Sunday, September 29, 2013

Costa Rica - Day 6 (Part 1) - March 21, 2013

After our final night at Trogon lodge we woke up one by one, each person hoping to get up early enough to get at least one more species on their list before we headed back out on the road. I happened to be the 3rd person to awaken, and did so just in time! Right outside my window was a shrub in full bloom which seemed to be a hit with some of the hummingbirds. But this time, there was something different skulking around. A Slaty Flowerpiercer! I grabbed my camera and attempted a few shots through the window (I am still in bed at this point), and shockingly managed to get one identifiable photo!

Slaty Flowerpiercer

While waiting for breakfast to be served I packed up all my belongings, grabbed my camera and went looking for a few more last-minute photography opportunities.

Blue-and-white Swallow

Hummingbird traffic jam

Just after breakfast we loaded up our car and paid our debts to the lodge. This process was not very straightforward because all the activities we did such as horseback riding and zip lining had to be paid in cash, whereas the room charges could be put on credit cards. However, we finally had everything straightened out and headed up the windy, bumpy dirt road for the last time this trip (hopefully we will go back someday!).

We had received some intel from a friend about a small cafe called Miriams that was on our way out, so we decided to stop and see what all the hype was about. It was owned by an older Costa Rican lady who spoke little to no English, but who made delicious fruit drinks and coffee and was super nice and understanding. Better yet, she had feeding platforms set up for bird watchers like ourselves, and although we did not spot any new species for the trip here, we did get some wonderful, close views of birds which was perfect for photography.
Panorama from Miriam's 

Acorn Woodpecker

Long-tailed Silky-flycatcher

Flame-colored Tanager

Flame-colored Tanager

Large-footed Finch munching on watermelon

After tearing ourselves away from the bird feeding platforms at Miriams, we finally headed back out on the road and through mountains towards the Caribbean side of the country. Our drive was not very eventful, but we did discover that wind turbines have found their way to Costa Rica. To keep this post lighthearted, I will decline to comment on this discovery.

Wind turbines in Costa Rica

We meant to make a stop along the way at Tapanti National Park, but we were anxious to get to our next destination before dark. It is a good thing we pushed on because we ended up getting very lost once we were out of the mountains. Many of the roads in Costa Rica are not marked, and often there are unexpected forks in the road with no indication of which direction you should choose. The one lesson we learned is that using a normal car GPS can help, but it is not always as accurate as you need it to be. What helped us the most was having a tablet computer with pre-cached Google maps (cache the maps when you have an internet connection handy), and the GPS locator turned on. The locator tells the tablet where it is located and places a little arrow on the Google map which shows almost exactly where you are and which direction you are traveling. The Google maps are actually very good for Costa Rica and even told us which roads were one-way. This little tidbit of knowledge was essential later in the trip when we had to drive through the traffic nightmare that is San Jose. The only drawback to this system is that there are no turn-by-turn directions so you need someone who is not driving to read the map and give coherent directions to the driver. However, I will definitely navigate this way again on my next big birding trip

Next up....Costa Rica Nature Pavilion!!!! Stay tuned!

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