It’s before 6am in Tambor Bay, Costa Rica. The sun has just risen and the air is calm and cool, the sky a pinkish haze dusted with a few low clouds reflecting in the nearly silent bay; silent that is, all but for the songs and calls of hundreds of species of birds that inhabit the area.
On Friday and Saturday, January 10th and 11th, Tambor Bay Birders association hosted one of their many bird counts in the area. With a regular base of about 12 birders in the association, they form groups with other members and volunteers who then split up and explore trails surrounding the bay to identify and record the names of any birds they spot. We had the honor of sharing in the count on Saturday, setting out from the Tambor Tropical Hotel with a group of about 20 participants; a combination of professionals, avid bird watchers and novice bird lovers both from the area and abroad who excitedly point out any fluttering wings or brightly colored flying objects. After a day of meandering through various trails the groups reconvened to determine the collective results of their findings. In this case the count totaled nearly 200 bird species, ranging from more common ones such as the Long-tailed Manakin, to more rare species such as the Mangrove Hummingbird endemic to only the Pacific of Costa Rica.
Tambor Bay Birders not only host these bird counts for reports to the Costa Rica Ornithological Association for official records, but also for local educational purposes. With a noble cause to promote education about birds, nature and conservation, the aim of the association is to involve local residents and students, as well as visitors and volunteers, to help spur greater interest and awareness about Costa Rica’s biodiversity and its valuable place in our world. If you’re interested in joining the association on their next count, you can follow their Facebook page here. You don’t have to be a professional or have your own equipment necessarily (although a good pair of binoculars does help), just bring your curiosity, keen eyes… and of course a little bug spray. 🙂
*Special thanks to Juan Carlos Cruz, Nick Hawkins and the rest of the Tambor Bay Birders for inviting JC Aguirre of JC’s Journeys to participate in this count.
*Be sure to check out our bird watching tour Bird Lover’s Morning.
Visiting Costa Rica is exciting and different from neighboring countries for many reasons, including the sense of remoteness one gets as soon as they get just a few minutes outside busy San Jose. Almost any visitor can attest to the lush green countryside that still prevails over the asphalted urbanization perhaps more pronounced in other countries in the region. But if you’re aiming to really get away, away from the Taco Bells, KFCs and strip malls that seem to follow you wherever your vacation takes you, then I’d suggest going a little farther to the small town of Montezuma in the Southern Nicoya Peninsula.
Since Montezuma is relatively young in terms of modern developments such as electricity (brought to the area only 20 years ago!), and paved roads (i.e. they are few and far between), it also provides a sense of genuine escape from those monotonous norms of fast food chains and GAP stores back home. You won’t find a McDonald’s lurking on any street corner here (ok… there’s only one real corner, but still). The fact that big chain restaurants haven’t yet taken over this tiny town attests to the genuine ‘Costa Rica’ feeling you’ll get when you’re here. Although ‘town’ can be quite busy with tourists during the high season (Dec through March), you’ll still find tranquility, wildlife for neighbors, and that tropical escape you were seeking, especially if you find accommodations just a couple minutes up the main hill or in either direction away from town.
While scarcity of paved roads in the area and some other developmental needs are certainly not without some contention among residents, it’s hard to deny that they are characteristics that make going all the way to Montezuma a must on your Costa Rica vacation. If you don’t, I just don’t think you’ll be able to go back home with a good story about the crazy bumpy ride you took that was seemingly forever in what felt like the middle of nowhere to get to a beautiful beach, waterfall or wildlife reserve. Moreover, you will have missed one of the few areas in Costa Rica or anywhere else that really does feel ‘away from it all’. 🙂
For an even greater Costa Rica experience, consider our “Let’s Get Local” tour to meet some amazing and friendly locals and let them share their take on the best aspects of the area.