The Adirondack winter ran long this year. As cabin fever set in, we put our goats, ducks, and guinea pigs in the hands of friends and neighbors and set off on a twelve-day adventure in Costa Rica. For the first five days, we chased birds, mammals, lizards, crocodiles and whatever else we could find in the distinguished company of Swarovski Optik's Clay Taylor and Alex Villegas. Alex's wife and five year old daughter were with us, too, as well as a fabulous bus driver named Marco Morales, who proved himself immensely knowledgeable about birds and one of the best fauna spotters of us all. One of our favorite birds during this phase of the trip was the red-headed barbet, shown above, and the fiery-billed aracari, a kind of toucan, shown immediately below, poking its formidable and colorful beak out of a nest hole.
Other exciting finds during this first part of our Costa Rican adventure included (in the order they appear below) the long-tailed silky flycatcher, the giant parrot known as the scarlet macaw, and the green-and-black poison dart frog.
After our memorable stops at Villa Lapas, on the Pacific Coast near Tarcoles, and Savegre Mountain Lodge, high in nearby mountains, we bid goodbye to our Swarovski friends and found adventures on our own. First stop, reached by a memorable and sometimes teeth-rattling half day ride into the mountains north of San Jose, was the Reserva Monteverde. There we had our best looks of the trip at the most celebrated bird of Central America: the resplendent quetzal. Here are three photos. The first two show a male. The third shows a female quetzal, less extravagantly plumed than the male but quite handsome in her own right.
Our last major stop in Costa Rica was Rancho Naturalista, a small, beautiful, and welcoming eco-lodge in the hills near Turrialba. It was a fine place to conclude a trip memorable from the first day to the last. We ate delicious food, slept soundly each of our three nights, and with binoculars and cameras hunted for wildlife from first light to sunset. Accompanying us on several of our walks was Harry Barnard, a young, companionable, and erudite guide from England who spends part of each year at Rancho Naturalista. He was fabulous. So were the things he showed us. Examples below: blue-gray tanager; crowned woodnymph (a kind of hummingbird); a lineated woodpecker, in the genus Dryocoups, making it a cousin of our pileated woodpecker; and a green basilisk (the must stunning lizard of a trip that brought us sightings of many).
I'll end this quick tour of our Costa Rica adventures with two final images from each of our four fabulous stops: Villa Lapas; Savegre Mountain Lodge; Monteverde, and Rancho Naturalista. Viva Costa Rica!