Golden-browed Chlorophonia and Silver-throated Tanager
Stephen Ingraham

Back from the Field: Stephen Ingraham Captures Costa Rica’s Amazing Biodiversity in Pictures

Back from the Field: Stephen Ingraham Captures Costa Rica’s Amazing Biodiversity in Pictures

Jan 13, 2022|BirdingPhotography| by Holbrook Travel
Guest post and photo gallery by birder, photographer, and trip leader Stephen Ingraham

Perhaps it is because Covid kept me home from Costa Rica in 2020 — or because I added more areas new to me like the Osa Peninsula and Pacific lowlands — but I came back from my recent back-to-back trips to Costa Rica more impressed than ever. Such amazing biodiversity in this small country!

For birders and bird photographers, or anyone interested in nature, it is simply a destination that must be on your list of places to experience. There is no better place to experience the great variety of life in the tropics than Costa Rica. The range of habitats, from sea level to over 11,000 feet, from tropical rainforest to cloud forest and the páramo above tree-line, cannot be beaten anywhere.

Danta Corcovado Lodge by Margaret Rabel

We Saw Hundreds of Bird Species: Here are 10 of my favorites

In two weeks, we saw hundreds of species of birds…probably 15 species of tanagers alone, a dozen species of hummingbirds, a half dozen different trogons (including the Resplendent Quetzal), two aracaris, two toucans and a toucanet, puffbirds and flycatchers and owls and half a dozen different parrots. And honestly, the Resplendent Quetzal is worth the whole trip anyway!

Fiery-billed Aracari, Wilson Botanical Gardens, San Vito


Lesson’s Motmot, Hotel Bougainvillea, San Jose


White-necked Jacobin, Dave and Dave’s Costa Rican Nature Park, La Vírgen


Red-legged Honeycreeper, Donde Cope, Guapiles


Scarlet Macaw, Osa Peninsula


Snow-bellied Hummingbird, Wilson Botanical Gardens, San Vito


Speckled Tanager, Wilson Botanical Gardens, San Vito


Bay-headed Tanager, Los Cusingos Bird Sanctuary


Golden-browed Chlorophonia and Silver-throated Tanager, Batsú Gardens, San Gerardo de Dota


Resplendent Quetzal, San Gerardo de Dota


Primates, Bats, Snakes, Frogs, and Insects

We saw all four species of primates possible in Costa Rica, two species of bats, several snakes (including close views of a fer-de-lance), leaf, rain, poison dart, and glass frogs, a dozen different butterflies, and a couple (at least) of dragonflies.

Howler Monkey (female and baby), Sarapiquí River, Puerto Viejo


Spectacled Caiman, Sarapiquí River, Puerto Viejo

Fantastic, Diverse Scenery

And that is not even mentioning the fantastic scenery…rushing rivers, forests, waterfalls, fertile plains and high mountains. There are few places where you can stand on a ridge at 11,000 feet and see the Caribbean Sea on one side and the Pacific Ocean on the other, while Volcano Juncos and Volcano Hummingbirds attempt to distract you.

Bienvenidos – Costa Rica Welcomes

To make it all more wonderful, the whole country is geared up for visitors. Great lodges. Great hotels. Reliable, comfortable transportation. Amazing food. And some of the best naturalist guides you will encounter anywhere.

I know these are difficult times for travel, but Costa Rica is ready for visitors, eager for visitors, and I promise you will be treated well, kept safe, and encouraged to enjoy the Costa Rican experience fully.

Steve Ingraham was the Birding Product Specialist for ZEISS Sports Optics for 12 years. He has been an avid nature photographer from boyhood. He is the author of Point and Shoot Nature Photography (Amazon books), maintains the Point and Shoot Photographer blog and website (, and teaches the Point and Shoot method and philosophy of nature photography at workshops worldwide.

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