Monday, March 21, 2011

The origin of species

The Costa Rica trip was pretty amazing: by my approximate count, we saw at least sixty-eight different kinds of bird. I am not one of life's natural bird-watchers, but our amazing guide was able to help us pick them out and identify them...

(I liked the end-of-day sessions with the checklist, as I am perhaps a lover of lists and of names even more than I am of actual birds: the bare-throated tiger heron, the slaty-tailed trogon, the broad-billed motmot, the green-and-rufous kingfisher, the red-legged honeycreeper and the great kiskadee and the red-capped manakin! One of the most beautiful little birds: Passerine's tanager. One of the biggest bullies, though with striking looks: Montezuma Oropendola!)

And we saw a brown-throated three-toed sloth high up in a tree along the road to Tortuguero and a number of Hoffman's two-toed sloths, not to mention the rescued sloths at the sloth sanctuary in Monteverde; and three different kinds of monkey (including a very fetching mother and baby white-faced capuchin pair who crossed over a canal by following one tree until it bent down far enough to allow passage to another one on the opposite side, as well as countless mantled howler monkeys); and many coati, a charismatic but slightly sinister raccoon equivalent, as well as agouti, a more innocent little critter like a very large guinea pig with longer hind legs; plus a pair of very slippery and attractive neotropical river otters in the canals of Tortuguero. More lizards than frogs, on the whole, including some handsome iguanas and a number of the brilliantly green and appealingly named (they walk on water!) Jesus Christ lizards. And lots and lots of butterflies, including the ones at the Monteverde Butterfly Garden (these, too, have names almost as lovely as the creatures themselves: the blue morpho, the small postman, the glasswing and the stained-glass and the big owl and Halloween and green malachite butterflies).

These lists are not exhaustive; I am not much of a photographer, but will post a picture or two, I think, to give the flavor. We stayed in some very lovely hotels, though it is cumulatively too many of them no matter how nice they are: the Marriott in San Jose (very nice indeed), the Pachira Lodge in Tortuguero (too much like summer camp, but the wildlife viewing out on the canals is extraordinary - unmissable), the lovely Hotel Fonda Vela in Monteverde, the Arenal Observatory Lodge (volcano!) and for our final night the spectacular Xandari, where we had a private villa whose view is captured in the snapshot below.
Thanks to Brent for a really lovely holiday (it is rare, too, that we are both on vacation at the same time, usually one of us is visiting and the other is working!), prompted by our visit last summer to the amazing Amazon and Beyond exhibit at the Miami Zoo (go there if you get a chance, it is not to be missed) and a certain amount of subsequent prodding to tweak me out of my natural inclination to always stay at home if given the choice!


  1. It looks as though it was a wonderful trip! Please publish more photos if you can, and thankyou for the blue jean frog!

  2. Sounds delightful to experience and very good to have experienced (and I hope you can tell the difference in my meaning, it has been too long a day for me to be more precise in the oblique manner demanded by blog commenting).