn't short cut via boat or train. Local transportation in Costa Rica is sound.  And it's also cheap. So we began our early trek at the Liberian bus station.  Here's a tip for people thinking about using the buses here. ALWAYS find out when the last bus leaves an area and you'll be ok. Schedules change often so speak with the person at the counter selling the tickets. My greatest fear was missing that last bus back to Liberia. 

The local bus stopped at every little town on the way to pick up people wanting a little beach time.  Some people worked in Tamarindo.  Little did we know, but it was also a huge tourist magnet. And there seemed to be plenty of surfers. 

Green Heron
But that didn't stop us from birding.  We were asked by several people if we wanted a nature tour.  The price was around 20 dollars per person.  Knowing that we'd do treks like this in other places, we opted out. Plus, I've found that we're our own best guides. 

Orange-chinned Parakeet
One of our target bird groups was the hummingbird.  Where in the world were they?

We certainly saw signs for them.  And where were the sea birds?  Where were the gulls and terns??!! None of them would have been a lifer but I was looking forward to observing a few of these birds along the beach. From my Central American experiences, I actually think the Caribbean side of Central America is better for sea birds along the coast during the summer.  I was, however, surprised by 2 Brown Pelicans and 4 White Ibis!  Definitely not on my radar. 

It came time for lunch.  Picking a spot was difficult because there were a lot of great places to eat.  I wanted something Costa Rican while the other two wanted something different.  So we found a nice mix of restaurants with general outdoor seating. It was popular with the young surfer crowd.  I listened to the conversations that I once had myself not so many years ago.  "Where are you from again?" "I'm from California. I'm sorry, where did you say you're from?" "I'm from Switzerland." And then on and on.  When will they mention the party? There's always a party involved.  And as if on cue, "Did you go to last night's party? I drank 9 cups of______" The conversations were deep and full of the standard self-absorption that you'd expect to find with young adults. That still didn't stop me from eavesdropping🙂 "Yeah, I've been here and there." And blah blah blah. At one point, one of the dude's asked the Cali girl if she remembered him from the night before.  And she replied straight out, "No." and walked away.  Ouch.  I guess they won't be "hooking up" anytime soon. 

Green Iguana
Sex, alcohol and our crazy youth.  They used to be part of the every day adventure. Not anymore.  Now, instead of the thrill of the party; it's all about finding wildlife.  It's weird how our life priorities change as we get older. We left the surfers behind and no one noticed the "old" people leaving.  Ouch!

Great Kiskadee
Back on the beach, we slowly moved away from the crowds of people and headed towards the estuary hoping to find a Boat-billed Heron or pirate.  We didn't find either, but we did see this....

A parent Mantled Howler Monkey watched as its offspring fed from the lower branches of a tree. 

I kept my distance because I know how powerful these monkeys can be!  Over the years, I've had one try and bite me in Peru.  Another threw poop at me in southern Costa Rica.  And yet another monkey nearly hit me with a mango in Panama.  Thankfully, the longer lens allows us closer viewing. 

At one point, this little one stared into the eyes of Gordon.  He probably thought that Gordon looked like Charlton Heston from Planet of the Apes.  "Look, it's a man!"

The skies became darker and we could hear a storm in the distance. 

Streak-backed Oriole
As we headed back to our bus stop, we paused to look at some birds we have observed in the past.  

White-fronted Parrots above and below. 

And while we saw quite a few birds, I'm not sure we picked up anything new. I know Gordon added his lifer Blue-gray Tanagers to the list.  Still, it was a fun trek to the beach.  

Hoffman's Woodpecker
The most interesting observation for me on this day came from the Brown-crested Flycatcher. It's important to note that this bird is of the Ometepe subspecies. I've noticed that ebird has started listing subspecies for this flycatcher. As we'll find out in several posts, I'll explain why it's often important to add the subspecies listing when possible. 

Brown-crested Flycatcher(Ometepe subspecies)
The nerdy bird discussion must have gotten the best of Micheal.  While he said he was still birding, I caught him using his binoculars for other interesting beach sightings:) 

Then a crocodile nabbed him!😉  Seriously though, we did see two of these large reptiles near the estuary.  Some of you may have heard of a surfer a couple years back attacked by one of these ocean crocs in Tamarindo.  It was a rare incident. From what I saw, the public beach was busy and full of swimmers and surfers.  Crocs prefer the shallower calm waters near mangroves.  As we neared the estuary, where they like to hang out, we kept on the lookout.  There are signs but as we know, not everyone reads them.  Overall, it's really a beautiful place to surf and enjoy the beach.  

For our Tamarindo report, click here.  Until next's up!


  1. it may not have produced all the birds you wanted but you still sis see a lot and that beach looks inviting


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