Saturday, May 21, 2011

Costa Rica - Day 3

Overnight, mother nature put up a huge display of thunder and lightning. The sky would light up and the thunder would follow almost instantaneously…and it was LOUD thunder. We don't get these kinds of storms in California much so I thought it was pretty awesome despite the poor night's sleep. It got light before 5AM and we were up soon after that. I had hoped for a howler monkey wake up call, but the storm must have disrupted their sleep as well. The rain continued until late morning and we had fears that coming in the rainy season maybe wouldn't turn out to be a good thing, but those fears were put to rest since this ended up being the only substantial rainfall we saw all week in daylight hours.

Unlike our trip to Belize last summer (also the rainy season there) we came equipped this time with brand new rubber boots and we put them to good use during this trip. Surprisingly, there really wasn't too much standing water or mud the whole week. Instead, there was clay which would pile up on the bottom of your shoes and act as a great adhesive for leaf litter, sticks, and anything else you stepped on. But, it was easy to get rid of the clay thanks to the tree roots that line most trails and the nice shoe scraper station that BdC installed at the entrance to the suspension bridge trail.

After lunch, we decided to hike the Titi Trail which is one of the better trails to see wildlife (especially the cats). But, we had only gone 100 yards down the driveway before we had our first monkey sightings. The mango trees near the lodge parking lot had ripe fruit and all week we had a plethora of animal sightings in this area. Today, a troop of White-faced Capuchin monkeys were taking their turn.

Capuchin Monkey Pair:
White Faced Capuchins

They were fun to watch, but they soon crossed through the trees across the driveway and started to move away. As I was watching them, I noticed something else in a nearby tree moving Slooowly. It was a sloth! As a matter of fact, this was the first sloth that we had ever spotted ourselves. All previous sightings were thanks to other folks. But, this one was all ours and we enjoyed some of our best photo ops to date of this unique animal.

Three-toed Sloth

Three-toed Sloth

Soon the sloth curled up in the branches and we took that as a queue to head back towards the Titi Trail. Plus, we were already coming down with "jungle neck" after watching the sloth. ("Jungle Neck" is discomfort in the neck caused by spending nearly half of every day looking straight up at wildlife. Thank goodness for Ibuprofen.) We had more good sightings on the Titi Trail, but none quite as good as the sloth.

Fungus Among Us:
Unknown Fungus

Mantled Howler Monkey:
Mantled Howler Monkey

Thoas Swallowtail:
Thoas Swallowtail

Streaked Flycatcher:
Streaked Flycatcher

Before dinner, a representative from Yaguara (Ricardo) came to give a talk on the local cats. We had attended their talk two years prior and it was great to hear about all the progress they have made towards understanding and protecting the wild cats in the area. Previously, we had helped contribute towards a camera trap and enjoyed the trap pictures that they would occasionally email to us. Unfortunately, despite the progress made with the local people, poaching is still a huge threat in this area and this team has their work cut out for them. But, with their passion and perseverance, I know that they will succeed.

Tonight's dinner was fantastic (Passion Fruit Chicken...Mmmmm). I remember the food being really good at BdC, but we had outstanding food this trip. The dinners really stood out to us and I miss them already. I think more people would talk about the food if it wasn't overshadowed by the incredible wildlife. After dinner, we planned a night hike out to the larger pond in the tropical garden but that walk was cut short after only 10 minutes and a couple pictures as the skies opened up:

Unknown Frog:
Unknown Frog

Unknown Frog:
Unknown Frog

We just made it back to our bungalow before the rain really started to come down and found that we had a house guest. A Forest Spiny Pocket Mouse ended up in our bathroom. After a quick picture we were finally able to coax it into our recycle bin and release it safely outside.

Forest Spiny Pocket Mouse

Despite not having any time walking around at night, the sloth sighting made the day for us.

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