Costa Rica Travel Diary - p
Sometimes when your plane arrives at the San Jose
international airport, the Costa Ricans on board clap their hands and say "Pura
Vida!" just as the plane touches ground. It's natural that they should feel
this way. For most, it is indeed the good life in this peaceful tropical
country. And did I mention the birds? 840 species, more than exist in all of
In this trip I'm exploring the Pacific lowlands in the southern part of
Costa Rica, and then the highlands: the Talamanca range south of San Jose.
Both areas abound in beautiful birds - I've a long shopping list of species that I hope to
see and photograph.
27 February 2004
Today I fly to Puerto Jimenéz on the Osa
peninsula, where Scarlet Macaws feed in the trees around the park. From town it's a
short taxi ride to Bosque Río del Tigre Lodge. The lodge banana feeders are busy
when I arrive: Cherrie's and Blue-gray Tanagers, Buff-throated Saltator, and the
incredible Red-legged Honeycreeper. As if on cue, a Baird's Trogon, one of the
special birds of the Pacific foothills, shows up and starts calling.
My corner room is completely open to the forest on two sides - I fall
asleep to the sound of the Río Tigre nearby, as well as calls of Least Tinamou and Common
Pauraque. A mosquito net covers the bed. Bats sometimes roost on the ceiling
of the room, so it's there partly to keep bat guano from falling on you as you sleep,
which I think is a great idea.
||28 February 2004
After coffee at dawn, I'm off to visit a mating lek of Orange-collared Manakins.
The handsome chickadee-sized males gather in dense understory near the trail.
Each has cleared an area on the ground about 3 feet in diameter containing 3 finger-sized
saplings. Whenever a female appears, he drops down to the saplings to perform for
her: hopping from one sapling to the next, calling and also making a mechanical
sound with his wings.
Photographing manakins is difficult. They're not shy, but in the
dark understory I must set the camera to a high ISO of 800, which introduces graininess
into the photo. A very low shutter speed (1/15th second!!) is needed to get the shot.
Somehow I manage several acceptable ones in two mornings of work.
29 February 2004
Drama in nature: a female manakin, having succumbed to a male's charming
antics, is nesting near the parking area. She builds the nest and raises the chicks
alone, while the male remains at the lek, dancing and seducing other females. When I
described this arrangement to fellow guest Mary, a retired American now living in San
Jose, she responded with "Well, isn't that just so....today!" She was
somewhat mollified to learn that among other birds, such as tinamous and phalaropes, it is
the female who is the free spirit and the male who alone cares for eggs and young.
||1 March 2004
Yesterday the manakin chicks hatched, but today
the nest is empty. Our prime suspect is the Blue-crowned Motmot, a jay-sized bird
that lurks in the understory. The one that we sometimes see near the lodge is
feeding a grown fledgling of its own, so perhaps we should just be philosophical and
consider it part of nature's food chain.