Wet Birds at Gandoca-Manzanillo

This morning’s rain not only interfered with a beautiful sunrise but also dampened my birding expedition with a great guide this morning. I try not to give up too quickly on such efforts, but did cut our hike a little shorter after my camera fogged up on the inside. All 12 of the following birds were photographed in the rain even if not obvious! 🙂 And we saw more birds and other animals, even in the rain! 🙂 Just imagine what it would have been like with a clear morning!

Broad-winged Hawk, Gandoca-Manzanillo Refuge, Limón, Costa Rica
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Cahuita National Park

This morning I got a driver who knew “the best guide” in nearby Cahuita National Park and I spent a couple of hours photographing wildlife there with the same two guys taking me to Gandoca-Manzanillo Refuge tomorrow for probably even more wildlife. Below is one shot then a gallery of only some of the wildlife I saw and photographed . . .

Laughing Falcon, Cahuita NP, Limón,, Costa Rica
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My 2 Favorite Birds Today

I’m seeing a lot more birds here than at home these days and I got photos of only one butterfly today here at the hotel. 🙂 The butterfly garden I was to visit has closed – not enough tourists! Much of tourism has been similarly hurt by the two-year pandemic. So I explored more around here and pleased with all my several bird shots, but especially these two, one of which is a “lifer” or first-time seen bird for me, the Brown Noddy, a rare seabird on the hotel beach. And though I’ve seen lots of Common Black Hawks, I’m particularly pleased with this shot and some other similar shots before he flew off. They don’t always pose for you like this! 🙂

Brown Noddy, Hotel Banana Azul, Puerto Viejo de Talamanca, Limón, Costa Rica.
Common Black Hawk, Hotel Banana Azul, Puerto Viejo de Talamanca, Limón, Costa Rica.

¡Pura Vida!

I now have a new Brown Noddy Gallery with some more shots in it! 🙂

And my Common Black Hawk Gallery is growing! 🙂

Caribbean Retreat Tomorrow

Most years in September I make a week relaxation adventure in the “Caribe South” which refers to the southern half of the Atlantic coast of Costa Rica around Puerto Viejo de Talamanca and the smaller town of Manzanillo where I explore two national parks/refuges (Cahuita & Gandoca-Manzanillo) for birds, butterflies, monkeys, sloths and other nature, visit some of the Bribri indigenous villages, botanical gardens, and maybe this year a new butterfly garden (if my tour people say it is okay). 🙂

And not to ignore the northern Caribbean side of Costa Rica or Limón Province; that’s where the provincial capital and port city of Limón is located and then above that a favorite national park, Tortuguero, which I hope to return to in 2023! It’s “The Amazon of Costa Rica” or a river and beach based jungle rainforest full of incredible wildlife and other nature! I can’t wait to get back there! 🙂 So much to see and do here!

But this trip is mostly relaxing in the beachside Hotel Banana Azul, walking a forested beachside road (for sloths, birds, butterflies) and walks or just relaxation on the beach (I don’t swim or surf in the ocean anymore) and this is the only place I’ve found that gives a “Relaxation Massage” that is actually relaxing. 🙂 So it is my only get-a-way that is not totally inside a dense rain or cloud forest (though Cahuita & Gandoca-Manzanillo are dense rainforests), yet still nature-centered and very relaxing. I missed it in 2020 due to Covid and no flights there, but here’s a couple of photos from last year’s post-cancer retreat in the “Howler Suite” or Room #1. 🙂

View from my “Howler Suite” Room through gardens to the beach.
One of the many varied sunrises at Banana Azul Beach.

And just one more of the many things I look forward to each year that I’m “Retired in Costa Rica,” from rainforest and cloud forest photo trips to cultural activities and enjoying my little flower garden in Atenas! I have achieved my idea of pure life in paradise! And this December I will celebrate 8 years of living here! 🙂

¡Pura Vida!

Costa Rican band will participate in the Rose Parade

And that linked title takes you to this week’s Tico Times article about a community-wide band and dance team from Zarcero which will represent Costa Rica a second time in the Rose Parade, Pasadena, California.

Zarcero is a town (called pueblo here) that is a little smaller than Atenas and north of us. It is known for topiaries in their Central Park, cheese-making and this large and professional community band of all ages. If you are one of those Americans who always watch the Rose Parade on TV, be sure to watch for the Costa Rica band! 🙂

More photo views of “My Costa Rica” in

My Photo Galleries.

🙂

A Busy Yigüirro

Yigüirro is the Costa Rican Spanish name for the English-named Clay-colored Thrush, like “the Robin of Costa Rica” (and Americans used to call it “Clay-colored Robin”). It is also the national bird of costa Rica because the early indigenous people said it was this bird that called in the rain at the beginning of rainy season, April-May, with its beautiful, melodious songs. Nice!

I’m not seeing as many birds anywhere this year which one naturalist said was because of the change in weather (El Niña) and a much wetter rainy season this year – I don’t know. But I thought the photo below of a wasp pestering the bird and another photo of the bird eating a berry were interesting enough to share, even if not high quality photos (bad light). But first a traditional portrait . . .

Yigüirro or Clay-colored Thrush, Xandari Resort, Alajuela.
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Forced Respite From Blogging

Well, it was just two nights away, one of my shortest overnight trips yet in Costa Rica, and I was planning on a blog post each night. But first it was Google Chrome, then MS Edge and finally Firefox browser that all refused to let me into my own website to post (and one other site) saying I was on an “unsafe connection (hotel Wifi) and that someone at my own website might steal by personal information including credit card numbers.” 🙂 Grrrrrrrrr.

So I just took a respite from the blog. No big deal. And here are the photos I was going to post that first night there (Wednesday) simply showing my room. The large rooms, or really spacious villas, plus the overall architecture is the highlight of Xandari Costa Rica for most guests, that and also the original art and statuary in every room and in the gardens. Then the first class restaurant and for nature lovers like me, a protected rainforest with 5 waterfalls and beautiful gardens around the buildings plus for other people, 3 pools and a Spa! It was a good respite and even though fewer birds this time (fewer all over Central Valley because of the strange weather this year), I photographed 5 or 6 birds plus more that 25 species (still counting) of butterflies with about 6 new or first-time seen species for me! Here’s one photo of one of the butterflies for the email version of the post, followed by a gallery of 6 shots from my room . . .

Orange-striped White by my terrace.
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A Two-Night Respite

I was getting tired of sharing the same butterflies and stopped posting them for a few days on the blog. Then I realized that probably the reason I’m not seeing birds like usual is the noise of the construction of two houses across the street. Grumble, grumble! But – they sodded grass and planted palms today, so maybe they’re nearly finished! 🙂

Then decided I needed a short break to a favorite nature resort very near here, a 45 minute drive, and my first return since 2020. So about 11:00 this morning my driver will take me to Xandari Nature Resort on the edge of Alajuela, our provincial capital and the location of the San Jose Airport, hidden on a mountain overlooking it all in a thick rainforest with 5 waterfalls, a farm, lots of flower gardens, birds, butterflies, great food, Frank Lloyd Wright style architecture filled with beautiful art and no construction work! There is nothing to not like about Xandari, unless it is the price! 🙂 But sometimes one needs to splurge for a day or two! 🙂

Check out the galleries below from my 4 previous trips there and oh yes, this is the only hotel that has a complete library of all my Costa Rica Photo Books! 🙂 – Click the date of each previous trip below to see my gallery from that visit to Xandari . . .

2020 August

Xandari Nature Resort, Alajuela

And links to 3 other earlier visits to Xandari . . .

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Calle Balsilla Birds

I must admit that I was more focused on butterflies than birds when we walked Calle Balsilla last week, plus we were later getting there which means fewer birds, but I did get these 4 bird species along with my 11 species of butterflies! 🙂

Inca Dove, Calle Balsilla, Atenas, Costa Rica

Interesting that the above dove is the only bird I photographed that was not totally black in color! 🙂

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Playa Cativo Photo Gallery

It’s finally completed! And now I can focus on more photos here in Atenas and my garden, though I might still blog some more from Cativo that I haven’t shared yet 🙂 since probably few of you will actually go to this trip gallery linked below. 🙂

This was a better than usual trip and rainforest lodge, though maybe not in my #1 choice yet 🙂 — it’s so hard to compare nature lodges when all of them are so good and each have their own unique things that the others do not! 🙂 If you want to learn more about this lodge, check out their website with this link: Playa Cativo Lodge, Golfo Dulce, Costa Rica. And note that the night-shot of a cabin at the top of their first page is of the cabin I stayed in for a week. 🙂 One of my best cabins ever, anywhere!

This was the third of the 3 “new” lodges I tried this year and was definitely the best cabin of the three and possibly the best overall experience than those at Chachagua or Guayabo, my other two “first time” lodges this year, both of which I loved and enjoyed very much! And I would consider returning to all three! The Cativo food was gourmet like Chachagua’s and the girl guide I had, Alejandra, was one of the best I’ve had anywhere plus the dining room staff gave me one of my best birthday celebrations yet in Costa Rica when I turned 82 there! So, overall a very good experience! 🙂 But I recommend both of the other new lodges also plus my only new lodge of 2021, Bosque del Cabo near Puerto Jimenez, which rivaled this lodge in many ways though I was still to weak from cancer treatment to fully enjoy it.

To see my Playa Cativo Trip Gallery, click that linked title or the image of the first page below. Photos tell a lot about a place if you are considering a visit there! 🙂 And remember that you must travel to either Golfito or Puerto Jimenez and then the hotel arranges a taxi from airport to dock for a boat ride to the lodge. Or if you drive a car, like my Tico doctor friend did, they will suggest where to park it safely before your boat ride to the lodge.

¡Pura Vida!

Trips like this are one thing that make my simple retirement a constant adventure along with the wonderful people and tranquility of the little coffee farming town I live in between these trips. I own no car or house, living happily in a rental house and walking or using public transportation, including for these trips.

You can virtually experience all my trips and tranquil home life through this blog “Retired in Costa Rica” and/or the past trips in my Costa Rica TRIPS Gallery which of course has a sub-gallery for each of the 96 trips I’ve made to every corner of Costa Rica plus 2 to Nicaragua and 1 to Panama since moving here in 2014. This number of trips does include several day-trips but mostly multi-nights lodge trips which are the best of course! And for me, 6 nights somewhere is needed to both relax and experience everything! 🙂

¡Pura Vida!