Punta Arenas, Costa Rica
4-29-08 Rainforest Skywalk and Pura Vida Botanical
Scarlet Macaw Day. What could be more impressive than a noisy flock of these huge parrots flying up a wooded valley, and then one of them stopping on an open perch for us to admire?
On this shore day, we followed exactly the same itinerary as Helen describes in her web page--http://helensbirds.homestead.com/cruise04costarica.html She was there in January; we in April. She had 40 species; we had 38, including 17 that she did not see. That gives you an idea of the avian diversity in this small area of Costa Rica. Keep in mind that these shore excursions generally are in the middle of the day when bird activity is lowest.
Our leader this day was very knowledgeable about the history and culture of Costa Rica, and somewhat informed about the birdlife of the area. He admitted that his main natural history interest was trees, and he gave us lots of interesting information about them.
Driving through the countryside we saw the occasional unidentified hawk on the wire, and occasional glimpses of birds in flight, but really didn’t identify anything. The Tarcoles River bridge did not disappoint. We were let off on the north side, and slowly made our way across on the narrow “sidewalks--traffic whizzing by all the time. Many large crocodiles were lazing below the bridge, and a Turkey Vulture soared by very closely--too close to focus on! A Yellow-headed Caracara was sitting on a nearby snag, and took flight as we crossed the midway point of the bridge. A few birds were visible both upstream and downstream. I snapped a photo of a large egret downstream, and upon inspecting the image on the laptop screen that evening, discovered not only a Great egret, but a Snowy Egret, Black-bellied Whistling Ducks, Tricolored Heron, and Northern Jacanas! A single Scarlet Macaw flew upstream, allowing a too-brief inspection. Our bus picked us up on the South side of the bridge. Just a couple minutes later, we stopped briefly to view 2 Crested Caracaras at a cattle watering trough. They were just 20 or 30 feet from the bus.
We drove on to Villa Lapas, for a bathroom stop which was all too brief. This is a wonderful spot in the rainforest where we could have spent hours without getting bored. A juvenile Bare-faced Tiger-Heron was in a nest directly above the parking lot. The trees seemed alive with birds, including Palm, White-shouldered and Blue-gray Tanagers, Streak-headed Woodcreeper, and Streaked flycatcher. After this all too brief stop we drove up to the beginning of the skywalk. This was a hot downhill walk on a well maintained trail which included several impressive suspension bridges over a dry stream bed. Being mid-day, and in the forest, we heard several birds, saw a few briefly, but generally this part of the day was more interesting for the flora than fauna. This walk ended back at Villa Lapas where we were provided with fruit snacks, and given the opportunity to do some shopping.
Back in the bus we were driven further uphill to Pura Vida Gardens. We were provided with a nice lunch, smorgasbord style, in a covered verandah. Pura Vida is a gorgeous spot high in the hills, surrounded by forest and wildlife. The views are expansive, and the paved trails and grounds impeccably maintained. We had just over an hour to explore the area, which wasn’t nearly enough. The flowering trees were alive with hummingbirds. Many of them were Green-breasted Mangos. Scaly-breasted Hummingbirds were also identified. I’m sure other species were present, but we never confirmed any others. Loud raucous calls could be heard approaching from below, which turned out to be a flock of 10 or 12 Scarlet Macaws! One of them perched for us to admire from a lookout. I spent some time watching a pair of Social flycatchers feed their young in an unkempt nest in a gazebo. Various other birds were identified, including Yellow-bellied Elaenia, Yellow-throated Euphonia and Piratic Flycatcher. Just before we left, a toucan, the Fiery-billed Aracari dropped by to bid us farewell from this beautiful spot. The bus ride back to the cruise terminal in Punta Arenas was mostly in the rain. We stopped at a small lagoon just before the terminal, and added Roseate Spoonbill, Great and Little Blue Herons, and some 50 Wood Storks to the day’s list.
Scarlet Macaws flying over Pura Vida Streak-headed Woodcreeper
Black-bellied Whistling-Duck At Tarcoles River bridge.
Blue-gray Tanager Villa Lapas
Fiery-billed Aracari Pura Vida gardens.
Great Blue Heron
Great Kiskadee Several at Pura Vida Gardens.
Little Blue Heron
Mangrove Swallow Pier
Northern Jacana At Tarcoles River bridge. Discovered by viewing a photo on the computer. Not seen at the time of taking the photo!
Ruddy Ground Dove
Scaly-breasted Hummingbird Pura Vida gardens.
Scarlet Macaw One flyover at Tarcoles river bridge, and about 10 more at Pura Vida Gardens.
Snowy Egret At Tarcoles River Bridge.
Social Flycatcher Feeding young at a nest at Pura Vida.
Streak-headed Woodcreeper Villa Lapas
Streaked Flycatcher Pura Vida gardens.
Turkey Vulture At Tarcoles River bridge, within feet of us, swooping down to check us out.
White-shouldered Tanager Villa Lapas
White Crowned Parrot Seemed very tame, eating handouts at Pura Vida Gardens. Perhaps cannot fly, or just knows he has a good deal!
Wood Stork Lots at Lagoon beside the road in Punta Arenas.
Yellow-throated Euphonia Pura Vida gardens. Next Stop Puerto Chiapas Return to Home