The “Cute” Rodent – Agouti!

This Central American Agouti, Dasyprocta punctata (Wikipedia Link) is indigenous to Central America and found from Southern Mexico through all the countries to the northern borders of South America with another species in the rest of South America, plus Mexico has a Black Agouti. This one was photographed in Carara National Park, Tarcoles. I have photographed several in many places as seen in my C.A. Agouti Gallery.

Central American Agouti, Carara National Park, Tarcoles, Puntarenas, Costa Rica

¡Pura Vida!

Golden-hooded Tanager

The last bird I will post about from the Villa Lapas & Carara Park trip is not a good photo but a cool bird! The Golden-hooded Tanager, Stilpnia larvata (eBird link) was this time photographed inside Carara Park and is one I’ve seen all over Costa Rica as noted in my Golden-hooded Tanager GALLERY where there are some much better photos than this one in the shadows.

Golden-hooded Tanager, Carara National Park, Tarcoles, Puntarenas, Costa Rica

¡Pura Vida!

Villa Lapas/Carara Park Photo Gallery

Though I have another week+ of blog post photos already scheduled, I have now also got my “Trip Gallery” completed for the two-night visit to Villa Lapas Hotel (hotel link) in Tarcoles and it was a productive trip! 🙂 You can see all the photos from that visit last week by clicking the first page of the gallery below or go to this address:

CLICK IMAGE above to go to the gallery.

And the FYI about why I re-visited this older local hotel in Tarcoles now (2015 was my other time) is that next year (2025, Q4) Villa Lapas (hotel link) will become a Marriott “Signature” hotel, whatever that means, and of course the prices will increase significantly as they modernize the very old rooms and restaurant. So it will be interesting to see what happens! 🙂 It is adjacent to Carara National Park and across the highway from Tarcoles Village with the Rio Tarcoles Boat Tours, so a lot to do there for the nature lover like me, including on their own significant chunk of forest on the hotel grounds. I recommend it if you can put up with older facilities, often needing maintenance. Lots of nature there! See the gallery! 🙂

But ALSO NOTE: even though I’m glad I revisited Villa Lapas, my favorite hotel in the area is still Macaw Lodge on top of the mountain above Villa Lapas and Carara Park for much more nature on the lodge grounds! I encourage you to try Macaw Lodge (lodge link) even though the drive up the mountain, partly on a gravel road, is much more difficult. It is worth it!

¡Pura Vida!

Orange-billed Sparrow

This Orange-billed Sparrow, Arremon aurantiirostris (linked to eBird) is another mostly Central America bird with a few in the southern edges of Mexico and northwestern South America. His bright beak makes it obvious when you spot one! This one was in the gardens of Villa Lapas Hotel at Tarcoles. And though the book says it is fairly common on both slopes here, I’ve only seen in 2 other locations so far, as shown in my Orange-billed Sparrow Gallery. Here’s two shots of this one . . .

Orange-billed Sparrow, Hotel Villa Lapas, Tarcoles, Puntarenas, Costa Rica
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Wedge-billed Woodcreeper

Another not often seen birds from Villa Lapas earlier this week is the Wedge-billed Woodcreeper, Glyphorynchus spirurus (linked to eBird) which I’ve only seen one other time which was at Rancho Naturalista many years ago. They are another bird found throughout Central America and Northern South America. Here’s three photos from a tree by the bridge to my room.

Wedge-billed Woodcreeper, Hotel Villa Lapas, Tarcoles, Puntarenas, Costa Rica
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Hotel Villa Lapas’ Namesake

If you don’t know, “Lapas” is Spanish for plural “Macaws,” and in Costa Rica the Scarlet Macaws (Lapas Rojas) are found only on the Pacific Slope. (The critically endangered Green Macaw is only on the Caribbean slope of Costa Rica.) This particular parrot, Scarlet Macaw, Ara macao, (eBird link) is greater in number and found throughout Central America and Northern South America, and though at one time listed as endangered, they have now recovered with the help of nesting boxes to replace the big old trees with holes they nested in that humans cut down for lumber and cow pastures. But the other Macaw, Green Macaw (Lapa Verde) is found only in Central America in low numbers and is listed as Critically Endangered for the same human reasons!

If you stay long enough at Villa Lapas Hotel and keep walking through the gardens and grounds you will see Scarlet Macaws there, either flying over, stopping in an Almond Tree for their favorite food, or just stopping in other trees to rest and socialize as these I photographed on the “Early Bird Hike” before breakfast my first morning there. Here are 4 of the dozens of shots I made, and as is usual with photographing birds in trees, I struggled with the shadows, “de-shadowing” as much as I could. 🙂 You can see more of my photos of this species in my Scarlet Macaw Gallery. Here’s 4 shots from Tuesday morning at Villa Lapas, Tarcoles, Puntarenas, Costa Rica . . .

Scarlet Macaws Cuddling, Villa Lapas Hotel, Tarcoles, Puntarenas, Costa Rica
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Royal Flycatcher – A Lifer!

On my last morning over in Tarcoles, I did a two-hour birding hike at Carara National Park with one of the park guides named Ronald and he did a good job! My big prize was the only “Lifer” (first time seen bird) this trip or since Christmas. And the only disappointment was that it is a lousy photo made with my cell phone through the guide’s spotting scope, since it was too far away to use my regular camera even with a 600mm lens. But it does include the very unique nest of the Tropical Royal Flycatcher, Onychorhynchus coronatus (linked to eBird). They are uncommon and found only from Southern Mexico to Northern Bolivia. This was my first time to see one and he was not displaying his large red crest (on males, which this one is) or yellow on females. Three photos . . .

Tropical Royal Flycatcher, Carara National Park, Tarcoles, Puntarenas, Costa Rica
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Villa Lapas

My second overnight trip after moving to Costa Rica nearly 10 years ago was to this locally-owned & operated lodge/hotel near the village of Tarcoles, less than an hour west of Atenas, Villa Lapas. I did not get many bird or other wildlife photos compared to later trips other places, but you can see what I got in my Trip Gallery: Villa Lapas, July 2015. The appeal then and now is that it is located next to Carara National Park, where, with a good guide (that I did not have then), you can photograph a lot of different bird species as you also can on the right Tarcoles River Boat Safari. Since then I’ve discovered lots of better lodges for birds and other nature photography (even in that area – see bottom of post), so why am I returning now? Because of a recent announcement about this little-known place with some rooms arranged as a “Colonial Spanish Jungle Village” becoming a Marriott Resort . . .

Villa Lapas set up as a “Colonial Jungle Village”
in the Transitional Forests of Carara National Park.
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“Nature Things”

Often when photographing in the forests of Costa Rica I’m compelled to photograph an interesting leaf or something that I don’t know what it is, thus I usually have a folder for photos of “Leaves & Nature Things!” And today’s photo is one of those! :-) They might be seeds or flower buds or nuts or who knows what? But I find this “whatever “Nature Thing” seen at Macaw Lodge to be worth sharing in my nature blog. And if you know what it is, leave a comment below.  🙂

One of my “Nature Things” photos.

¡Pura Vida!

And the GALLERY: Leaves & Nature Things.