on 10 May 2010
Nestled between Nicaragua and Panama, and bounded by the Pacific Ocean and Caribbean Sea, Costa Rica is a pint-sized country that is packed with wildlife. Imagine a place less than a quarter of the size of the UK that has 860 birds to offer. Add to that 240 mammals, 221 reptiles, 174 amphibians, over 10,000 plants and an incredible 370,000 invertebrates. So this is Costa Rica - a country with more biodiversity per square kilometre than anywhere else in the world and where almost a third of the land is protected for conservation. So it has pretty much everything - and now it has a site guide.
This book was published by Cornell University and has been repackaged to match the style of other Helm "Where to Watch" guides for the UK market. It features 53 birding locations grouped into six regions which in turn are divided into sub-regions. Each site includes a general introduction and directions, a map, a list of target species, plus a much bigger list of species to expect. The text helps to describe the location and provide suggestions on the best strategy.
Many birders have been to Costa Rica, and there are well over 100 trip reports on the internet to provide insight for those planning a trip, but this book gives eight sample itineraries for those wanting 8-14 days in the field. It has a complete checklist which includes abundance ratings, and information is also included about the best locations to find endemics and other sought-after species. The one thing that is missing is an index to the species so you can look up every reference.
A useful feature is that all bird lists in the book give the plate references to the two field guides that people use - the very detailed Guide to the Birds of Costa Rica by Stiles and Skutch, and The Birds of Costa Rica: A Field Guide by Garrigues and Dean, which is a pocket-sized guide with useful maps.
Costa Rica is a relatively safe country with a good road network and excellent tourism infrastructure. With Garrigues' new book and this site guide, the opportunity to organise your own trip to this country has never been greater.