Monday, 4 September 2017

16th August - Tango Mar Beach Resort, Tambor Costa Rica

Another lovely morning with high clouds distant to the south over the ocean, today we had nothing planned other than some time to ourselves.  However there was still some exploring to be had around the grounds of the hotel.  The resort hosts a nine hole golf course and is set in 150 acres of forest.  There was a walk to a waterfall that drops 10 metres into the sea, and we were intrigued enough to go an see it.  So after breakfast we put on walking shoes (which turned out to be a good decision) and set off through the resort following the signs for la cascada.

We followed the main road away from the complex, disturbing a Bare-throated Ttiger Heron in amongst a Bamboo wood.  The track took us out towards the golf course, then turned west and followed alongside it.  The grass was being cut, and Tropical Kingbirds swooped low to catch the insects disturbed by the tractor.

As we came across the horse paddocks the sky was full of Black an Turkey Vultures waking up to the day, and soaring on the thermals put up by the rising sun.  This one a Black Vulture.


A Variegated Squirrel appeared on a post in front of, sat and watched us as we approached closer. 

 


There are up to fifteen sub-species of this squirrel which is a common tree squirrel in Central America.  The several subspecies differ somewhat in appearance and there is often a considerable variation between the appearances of individuals in the same population. The dorsal colouration varies between dark brown to yellowish grey. The neck tends to be darker than other parts and there is often a paler patch behind the ears. The underparts are usually some shade of cinnamon. The tail is long and densely bushy.


The path now became a lot denser, and we found ourselves walking alongside a fence.  On the other side movement in the trees revealed a Plain Chacalaca, a medium sized bird, that is something of a mix between chicken and pheasant.


There are two Chacalaca species found in Costa Rica, in Guanacaste there is the Plain Chacalaca, while in the south, and centre of Costa Rica, the Grey-headed Chacalaca.


Further calls above us revealed a quite spectacular bird, the White-throated Magpie-Jay.  Sounding like something for the Hunger Games this is a large blue, black and white bird that sports jaunty black plume. It occurs primarily in tropical dry forest, and tracks this habitat through its southern limit in Guanacaste, Costa Rica,




White-throated magpie-jays are highly social and breed cooperatively. Unusually among birds, the female offspring stay in the group and help their parents raise future broods, while male offspring disperse. Therefore, groups generally consist of a dominant female, her lone social mate, and a number of retained female offspring who feed the dominant female, nestlings, and fledglings.

This seems to have led to the evolution of one of the more astonishing vocal systems in the bird world. Male magpie-jays can individually produce upwards of 60 vocalizations (probably many more), but they do so in an unusual context. When a magpie-jay of either sex encounters a low-threat predator or even an innocuous species such as a dove or guan, they may fly slowly and directly at the threat, calling loudly. In this context males may produce a wide range of chirps, whoops, pops, yells and clicks. One possible explanation is that because male magpie-jays do not defend any resources needed by females, their best opportunity to be noticed by females is during predator encounters, when groups must pay attention to conspecific alarm calls.


The trail then opened up into a clearing, although it was still covered by trees it did allow more sunshine in, and with the light appeared the butterflies.

This  is a banded-White Ringlet.



And once again the Calico Owl butterfly, its floppy flight taking it to a tree stump to rest.



The trail then wound out to the top of a cliff, and a stream.  There was no immediate sign of a waterfall, but we quickly realised that the waterfall was where the stream went off the cliff, we could see the water but we couldn't see the fall.



From the cliff though we had views around the coast to the west, various bays and beaches.



Disappointed with the waterfall we made our way back to the resort, and decided to next explore the "look out point".  Coming back along the main road, there were more butterflies about on the verbena.  Here a pair of Tiger Longwings mating.



This is similar to the Creon Skipper, but with a white spot on the wing.  I have not been able to identify it.  While similar I do think this is more likely to be a Longwing.



This a Polymorphic Longwing.



The walk to the look out point took us through a tree covered path, then out onto a service road.  The entrance is locked, and we had picked up a key from the hotel reception.  The area has clear views looking out to the west.



And to the east.



We scanned the ocean for any sign of whales or dolphins.  Humpback whales have been seen off shore so there was always a chance.  Unfortunately at that moment not for us.

As we walked back along the service road just outside the Look Out point. there was movement in the trees above, and looking up we could see a small group of Howler Monkeys.  



They did not look very old, and were very inquisitive, as interested in us as we were them.



At times though also appearing thoughtful.







Two came together to look down on us.



They became bored with us before we them, and they moved away through the trees.  We returned to the hotel for a relaxing day by the pool.  It wasn't long though before we had both seen a spout off shore, and through the binoculars had some great views of a Humpback Whale and a calf.  Watching Whales has never been so relaxing.



The mother and calf stayed off shore throughout the day, and we would regularly seen the spouts.  Later in the afternoon more were seen further out, and one or two of these were actually breaching.  All this though was much too far away for the camera.

As evening came we retired to prepare to move on once again in the morning.  The day had been quiet but the highlight was the encounter with the Howler Monkeys, and the whales off shore.  Tomorrow it is back across the Gulf, and then a short trip to just outside Jaco for a one day stay before continuing on south to Uvita.

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