March 12, 2011

Published: March 12th 2011EDIT THIS ENTRY

Katy in oak forestKaty in oak forestKaty 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
Novice birderNovice birderNovice birder

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
REAL birdersREAL birdersREAL birders

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
Resplendant QuetzalesResplendant QuetzalesResplendant Quetzales

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.

Additional photos below
Photos: 12, Displayed: 12


6 AM outing6 AM outing
6 AM outing

Is it really necessary to get up that early to see birds?
Humming birdsHumming birds
Humming birds

A feeder outside a mountain (cloud forest) restaurant. There were dozens of darting little figures!
Typical driving sceneTypical driving scene
Typical driving scene

Passing on double lines and on blind mountain curves is part of the excitement.
Katy at music/poetry festival in San JoseKaty at music/poetry festival in San Jose
Katy at music/poetry festival in San Jose

Great guitar playing in the park
San JoseSan Jose
San Jose

Beautiful parks and avenidas
Tarjei ready for some street foodTarjei ready for some street food
Tarjei ready for some street food

During the weekend music and poetry festival in central San Jose

San Jose main branch. I'm next to a bovine with wings...muscled like a bull but with an udder. Why can't our Scotiabank have stuff like that?

17th March 2011
Typical driving scene

Hi Tarjei and Katy!! Well, this is a normal scene in Brazil. Why don't they duplicate the road?... I am enjoying your beautiful pictures. Tarjei, are you truly enjoying bird watching? Are you still planning to arrive in Floripa on April? Best wishes, Caco.

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