24 March 2013

"Dinosaurs" & Birds...COSTA RICA (22 Feb)

After the cool mountain air, and even cooler mountain birds, we were back in sweaty country when we dropped down into the Pacific lowlands around Carara National Park. We were staying in the grand Hotel Villa Lapas, named Lapas after the Scarlet Macaws which were so prevalent in the area, we had seen them before we had even checked in. Just after check in, and before we had even a plateful of food from the dinner buffet we were feasting on an impressive, and imposing, looking pair of Spectacled Owls, perched, just outside the restaurant. My feverish looks around the hotel for a Red-eyed Tree Frog, the marquee frog species for Costa Rica, came to nothing but dejection and disappointment however!

After arriving in the late afternoon the next morning was spent walking, and sweating, our way along a super trail through gorgeous forest, where a female Baird's Trogon was found in a massive rainforest tree as we'd hoped. However, our day started right on the hotel grounds, where an unplanned, five minute, sleep-in by me, (not being the guide for the trip I had this luxury at my disposal, unlike Michael Retter, the actual tour guide for the tour), almost cost me a key regional endemic: Costa Rican Swiftlet which scythed by before I had even got out of the door to play catch up. The hotel grounds and river did though hold a Fasciated Tiger-Heron, Muscovy Duck, and a large, prehistoric-looking iguana-the mighty Ctensosaur, of which we were to see many by the end of the morning. The morning walk produced some impressive wrens-both Black-bellied and Rufous-breasted Wrens avoiding my camera lens, but filling my binoculars, at various points; although the undoubted star of the walk were several "flame-doused" male Orange-collared Manakins; simply gorgeous.

In the afternoon, we went on a river cruise, by way of a roosting Black-and-white Owl, which our driver, come secret birder/guide, led us straight to.

The river cruise highlights to come next...

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