Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Costa Rica: Mangrove Tour Day, Part 2

There he is, running across the water!  Hahahahaha, yeah, the picture blows, but it's the best I could get.  They're ~really~ fast!

The other swallow, some sort of rough-winged swallow.  I have a picture that shows a pale rump, so maybe it's southern (as the guides said) although I don't see much of a cinnamon throat.  I mean, I could sort of talk myself into a hint of a cinnamon.... goatee.

Mangrove swallow!

I spotted a blue-black grassquit, since I'm the only one with binocs.  He was hilarious - he would just hop up about 2 feet and back down, wait a minute, and hop again.  Off of whatever - the wire, the grass, whatever.  Awesome!  The pictures are terrible, just a silhouette of a bird, basically.

And here's stumpy.  An iguana can lose its tail, but it doesn't really grow back, so it's a one-time thing.

We found a tree boa.  And by "we" I mean the girl in the front with no binocs.  The guide wrestled it into the boat.  He wanted us to hold it, but nobody would.  We touched it though.

Howler monkeys!  It was during this sighting that I got the unfortunate news that my memory card was full.  And I foolishly didn't bring another one, even though I've seen it happen to other people!  So I frantically started deleting crappy shots.  Oof.

Blue-crowned mot mot!  The guides didn't know why I wasn't super-excited about this guy.  I mean, yeah, they are definitely awesome.  But one came right over to me specifically yesterday morning, and posed for a few minutes, so seeing one far away and half hidden was not quite the rush it otherwise would have been!

Squirrel monkeys!  Little and quick and really quite beautiful.  Hard to get pictures of.  But there were many of them, so I had a few chances.

A boat-billed heron!  I was hoping to see one of these, the pictures are hilarious.

It's even funnier from the front!

We saw a turkey vulture perched. Probably going after the dead iguana we saw after noticing the vulture. Everyone else wanted to move along quickly, so, no great pictures.  It was cool though!

And at one point we were looking at something else, and I saw another grey-necked wood rail sneaking through the underbrush.  Two in one trip!  I felt so lucky!

White-faced monkeys!  This whole encounter was hilarious.  The monkeys were busy facing off with another group across the river, defending their territory, shaking the branches, the whole thing.  Awesome!

The guides were determined to get us to feed the monkeys bananas.

It took a ~while~ because the monkeys..... well they were busy!


A bunch of black vultures in a tree.  It was actually a little .... meunsters-esque.

Roadside hawk!  In this case riverside hawk, but, whatever.  I felt really happy to see him, after reading so many people say they didn't see many birds of prey in Costa Rica.  At least I got one!  :-)

Then the guests of honor finally arrived - scarlet macaws!

They were in almond trees in someone's yard (apparently that's their favorite so people plant them on purpose for them) and we all trooped out of the boat and into the yard.

It was an absolutely incredible sighting, 2 pairs, close up.  And we left first, which I felt good about.

But then they left too and passed us on the boat, stopping at a tree just ahead of us, to give us another spectacular view!  Ridiculous!

On the way back, the crocodile was still there.  He had a lunch, but he put it away when I got the camera out.  Probably for the best, they are messy eaters.

It started to sprinkle as we came into the marina, but not hard enough to stop me from shooting these two orange-chinned parakeets in the parking lot!  Hahahaha, I didn't even realize it was a pair until I was cropping the picture to post it.  I thought I was taking a picture of just the one.  Awesome!  :-)

We had lunch at a pretty place that looked really promising, but it was raining so much that I didn't go around.  I did from the covered patio see a northern waterthrush but it left when I cam back with the camera.

What a day!  After that, it was just driving back to Rancho Pacifico, quick rinse, massages, long hot shower, cocktails, dinner, falling over into bed.  We're getting the hang of this!

Costa Rica: Mangrove Day, Part 1

Today was mangrove tour day!  Apparently I didn't do much else, there are no pictures from the morning.

Starting the tour were some iguanas in trees.  I thought I saw a crocodile right away, but it was just a bunch of floating vegetation.  And thus the rest of the boat was introduced to my optimism.  :-)

Here's a groove-billed ani!  I was hoping to see one, having seen the smooth-billed ani in Cayman.  They're harder to tell apart from the grackles here.  In Cayman the grackles flew with their tails making a vertical silhouette a lot of the time, but I'm not seeing that here.  I already know they're a different kind because of the coloring of the female, plus the longer tail, it's interesting to see the differences.

These mangrove swallows were all over, and gorgeous!  They have a nest in there, and this one seems to be guarding a much-prized egret feather.  All through the trip I would see these guys flitting about, showing off their extreme flying acrobatic skills.

This black iguana / ctenosaur is shaking its money-maker for the ladies.  Work it!

Jacana!  They claimed it's the first one they've seen here.  Yay!  I didn't get a good view of its ridiculous feet, but did get a great view of its built-in sun visor.  Love!

Little blue heron.  First of many.

River turtle.  We saw two of these, they are good-sized turtles, and so beautiful!

Great blue heron.  He needed to go.

I'll say it again - Damn You Autofocus!

Tropical kingbird - I didn't get a shot with its incredibly yellow chest shown off to its full advantage.  Believe me - that little sliver is just the beginning!  You can see the tail is notched, which is the big difference between the tropical kingbird and the western kingbird.  

There is a green heron in this picture.  That I spotted!  I mean, accidentally while I was looking for something else entirely, but still......

There was also another kind of swallow, they said southern rough-winged.  They were hiding in bad light though, so the pictures are not great.  I got a really nice shot later though!

We saw two crocodiles.  They saw the one chilling by the bank, but didn't see the one swimming across the front of the boat until I pointed it out.  The pics came out..... meh.  

This woodpecker came by, I didn't bother telling anyone, I was the only one with binocs and it was kind of far off.  The picture isn't good enough to ID it, there are several candidates.  And it only stayed for a few seconds.  I was lucky to see it!

This green heron is much less shy!

Another little blue heron.  I like the framing here.

Purple gallinule!  At last!  We actually saw a bunch of these guys here and there.  This guy was so elusive in Cayman, the guides were a little confused why I was excited to see them.  :-)

Yellow crowned night heron, showing off, lounge lizard style.  He looks like he's about to break into Rod Sterwart at any time!

And normal.

Short billed (?) pigeon.  We didn't stick around.  Really, birders are the only ones at all interested in different kinds of pigeons, unless they look ~really~ different.  

White ibis!  They are both gorgeous and ..... well, a bit freaky.  Doesn't its head look ..... well..... slightly vulture-esque?

Little blue heron number 17-ish.  Seriously, they were everywhere!

Monday, November 29, 2010

Costa Rica: I don't know how to sum up this day

Well, sleeping did not go well last night.  Mostly because of sinus issues.  I should have taken Claratin, but it tends to keep me awake.  But I was awake anyway, so really, not much of a down side.  Oh well, the birds got me out of bed and after some Diet Coke they cheered me up quite a bit.

Here's the view from our patio.  That's the ocean out there.  Sometimes we could even see it!  :-)  To the left are the trees across the road.  To the right is the main building and the tree that sticks out on the right is the one that had the iguana, and frequently had hummingbirds.  Those little suckers are fast!  They often went through our little garden, but I was always too slow to take a picture.  Or even call Brooke over.  Maddening!

Anyway.  Wood creepers!  A pair, chasing each other around.  It wasn't light enough yet for good pictures, but I really enjoyed these guys.

Some doves or pigeons came over to the tree past the main building, I'll try to figure out what they were...... Well the only one I see in my book that has the nape band is the band-tailed pigeon, although we were a smidge outside its normal range.

A different kind of wood creeper came over, I guess I was clear about liking those others.  :-)

There is an indigo bunting in this picture.  Seriously.

There was a lull in the birding action, so I decided to go to the other part of the patio (it was quite fancy) to write some notes.  But I was stopped mid-step by this blue-crowned mot mot!  I couldn't get a super crisp photo with the racket tail (thanks autofocus) but isn't he gorgeous??????

Oh, this is a bug of some sort.  They are so odd here I can't even classify it.  A leaf bug I guess?

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My best (sadly) shot of the male cherrie's tanager.  Taken at breakfast.

Again with the posing flycatcher.

Turns out I *did* get a shot of a hummingbird in our garden...... sort of......

I have never been able to shoot a butterfly from this angle before.  Freaky!

To the beach!  We went over and had just a little while to walk along the stream and beach before lunch and heading back for Brooke's conference call.

We saw some guys on the way out to the beach....... I don't know who this guy is.  Some sort of large-ish flycatcher? Kingbird?

Then at the water - a great kiskadee!  Oh, it turns out they are basically everywhere, but we were thrilled to see this guy bathing!

Along the beach were many pretty butterflies.

And a hermit crab that had climbed up into this flower.

A Jesus Christ lizard!  So called because it can run on water.  For a little while anyway.  It runs upright, godzilla-style.  Hilarious!

We quickly found a hermit crab city.  Pretty busy!

And a tiny ghost crab that my camera had a lot of trouble focusing on.

All along the beach we saw a lot of messes, the first one or two looked like possibly tracks from a snake or big lizard, we were iffy about going near the holes.

But it turned out to be these crabs!  The ones that make pellets from sand!

On the way back we saw the vortex butterfly.  I don't know its actual name, I couldn't find it in the book.  It clearly should be named vortex.  :-)

There was only one sandpiper, I don't know what kind....... I'm guessing a yellowlegs.

At lunch, this chestnut mandibled toucan came to visit the feeder!  He showed us his very best Stevie Wonder impression.  It was spot on!

The coveted inside-the-mandible shot.


Once back home, Brooke went to do her work thing, and I got an early start on Happy Hour.  And, as it turns out, birding hour!  These birds were absolutely gorgeous, and quite reclusive.  They did ~not~ want pictures.

Across towards the main building were this parakeet

And this bay-headed tanager.

I wish I had gotten a picture that did it justice!

On the way to pre-massage cocktails, we saw this toucan.  Apparently this one has some sort of beak issue, so at least we can confirm it's a different individual.

In addition to the vultures (as usual), the tanagers teasing me as usual, the dark crazy one with blue shoulders (I never did figure those guys out), I saw this treasure - a green honeycreeper!  I was hoping to see a honeycreeper, I'm so happy!

There was a power outage after our showers but before dinner time.  We decided to just grab our lights (my poor little booklight and Brooke's surprisingly powerful emergency flashlight) and head to where to alcohol was.  It came back on sometime during dinner, so all was fine.  When we got home, there was a frog by my shoe!

That wraps it up for today.  Again, we saw a lot!