zondag 27 december 2015

Costa Rica, walking in the clouds!

From Arenal to Monteverde, a long drive.
From vulcano grasslands / forests to cloud forests, a different ecosystem with different birds.

Monteverde is a small community in Puntarenas, located in the Cordillera de TilarĂ¡n.
Roughly a four hour drive from the Central Valley, and you know when you are in the region by the condition of the road: gravel!
Luckily we drove a 4WD. So we drove for an hour or more on the mountain roads and suddenly a big bird soared in front of us. Big, black and a typical red ugly non-feathered head: the turkey vulture
It soared for more than 10 seconds in front of us and then it disappeared in the valley below of us.
Its relative, the black vulture is shorter winged and tailed and has a different color pattern on the wings beneath: the turkey vulture's flight feathers on the wings appear to be silvery-gray beneath, contrasting with the darker wing linings. The black vulture's bases of the primary feathers are white, producing a white patch on the underside of the wing's edge, which is visible in flight.
Both beautiful birds, soaring the Costa Rican skies eyeing carrion.

At last we arrived in the lodge at the borders of the Monteverde city. A lodge, settled between trees and bushes, full of birds, butterflies and lizards. One tree especially struck me, I counted a lot of species of birds in it at first glance: amazone parrots, woodpeckers, grackles, different tanagers (summer, blue-grey, blue-necked) and even a turkey vulture in the top.
Amazone parrots, I never saw them on the wild and I was curious which Amazone species it was.
Its white-feathered forehead and thick red colouring around the eyes identified it as the white-fronted amazone. A Monteverde beauty.
When I examined the bushes in the garden the next day 2 amazones flew away from the bushes: loud and wing-flapping. Finally I came up, close and personal with a Central American bird I always wanted to meet in the wild. As most amazones, an acrobat on the branch, using its beak and legs to do crazy movements. I really enjoyed myself that early morning.
That afternoon we went ziplining in the cloud forests, an experience I can recommend.
Something I wanted to do for a long time, ever since I heard the stories of zip-lining researchers during my biology study.
As you may know, the flora and fauna in the canopy are completely different than on top of the forest: different insects and butterflies (blue morpho) , other plants living on the trees and a better sighting of birds including tanagers and high flying parrots.

 That brings me to the hummingbirds of Monteverde, but that will be the next story.

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