I had scheduled five days in Tamarindo since I suspected that Tom would prefer lying on the beach to spending more time birding and wildlife viewing. This was a very restful part of the trip. The weather was perfect, the hotel was in a private area, at one end of the beach, and we were able to just generally relax.
There was a lot of wildlife in this busy area, although I'm sure the bananas left out by the hotel had something to do with that. There was a family of Howler Monkeys apparently living in the hotel grounds, and one day a small Raccoon showed up on the beach. I also saw a White-throated Magpie Jay and a pair of White-fronted Amazon Parrots near the pool area. A lot of seabirds were viewable from the beach as well: Brown Pelicans, Magnificent Frigatebirds, Black Terns and various sandpipers.
The first morning, I decided to take the car out into the surrounding farmland, and see what I could find. I'm sure I caused a group of locals great bafflement when I made a sudden U-turn and pulled over to try and identify... a Groove-billed Ani. Well, at least it wasn't a Great-tailed Grackle - those were as thick as flies.
Later on, I was excited to find two Double-striped Thick-knees in a field. Most of the other species I saw that day were those that can be typically found in the valley of Texas or in southeastern Arizona: Scissor-tailed Flycatchers, Common Ground Doves, Tropical Kingbirds, Turkey Vultures and Black Vultures.
One of the places I had really wanted to see was Palo Verde. This was a huge wetland area, home to many kinds of unusual wading birds including a large stork, the Jabiru. When I noticed a tour to Palo Verde originating out of Tamarindo, it got my immediate attention, and Tom agreed that we could go the next day.
To be diplomatic, the tour did not meet our expectations. We did see one Jabiru, one Crested Caracara, and one Yellow-crowned Night Heron. That was it, other than a bunch of crocodiles and a large number of orange iguanas. The only bit of good news is that when we returned to Tamarindo in the afternoon, I noticed a White-necked Puffbird sitting on a utility wire in the middle of town.
Early the next morning, I decided to investigate the area around Tamarindo itself. The sandy beach and town are located on the western side of a peninsula, and the southern extent of it is a rocky shoreline. There were two birds I was looking for: the Surfbird and the Collared Plover. Unlike the Collared Plover, the Surfbird is found both in North America and in my home state of Washington. For whatever reason, I have never been able to find one there. Here, though, on one small bit of rock I was able to find Ruddy Turnstones, Collared Plovers, and a Surfbird. I was very pleased about that!
As I returned to hotel, I also spotted a lot more migrants, mostly Tennessee, Wilson's and Cerulean Warblers. A few more native species included the Stripe-headed Sparrow, Mangrove Warbler, and a Rufous-naped Wren. When I returned, I shelved birding for the rest of the day so I could finish the book I was reading, and so Tom and I could go sea kayaking and snorkeling. The water wasn't quite as clear as it was in Hawai'i, but the fish were just as colorful.