Saturday, January 18, 2014

Costa Rica - Day 9 (Part 2) - March 24, 2013

     For lunch we decided to check out a cafe in Cinchona called Mirador La Cascada that we had heard was a great place for hummingbirds and other species. The place certainly did not disappoint! There were many different species of hummingbirds coming to the feeders on the back deck and to the feeding areas that were stocked with fruit. We were even lucky enough to have a dark-morph Short-tailed Hawk fly in and perch for a few minutes, and saw Yellow-faced Grassquit, Green Hermit, White-bellied Mountain-Gem, Coppery-headed Emerald, Sulphur-bellied Flycatcher and Scarlet-thighed Dacnis for the first time.

View from the back deck of the cafe

Close-up of the falls from the previous photo
Dark-morph Short-tailed Hawk 
Dark-morph Short-tailed Hawk trying to perch on branches that are too small for it. 

White-bellied Mountain-Gem (female)

Violet Sabrewing

Green-crowned Brilliant

Green-crowned Brilliant checking me out

Green-crowned Brilliant

Coppery-headed Emerald (female)

Common Bush-Tanager (now called Common Chlorospingus in some places such as eBird)

Silver-throated Tanager
Silver-throated Tanager stuffing his face with banana

White-bellied Mountain-Gem (male)
Green-crowned Brilliant (juv.)

Violet Sabrewing - used a flash to bring out the brilliance of the feathers. 

Variegated Squirrel

Very young variegated squirrel. 

     The table tops were clearly slices of a huge tree trunk that had been sanded and shellacked, and the table support was a section of a smaller tree trunk. The food at this place was terrific! They started us out with the freshly squeezed juice options of the day, then we had a choice of entrees that were not only huge, but also delicious. All the cooking was done in large pots that were set over open fires by ladies that looked as though they had at least 60 years of experience with cooking authentic Costa Rican dishes. One of the patrons of the restaurant who was clearly a local noticed us having a little trouble ordering in Spanish and kindly offered to help since he was bi-lingual. Once our order was placed we wandered out onto the back deck to enjoy the view and look for birds while we waited. When our juice was ready the kind waitress let us know so we could enjoy it while birding. She also alerted us when our lunch was served and helped to arrange extra seating so we had a place to put all our cameras and binoculars. 
     We had only been seated and eating for about 2 minutes when I noticed an alarming expression on one of my friend's faces and she pointed across the table and mumbled something. It was determined that the alarming "thing" was under the plate of the person next to I peaked around the rim of the plate and saw 4 big fuzzy legs sticking out from under it. As I was processing in my brain what these legs belonged to, the person next to me moved his plate to see what it was and a GIANT brown tarantula ran across the table. This caused my friend who first noticed it to make a shrieking/gasping noise and back up as far as she could. The spider threw out a web and lowered itself gently and gracefully to the floor, where it ran off to a hiding place near a wall support. Of course, there was a table full of locals sitting directly behind us who got to witness this entire scene and were laughing hysterically. I am glad we could provide their entertainment for the day.  After eating lunch we were stuffed to the maximum and ready to take on the task of driving through San Jose to get to our hotel. We had chosen to stay as close to the airport as possible the night before the flight home so we could have some time to relax and not be all stressed out the next morning. 

Driving through San Jose

     When we chose our last hotel we made sure that it had at least some birding potential in the hopes that we could get to see at least one more species for the trip during our last 20+ hours in Costa Rica. The place was chose was the Hotel La Rosa de America. We had booked a room with one double bed and two single beds, but when we got there the lady checking us in decided to upgrade us to a suite for no extra charge. I am guessing they had a lot of extra room since there was only one medium-sized group of missionaries and a few couples staying that night. In addition, the lady did say something about us looking like we needed a little extra space to spread out. The experience of driving through San Jose traffic will do that to a person. In any case, it was very nice of her to give us the upgrade, and we were very happy with the room. We only had one small problem with the ceiling fan which was very loose and unbalanced and nearly came flying off the ceiling. Luckily we were able to get to the switch before disaster struck and left it turned off. 

The entrance to our suite at Hotel La Rosa de America
Inside the room
More of the room
The second room which was really just behind a dividing wall/shelving 
...and of course the bathroom.

     After we had settled in and cleaned up a bit we wandered around the property a bit and then relaxed by the pool. As dusk fell we noticed large flocks of waterfowl flying overhead, and after a little debating were able to identify the birds as Black-bellied Whistling Ducks!
     Conveniently, there was a "restaurant" that was attached to the lobby of the hotel, but like most places that we stayed at in Costa Rica we had to tell them ahead of time whether or not we planned to eat there for our next meal. We decided that although the items were a bit on the pricey side, the convenience and safety of the location was worth it. The dishes were very good, but probably the most americanized food we had eaten during our entire stay in the country. 
     After dinner we went back to the pool area and played some Uno while enjoying the perfect evening temperature. After all, we were headed back to the Northeast US the very next day which was still in the 40s or 50s (F) for a daytime high. While we were playing cards I noticed two birds land in a tree very close to where we were sitting. They turned out to be Tropical Screech Owls! A new species for the trip, and a great way to end our last night in Costa Rica!

....stay tuned for Day 10, our last morning in Costa Rica, and the flight home. 

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