Sure! I photograph ALL BIRDS, anywhere I find them, and many zoos are great places for birds, with some you will never get to see in the wild!
One of my many “quarantine projects” is getting my old “pre-Costa Rica” photos in my online gallery where I can see, use or reference them. One of the biggest galleries I am now working on is the gazillion photos I made at Nashville Zoo, my favorite zoo in the whole world!
And my first sub-gallery for Nashville Zoo is of course BIRDS! Today (Monday) I just finished my Nashville Zoo BIRDS gallery with 65 different species and a few of my favorite photos from Nashville days. About 6 of those are “wild” birds that just flew in for the ponds, trees, etc. Just be aware that these are older photos made between 2004 & 2014 and some birds may not still be there and of course there are new animals there I’ve never seen! 🙂
That got me thinking about the birds I’ve seen and photographed at other zoos, so today (Monday) I created a new page for my big BIRDS gallery: Links to BIRDS in ZOOSwith literally hundreds of bird photos from around the world and 40 zoos! Only a few birds in each zoo, none comparing to my Nashville Zoo collection, but a lot of birds and fun to collect! Staying busy at home! 🙂
No new flower or wildlife in these photos, but each one is a new expression of “nature as art” as I walked through my garden Sunday with camera in hand. I love doing this occasionally and though maybe the same subjects, the art is different each time!
Tibouchina or Princess Flower
Thornless Crown of Thorns
Southern Broken Dash Skipper on Once de Abril plant
Crown of Thorns
God’s Confetti — Bougainvillea
Polydamas Swallowtail on Porter Weed
Green Orchid Bee on Porter Weed
Once de Abril
Golden Shrimp Plant
Clay-colored Thrush or Yigüirro singing in the rain.
And that Yigüirro is singing his heart out every day now “calling the rains in” which happens every April in anticipation of the May rains or the beginning of the rainy season, our winter here. That is why he is the national bird of Costa Rica.
A week ago I showed you how I looked like a cowboy bank robber in my bandannawhich I’ve been wearing when out in the public for “necessities” like groceries, etc. Well, an enterprising local Tica seamstress, whom I’ve used for other purposes, is now making masks according to an online medically-approved pattern and a bunch of us in Roca Verde got some at only mil quinientos colones each or about $2.60 each in dollars. Washable and with a choice of several colors and fabric designs! 🙂 Those white medical masks are simply not available here.
Costa Ricans are a “can do” people and this local seamstress rose to the occasion! I hope it will help her little local business. And you may ask, “Why are you going to so much trouble when Costa Rica has only 500 cases of COVID19 and only 2 cases in Atenas?” Well, duh? It is because we as a country and a town are taking all the medically recommended precautions and have basically “shut down” everything that we are not ravaged by the pandemic like the U.S and we did it early. The government here is helping the businesses and tourism hurt by this and in another couple of months (hopefully) we just might be back to “normal” without thousands of people dead like in some other countries.
“An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”
Or almost no place better for birds than my home in the Roca Verde Neighborhood of Atenas, Costa Rica. My long-time intentions to do a photo book of birds photographed at home just got fulfilled!
Check out the free preview of this book of 80 photos of more than 40 species of birds found in my garden and neighborhood. Plus this book is bigger than my travel series books, a full 8 x 10 inches, making it acceptable as a “Coffee Table Book.” 🙂 The hardcover edition is printed on a higher quality of lustre photo paper, though the paperback edition is nice on standard paper. Enjoy! 🙂
Though we have fewer cases of the Coronavirus here in Costa Rica, our government has done a better job than many countries of educating people and keeping the number of cases low and thus as an “older person” I am staying in my house now (as recommended) except for these limited people contacts:
Supermarket – And I finally wised up to going when they are not crowded, like early morning.
Bank to pay 2 monthly bills and get cash at ATM (avoid Monday, Friday, & 1st)
Maid comes once a week and we keep our distance
Neighbor delivered Carrot Cake to several of us live-alone singles 🙂
And what keeps me from having “cabin fever” or boredom staying at home all the time? Well, that is easy to answer! I keep doing what I’ve always done since I retired in Costa Rica (minus the travel now):
What I Do Without Other People
(1) Birding that I can still do early mornings right here in my own neighborhood or even walk to other parts of Atenas away from the crowds solo as I prefer anyway.
(2) Blogging started becoming a regular thing for me back in 2014 before I even moved here as I focused then on the decision-making of such a move and now it is my replacement of many failed attempts at journaling, plus I actually have regular followers now and enjoy helping others who are considering retiring in Costa Rica, plus it is still a report to family and friends back in the states who want to keep up. Its a fun and creative outlet! 🙂
(3) Life History Recording (very slowly in the background) as it becomes much of the undated portion of my blog/website, the way WordPress blogs/websites have been organized from the beginning (dated blog & undated “static” pages). And in some ways a part of this history is my . . .
(4) Photo Gallery which was originally going to be pages of this WordPress website, but because of the future potential problem of using too much memory and slowing down access, and me not liking their gallery templates that well, I chose to use a photo gallery specialist at a separate address with a link from my site menu where I can put the full-size photo files (WP wants me to “web-size” photos). Though it is only a click away from my website/blog Home Page, it is actually located on a different server where I have a plan with unlimited space, thus putting all of my important photos, both historical and current on it. And I’m still working on the historical part! 🙂 Hey! I have thousands of photos made just since 2000 and still picking through them for the best to put in the gallery. And oh yes, I chose SmugMug.com as the best looking and easiest to use of the many options today! (Having tried Flickr & Pbase.) And from my gallery you can even order prints or wall art of any of my photos! 🙂
(5) Spanish Lessons Online now! No people contact there! 🙂
(6) The heaviest people contact I’ve had in the past was in almost monthly trips to lodges all over Costa Rica. I postponed two trips, one next week to San Gerardo de Dota and my May trip to San Isidro del General, which had included going on public bus (not healthy now). After that I’ve planned a July birthday trip to Manquenque Lodge in a tree house room as I turn 80 and things will have to get pretty bad for me to miss that! 🙂 I’m using my personal driver to get there and its in “the middle of nowhere” jungles where there should not be any virus. But I wait and see! 🙂
“At this point, it is believed many of the world has come in contact with the virus. And for that reason, we all have to experience social distancing and self-quarantine at various levels.”
RAIN — RAIN — a real rain with a lot of water yesterday afternoon, not the little sprinkle we had on the 24th. This is good news! The gardens and trees will love it and maybe the rainy season is starting early this year – we will see. But at least I don’t have to water for a few days now! 🙂
I still find it hard to show rain in a photo, so I won’t share my effort. But this is a big deal because there has been no rain since early December and we sometimes have to wait until May! I am not living in a rainforest, even though nearby. The Central Valley is in between the cool/wet cloud forests and the hot/wet/humid rainforests, thus our claim of “the best weather in the world” needing no a/c or heat ever here! But we do have rainy and dry seasons and it is still considered “tropical.” 🙂
Over this last weekend an upper right jaw tooth was hurting when I chewed on that side. So, first thing Monday after Spanish class I go to my dentist, Doctora Karina Valerio, who speaks only Spanish, which is good for me! 🙂
She checked it out and said she really needed a digital image to make an assessment and sent me to Doctor Ureña Bogantes Rodrigo, one block away, who is also a dentist along with being the only dental radiologist in Atenas with all the expensive equipment for that. And he speaks English! 🙂
He x-rayed my teeth from different angles and gave me the printout from his computer to take back to Dra. Karina, saying he believes I need a root canal. His charge was 15 mil or $26.35.
So I took the image back down the street and Dra. Karina says, “Necessita la endodoncia.” which of course is a root canal! 🙂 And she does not do those, but Dr. Ureña has someone he can bring in to do it. So I pay her only 5 mil or $8.78 for two visits and consultations.
Then I walk back down the street to Dr. Ureña again where he calls and schedules a root canal specialist to come to his office 3 days later, this Thursday. The woman Endodontista (root canal specialist) will have to drill through the right side of a bridge for the needed root canal. Of course it will cost only a tiny fraction of what one costs in the states! 🙂 AND it is soon (3 days) AND ¡No más dolor! (No more pain!)
And yes, I could have gone to the public clinic for free social security dental work, but it would have taken much longer and they would send me to their specialist in either Alajuela or San Jose for a root canal at who knows how long a wait, so I chose private care that is local (I walked to both dentist offices), and so reasonably priced, quick and with excellent service for which I’m willing to pay. While the very poor here can get similar treatment for free, just a longer wait and bus ride to Alajuela or San Jose.
You are possibly aware that dental tourism is one of the big businesses in Costa Rica! You can buy a plane ticket to Costa Rica, stay in a hotel, have the dental work done and do a little tourist activity all for less than what a dentist would charge you in the states for the same work. Dental work prices here are about 20% of the U.S. prices. And remember that doctors and medical care here is ranked higher than that in the USA by the UN World Health Organization, but you guys do rank number 1 as the most expensive in the world on all medical care and services. 🙂 ¡Pura vida!
OK, I won’t go into as much detail about the urologist here. I’m an old man you know. 🙂 At 80 everything starts malfunctioning! 🙂
But the interesting thing I wanted to reportis that our quiet, peaceful little farm town does not have a urologist (or many other medical specialists), either in the public clinic or in private practice. Thus, as I do for my dermatologist, I expected to go to Alajuela for this specialist.
But now we have two new private clinics (competing of course) in Atenas who bring in various specialists based on need. In my case, Dr. Rodriquez, urólogo, comes here to Clinica Santa Sofia (photo below) once a month. While young doctors like him probably stay a lot busier by sharing their time between a big city office and probably several small town offices, it is also very helpful to us in the small towns! We can avoid a trip to the big city! I like my dermatologist in Alajuela very much, so I probably won’t change him, but I expect all other future “specialists” to be found in one of these two new clinics here in Atenas. 🙂
Yes, the dreaded pandemic is even here in paradise! The last I read there are 13 confirmed cases in Costa Rica. (The first 3 were Italians who flew over for a “holiday.”) CR just cancelled 2 cruises to here and suspends mass gatherings but has no airline travel restrictions here yet and I imagine the tourism industry will discourage such but may be necessary. And yes, this virus hurts the tourism business maybe more than any other, just like in the states!
But to indicate the virus panic we already have here, I thought I would be well prepared “just in case,” far in advance and I tried to buy some surgical masksyesterday. After visiting 3 Farmacias (drug stores) here in Atenas I learned that there are none available anywhere in the whole country of Costa Rica – all “Out of Stock” they say. 🙂 Ours probably come from China and I imagine China is using all they can make there now! 🙂
This morning I walked to my favorite supermarket for a regular shopping trip and found that they are “Out of Stock” of all hand sanitizer and Liquid Hand Soap in dispensers but had some “refill” liquid soap in plastic bags that I got 2 of. They were also nearly out of alcohol. Hmmmm. Ticos are very health conscious and most are very healthy. So I am optimistic about avoiding the virus here. And generally I prefer avoiding crowds or many people anyway, which we must do now! So stay healthy! 🙂
For the last two weeks I have been adding the Spanish name after the English name on each of my 337 Costa Rica Bird Galleries, one bird at a time! My source was the fairly new book Aves de Costa Rica, Guia de Campo by Garrigues and Dean which is available only in bookstores and lodges here in Costa Rica, while the English version, Birds of Costa Rica is available on Amazon.com as well. This Spanish version is a translation of this older English version, Second Edition and is my first printed source of Spanish names for the birds here in Costa Rica. Nicaragua had one first that is bilingual! 🙂
I should add that for my English bird information I now use the more up-to-date Princeton Field Guide to Birds of Central America. My online source of birding information is Cornell’s eBird and Neotropical Birds websites. But even they do not have the Spanish names added to their articles. Wikipedia does but it is not specific to Costa Rica like the above book and my web gallery and I’m not sure of their sources.
Needless to say, this makes my web gallery of Costa Rica Birds one of the best online and the only one I know of that is bilingual, though I only have photos of 337 species out of over 900 here – so a long way to go! 🙂
“The presence of a single bird can change everything for one who appreciates them.”
― Julie Zickefoose
The Featured Photo is a shot from my terrace at breakfast this morning looking toward our mountain village of Atenas. I live in a peaceful place, appropriately called tranquiloin Spanish by the people here. 🙂
My Google Timeline Report for February:
WALKING: 36 km, 9 hours
BY VEHICLES: 351 km, 13 hours (Around town by taxi, several Alajuela trips by bus and the longest trip was to Heredia, north of San Jose. The walking was an almost daily walk to town plus 3 local birding walks with a Canadian friend.)
And they reminded me that my most distant destination for February was Heredia from which came my photo below. Should I be worried that Google knows so much about me? 🙂
Is that a word? 🙂 Well, anyway, I finished my week of Spanish Language Immersion and can say that it was very good or helpful! The most effective language immersion class/living is when one does it for two months straight or longer, then you are more or less fluent, people tell me. If I had my move to Costa Rica to do over, I would have scheduled the first two months in language immersion, but I didn’t – so I will keep up my plodding along here in Atenas with a tutor two hours a week along with relating to locals in Spanish and I may go back to Heredia for some more one week experiences in the future. We will see. It is not as expensive as my birding trips but nor is it as much fun! 🙂
The featured photo is from my breakfast table back home in Atenas this morning (got in last night) with that pretty pink-blooming tree on the horizon. It is always good to “get back home” after a trip. And in a lesser sense, I still have a type of language immersion living in Atenas, just not in my house! Though I guess I could talk to myself in Spanish! 🙂 I use only Spanish here with taxistas, at the supermercado, mostly in restaurants & other business and with my tutor – so not bad – but still not quite like the full immersion of this past week.
I recommend the experience and really liked the folks at Tico Lingo which I recommend, though I can’t compare it to any of the many other such programs here or in other countries. My uncle and some friends had good experiences at a similar program in Antigua, Guatemala while I have known others to do it in various places in Mexico – thus there are many opportunities if you are interested! And remember that living in a local home that speaks only Spanish is maybe just as important as the several hours of class work in the school. 🙂 AND using the language when you leave! 🙂 And I just now found one website that compares 18 such schools mostly geared to youth also wanting a beach experience and it doesn’t even include Tico Lingo, but if interested check out: Language Schools. My relocation tour stopped at two of these schools for quick introductions and there are more than these!
Speaking in Spanish with other students was also helpful. I was at a lower level than the one group class during my week, thus I had a solo class or 3 hours of personal tutoring each morning which was definitely best for me, but I did go out to lunch with some others and practiced with them a little, though it’s too easy to relapse into English with other Americans! 🙂
And of course I have a “Trip Gallery” of photos from this week, titled:
Someone recently asked me about getting around the country by bus and I think I referred them to the Bus Schedule website which lists all of the option when you type in the “From” and “To” spaces on that website with all bus companies included.
Well, I forgot about an even better help beyond schedules, the Facebook GroupPageCosta Rica by Bus on which you can post a question (may have to join group first) and some of the many people who travel by bus will share their experiences and advice. And of course they also recommend the bus schedule site above. And by the way, that bus in photo above is the one I took to Turrialba.
I plan to go to a birding lodge near San Isidro del General in May, so anticipate my report on that bus experience then. I use the bus almost weekly to go from Atenas to Alajuela for many different reasons and have gone to San Jose by bus many times. Some of my other bus adventures have been (with links to photo galleries):
And with local retirees on charter buses many time, while the above are public buses of different companies.
All of this was to simply say that you can travel on a “shoestring budget” and see a lot of Costa Rica whether you live here or visiting. Buses are cheap here! That is the way most Ticos travel! And you can do it without the Spanish language, though much easier and a richer experience if you speak at least a little Spanish.
Now, as a retiree who has made seeing all of Costa Rica my main activity, I do not do everything the budget-way and love to go the longer distances on Sansa Airlines or to places less than 3 hours from Atenas by my favorite driver here in Atenas, but I do not have a car and have basically quit renting cars because of the high insurance cost, thus seeing Costa Rica by bus is one option I still use when I consider it the most practical way. The next bus report comes in May! 🙂
“Live with no excuses and travel with no regrets” ~ Oscar Wilde