Wednesday, 12 September 2012

Selva Verde, Sarapiqui - 7th - 9th August

We arrived at our next destination, the Selva Verde Lodge in Sarapiqui mid afternoon.  It was hot and very humid and overcast, but not yet raining.  After we had settled in we set off on one of the small forest trails.  It was dark, and we did not protect ourselves from the insects, consequently it was not the most enjoyable of walks.  The highlight though of the walk through the forest was the presence of the Green and Black Frogs.  These were present all the trail, they are about an inch long but easily picked out.  They are one of the poison dart frogs, there skin exuding a poison that was/is used to tip blow pipe darts.  Despite this they are beautiful looking frogs.

At several points on the trail there was access to look over the river, at one of these there was a Black Phoebee sitting on one of the old tree branches.  This wasn't a new bird as I have seen them in the US and Canada, but they are a very smart bird that can always been found along side rivers and streams.

From the trail we walked into the open around the river in front of the Lodge restaurant.  This proved to be a big mistake as we were immediately devoured by mosquitoes.  Beating a retreat we headed toward the road.  Parrots called from the highest top of the treesThe light was bad, but they were probably Mealy Parrots, and later a huge flock flew over the Lodge calling loudly.  A toucan also appeared in the trees and this time it was the other species, the Chestnut-mandibled Toucan.  It posed nicely on a branch for me, and it is clear to see the difference from the Keel-billed by the bill.

The other highlight of the afternoon was an encounter with Pinky, a very vicious elephant hunting doberman!

The following morning we were up early for a walk around the lodge's reserve, but it wasn't what we expected.  Before we set off we found this pair of frogs, both poison dart frogs we have the Green and Black, and a Poison Dart Frog, the poison dart frog sometimes known as a Blue Jeans Frog, because the legs are a denim blue.  It was dark, and this picture isn't the best but shows the two together.

Sadly the walk did not produce a lot, the highlight being a flock of White-crowned Parrots, but even these were viewed from a distance.

After breakfast it was off for a river cruise up the Rio Sarapiqui.  When we got to the river side dock, there were plenty of Mangrove Swallows flying around.  They would rest on the logs and branches that were in the middle of the river.  The adults are a lovely aquamarine blue green on the upper side, while the juveniles are more a greenish brown.

The guide , like all those we encountered on the trip either had amazing eyes, or knew where the animals and birds were going to be, I like to think it was the former.  This Jesus Christ Lizard was found on a log on the bank, and we would have passed it by had it not been pointed out.  This is probably a female, as it was quite sizable, but lacking the dramatic fans of the male.

There were plenty of large water birds present on the river.  A  female Anhinga, drying her wings in the warm sunshine.

A Bare-throated Tiger Heron on the bank, the striped feathers looking really lovely

A little further down the river, our guide found something that he was very excited about, it took a while to understand what that was, and then to locate them in the trees, but when we did it was worthwhile.  It was a pair of Spectacled Owls.  They spent as much of the time watching us as we did watching them.

It was quite pleasant on the river, there was a breeze and it was a nice way to spend a hot humid morning.  A group of roosting Long-nosed Bats was pointed out to us.  These seem to be a stock item for the boat tours, but are always interesting to look at.

In one of the over hanging trees we were also treated to a Boat-billed Heron, that was roosting underneath the branches.  This is a very nocturnal heron, as can be detected by the relatively large eyes.  We had seen one in Torteguero, but there it was just a ball of feathers.

We had passed a Spectacled Caiman earlier, but this one was larger and closer.  It sat stock still on the river bank and was completely unconcerned by the insects that seemed intent to get moisture from it's eyes

We had now reached the limit of the cruise and we turned around to head back to the dock.  The guide impressed us again by finding a large turkey looking bird in a small trail that led to the river.  It was a Great Curassow, they are apparently rare and uncommon and difficult to see.  True to form this one didn't stay long and I wasn't able to photograph it.  A Green Heron was completely the opposite it eventually posed on a branch that was drifting down river, it looked just like it was surfing.

Cruise over we headed back to the Lodge, in the area around our cabin Red-throated Ant Tanagers foraged in the palms and ferns.  We had been given some information regarding an bird observatory close to the hotel, and we arranged to go there in the afternoon.  As we waited for the taxi to arrive we watched the hummingbirds around the reception plants.  They were feeding mostly on the verbena, and would allow you to get quite close.  These are Violet-headed Hummingbirds, and can be identified by the characteristic white spot behind the eye, they are only about 4 inches in length.

The lodge reception is open to allow a breeze to cool the place and we were amazed to see a Long-billed Hermit Hummingbird come in to feed around the flowers next to the reception desk.

The observatory was set back from the main road and was a small reserve with land running down to the river.  We never made it around the trails because they had feeders positioned in front of a hide come platform that were visited frequently by hummingbirds, Tanagers, woodpeckers and orioles.  The food was mainly papaya with feeders for the hummingbirds.  All you then had to do was watch and photograph.  Behind the feeders was a long lawn, that provided a lovely background to the photographs.  Here is a selection of the birds seen.

Rufous-tailed Hummingbird

Blue and Grey Tanager

Red-legged Honeycreeper

Black-cheeked Woodpecker

Scaly-breasted Hummingbird

Palm Tanager

Female Green Honeycreeper

Rufous-tailed Hummingbird

Passerini's Tanager

Black-cowled Oriole

Melodious Blackbird

White-necked Jacobin

Green Honeycreeper

There were plenty of other around the reserve such as Montezuma's Oropendula, Orange-chinned and Olive-throated Parakeets and a Banaquit.  The owner was vey helpful, and was we spent a pleasant afternoon out of the hot sun, with some stunning birds.  I did promise to post the website and you can find it by clicking here

Unfortunately our driver came back around 4.00, timed with an amazing thunderstorm, our first of the holiday, and it absolutely fell down, so we made our way back to the lodge.

That evening in the restaurant we shared it with a group of bats that were nesting in the ceiling just above the bar.

The following morning it was an early departure to our next destination.  Before breakfast we walked around the river area, and found two otters swimming in the river, they were distant and impossible to photograph, but we were able to track them as they made their way up river.  Parrots would fly out of the trees and across the river, but unfortunately we were not able to find any Great Green Macaws, another bogey bird for me. 

While we waited for our pick up we searched around the reception area.  Moving about underneath all the plants and ferns was an Armadillo, it never came out but you could see the plants moving as it made its way around the bed.

The plants here are all familiar as house plants, and looking at the beds it was just like being in B&Q or Homebase.

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