Tuesday, 25 February 2020

Costa Rica part13: the final stop

Very often on holiday the last day can be a total waste. You are travelling and packing and going to airports. We had worked this trip though so that we could be on holiday right to the last minute. Our flight was a late afternoon one so we arranged to stay in a hotel in the countryside near San Jose airport. We got there early afternoon the previous day so had a whole afternoon and the following morning to potter about in the hotel grounds, which were an old coffee plantation. It was really lovely.
There were lots of birds around in the wooded areas and I even got a few new trip ticks including this overflying peregrine falcon,
Philadelphia vireo,
as well as this transitional-plumaged summer tanager
the rufous-taped wren which we first met in La Sabana park on our first day
and this clay-coloured thrush

By far and away though, and one of the highlights of the whole holiday, was finding a young steely-vented hummingbird.
I was wandering around the grounds when I saw a small bird perched on a branch at the top of a bush. I could see it was a hummingbird but couldn't work out which one.

It seems to be settled unlike most hummers which whizz around everywhere. After watching it for a few minutes it got a bit more agitated and I realised what was going on.

Its parent came in and started to feed it!

They do this by almost impaling the young bird on their dagger-like bill and regurgitating food for them. It was all a bit loud as the youngster was squeaking away when the parent stopped.

Finally the parent flew off leaving the youngster behind.

It was starting to get dark so we left them to it. We tried the following day to find them again but no luck. Hopefully it is even now fluttering around the gardens of the hotel.
A great finish to an absolutely superb holiday. Perfect weather,  great choice of hotels, wildlife living up to expectation and good food. As ever, will we go back? No idea as there is still plenty of the rest of the globe to see but the fact we missed the quetzal still hurts and I think we may have unfinished business there. Still, writing this after we got back and the world has changed a bit so who knows what may come to pass!!!

Sunday, 23 February 2020

Costa Rica part 12: Manuel Antonio

Our last proper stop on our tour of Costa rica was along the southern coast at Manuel Antonio. This is half a beach resort and half a nature stop, as the National Park is right next door! It took us a few hours to drive there but we got to our very comfortable hotel overlooking the beach by mid afternoon.

We were set back from the beach a bit but I could still see lots of seabirds off the coast including a new trip tick, brown booby!
With an early start the following day to visit the park we just settled down to a lazy afternoon on the beach and in the hotel grounds. Two immediate highlights cropped up. First, a sloth right outside our room!
As befits its species it stayed soundly asleep all afternoon and I couldn't find it the following day! Much more compliant were the hermit crabs on the small beach. We sat having a nice pineapple smoothie and they were pottering about on the sand all around us. I had to have a play with them and set up a few shots with one that I started to annoy a bit.

There were also quite a few large iguanas wandering around, though the waiting staff seemed less keen on having them in the actual beach restaurant. I suspect they waited till after dark and then scavenged around!

The following day, our only full here, we set off just after an early breakfast for the short trip to the national park next door. We got there before the main rush, but it was still quite busy. Fortunately we had a very good guide who found us lots of nice stuff.
The main things was sloths, both two- and three-toed. We saw 13 or 14 including mothers with young. Some were hard to see in the trees, others were much easier and lower down.

 The strangest one is the last one, the three-toed with a baby. This was in a palm tree right on the beach with sunbathers sitting right underneath it! I had to be very careful where I pointed the camera.
The beach was very popular with locals who were coming down to picnic and of course in Costa rica where there are picnickers there are monkeys. These were particularly tame and clearly on the make.

You had both squirrel and white-faced capuchins hanging around. One had even worked out how to drink from a water-fountain!
We also saw quite a few nice birds. The rarest was this great tinamou, like a large chicken in the undergrowth.
This lesser nighthawk, a close relative of our nightjar, was a good find, though as ever how much it was a guides-banker as it always roosted there you'll never know!
We did see a few hummingbirds though they were generally elusive. This crowned woodnymph was defending a territory deep in cover but did stop to preen once! Very difficult to see here but it had beautiful iridescent plumage.
It wasn't only birds, we also had good views of a giant red-winged grasshopper,
and helmeted iguanas.

The star of the show was actually outside the park. On the road leading to our hotel was a large tree behind a cafe. The guide stopped and ushered us out. On the branch was a black-and-white owl with its chick!

This was right beside a very busy road. I actually had two go's at it. On the following day when we were leaving I stopped and got out. Other tourists kept asking me what I was looking at and seemed very disappointed it wasn't only an owl and not a sloth. No pleasing some people I suppose!
A very nice finish to our last proper stop before we headed back to San Jose for our flight home. Hopefully even this would give us another chance to see some wildlife though!