Thursday, 12 March 2015
Carol and I are just back from a holiday in Costa Rica. With no direct flights from the UK, the journey, via Madrid, was long and tiring. With this in mind, we planned for our first couple of days to be 'recovery' days at Finca Rosa Blanca. This is a small hotel and coffee plantation set on the hills overlooking San Jose, the capital city and international airport for Costa Rica.
The gardens and plantation at the Finca were home to quite a few of the 900 or so species of birds recorded in this small country in Central America, including the Blue-crowned Motmot above and below, who liked to perch in the vegetation just outside the door to our bungalow.
To the east, Costa Rica is bounded by the sparkling Caribbean Sea and to the west, the mighty Pacific Ocean. A central mountain range, complete with active volcanoes and cloud forests, runs down the centre of the country, bordered by hundreds of square miles of pristine rainforest all producing a fantastic range of habitats. Add to this its geographical location, a natural migration corridor between North America and South America, and it's easy to understand how such a huge diversity of birds and animals came about.
On our first morning we had booked a private tour which would take us to the top of the 8,800ft Poas Volcano. An active volcano whose 900ft deep crater holds one of the most acidic lakes in the world, unsurprisingly it supports no aquatic life.
The hike from the car park to the top of the volcano was hard work due to the thinner air. Rain and low cloud didn't help and sadly both conspired to deny us any view at all of the volcano or its crater.
On the way back to San Jose we stopped at a roadside cafe/shop, behind which the owner had put up a hummingbird feeder. Several species visited while we were there, but I must confess identifying some of them has been a challenge. I believe the little beauty above and below (all three inches of it) is a Coppery-headed Emerald.....or maybe not!
Next up could be a Green-crowned Brilliant, female I think..........
..........and lastly, a male Violet Sabrewing. Two more hummers were seen, one more here which was a spectacular Green Hermit and higher up on the volcanic slopes, were several Fiery-throated Hummingbirds, one of which gave great views while it was collecting nest materials but it was much too dark in the forest for pictures.
While we admired the Hummers, several other birds showed up including this Blue-gray Tanager above and the Silver-throated Tanager below.
With all the brightly coloured, exotic looking birds stealing the limelight, this nondescript looking bird hardly stood a chance. Surprisingly, this is Costa Rica's national bird, the Clay-coloured Thrush. Which just goes to show that looks aren't everything!
You can't look up into the sky in Costa Rica without seeing vultures. Lots of vultures, sometimes a dozen or more at a time. These are a couple of the most common, Black Vultures.
Next time we move to the very exciting Tortuguero National Park and its flooded rainforest. Home to Sloths, monkeys, Poison Dart Frogs and more birds than you can shake a stick at. 'Pura Vida', as the very friendly Costa Ricans like to say!