Virgen del Soccoro
Virgen del Soccoro
For most birders, the reference to Virgen del Soccoro is actually a reference to a dirt road that partly skirts the the northern border of Braulio Carillo National Park. There are actually two different dirt roads that do this. One is a road near the town of San Miguel at the cemetery, and the other road nearby skirts the hydro plant (both the cemetery and the hydro plant are conspicuous markers from highway 126). It doesn't much matter which road you take. Both roads are very good for birds. The birds listed here are from the Virgen del Soccoro "cemetery road".
Neither road takes you into any part of the Braulio Carillo park system, but both roads take you into similar habitat. These roads are also in convenient proximity if you are birding the high elevations of Cinchona, the Waterfall Gardens, or Poas Volcano. What makes these two roads inviting is that they enter the mid-level Caribbean-side forest in a way in which Braulio Carillo National Park does not. These unpaved roads allow one the ability to leisurely drive and stop at your convenience with almost no traffic.
The cemetery road is marked but is not always easy to see from Highway 126, especially if you are driving up from La Selva. Simply put, it is on the lower elevational side of the town of San Miguel - a town usually marked on good maps. This road begins right near the edge of a large, very visible cemetery and is marked with a small sign. It is paved for only a short distance. A high-clearance is generally recommended for a few spots, but the road is not terribly difficult and is well-graded in most areas (2013). The road crosses a lot of pastureland, but it also winds it's way through some rich mid-level forest. From start to finish, the road gains elevation, and you can expect a broad range of elevation-specific birds. On the way up we found both Dull-mantled Antbird and Fasciated Antshrike. Higher up, one would be looking for tanager flocks that might include Black-and-Yellow Tanager (a bird difficult to find outside the Braulio Carillo area). You might also see Spangle-cheeked Tanager or an uncommon Blue-and-Gold Tanager (we dipped on that one). On our drive, we had Tufted Flycatcher, Torrent Tyrannulet, Tropical Pewee, Dark Pewee, Red-headed Barbet, White-ruffed Manakin, Tropical Parula, Black-and-Yellow Tanager, Bay-headed Tanager, Silver-throated Tanager, Crimson-collared Tanager, Spangle-cheeked Tanager and a host of others.
If one drives far enough, you will eventually see a small lodge marked as Alberque El Soccoro. While I know of no one who has stayed here, this site is listed on larger web site Costa Rica Bird Route which charts many of the smaller lodges that invite bird watchers. This site is also listed as an ebird hotspot.