Church Group Cancels & I Add Monteverde!

Anytime you are dealing with groups of people there are complications and changes and this happened with the First Baptist Nashville group that were coming back to Atenas to work again in the Hogar de Vida Children’s Home this April. Pam told me yesterday that it did not work out, so instead of a week with them I now have scheduled a week in the Quaker town of Monteverde in April and already scheduling guided birding hikes while there.   🙂

IMG_1732-A-WEB
Rare Three-wattled Bellbird I photographed at Selvatura Monteverde in 2016

I limit myself to one birding trip a month and somehow for 2 years now I have not been able to get back to Monteverde where I had only 2.5 days back in 2016 on a Birding Club Trip that I added an extra night to but still did not have enough time for all the reserves and other places for nature. I’ll stay 6 nights this time with my first priorities guided birding hikes in three reserves: Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve (or Official Site in English), Santa Elena Reserve (or Official Site in Spanish), and Curi-Cancha Reserve. That’s three days! Then a really good commercial nature reserve there called Selvatura that has the longest canopy hanging-bridges in the country plus a fabulous butterfly garden & hummingbird garden and more! That will be another full day, to which I will then add shorter trips like one of the best night hikes in the country, the excellent Monteverde Butterfly Garden, not to mention the trails and gardens at the Monteverde Lodge & Gardens where I will be staying. A full and fulfilling week!   🙂   So Nashville guys, I will miss you, but not be bored!   🙂

And I change my 2019 Trips Map with #4 (April) moved from Atenas to Monteverde.

Click to enlarge

 

 

¡Pura Vida!

2018 in Review – Photo A Month

One favorite photo from each month of 2018 – And I had trouble picking just one! Thus the header photo above is an extra one from October and the only one here from Esquinas Rainforest Lodge, Piedras Blancas National Park, my #1 lodge this year. 

 

January 2018 – My Discovery of Calle Nueva in my own neighborhood!
February 2018 – Visiting Orosi Valley & this Mirador de Ujarras along with Tapanti National Park & more!
March 2018 – Red-eyed Tree Frog, Danta Corcovado Lodge, Corcovado National Park, Los Patos
April 2018 – A group from First Baptist Nashville on my front porch. They came a volunteers working in the Hogar de Vida Children’s Home for a week. I’m not allowed to show children faces, thus picked this photo.
May 2018 – Mantled Howler Monkey, just one of many great shots from Arenal Observatory Lodge, Arenal Volcano National Park.
June 2018 – Golden Collared Manakin at Tranquilo Bay Lodge, Bocas del Toro, Panama.
July 2018 – Xandari Nature Resort, Alajuela for nature hikes, art and spa!
August 2018 – Emerald Toucanet, Soda y Mirador Cinchona, Alajuela Province
September 2018 – 3-Toed Sloth, Hotel Banana Azul, Puerto Viejo, Costa Rica Caribbean.
October 2018 – Keel-billed Toucan on my Terrace for Breakfast, Roca Verde, Atenas, Costa Rica
November 2018 – Snow Egrets’ Ballet, Rancho Humo, Palo Verde National Park on the Tempisque River
December 2018 – Blue Morpho Butterfly, Si como No Resort, Manuel Antonio National Park & Quepos

Wow! This was too hard to do! My very best photos were probably all in 3 or 4 months, so I will try something different next year, like maybe my top 5 or so favorite photos. I think I will also try to rank the hotels/lodges/parks I visited this year.

Ranking My Top 7 Lodges in 2018

I rank for all aspects of the lodge for a birder and/or nature lover, not necessarily in this order: number of birds and other wildlife seen, quality of guides, quality of overall service, restfulness of room, quality meals, overall ecology consciousness and sometimes the extra services, depending on the place and situation. My 2018 Top 7 lodges and hotels in order of my preference or enjoyment:

  1. Esquinas Rainforest Lodge, Piedras Blancas National Park, north of Golfito
  2. Danta Corcovado Lodge, Corcovado National Park, Los Patos Ranger Station
  3. Arenal Observatory Lodge, Arenal Volcano National Park, inside the park
  4. Rancho Humo, Palo Verde National Park in Guanacaste
  5. Hotel Banana Azul, Puerto Viejo
  6. Tranquilo Bay, Bocas del Toro, Panama
  7. Xandari Nature Resort, Alajuela

¡Pura Vida!

Poas Volcano National Park in Costa Rica Will Open Doors to Visitors Again This Friday, Aug.31

Read all the details at:

https://news.co.cr/poas-volcano-national-park-in-costa-rica-will-open-doors-to-visitors-again-this-friday-aug-31/75556/

This is one of the oldest and most visited national parks in Costa Rica and has been greatly missed for nearly a year now after some serious eruptions. Safety is always the first concern and you can be confident that it is safe to visit again now. Some say that it is the best or one of the best volcano parks in the world to visit. It is the only one here where you can look down inside the cone. Plus it is a beautiful cloud forest and nature reserve! I highly recommend seeing it when in Costa Rica and always best early in the morning since clouds often move in to hide the volcano by or before 10:00 AM!

The photo above is one of many made on a trip to Poas in 2015 with Kevin Hunter. See the TRIP Gallery Poas Volcano 2015.

Soda y Mirador Cinchona

Early this morning I used my favorite driver, Walter, to take me on an hour and a half drive up the mountains near Poas Volcano (which will reopen by December if no more eruptions). I have been hearing about a little Soda (small family restaurant) for a long time that everyone says I must visit for the wide variety of birds at their feeders and one of the most beautiful waterfall vistas.

I was not disappointed! Here is a slideshow of some of what seen and you can go to my TRIPS Photo Gallery for a gallery of today’s trip, Soda y Mirador Cinchona that will give you larger and more photos to see of one more great place to visit in Costa Rica! Birds are presented in the order found in the book The Birds of Costa Rica, A Field Guide.

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The need to create is overwhelming!

Creative Gardening is another passion!

I just read an online article by a creative photographer named Dan Milnor who was sleeping in his truck as he traveled through mountain deserts making photographs. Someone asked him why he was doing that and what would be done with all the photos? He told them “possibly nothing” would be done with the photos but “I was doing it because the need to create is overwhelming, regardless of the end result.” Spoken like a true “starving artist.”

Well, he kind of speaks for me and why I travel all over Costa Rica photographing birds and other things in nature and the beautiful culture. THE NEED TO CREATE IS OVERWHELMING and I enjoy it more than anything else I do.

And tomorrow I leave for one of the most creative lodges I have stayed in yet in Costa Rica, Xandari Resort  (click the Costa Rica section of this resort with 3 other locations being in India), just an hour or a little more from here, north of Alajuela on a mountain. There I plan to experience (and photograph) a blend of art, birds, nature, architecture, and 5 natural waterfalls – while resting and being creative myself with my cameras. Just 4 nights this trip (a more expensive place!). Expect blog posts from there starting tomorrow night (Saturday). And I will continue to fill in the static pages on my new website, now featuring this blog and I hope improving! More fun anyway!  🙂

¡Pura Vida!

El Copal Nature & Happy Valentines Day!

A Valentine from Nature
Photographed along a road or trail in the
El Copal Area, Costa Rica

Or maybe you prefer an Exotic Wild Flower for Valentines
El Copal Area, Costa Rica

Reventazón River Valley 
El Copal Area, Costa Rica

One of Many Tributaries 
El Copal Area, Costa Rica
My Guide Cristhian Ureña Martinez 
El Copal Area, Costa Rica

More FlowersEl Copal Area, Costa Rica

More Flowers  
El Copal Area, Costa Rica

More Flowers 
El Copal Area, Costa Rica

Mosses and Ferns of the Cloud Forest 
El Copal Area, Costa Rica

A Horse Farm Where We Found Birds 
El Copal Area, Costa Rica

A Horse Farm Where We Found Birds 
El Copal Area, Costa Rica
Nature is the art of God.

¡Pura Vida!


This exact same set of photos in my TRIPS photo gallery:  El Copal Area Scenery


And related is the gallery El Copal BIRDS in this same TRIPS gallery below


Or see all of my Orosi Trip photos in the TRIP Gallery: 2018-February 6-10–Orosi/Tapanti



~ ~ ~ ~ ~


TINY SERENDIPITIES KEEP ME SMILING

On the bus to Alajuela Monday a Tica mother with little girl about a year to 18 months old sat down in the seat next to me. The little girl kept looking at me and finally reached out and touched my arm and smiled. (Yes I had already said “Hola” and smiled at her, but she was slow responding.)

Later after mother and child got off the bus, an older man in the seat in front of me began playing his harmonica and quietly singing a beautiful, tranquil song in Spanish.  ¡Pura vida!

The greatest self is a peaceful smile, that always sees the world smiling back. 


Bryant H. McGill


~~~~~~~
JURASSIC PARK?
ENGLISH LANGUAGE NEWS ARTICLE:
Isla del Coco, Costa Rica

This is our island in the Pacific Ocean that is similar to Galápagos Islands of Ecuador without
tourism. It is a national park and research center and many say is more significant scientifically than the Galápagos Islands. (Darwin missed it!) It is also the island that the fictitious dinosaur project was on in the movies of the Jurassic Park. See this brief YouTube video of THE REAL JURASSIC PARK for a 57 second glimpse of the real island. 


The island is 300 miles offshore and you sleep on the yacht and scuba dive around the island in the largest colony of sharks in the world! They let you on the island for brief day trips from the yacht but no nights there. Not a regular tourist spot! It costs 3 to 5 k per person for a minimum number of people on different boats for 7 days and just the shore excursion to the island costs $250 to $500 depending on which boat you are on! Cost includes bus from San Jose airport to Puntarenas dock. 

UNESCO World Heritage Site          I would love to see it, but doubt that will ever happen!

¡Pura Vida!

Chapel at Villa Blanca

Mariana Chapel  
 Villa Blanca Cloud Forest Resort & Nature Reserve
 San Ramon, Costa Rica

Chapel    
Villa Blanca Cloud Forest Resort & Nature Reserve 
 San Ramon, Costa Rica

Chapel   
 Villa Blanca Cloud Forest Resort & Nature Reserve 
 San Ramon, Costa Rica

Chapel   
Villa Blanca Cloud Forest Resort & Nature Reserve 
 San Ramon, Costa Rica

Chapel   
 Villa Blanca Cloud Forest Resort & Nature Reserve 
 San Ramon, Costa Rica

Flowers in front of Chapel   
 Villa Blanca Cloud Forest Resort & Nature Reserve 
 San Ramon, Costa Rica
Oxcart in front of Chapel  
 Villa Blanca Cloud Forest Resort & Nature Reserve 
 San Ramon, Costa Rica

Villa Blanca’s Mariana Wedding Chapel was the 50th anniversary-wedding gift from former President Rodrigo Carazo Odio to First Lady Estrella Carazo Zeledon. Its unique hand painted ceramic ceiling depicts the history of the Virgin Mary when first introduced into Latin America by Christian missionaries. It is located on a grassy knoll overlooking the farm village and hacienda of Villa Blanca. The Chapel’s backdrop is the 840 Ha (2000 acre) Los Angeles Cloud Forest, with over 300 listed bird species included within a variety of flora and fauna in this protected habitat and serene mountain setting. The chapel, a replica of a 17th century chapel in Rome, features a high beam ceiling composed of 840 individual ceramic plates, all of them hand drawn and painted with high temperature enamel paints. Each side of the ceiling has 15 panels of 28 plates divided in two vertical rows of 14 plates. Each one of the columns formed by the 14 plates conveys a theme allusive to a Latin-American virgin and her country of origin.

My trip gallery: 2017 Villa Blanca
My reviews of other Costa Rica Lodges & Hotels  if exploring this fun country. Note that at Drake Bay I stayed at the sister hotel of Villa Blanca, Aguila de Osa – both are Greentique Hotels.

Arrival at Villa Blanca Cloud Forest Resort

Stained Glass Window in my Cabin
Villa Blanca Cloud Forest Resort
Near San Ramon, Costa Rica

The One Traffic Jam Enroute to 
Villa Blanca Cloud Forest Resort
Near San Ramon, Costa Rica

The View in All Directions fromVilla Blanca Cloud Forest Resort
Near San Ramon, Costa Rica

Me at the entrance gate
Villa Blanca Cloud Forest Resort
Near San Ramon, Costa Rica

Rufous-collared Sparrow 
 Villa Blanca Cloud Forest Resort
Near San Ramon, Costa Rica

I have loads of photos I would like to show, but will settle for these “just arriving” shots now. Left Atenas about 10:15 and arrive around 11:30-11:45, had lunch, explored grounds, made many photos yet to show, 6:00 to 8:00 Night Hike and late dinner with two other guys. The hike was great with more species of frogs than I’ve ever seen, a flock of parrots sleeping, 2 snakes, gobs of strange insects, and I’m sure something else. That will be one whole post! So this quick post and off to bed for an early morning birding hike before breakfast. This place is wonderful!

My Trip Gallery on this visit   and   the Hotel Website