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In search of Quetzals and Tamanduas (Costa Rica)


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Whyone?

We have recently returned from a vist to one of our favourite countries - Costa Rica.

 

It was primarily a road (and boat!) trip with some friends who were visiting the country for the first time, but I had planned things to 'put us in the way of opportunity' to hopefully see a couple of animals which had eluded us on previous visits.

 

I'm not going to go into great detail regarding the trip, other than to say we planned and booked everything ourselves rather than use a TA, and to mention a few place names along the way. (So yes, this is really just an excuse to post a few photo's which I hope some will enjoy!) 

 

Following the collection of our rental car, a nice, brand new white Toyota Fortuner (slightly alarmingly this was supplied without licence plates, but we were assured that this is 'normal' / 'fine'....whats the worst that could happen?!) we headed north-east of San Jose to Poas volcano to get over the worst of our jet lag.

 

We stayed at Horsensias Chalets which proved a great introduction to the friendliness and hospitality of Costa Rican people for our friends.

 

The volcano has been significantly more active recently, and measures are in place limiting access / numbers.  (Including gas masks for all and concrete bunkers to retire too in the event of alarms sounding).

 

We visited early in the morning (tickets now have to be booked online) to maximise our chances of a clear view. As it turned out, we were above the clouds!

 

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We also walked up to the old, now flooded, main crater (the largest flooded crater in the world I believe?)

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  • Whyone? changed the title to In search of Quetzals and Tamanduas (Costa Rica)
Whyone?
Posted (edited)

Next Stop - San Gerado de Dota and maybe, just maybe, a chance to see my first Quetzal (which is a great Scrabble word by the way!)

 

We spent a few nights in the San Gerado de Dota region (staying at Trogon Lodge).

 

It was early in the nesting season when we visited and I quickly learned than once you had the good fortune of finding an active nesting site (they nest in holes in trees) there is an awful lot of tail feather waving to watch!

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Sometimes this is accompanied by clouds of wood dust, the product of the male birds hard work to impress the female with his tree excavating skills...

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But every now an again, the male will decide enough is enough, and appear at the nest entrance...

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...and scoots off for a well earned break!

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He will then languish resplendently in an adjacent tree (very, very occasionally in decent light)

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...and the female will fly over to inspect his work:

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Apparently not content, his endeavours continue:

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So, just two posts into my report, and that is half of the mission sorted already! :)

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Atravelynn

A quick 1/2 Mission Accomplished.  The feather waving is almost as beautiful as the quetzal itself.  Too bad the tamandua couldn't fit in that hole or you'd have it all immediately.

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Whyone?
Posted (edited)
12 hours ago, Atravelynn said:

A quick 1/2 Mission Accomplished.  The feather waving is almost as beautiful as the quetzal itself.  Too bad the tamandua couldn't fit in that hole or you'd have it all immediately.

 

A quetzal and a tamandua in the same photo - wouldn't that be a thing?!

 

**Spoiler Alert** there will be no quetzal's coalescing with tamandua's in this report :(

 

 

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Atravelynn

I'm still looking forward to the rest even without a quetzal and tamandua combo shot.

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A wonderful quetzal sequence - lovely photos

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michael-ibk

Awesome Queztal sighting indeed. That volcano looks fantastic too.

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Dave Williams

I had to google Tamandua to find out what it was! I'd have love to have seen one, apparently they were seen at Monteverde while we were there but I didn't go looking. I regret it now!!

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Whyone?

Thank you @TonyQ,@michael-ibkand @Dave Williams

 

Dave - Tamanduas became something of an obsession after our limited success seeing them in the Pantanal last year when we saw just one, very fleetingly....on a very dark night....in thick bush. We really saw it in instalments by flashlight - first a glimpse of the head, then some claws, and finally a tail!

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Whyone?
Posted (edited)

I am aware that I have been neglecting this report, so a quick post before I move on from Trogon Lodge.

 

Whilst waiting for Quetzals to came and go from their nest site I was kept amused by these charming little birds - White Throated Mountain Gems.

 

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I quite quickly realised that my reflexes / photographic skills were not up to chasing hummingbirds.

However, watching them go about their business, it quickly became apparent to me that their behaviour was reasonably predictable....in a slightly chaotic way! That is to say, they would visit pretty much every open flower on a particular plant. So, I chose flowers with good light / a nice PoV / background and held them in frame until a bird visited, made sure focus switched to the bird and then snapped away!

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Whyone?
Posted (edited)

Also around the grounds of Trogon Lodge there were some nice, confiding, Spiny Lizards.

 

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Also some very obliging Scintillant hummingbirds - these guys are tiny, I've seen (much!) bigger insects.  That being said, they are far from being short of attitude, frequently chasing much bigger birds away from their 'patch'.

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Whyone?
Posted (edited)

From Trogon Lodge we drove down to the Pacific Coast, renting a very beautiful private house high on a headland near Dominical.  We went from needing heaters, hot water bottles and fires and 12 degree C temperatures, to very warm mid 30's, but the coastal location and the clever design of Costa Rican houses (open front and rear to allow air flow) plus a pool meant that we managed!

 

View from the house looking south, over Playa Hermosa, towards Uvita, Parque Nacional Marino Ballena and on to the Osa peninsula beyond.

 

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Whyone?
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We spent some time out and about at night in the Sierpe Estuary.  

 

It was the dry season and it was very dry, making frogs much more difficult to see and find than had been the case on previous visits, but we still had some nice encounters:

 

It was dry season when we visited this time, and it was certainly very dry!  

 

So far fewer frogs to be seen than on previous visits, but we still saw a few :)

 

Glass frog (unsure which one?)

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Rain frog:

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Golfodulcean poison-arrow frog (Phyllobates vittatus)

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Blue jeans poison frog (Oophaga pumilio) This guy was tiny - maybe 1cm long.

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By contrast, Smoky Jungle frogs (Leptodactylus pentadactylus) are huge - maybe 20cm!

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Finally one of my favourites, the Green and Black Poison-dart frog  (Dendrobates auratus)

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Zim Girl

Lovely selection of frogs!

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At this house there was a small feeding platform where we were encouraged to leave a little fruit each morning for the Toucans. 

 

Each day we put out some chopped papaya and, perhaps unsurprisingly, this proved popular with a number of our 'neighbours'. 

 

Notably, a very rowdy group of Capachins were frequent visitors. 

 

One morning they visited the platform in turn (presumably in hierarchical order).  This monkey was last in line....

 

Now I know it is dangerous to project human emotions and actions onto animals, but I believe that this monkey, the last to visit the platform only to find that all the food had been eaten, expresses his/her feelings very clearly indeed...tell me I'm wrong?!

 

 

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As well as the frogs, we saw some other nice creatures whilst exploring the forests on the slopes adjacent to the Sierpe estuary at night...

 

Giant Owl Butterfy (Caligo illioneus) resting:

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Bromeliad 'wandering' Spider  (Cupiennius salei ).  This chap was about 6" across.

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I was keen to photograph tarantulas and whilst they were easy to find, they really weren't keen on hanging about to have their picture taken.

 

This female quickly scuttled back to her hole...

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You don't want to upset them to the point that they start shedding the urticating hairs on their abdomen!

 

Young Fer-de-lance (Bothrops Asper)...very beautiful but clearly not a snake to get bitten by!

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Tailless Whip Scorpion - they look a little scary, but completely harmless to humans

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A very large (~7") fishing spider...front legs resting on the water surface waiting patiently for unsuspecting prey to pass...

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