Ever since my first brief visit to Costa Rica in 1989, I have wanted to return and see the Osa Peninsula. This peninsula is well down the Pacific side, near the Panama border. Two of the country's three endemic birds occur only here or nearby. The photo (above) is a view of the Osa Peninsula from the mainland, separated by the Golfo Dulce.

We stayed 4 nights at Bosque del Rio Tigre, an ecolodge operated by Liz & Abraham Gallo at the very edge in the rainforest (right). It is at 130m (425') near the boundary of the vast Corcovado National Park. The lodge bird list has 358 species, and many of them have been observed from the lodge itself. Getting there is an adventure, with two river crossings (that's our taxi crossing the Rio Tigre to leave the lodge, below).

Everything about the design of the Rio Tigre lodge serves to enhance the forest experience. While solid roofs protect all buildings, most are without walls and open to outside, like the kitchen bar (left; that's Abraham with two of the friendly staff who prepared great meals). The second floor, above this kitchen and dining floor, does have enclosed rooms for tourists.

Because it is open to outside, there are geckos hiding behind jars in the pantry [see herp page], an occasional bat will land on the ceiling at night [see mammal page], and one can easily watch the feeders out front and out back from the comfortable chairs. Indeed, there is yet another 'feeder' just beyond the kitchen shown at left. Rice is thrown out daily at the edge of the forest, and it attracts birds all day. The shots below were taken from the kitchen: a Gray-necked Wood-Rail (below left) and a Little Tinamou (below right). There are very few spots in the world were either wood-rails or tinamous are feeder birds!

As the lodge itself was booked when we planned our trip, we reserved the small cabana about 25m from the lodge, and completely surrounded by forest (right & below). It was bright and airy, with half-walls and no windows, but a good mosquito-net over the bed. It had 24-hour electricity and a private bath with cold water; a fine hot-water shower, run by solar power, was a few steps away outside the lodge. It was a treat to listen to the sounds of the night and the dawn chorus from our bed. On our final morning, a troop of White-faced Capuchin were the 'alarm clock' [see mammal page]. I would love to return for a longer visit.

Trails start from the lodge, or from our cabana, into the forest. One can walk down along the river, or up the slopes behind the lodge on a series of trails. This is primary lowland forest with canopy and undergrowth flocks, army ants, leafcutter ants, snakes, poison-dart frogs, monkeys, coatis — a wonderland. Even during our brief visit it was great fun to begin learning the vocalizations of forest birds, and to track down Black-faced Antthrush and Marbled Wood-Quail walking on the forest floor.

Rio Tigre lodge offers guided walks if you wish. My first orientation walk was led by Luis Sandoval (right) who knew all the calls, and we found quite a number of birds on my pre-trip 'hit list,' and others that were a surprise, like a Golden-crowned Spadebill carrying nesting material. All the trails eventually terminate on a rutted 'ridge trail' (below) that leads up into the hills through small farms, and offers views of parrots and raptors.

Along the 'ridge trail,' but still within the forest, there is an absolutely wonderful lek of Orange-collared Manakin (right & below). The males congregate much of the year to display; they were just starting up when we were there. By 26 December we counted at least 9 males. All the displays were right near the forest floor in a small cleared area.

Later in the year there is also a lek of Red-capped Manakin in the forest behind the lodge. This lek is up in the canopy, as I understand it, and not so easy to photograph. We only saw one Red-capped Manakin during our short stay: a female that visited the feeder at the lodge.

I enjoyed spending as much time inside the forest as I could. Occasionally we would go with others to see a highlight [in this photo, right, there is an Eyelash Viper; close-up on Herp page], but often it was just Rita and me, or me alone. The gallery of photos below is a selection of shots from inside the forest, primarily using the built-in flash in my Canon digital camera.
Bicolored Antbird (above)
Cocoa Woodcreeper (below)
Gray-headed Tanager (above)
Sulphur-rumped Flycatcher (below)
male Dot-winged Antwren (above)
Eye-ringed Flatbill (below)
female Dot-winged Antwren (above)
Black-hooded Antshrike (below)
male Baird's Trogon (above)
Plain Xenops (below)
Orange-billed Sparrow (above)

Throughout our visit, when not otherwise engaged, Abraham kept an eye on the tall fruiting tree with a bare-branch canopy, across the river, where cotingas sometimes sit. He had a scope constantly set up. A one afternoon, for a few brief moments, two female Turquoise Cotinga did land! I tried a digiscoped shot through the scope — not great but still identifiable (right).

You've also got to love a place where you can sit by the river, morning or afternoon, and watch brilliant flights of Scarlet Macaw screech by (below).

We booked a couple of excursions away from the lodge. On 26 Dec, Don & Abram waded up the Rio Pizote (far right), in search of White-tipped Sicklebill [see hummingbird page], and also flushed an unexpected Fasciated Tiger-Heron (near right) from the stream. On 27 Dec, we visited the Rio Rincon (the famed Rincon bridge is shown below) and the mangroves on the Golfo Dulce with Luis Sandoval.
Several Mangrove Swallow (left) were perched on the wire next to the bridge, and several important birds were found here or nearby. Luis spotted an active nest of Blue-tailed Goldenthroat (below left). We also found several Yellow-billed Cotinga (below center) either perched at the tops of tall, bare trees, or feeding on small fruit in the forest canopy next to the road. This was one of my most sought-after species on the trip. I also digiscoped a young Bare-throated Tiger-Heron (below right). All in all, a nice conclusion to our trip.
Atlantic Lowlands
Montane Cloud Forest
Reptiles & Amphibians
Pacific Lowlands
Dragonflies & Damselflies
Complete TRIP LIST
with birds, mammals & herps
page created 23-25 Jan 2008
© Don Roberson