Enjoying a “Thank You”

I do a little 7 X7 inch photo book on almost every lodge I visit in Costa Rica and send a copy to the hotel and/or the guides. After my September trip to El Silencio Lodge & Reserve I sent two such books to the hotel along with a copy of my CR Birds Book & one of my CR Butterflies Book for their guests to enjoy.

One of the guides sent me a What’s App message “Thank You” yesterday afternoon with the above photo of my two El Silencio guides, Daniel & Bryan, holding a copy of the El Silencio Book. Nice to be appreciated! 🙂 Thanks guys!

¡Pura Vida!


Yesterday was my guided bird watching hike and business is so slow in this low season (few tourists in rainy season) that I was given two guides for my solo birding hike. Great and very productive! We saw more than 25 or 30 species but not that many photos!

Below are the ones I got usable photos of with 2 of these as “lifers” or first time photographed for me: Lesser Ground Cuckoo (also the featured photo) and the Magpie Jay. Plus a third lifer without a very good photo – Western Wood-Pewee. A very good morning!    🙂

Guachipelín Birds!


With My 2 Guides

And Javier really likes to get group photos, securing another employee to snap this on both our phones. Johnny on the left was technically the main guide who is more experienced and been around here awhile, but Javier (my guide the day before also) was the “Eagle-eye” –  really good at spotting hard-to-see birds.

Johnny will be my guide today into the national park, which won’t be as many birds with the volcano, hot springs, mud pots, etc. like visiting Yellowstone!


¡Pura Vida!

Hacienda Guachipelín

Rio Sierpe Mangrove Tour

Wednesday of my visit to Uvita I took a taxi back close to the Palmar Sur Airport I flew into for the Mangrove Boat Tour on Rio Sierpe – my sixth place to do a Mangrove or River Tour in Costa Rica which always provides a lot of birds and other wildlife to photograph. This one did not disappoint! (Not my best, but very good!)

A Couple of Coincidences

Carlos Gonzales

The big surprise for my solo boat tour with a captain and guide was that Carlos Gonzales was the guide – the same guide I had in Drake Bay at Aguila de Osa Hotel in 2017. He is one of the few “older” guides I’ve had in Costa Rica with the majority looking like they are fresh out of college. Carlos is 71.

Plus the funny coincidence was that the boat captain was also named Carlos and my name in Spanish is Carlos!   🙂   Tres Carloses!



Other Wildlife

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River Scenes

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“Oh, Eeyore, you are wet!” said Piglet, feeling him.
Eeyore shook himself, and asked somebody to explain to Piglet what happened when you had been inside a river for quite a long time.”
― A. A. Milne


¡Pura Vida!


Another Nature Adventure arranged by  Hotel Cristal Ballena!

This trip gallery:  2019-September 13-21–Cristal Ballena, Uvita

Two Toucans & Two Great Guides in Nicaragua

Keel-billed Toucan, near dining room, El Jaguar Reserve, Nicaragua
Collared Aracari Toucan, in tree by coffee field, El Jaguar Reserve, Nicaragua

 Obviously not my best toucan photos, so see other’s I’ve made in my Costa Rica Toucans Photo Gallery. But note that toucans are very difficult to photograph without expensive and large telephoto lens, since these birds generally stay high in the forest canopy. I did not get the lucky close one this trip like I did at Tortuguero. I was close to that Aracari!

See some interesting TOUCAN FACTS  on the “Interesting Animal Facts” Page.

And though I had other short-term guides, these two guys did two and three full days respectively with me and were both so very friendly, helpful and knowledgeable about the local birds. I could not have asked for better guides at either Montibelli or El Jaguar! They are my favorite on this trip! I will ask for both of them if I ever return!

Here I am with Luis at Chocoyero, our one trip out of Montibelli.
He was my full-time private guide at Montibelli Reserve and
very professional for a 21 year old! And spoke good Ingles!  🙂

And here is Moises at El Jaguar Reserve equally professional, 
knowledgeable and muy amable (friendly, helpful) 28 year old
He’s showing me a bird photo on phone for identification of one seen.
His whole family works for El Jaguar, mostly on the coffee farm.

Like most young people in Latin America, these guys treated me with ultimate respect because of my age. And they acted like it was a privilege to serve me anyway they could. Like all over the world, young men in their 20’s find it difficult to get jobs. These two are following their passion for birds with part-time work as guides. And as all young adults in both Costa Rica and Nicaragua, they live at home with their parents until married or a job in another place. Luis finishes university in June with a business degree but does not know what he will do. He would like to start a bird guide business, but the competition and seasonal nature of the work would make it difficult to support a family if he marries his girlfriend or novia. Moises is more likely to stay with El Jaguar doing multiple jobs beyond bird guiding. (His bosses know what a good guide he is!) For example, he works with an international organization banding birds two mornings a week and assisting with research (though it could be volunteer work). And of course there is the coffee farm work year around. He did not go to the university. He also drives the farm truck and here there are limited people who can or will drive, making them professional drivers or conductors.  There is more poverty in Nicaragua than Costa Rica and it is more difficult to find jobs, thus many from Nicaragua migrate to Costa Rica for work, like my maid Mayra and her husband and two children.

Both of these young men spoke good English but were just about the only ones in Nicaragua! I got lots of practice with my simple efforts to speak Spanish. ¡Necesito practicar más español!

I also had the good fortune of meeting and having dinner with the owners of El Jaguar one night. A Swiss man named George Duriaux married to a Nica woman, Liliana Chavarria-Duriaux, who inherited the land from her father and with George has turned it into a combination wildlife reserve and coffee farm, with coffee paying the bills! They are delightful people and she is one of the three co-authors of my new book, A Guide to the Birds of Nicaragua. She even autographed my copy with a nice personal note! She also gave suggestions to help me learn Spanish including the recommendation of two novels in español that she believes will help me learn the language faster. (If interested, they are Cien años de soledad and El amor en los tiempos del colera, both by Nobel prize writer Gabriel Garcia Marquez). I found both at Walmart yesterday and will try! ¡Muy dificil para me!  🙂  And I’m not sure if I’m ready to do Spanish on my Kindle yet. I may try one.

Both reserves were wonderful with El Jaguar standing out for me on this trip, partly for the extra day, the most birds, and meeting delightful people! As I left, two couples had checked in for their birding adventures there! One from Germany and the other from Canada. Meeting people like this is part of the joy of traveling!

And oh yes, there are more bird photos to share! I photographed around 70 species in Nicaragua! While continuing to share Nica photos, I go back to the many birds in Costa Rica yet to be photographed! But the need for a renewed visa gave me an excuse for the wonderful experience of traveling in another country! I loved every minute of it while still being glad to get home!

“To awaken quite alone in a strange town is one of the pleasantest sensations in the world.” 
– Freya Stark

Scouts in Atenas

A cell phone snap of a scout meeting in Central Park, Atenas, Costa Rica

For more about “Scouts & Guides” in Costa Rica, read this article on Wikipedia. It is now for both boys and girls and the program dates back to 1915, kind of like world-wide I think.