Day 7: Costa Rica

I love Senda Monteverde Hotel! However after a final morning walk, we left Monteverde for our final destination in Carrillo Beach in Guanacaste.

Along the way, we stopped once again in Abangares for gas, where I was entertained by the Macaws.

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Macaw

The views along the route were also pretty amazing.

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We later stopped for lunch and a private, guided boat tour on the Bebedero River in the Tempisque River basin bordering Palo Verde National Park.

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We also saw so many crocodiles and babies!

We even saw monkeys, a giant anteater and bats! I need to emphasis how excited I was to see the bats!! I finally got a video of a basilisk running on water as well.

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Our final days will be spent at Nammbú Beach Resort. I’ll admit I was not in the best of moods when I arrived – I was pure crankiness. I ended up taking a quick trip to check out the beach at sunset before getting in the pool to cool off and nab a drink from the poolside bar (which definitely helped).

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Day 6: Costa Rica

We kicked off the morning with a morning bird walk in a country road near Monteverde.

It was interesting: we were headed through Monteverde when suddenly our driver pulls over and says he’s found a sloth for us. Apparently, our driver is fascinated with sloths and he really did find one as he drove through town. It was a Hoffman’s Two-toed Sloth, which our tour guide said we were lucky to get a good photo of.

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Hoffman’s Two-toed Sloth

We then headed over to Selvatura Park, a nature and adventure ecological park with over 850 acres of protected land. We toured the cloud forest via the park’s many suspension bridges that took us through and above the tree tops. Among the birds we saw were an adult male Three-wattled Bellbird and a Resplendent Quetzal that flew over us.

I ate lunch in town at Amy’s cuisine, where I had a typical Costa Rican lunch, and then sat in on a bellbird conservation talk back at the hotel, and then ate once again at the restaurant.

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Day 5: Costa Rica

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We started our day off with a morning hike with the goal of spotting the Three-wattled Bellbird. We did not see it, although a couple that stayed behind because they were sick later spotted it near the hotel’s lobby. We ate breakfast at the hotel’s restaurant. It overlooks the grounds, and we watched the below Lesson’s Motmot and Yellow-crowned Euphonia visit a tree just outside our window.

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Lesson’s Motmot
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Yellow-crowned Euphonia

After a quick breakfast, we then went straight to the Monteverde Cloud Forest Biological Preserve. The preserve was founded in 1972, and you want to arrive early to get assigned to the more popular trails. We arrived later than we had originally planned to so we were deferred to a less popular trail (although you still can’t go wrong on whatever trail you end up on). 

Throughout the whole hike, we were on a lookout for the Resplendent Quetzal, an endangered bird known for its colorful plumage and considered one of the most beautiful birds in the world. We were just about to leave the trail when we decided to walk up another side trail to an artificial nest set up by preserve staff. We got lucky – we found both a male and a female (which visited the nest). Another tour guide was sweet enough to take my phone and get a cell phone photo (below, top left) through his scope of the Resplendent Quetzal. We actually had a pair of sisters cry because they joined the group specifically to see this particular bird and they were so thrilled they got to see it.

Before we left the preserve, we stopped by their hummingbird/gift shop/cafe area where they had multiple hummingbird feeders set up for visitors to catch a closer glimpse of the various species of hummingbirds. I have to admit: this was my favorite part because hummingbirds are so darn beautiful and funny!

While traveling to our next stop for Finca Life Coffee Tour in Monteverde, we saw the below Masked Tityra on a telephone pole.

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Masked Tityra

Once at the coffee farm, we ate lunch before touring the farm and sampling the coffee. It was definitely fascinating to learn how the family-managed farm operates.

While I loved hearing about the history of the coffee farm and how it operates, I also enjoyed the birds we found. We actually saw a male Three-wattled Bellbird! It sat in a tree calling near a Pale-billed Woodpecker. Near the end of the tour while looking at the coffee beans in the field, we discovered a male juvenile calling and a Montezuma Oropendola that completed a series of bows from a tree branch as part of its mating ceremony.

Tonight, we went on a guided night walk at Curi Cancha Reserve, which includes 205 acres of primary and secondary forest. Only a few folks from the group went on the night walk, and afterwards, we ended up eating together in town at a local bar before heading back to crash. It was a fun walk, but I was disappointed in the lack of diversity in the amount of species we found – mainly because I really wanted to see an owl. But, we did see multiple bats and the below snake was a cool find!

Day 4: Costa Rica

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Solimar Ranch: Bare-throated Tiger Heron with a struggling Burrowing Python that eventually got away.

While I liked Hacienda Guachipelin, we had issues with some of the air conditioner units leaking causing several of us to wake up to water all over the place. I enjoyed the stay, but I was ready to move on. We pulled out this morning for the next stage of our trip.

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While traveling to Monteverde, we stopped at the Solimar Ranch for lunch and a guided tour of the ranch and wetlands. The ranch is just south of the mouth of the Tempisque River. The owner/guide was impressive – he was great at spotting birds and you wanted to stay near him at all times! I loved watching the basilisks run across the top of the water and searching for the various birds, crocodiles and flowers. Up near the ranch house, there were gardens with tons of butterflies. While we ate, we watched a male and female Rose-throated Becards build their nest. The pair took turns entering the nest and frequently sat near or on the nest the whole time we were at the house.

One member of our group – a University of Arkansas grad student – had a neat find! He caught a boa constrictor that was in the process of catching a green iguana! Below is a video of him telling the story.

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After Solimar Ranch, we made a pit stop in Abangares for gas (apparently, no one can be in the vehicle when you fill up so we all had to get out). We used this time to visit a souvenir store, and get sweets (mango milkshake) at Cafeteria Mi Finca. We also stopped at a roadside place – Cafeteria Horizonte – to take in the views.

We eventually arrived at Senda Monteverde Hotel. I joined a group for dinner at its restaurant, which was so dang good even if the desert was too rich for me to finish. We were greeted by staff with drinks once again and our cabins are pretty amazing. There was a mix-up with our cabins, but it was quickly straightened up.

Day 3: Costa Rica

Today, we toured Rincon de la Vieja National Park and saw “Las Pailas,” the bubbling mud pits created by a nearby volcano. It was naturally still raining but it didn’t deter us.

Once we got back to the hotel, I joined one other adult and three kids from my group for a horseback ride to Las Chorreras and Victoria Waterfalls. We had two other adults back out at the last minute because of nerves. My horse and I had a love/hate relationship and, taking a sliding ride uphill/downhill during the rain was slightly frightening at times. However, it was worth the trip. It was fun. It was also great getting in the last waterfall pictured below.

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Day 2: Costa Rica

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Three Pacific Screech Owls greeted us as we left the hotel this morning to start the day. Like yesterday, it was cloudy and rainy so we decided to head over to the Santa Rosa National Park, which became a historical landmark in 1971. It is the site of the Battle of Santa Rosa and where Costa Rican independence was won. We walked through parts of mature dry forest to search for birds. We even found howler monkeys hunkered down to wait out the rain.

We wrapped up the day by visiting the hotel’s Volcanic Mud Hot Springs and dinner at a Curubandé restaurant where we tried various local dishes.

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There are optional morning and night walks each day. I opted to go on tonight’s walk.

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Day 1: Costa Rica

 

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Great Kiskadee (Hacienda Guachipelin)

Well, I left today for my 2nd ever international birding trip!

The trip was organized by the Arkansas Audubon Society to raise money for its trust and to provide scholarships for students. I actually had several people with my group on my flights, which was nice. It made navigating the airport in Liberia, Costa Rica, a little easier. Once we met up with our tour guide and group, we stopped by El Jardin Liberia, a restaurant and souvenir store, for lunch before heading on to our first hotel: Hacienda Guachipelin in Rincon de la Vieja. We were greeted with drinks and musicians. We searched for birds as we wandered to our rooms, and later ate at the hotel’s restaurant.

Blue-gray Tanager

Turquoise-browned Motmot

Red-billed Pigeon

Just a little rain

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It seems Black-bellied Whistling Ducks (above) are the ducks this year. They were among the birds found during a recent rainy trip to Bald Knob National Wildlife Refuge. My most exciting find, though: Bobolinks.

(Click on the photo to see name of bird)

Bald Knob NWR

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Prothonotary Warbler

I visited the Bald Knob National Wildlife Refuge on April 28, and luckily got my first snapshots of a Prothonotary Warbler, Bobolink and Field Sparrow.

Photos: Killdeer (top, right), Field Sparrow (center right), Common Grackle (center, left), female Bobolink (bottom, left), and Barn Swallow (bottom, right).

 

Quick Trip

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Solitary Sandpiper

 

As I headed to Northeast Arkansas on Friday, I made a quick pitstop at the Bald Knob National Wildlife Refuge. High waters kept me on the south side of Huntsman Road near Safely Road, and limited time prevented me from entering on Coal Chute Road. Still, it was a fun trip – here’s some of what I found:

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Northern Parula
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Snowy Egret
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Brown-headed Cowbird