Upland Sandpiper (Bartramia longicauda) has always been in my target list of Most Wanted Lifers. This odd looking sandpiper with small head, long neck and yellow bill, is found in areas with short grass. They are Boreal Migrants, their breeding grounds extend from the Great Plains in the USA to the Boreal Forest and Grasslands in Canada and Alaska. Their wintering grounds are in South America, in the pampa and wetland grasses of Argentina and Uruguay.
During Northbound and Southbound migration they come across Central America and this is where I’ve always been in the lookout for them.
Year after year I always followed the reports of Upland Sandpiper showing up here or there. In the lowlands of the Tropical Dry Forest in Guanacaste, the rice fields in Ciudad Neilly, the sporadic report at the Juan Santamaria International Airport, Ernesto Carman’s constant reports of migrating birds calling at night flying over Finca Cristina or even worst Patrick O’donell’s reports of flyovers in Santa Barbara de Heredia, only a few block away from home. All of the above I have always been too late or too far.
I even tried hard during my several visits to Ohio during the Biggest Week of American Birding, but again Upland Sandpiper proofed to be worthy of the title of Nemesis Bird.
I’m sure you fellow birders are familiar with the term. The one bird that always gets away, it was there just a minute ago, but you were too late to see it.
Well I have news for you Upland Sandpiper, it is over!
There was a report by fellow birders last week of a group of at least 4 individuals spotted at a field near Las Trancas in Liberia, Guanacaste.
The first reaction was take the car and drive like hell. But since I was coming to Guanacaste anyway for a family getaway I waited, hoping that the birds would stay. More reports kept coming as the days went by and finally yesterday we headed Northwest.
I should admit that I insisted that driving through Liberia was the wisest and fastest route (maybe that was not entirely true), but anyway everyone agreed with my advise.
I should take a moment to acknowledge the amazing network of birders in Costa Rica. All birders and birding guides alike share the information here, we help each other or at least that’s the case within my circle of friends and acquaintances. So I asked for info about the whereabouts of the birds and sure enough several friends sent me their directions, coordinates and audio messages with specific details, thank you all!
By a mere coincidence my fellow friend, guide and business partner Jehudy Carballo was also coming to Guanacaste for a day tour and we agreed on letting the other one know whenever we got there.
He got there first and called me right away, luckuly I was only 15 minutes away and after rushing from lunch I (and the whole family) was on the way to see my Lifer Upland Sandpiper.
Sure enough the bird turnout to be very easy to spot and in only 5 minutes I had pictures and all!
This morning I added Elegant Trogon, Thicket Tinamu and Nutting’s Flycatcher to the year list.
The Big Year goes on!