Blogs from Costa Rica, Central America Caribbean


On Sunday the 11th Carlos picked us up – glad he found his way back! at 10 am. Of course he was early and we were scrambling with clean up. David & I had taken an early wander with Megan down to the pool – nope, it was not even tempting – bit far from house and water very “fresh.” We used the hot tub multiple times instead, as it was on the deck and the temperature at this altitude was lovely but not hot. This is when David spotted the last new bird - a simple Yellow-olive flycatcher. We all took different ways to get back to the house (very steep terrain and so much fruit all over the place). Another fun point - I swear the same bird (a Melodious Blackbird) woke us up ... read more
airport hills

We got picked up by a new driver, Ivan, at 8 am, to head off to the Monteverde Cloud Forest. We decided not to engage guides – Andrew had been bored by the slower pace before, and David wanted to look mostly for birds. Megan went with us and was very patient – keen on finding mushrooms – and Jean was keen to find a wild orchid. Megan ended up with 5 types of mushrooms, and David found a new hummingbird (Violet sabre wing) and Costa Rican Warbler. David had also found a new ground sparrow before we had even left – so we are up to around 90 new birds for Costa Rica. We walked all the way to the continental divide - dividing the flow of streams and rivers of course between the Caribbean ... read more

It’s just not possible to sleep in when the birds are so active and singing beautifully through our open windows. So we wandered the grounds just a little before another lovely breakfast cooked mostly by Heather and Mike (and cleanup as usual by yours truly 😊) before our ride Marciel picked us up at 9:15. The 6 were taken to the Original Canopy Tour zip line event, and David & Jean were dropped off at nearby Santa Elena, where we discovered familiar territory. We had simply not remembered, or understood, that our stay with the McClungs last year in Monteverde was actually in this town. We also learned (or were reminded) that Monteverde itself was barely settled until the 50s, when a group of Quakers (presumably from the US), settled to start dairy farming. They immediately ... read more
blue-vented hummingbird
famous hot chocolate
house wren

The day started early with the birds around 5! We were out walkling the grounds before 6 – a long walk down the road and trails to the pool – a gorgeous setting but whether we will be too chilly up here in the mountains to use it, we’ll see. We didn’t spy any new birds, but nice friends, esp the toucanets. The view from the terrace is all the way to the Gulf of Nicoya, on the Pacific coast. Maybe 2-3 hours drive, but only about 20-30 miles! Not much between here and there either. After our wonderful breakfast made by Heather and Mike, scrambled eggs and bacon for most of us, pancakes for Megan who hates eggs, and cleanup, we all (but Megan) walked about 15 mins down the road to a potter’s shop. ... read more
2 Motmot
3 Keel billed toucan chased by grackels
4 Swallow tail kite

I needed a reminder that today is Wednesday! We had plenty of time to say thank you to both Yadi the chef and Joaquin the all-around man, and do our packing up. Joaquin sent us off with a box full of goodies: plantains, huge avocados, and cassava roots. We exchanged hugs and left by 11 am, Heather and David having left earlier to return the 2 rental cars. BTW we spent about $112 for that 3 day rental. The road that Carlos took was to the west, past the entrance to Ecotermales and Arenal Observatory and Mistoco Hanging Bridges. We circumnavigated the huge Lake Arenal, created by tectonic activity centuries ago, but expanded on purpose to create electricity (Carlos said it supplies 1/3 of the country’s needs), and wiping out two towns that were rebuilt elsewhere. ... read more
2 Iguana crossing bridge
3 Adult heron
4 Black vulture

Once more up with the birds and first light before 6. David and I toured the grounds as usual and saw the herons and whistling ducks etc. Those are the photos that are named but not numbered. Today was our one thing planned – the Ecotermales Hotsprings. When we arrived around 9:15, there were only 2-3 cars in the parking lot: a German lady living in England who had been dropped off by tour bus (sad story – she said David was really the first person she’d chatted to for 5 days, the others on her tour being Spanish speaking, and no one else from UK having signed up). We went from area to area – the ones furthest “up the hill” being the hottest. In fact, not everyone could sit in the shoulder-massaging-hottest waterfalls. Unlike ... read more
1 at Hot springs
1 at hotspring A&M
1 at Hotsprings Andrew

Wow, have we done a lot today. Lovely breakfast again prepared by Yadi, who lives next door, on the grounds. Had a 45 min drive to Mistoco Hanging Bridges tour – a guided walk. Our guide was Donald, and he was excellent at pointing out all sorts of things. David understood that this would not be a birding tour – for that we should have been there at 6 not 9. We saw 3 snakes, the flat frogs on leaves that looked like gummy frogs, a NEW HUMMINGBIRD, and an owl (NEW BIRD), a bat, and some bluejean frogs (they are bright red but have blue legs). We heard toucans and saw a Rufous motmot. We went up and down for 3 hours and were very very hot by the end. Donald recommended a soda for ... read more
Arenal with fumeroles
Aricari in our own backyard

Today was long, hot, but very nice. We had breakfast cooked by Yadi – scrambled eggs, bacon, and the traditional gallo pinto. Yummy. We wandered the garden a little and found just one new bird: NORTHERN JACANA, at the lagoon. Joaquin the gardener also pointed out a small cayman (small, but still about 4’ long – no swimming in the lagoon, for sure!) Then we and Heather and Dario caught a taxi into La Fortuna to get our rental cars, and everyone enjoyed time in the pool. It was very hot and sunny. When lunch time arrived, everyone but us walked down to the local soda, and we headed off for the Arenal Observatory Lodge for a day pass entry, hoping that the rain would hold off. Arenal the volcano was stunningly “out” for most of ... read more
Arenal volcano
Black mandibled Toucan
Collared Aracari

Unfortunately both flights got in very very late Friday night, so none of us got much sleep, but the good news is that all our family arrived safely, and we are very grateful.. Even with 4 hours sleep, we walked the grounds a bit before breakfast. It’s bright so early, everyone was soon up and enjoying the traditional Tico breakfast of eggs, fruit, rice mixed with black beans, and coffee and juice of course. Our driver Carlos arrived early and we piled in. More than enough room for all, but not much more for luggage if we’d had more. Jean in the way back with Andrew, as neither of us get car sick, then, closer to the front was Heather & Dario and Megan, right behind driver was Anna & Mike, and David sat shotgun. We ... read more
1 Huge tree at Villa
1 morning at Villa
1 Standalone house at Villa

Well, the day we’ve been both dreading and looking forward to….time to leave this magical and cool place but also to welcome our nuclear family. Before breakfast we walked along the very rocky and rapid small river – yes, found more of those cute Torrent Tyrannulets. They are the size of English robins - little balls of birds. We did NOT see any herons (David’s hope) or American Dippers. After breakfast we were encouraged to walk just a little ways up the hill – yep, 2 female Quetzals. And then 2 males. Then while we were trying to pack up a cleaning lady encouraged us to look up in the tree just next to our room – yep, a pair. So, we were full to overflowing in our wish to find these amazing birds. We managed ... read more
2 Long-tailed silky flycatcher
2 Torrent Tyrannulet
4 Female having a fluff up

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