Sunday, January 25, 2009

Costa Rica

After a few days chilling in Granada, we once more pushed on South. We boarded the passenger ferry in Granada at 2pm, arriving on the other side of Lago Nicaragua at 7am the next morning, probably one of the most uncomfotable nights of my life (after the horrific Nepal-India bus ride this tiem last year). We had planned to spend a few days at in intriguing site near San Carlos but found that we would have to wait a few days for a boat out there, so instead decided we might as well move straight on to Costa Rica. We jumped on the next boat to the border, which turened out to be an excellent trip, as we saw a Sungrebe skulking down the side of the river almost immediately after we crossed the borderline. A flyover Muscovy Duck was our first genuine bird of this species too.

After sthe most painful border formalities of the trip so far, we got a bus onwards to Ciudad Quesada, and then to La Fortuna as night fell.

First thing next morning we caught a taxi up to the access to road to Arenal Observatory Lodge. We walked the last few km's of the track to the lodge, seeing Southern Rough-winged Swallow, Bay wren, broad-billed motmot, Buff-rumped Warbler, Emerald Tanager, White-ruffed Manakin and Fasciated Tiger heron, among others. The lodge didnt open its grounds to visitors until 8 30am so we had a quick look down the Tucanes trail, where 2 Spotted Antbirds gave very good views and a Green Hermit buzzed around.
Entering the lodge grounds, we went straight to the feeding station outside the restaurant, where Green Honeycreeper, Black-striped Sparrow, Olive-backed Euphonia and an assortment of Tangers all showed well.

After a quick walk around the lodge grounds, we headed down the waterfall trail. we struggled at first in the heavy rain, hardly seeing a bird ,but suddenly came across a busy flock containing Orange-billed SParrow, streaked crowned Antvireo, scale crested pygmy tyrant and strip breasted Wren, and a bit further along, a Rufous Motmot. Thats just the way rainforest birding goes, you work for ages seeing nothing and then it all becomes worthwhile when you are totally surrounded by great birds.

After La fortuna, we took a Jeep-boat-jeep trip across lake arenal and up to monteverde, staying in the small town of Santa Elena. on the first afternoon, we went up the cerro tres amigos trail (one of the few free trails in the area), we saw absolutely nothing on the way uo but the way down produced Prong-billed Barbet, Azure-hooded Jay and Black-thighed Grosbeak.

Next day we took the first bus of the morning up to Santa Elena Cloud forest reserve. again it rained heavily nearly all day, but we still picked up some good birds like Barred Becard, Red-faced Spintail, Black Guan, Magenta-throated woodstar, Green thorntail, Ruddy-capped and slaty-backed nightingale thrushes, brown-billed Scythebill and Yellow-thighed Finch. That night, we took a guided night hike at the Santamaria reserve which was a great experience, as we got superb views of a two-toed Sloth with baby and an orange-kneed tarantula at its burrow, along with roosting Emerald Toucanet, Wood Thrush and Yellow-throated Vireo.

On our last morning in monteverde, we too kthe bus out to the monteverde reserve for a quick look at the Hummingbird Gallery. I wsa expecting it to be a bit dudey and contrived, and it was, but it was absoulutely awesome, with hummers like Coppery-headed Emerald, Violet Sabrewing, Green-crowned brilliant and purple-throated mountain gem feeding just inches away, I bloody love hummers, and i'm seriously contempalting trying to smuggle some back to England to introduce them.

We're now in San Jose (which, like most capital cities, is a shithole), having spent a night here after getting a bus down from monteverde yesterday, and we will shortly be heading off to the Cerro de la Muerte (literal translation: Moutain fo Death) for a few days before spending our last few days in Costa Rica on the Peninsula de Osa, before crossing into Panama for our last week before flying home.

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