Sunday, May 22, 2011

Costa Rica - Day 1 and 2

After reading about the flurry of puma sightings at our favorite Costa Rican destination (Bosque del Cabo on the Osa Peninsula), we decided to cancel our trip to Utah and instead head back to the rainforest. Both of our previous trips were in Feb which is in the heart of the dry season so we weren't quite sure what to expect in May which is the beginning of the wet season in Costa Rica. We did hope to see more amphibians, possibly more snakes, and of course a puma. We were unable to get a same day flight to the Osa Peninsula from San Jose, so we ended up spending the first afternoon and evening at the Orquideas Inn which is located in Alajuela. I would categorize the Inn as just an average place to stay based on their accommodations and food, but we really enjoyed it because they have 10 acres of gardens that were filled with birds and a few other critters:

Blue-crowned Motmot:
Blue-crowned Motmot

Blue-gray Tanager:
Blue-gray Tanager


Squirrel Cuckoo:
Squirrel Cuckoo

Variegated Squirrel:
Variegated Squirrel

The following morning, we hopped on an early morning Sansa flight to Puerto Jimenez and arrived safely to the welcoming sight of tropical jungle, a pair of Scarlet Macaws doing a flyby, and the Puerto Jimenez cemetery which is located right along the runway. We thought that location was a bit odd the first time we flew in but now it is part of the gateway to the Osa for us.

Instead of heading right to Bosque del Cabo (BdC), we had pre-arranged with the lodge to take a boat trip on the Golfo Dulce and up the Rio Equinos river. We were met at the dock by Carlos who is an extraordinary guide in both his knowledge of the area fauna and his keen ability to spot wildlife. We saw lots of great bird life on this trip including many new species for us. A quick side trip to the mangroves yielded some nice photo ops:
Mangroves, Golfo Dulce Costa Rica

White Ibis:
White Ibis

Roseate Spoonbill:
Roseate Spoonbill

Near the river itself, we spotted more birds:

Brown Pelican:
Brown Pelican in Flight

Brown Booby:
Brown Booby

Whimbrel (The larger one) and a Willet:
Whimbrel and Willet

Our first Boat-billed Heron:
Boat-billed Heron

And, these adorable little Green Heron chicks:
Juvenile Green Herons

We also saw some new reptiles many of which Carlos spotted from 25 yards away and we couldn't see until we were 10 feet from them.

Green Iguana:
Green Iguana

Ringed Tree Boa:
Ringed Tree Boa

A "not so" Green Iguana:
Green Iguana

The Golfo Dulce was pretty rough on the way to the river and it turned out to be even rougher on the way back out. So, the hopes of seeing some dolphins or even a whale shark were quickly dashed and replaced with the hopes of keeping our bodies intact every time they banged against the seats of the boat. But, despite the rough water on the gulf, we had a great trip and recommend this excursion to others. Just realize that it will be 4 hours without a bathroom and plan (or don't drink) accordingly.
Upon arriving at BdC, we sat enjoying our welcome drinks and just soaked in the sights and sounds of the rainforest. It was great to be back! After dropping all our gear off in our Bungalow (Sol) we took our first walk around the grounds to see what might be out. We saw both Spider and Howler monkeys right off along with some other nice critters:

Great Tinamou:
Great Tinamou

Black and Green Dart Frog:
Black and Green Dart Frog

And our first look at a Halloween Crab:
Halloween Crab

Later that night after the first of many outstanding dinners, we set off on our own for a night walk. Night time in the rainforest is just about our favorite time of the day because of all the great nocturnal critters that might be out and about. For our first walk we headed to the small pond off the driveway to see what we could find. We spent over an hour there and had some great sightings including 7 cat-eyed snakes, a pair of red-eyed tree frogs playing "leapfrog" (a term coined by a nice family from California that we met on this trip) along with many other frogs and toads.

Unknown Frog:
Unknown Frog

Hourglass Tree Frog:
Hourglass Tree Frog

Red-eyed Tree Frogs:
Red-eyed Tree Frogs

Cat-eyed Snake:
Cat-eyed Snake

We did learn one lesson at the little pond that we should have where you step and keep watching. We didn't "keep watching" so we failed to notice the tiny little ants crawling up our boots until I felt the first burning bite. Yup, fire ants. I got the brunt (probably a dozen or so bites) but the burning didn't last long and didn't cut the evening short. Despite this, it was a good end to a great first day.

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