Seeing Eye to Eye With the Birds!

Per normal I headed off on my mountain bike shortly before 6 am. Even this early the heat index was already 98F. It will be good to get back to Lake Superior and its cool breezes! However, biking the trails to the tops of hills overlooking the Pacific Ocean allows one to look down on birds, or at least eye to eye for unique perspectives!

Today I finally got some good Maginificent Frigate bird images. I got up before the heat started rising which allowed me to watch them as they rose up from their island rookeries on the islands far below!

In addition I found four Great Kiskadees singing out and setting their territories, plus the unknown bird of the day which I shall name the Yellow-Breasted Striped Flycatcher!

El Viejo Wetlands – Guanacaste – Costa Rica

Yesterday Molly and I visited the El Viejo Wetlands. The day trip was fantastic for both the birder (me) and non birder (Molly) alike! A family who own a large sugar cane plantation decided years ago to set aside 6,000 acres of wetlands adjacent to the River Tempisque. At the family’s Hacienda … 16k by bumpy dirt road from Filadelphia, one may take a river boat cruise and/or enjoy a nice luncheon at the open air Hacienda.

In our case we did both … cruise and lunch! Arriving by 8:15 am (90 minute drive from Las Catalinas) we were able to be the first people out on the water. Given tour buses often arrive later in the morning, an early arrival is advised. First, animals and birds are more active in the first few hours of the day, and second … you get the River almost to yourself. We had an excellent private guide named Kevin. Between him and our boat driver, Caesar, they spotted lots of wildlife I would never had noticed. Our cost was $73 per person plus well earned tips for our guide and boat driver. The money was well spent.

Finally, after lunch make certain you walk around the grounds below the Hacienda. Although many other people were present at lunch, only Molly and I explored the grounds. Big mistake. Yes it was a hot hike, but we found plenty of shade trees and more wildlife. While it may have been hot during our walk, it was very pleasant out on the river. The boats have a roof shade, and there was a nice breeze.

Here are just a few photos from El Viejo: (not pictured, but we also saw real cool sleeping bats, and two different species of monkeys … howler and white faced)

Green Iguana

Bare-Throated Tiger Heron

Black-Necked Stilt With a Snack

Tri-Colored Heron

Green Heron

Alligator Catching Breakfast

Turquoise-Bowed Mot Mot Excavating a Nest Hole

Flock of Snowy Egrets

Grooved-Billed Ani (type of Cuckoo)

Dino the Dinosaur (5 foot long Green Iguana)

Kung-Fu Fighting

Little Blue Heron (immature)

Crested Guan

Scenes from the River Cruise

An Explosion of Color!

Ever since Molly and I arrived down in Costa Rica, I have wanted to photograph a bird in the gorgeous red blooming tree next to our rental property. Struck paydirt this morning!!! I present you with the Great Kiskadee Flycatcher … and a pair of Rufous-Naped Wren’s. Tomorrow we take a boat tour in the El Viejo Wetlands … our one true birding expedition of the trip.

Sunset Birding Benefits

Watching this sunset, glass of wine in hand with my wife, proved to have fantastic birding benefits. Folks talk about the “red flash” as the sun dips below the Pacific Ocean horizon. Well I did not seem the red flash, but I did see the orange flash! This burst of color turned out to be a Streak Backed Oriole building a nest! After a morning mountain bike ride which started before sunrise, I returned to the nest building orioles and enjoyed some photography time!

Sunset and sunrise over the Pacific Ocean

Streak Backed Oriole … Nest Building

While I was watching the oriole, this Variegated Squirrel was watching me!