Published: March 12th 2011March 12th 2011
Katy in oak forest
The Savegre Valley in the Talamanca Mountains
KF: After a week of Pacific Coast kayaking in Drake Bay, we drove Old Blue Volvo Northeast through the mountains of Costa Rica. We spent three days in the Savegre valley which is in Central Costa Rica, among the Talamanca Mountains. It is, apparently, a bird-watcher's paradise.
Birders from all over the world come to see tanagers, hummingbirds, warblers, woodpeckers, woodrunners, flycatchers, kites, trogons, and above all, THE RESPLENDENT QUETZAL (people always say it with hushed awe, in capital letters -- and yes, that is its full name).
We enjoyed long walks along the Savegre river to waterfalls, and up in the old-growth oak forest along the ridges. It was cool compared to the coast --we had to use lots of blankets at night, and it was fresh and invigorating for hiking during the day. Some of the time we were in the clouds at over 3,000 meters elevation.
There were birds everywhere -- chirping and singing lustily since it is spring mating season here. There were also birdwatchers everywhere -- mostly in flocks led by serious guides. The guides had large spotting scopes on tripods, and mirrors to flash the sun's rays onto high trees where inconspicuous
Notice the binoculars, birding manual and telescopic walking poles. But the lack of a Tilley hat shows he's not a real insider.
brown birds were perching, to point them out for the bird-watching listers. "Look!! It's a pair of slaty flower-piercers!" Then up went twenty pairs of binoculars, with a chorus of "Oooh's" and "Aaah's" and out came twenty pens to check that species off the list. The birders were from all around Europe and North America, so it was fun guessing their nationality by the identifying markings ("Look! It's a pair of orange-panted Tilley-hatted New Yorkers!")
Tarjei and I, with our guide Ben, had a good time wandering through the spectacular landscape, and we did manage to see some beautiful birds including a pair of the truly awesome "RESPLENDENT QUETZALS". Once, we were strolling along a high path when a large tan-colored grouse-type bird waddled across the clearing in front of us. Our Field Guide to Costa Rican Cloud Forest Birds seemed to indicate that this was a "Highland Tinamou". We felt incredibly smug when later, we were discussing it and one of the professional guides said "Wow! Fantastic! Definitely a seven pointer!". (We were unaware of this point system and are still not sure if he was joking).
TT: Some of you will know that we had planned
Notice they travel in a flock and have huge spotting scopes
to keep driving in South America after getting around the Darien Gap. But because other fun opportunities have come up, we are sending her (the Volvo) home. As Katy says, she (the Volvo, not Katy) has worked hard and deserves the R&R on her ocean cruise back to Canada. 15,075 kms through some crazy traffic and rough roads and not even a fender bender! We will continue south by boat, plane, and bus.
We are now spending a week in the capital of Costa Rica, San Jose. It wasn't something we'd looked forward to, but we had to be here to get the car shipping paper work out of the way. We've been happily surprised by San Jose. It's a hopping , bustling place with a great Mediterranean climate. My impression of Latin American cities so far is that they seem to love art in public places (sculpture, painting, murals, poetry and music of all types). Is it an extravagance or does it help to raise the spirit and enrich life?
Last night, we saw flamenco dancing at the National Theatre. Today, one last breakfast of gallo pinto, the typical Tico dish of black beans, rice, onion, cilantro
Here we found a male and female near a nest. See if you can spot them.
- usually with eggs - delicious. Tomorrow, we fly to Quito, Ecuador.
There are more photos below