Sunday, April 07, 2013

Monteverde and on

We met Erick outside our hotel at 6am, as agreed, we were all early!  Erick it turns out is a research botanist, coffee-grower, field guide, teacher of other field guides and a bird whisperer.  He's amazing.  Like all the field guides he really know the local area and where to go looking for birds.  His ability to interact with the birds however is unparalleled, he can literally mimic virtually every call he hears, so much so it became hard to work out whether what we were hearing was him or the birds.  We headed to the forest.









We basically spent the first part of the morning at different spots looking for different birds, parking and walking, then driving on.  We saw loads including Dusky-capped Flycatcher:


Philadelphia Vireo:



Plain Wren:


Rufous-browed Peppershrike:


The second-half of the morning, timed to arrive as the main bus loads of tourists were leaving, was Monteverde itself.  It's worth seeing despite the volume of people there, but their number and volume does push the birds back, which makes the birding harder.  It is still rewarding and Costa Rica needs the economic boost, as does the area.

In Monteverde National Park we saw Silver-throated Tanager:


Rufous-capped Warbler:


Black-headed Nightingale-Thrush:


and again many more.  We heard much more than we saw though, it's very dense primary and secondary rain forest:


We finished our walk with coffee, from Erick's neighbour's plantation nonetheless, watching the Hummingbirds on the feeders a foot in front of the nose!  The coffee was delicious.  We dropped Erick off then headed down towards our next stop, a couple of nights at the Blue River Lodge, central to a number of planned birding trips.  Everywhere it seems in Costa Rica, there are volcanoes to be seen:




The road to the lodge ends with about a 45-minute trip on a very rough road, very rough.  So much so and given the fact we planned to spend our time at a couple of National Parks over the coming days, we decided on the way in that we couldn't stay two nights.  I just didn't fancy driving that road four times.  On arrival the rooms are great, the air conditioning a welcome relief and the place seems ideal - for young families or young couples, that is.  It mixes hot and cold pools from the hot springs, with horse rides, a fully fitted gym and river rafting.  The food was decidedly American and the restaurant service was shoddy.  So much so we had to actually get our own pizza from the serving shelf, the waiter was too busy chatting-up the bar staff, so they got no tip.  The lack of food choice enforced our decision not to hang around for another night.

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