Jan 30, 2016

Costa Rica reconnaissance

A video abstract of our preliminary trip to Costa Rica, January, 2016.


Best viewed at high definition (under YouTube's little gear icon, lower right).

Jan 23, 2016

Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve (Bosque Nuboso Reserva)

The Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve is a unique biological wonder, and a crown jewel in the protected biodiversity. We spent an entire day in the reserve, starting with a guided wildlife tour (we had Orland of Monteverde Morning Walks all to our selves which was a gift all to itself.)

It is hard to convey the experience of being inside this rain forest but it must be something like being a fish in a coral reef. There was life everywhere, in all directions, in many layers. A single host tree can support thousands of individuals and as many as 100 different species.





































We took a great many photos, mostly in vain.
Moss living on ferns living on trees which are themselves living on trees.


There is a huge amount of water in the air, and the epiphytes (such as philodendrons, bromeliads and orchids) and moss capture it effectively.



The canopy often forms complex fractal spacing patterns when viewed from below.









 Una catarata, or cascada.

Wild ginger

Tree ferns reminded us of those in our yard in India, only these are bigger.

Outside the reserve proper is a hummingbird garden which is literally buzzing as if with a thousand bees. We captured few decent shots.




Plants
Cyropia (?), black pepper, Eliocarpus!, elephant ear (calla lilly family, which has two cavities which heat up to over 100 degrees F and caputure mating beetles in order to pollenate), Solanum (like the Kodaikanal shola), native bamboo (although larger asian bamboo is also invading in some areas - note that very little invades the cloud forest, competition is way too high), bush height begonias, passion fruit vine, tree ferns, wild ginger (pic), strangler figs (ficus, hemi-epicphytic - meaning is starts life as an epiphyte via seed transport by birds eating figs, then grows roots to the ground, and then established itself as a tree, and eventually strangles and kills the original host tree), closia (a tree species), angel wing begonia (pic), heliconia, sleeping hibiscus (which unlike other hibiscus, never opens its petals).

Birds
Black-eyed solitaire (a thrush with metallic cry)
Ruddy tree runner nest (pic)
Slaty-backed Nightingale thrush, 
Grey breasted wood wren
Violet Saberwing
Green crown brilliant hummingbird
Purple throated mountain gem
Resplendent quetzal (which tends to hang out on avocado trees for the fruits)
Cocora (heard but not seen)

Costa Rica - Three days in Monteverde


The view from our guesthouse at Belcruz:
The rainbows kept morphing in the sky as we watched hummingbirds, toucans, and parrots.
They treated us to amazing breakfasts every morning.
We spent the last morning hang out on our porch.
Our final afternoon, we did a hike from the entrance to the Santa Elena reserve to the San Gerardo Field Station.
Of view of the Arenal volcano and lake.
Orchids:
And massive epiphytes:
We were warmly welcomed at the station by Giovanni and his wife. We would love to come back here to spend a night and to explore more of the trails.
More rainbows outside the guesthouse:

Jan 19, 2016

Costa Rica, day four: Monteverde

Today we drove through Guanacaste and into Puntarenas. 

Here's a snippet:

Driving up into the Cordillera of Tilaran reminded us continuously of the drive to Kodaikanal. 
Protect the forest. Love life.
It was a very windy day. Watch the clouds here:

Our hotel room.

The view from our hotel room:


Our first night in Monteverde we took a night tour of the forest.

The night tour included these animals: a headlight click beetle, a slate-throated redstart (asleep), an Oligo (a member of the raccoon family along with the kinkajou and the coatimundi both of which are quite rare), A raccoon, a two toed sloth that we watched for maybe 10 to 15 minutes, a white-nosed coatimundi running through the bushes, and orange-knees tarantula, A blue Morphus butterfly, hey brilliant forest frog, a Rufus-eyed Treefrog (which is endemic to Costa Rica. There are 145 species of frogs in Costa Rica), three different members of the side stripe palm pit viper species one of which was a baby (there are 142 species of snakes in Costa Rica, 22 of which are venomous enough to kill a human. Baby vipers are even more dangerous because they release all of their venom), hey sleeping rainbow billed toucan, and finally, amazingly a kinkajou-the only member of the raccoon family to have a prehensile tail, cruising through the upper branches. The tour was stunning in short. We probably traversed about 1 km, and stayed within an area of 5 acres or less. This was on private property, rather than a biological reserve.

Costa Rica, day three

We started the day with more fruit.
We went exploring in the pick up. 
And ate an improvised lunch on the beach.


We visited Punta Islita, a small town with an artistic bent.
We said hello to some perritos.
We saw crabs making elaborate borrow markings.
There were some vistas of the Pacific on the drive to Punta Islita.

The coconut palms behind Corazalito beach yielded three edible coconuts, two of which we have opened and shared.
And we saw a few scarlet macaws in the wild.

Apparently, they eat almonds exclusively. Here they are in an almendra arbol.



Jan 18, 2016

Costa Rica, day two

Morning light on a bi-colored palm on our second day.

A simple and delicious breakfast we made today. Well really, we just assembled the eggs, bread and papaya. They all started out pretty well made, and delicious.

An iguana lives on the tree near our cabin.

This is our cabin. The iguana was on the tree to the left, in the foreground.

 The cabin is close to the Sámara beach.

And there are horses on the beach. You don't see that often where we come from.

Sámara is a tourist town.

This graffiti on the side of the "super" (supermarket) is art. Hopefully we see a scarlet macaw.

In the afternoon we rented a kayak and paddle to a nearby island to go snorkeling. Here's the island.

Adorable little hermit crabs littered the sand.  We caught this group eating a piece of pineapple.

We watched the pelicans intently. They are such effective and well adapted creatures.