San Isidro and Cloudbridge
San Isidro Highlands
Access to the mid-level mountains around San Isidro is less than two hours from western beaches near Domincal. It is situated directly east above Dominical on a map and the two areas are connected by a nice highway.
Here you might find good birding around the Talari Lodge where Turquoise Cotingas are most often reported - usually late in the afternoon. Talari Lodge can be birded without staying there if you wish to walk the many trails. You pay a small fee at the reception cabin. Around the cabins, I've seen Lesser Elaenias, Streaked Saltators, and Turquoise Cotingas as well as the usual suspects. While we were there, a Pearl Kite perched on a dead snag on the opposite side of the river and Scarlet Tanagers paraded through the trees during migration. The elevation at Talari Lodge is around 2600 ft., and you have a significantly different bird life than on the western coast or at lower elevations around Dominical.
Cloudbridge Nature Reserve
Cloudbridge is a high elevation cloud forest that begins at around 5,000 feet. This reserve is only about 2.5 hours from Quepos through San Isidro. The very last section of a road requires a high-clearance SUV, although probably not requiring a full 4-wheel drive. They have no facilities here, and the well-maintained trail system is sometimes steep. On my only trip to the reserve, the birding was quite good. Cloudbridge is typical cloudforest, and as such birds like Red-faced Spinetail, Ruddy Treerunner, and Spotted Barbtail can be found regularly in feeding flocks. We had good looks at a single Resplendent Quetzal, but the viewing opportunities for this species are not as good as Savagre Lodge. Other birds here included Golden-browed Chlorophonia, Streaked Xenops, Slaty Flowerpiercer, Black-faced Solitaire, Costa Rican Warbler, Flame-throated Warbler, and White-winged Tanager. Both Snowy-bellied Hummingbird and White-throated Mountain-Gem were seen on multiple occasions. In the parking lot, we saw Chestnut-capped Brushfinch, Golden-bellied Flycatcher, and Elegant Euphonia.