Monday 21 March 2016

Costa Rica 2016

Caitlyn and I returned from Costa Rica on the red eye on Saturday night after spending a week in this beautiful country!  I can easily say that it is the best trip we have been on together and the wildlife that we saw was nothing short of spectacular!

I have posted a few of our better shots that exemplify some of the things that we saw, but this blog post just scratches the surface of what we observed.  I will keep text to a minimum so that you can just enjoy the pictures.  I am still working out some of the identification of the wildlife we saw, so if you know better, please let me know!  

For context, we flew into Liberia, Costa Rica and spent our first night at Playa Hermosa.  Personally, I found the town unappealing; it reminded me of a typical rundown town in Mexico, and the area was so dry that, as Pat had told me before, it was "one match away from going completely up in flames".  Nonetheless, the beach was matchless and we had a great time in the waves (until some huge ones came and we lost my hat, Caitlyn's sunglasses and her earrings).  After that it was 2.5hrs inland up into the lush mountains adjacent to the Tenorio Volcano National Park and the Rio Celeste Hideaway Hotel for the remainder of our stay.

Playa Hermosa beach

Great Kiskadee - the most common bird we saw in Costa Rica

Mantled Howler Moneky with baby on the back!
Streak-backed Oriole
Orange-fronted Parakeet
Black-headed Trogon

Common Black Hawk

These next shots are from the Rio Celeste Hideaway Hotel.  This is the nicest and most well run hotel I have ever been to.  

The paths at Rio Celeste Hideaway Hotel

Our balcony view!

Relaxing on our balcony
Caitlyn feeding a Coatimundi a banana!
The hotel had its own walking trail down to the Rio Celeste river adjacent to the Tenorio Volcano National Park that traveled right through the jungle!

The water of the Rio Celeste River!

Summer Tanager
We went on a night hike the first evening we arrived, and headed into the jungle with our guide Pablo.  We were the only one on this and nearly all other tours that we did through the hotel!  Caitlyn was able to (mostly) get over her fear of snakes!

Northern Cat-eyed Snake (non-venomous)

Short-nosed Vine Snake (non-venomous)
Fer de Lance! A very venomous snake responsible for most of the snake fatalities in Costa Rica.  This one was young and was quite small.  We gave it a wide berth!

Tarantula!  I am not sure what kind, but it was huge!
On the second day of our adventure we did a hike through the Tenorio Volcano National Park.  Here is some of the wildlife and scenery we saw!

Huge spider by the park office

Leaf bug of some sort

Female Bare-necked Umbrella Bird

Great Currasow -large, turkey like bird.

Pygmy Squirrel

Green Honeycreeper
 We stopped at the iconic Rio Celeste waterfall.  This photo has not been adjusted, this is the actual colour of the water!

Carmiol's Tanager eating a Cicada

The blue lagoon!
Cocoa Woodcreeper
Broad-billed Motmot!

Hognosed Viper!
Black-throated Trogon
The hotel grounds and local roads had their own wildlife as well, here are a few shots from the area.

Rufous-tailed Hummingbird

Swallow-tailed Kite
Crimson-fronted Parakeet

Caterpillar of some sort
Sloth!!  This guy hung out right outside the hotel entrance basking in the sunlight.

The most common Tanager - Passerini's Tanager
Treefrog of some sort on our balcony railing.
Lizard species
Lizard species
Hoffman's Woodpecker

Violet-headed Hummingbird
White-throated Crake

Groove-billed Ani

Laughing Falcon

Black-cheeked Woodpecker
White Hawk
Masked Tityra
Slaty-tailed Trogon!

Scaly-breasted Hummingbird
Common Tody Flycatcher

My favourite bird of the trip - Keel-billed Toucan!!
Collared Aracari
Black-mandibled Toucan
White-collared Manakin
We made a stop on one of our outings at this iconic tree.  This is an enormous old growth tree and we were told it was at least 1,000 years old!!  The biggest tree I have ever seen by far!

Strawberry Poison Dart Frog AKA Blue Jean Frog

We did an outing to Cano Negro near Lake Nicaragua.  It was like being on a safari!

Northern Jacana
Boat-billed Heron

Caiman were very common along the river 

Note the caiman heads poking out of the water!

Roseate Spoonbill

Turtle of some sort

One of the highlights for me was seeing this Basilisk Lizard AKA "Jesus Christ Lizard" since it can run across the water!  We even saw it run across a short stretch of water.

Basilisk Lizard
Basilisk Lizard

Howler Monkey
Red-legged Honeycreeper
Buff-throated Saltator

Montezuma Oropendola
 Wednesday we spent most of the day back at the resort and around the nearby areas.  Below is a shot of the road that we found was best for birding.  It allowed us to see into the canopy instead of being stuck underneath it with the birds hidden above.

Lineated Woodpecker
Blue-gray Tanager
We also made time to get out and see the Arenal Volcano.  This volcano last erupted in 1968.  The black you can see poking out in the picture below is hardened lava.  You can still see it smoking slightly.

Wildlife was also abundant in this area, and I tallied numerous new bird species here as well.
Brown Jay
Golden-olive Woodpecker

Rio Celeste Trail
A whole troop of Howler Monkeys passed overhead.  Caitlyn was paranoid that they would throw a snake down on us, but I continued to take photos until they had passed overhead.
Howler Monkey

Howler Monkey

The last morning at the hotel, we got up very early and went birding.  The rain overnight had created foggy conditions.

Laughing Falcon - drenched

I wish I had time to tell all the stories and show all the pictures, but there was just too much to include in a blog post!  Maybe I will dig out some of the other stuff we saw in future posts.  Suffice it to say, we will be returning to Costa Rica, and some day I would like to go back to this area.  It was so rich in biological diversity, and the people were very kind.  I would recommend Costa Rica to everybody!