|our Almonds and Corals "pavilion"|
|Blue Morpho opened and closed|
Following a late lunch at the Soda and Restaurant Toro Mocho outside Puerto Limón, we continued on major roads that closely skirted coastal Caribbean lowlands. The predominate agricultural crop was quite evident - banana plantations were everywhere. And while most of Costa Rica enjoys a wet and dry season, this section of the Limón province tends to be wet all year round. And as with most sea level environments, the temperature remained quite warm with high humidity.
Bird-wise our roadside birding produced Magnificent Frigatebird, White-tailed Kite, Common Black-Hawk, Gray-rumped Swift, Long-tailed Tyrant, Mangrove Swallow, Passerini’s Tanager, Yellow-faced Grassquit, and Bronzed Cowbird. Of course several of the larger waders (Egrets, Herons) were plentiful. During a rest stop at a gas station a Black-throated Trogon pair were observed by some reminding everyone that you never leave the bus without your binoculars!
Near the town of Hotel Creek we intersected with a smaller paved road that led us through the popular tourist town of Puerto Viejo de Talamanca (simply Puerto Viejo to the locals). Principally a surfing community due to some of the most consistent and recurring biggest waves in Costa Rica, the narrow main street was dotted with small shops, cafes, and B and B’s that catered to surfers. For the most part the town seemed like a throwback to the 60’s hippies culture. Quite colorful and eclectic.
Between Puerto Viejo and the next small town of Manzanillo are some of Costa Rica’s most beautiful beaches. Playa Chiquita, Playa Negra and Punta Uva just to name a few. Visitors and locals in Manzanillo appeared to have more vehicles sporting kayaks than surfboards, another popular sport. The entire town is within the boundaries of the Gandoca-Manzanillo Wildlife and Marine Refuge.
|commons area outside hotel reception/office|
|exterior of typical "pavilion"|
|lighted walkways felt like an airport runway|
After settling into our rooms we made our way to the bar for happy hour following by a run through of the daily checklist in the hotel's large meeting hall. Then on to an evening meal (buffet style) in the open air thatched roof restaurant.
|male Mantled Howler|
|Golden Eyelash Viper|
|birding Almonds and Corals and Band-tailed Barbtail nest|
By mid morning we boarded our bus for the short drive into Manzanilla searching the beach front along our route. Not much in the way of shorebirds save for some ubiquitous Spotted Sandpipers and a couple of Whimbrel.
|Restaurante Maxi and beach at Manzanillo|
|view from Maxi's, fresh fish lunch and narrow but deep channel at the trail head|
Notable birds for the day, aside form those already mentioned included: Tiny Hawk, Short-billed Pigeon, Long-billed Hermit, Striped-throated Hermit, Green-breasted Mango, Blue-chested Hummingbird, Collared Aracari, Chestnut-colored Woodpecker, Cinnamon Woodpecker, Pale-billed Woodpecker, White-crowned Parrot, Mealy Parrot, Bat Falcon, Western Slaty-Antshrike, Chestnut-backed Antbird, Black-striped Woodcreeper, Black-capped Pygmy-Tyrant, Bright-rumped Attila, Gray-capped Flycatcher, Cinnamon Becard, Band-backed Wren, Bay Wren, White-lined Tanager, Red-throated Ant-Tanager, and Scarlet-rumped Cacique. A Spectacled Owl was heard and seen by some after dark and early the next morning.
On Saturday the 16th we revisited a few of the lodge trails before breakfast then boarded our bus for a day’s outing of roadside birding as we worked our way toward the small border town of Sixaola on the Rio Sixaola, part of the boundary dividing Costa Rica and Panama.
|lunch spot and adjacent open air market|
|roadside birding outside Sixaola - Panama hills in the background|
|even the author consults his field guide from time to time|
Other birds on the day included some heard onlys: Great Tinamou, Little Tinamou, Laughing Falcon, and Black-striped Sparrow. Both heard and seen included Crested Guan, Roadside Hawk, Blue Ground-Dove, White-collared Swift, White-necked Jacobin, Rufous-tailed Hummingbird, Blue-throated Goldentail, Lineated Woodpecker, Red-lored Parrot, Dot-winged Antbird, Bicolored Antbird, Plain-brown Woodcreeper, Wedge-billed Woodcreeper, Plain Xenops, Ruddy-tailed Flycatcher, Masked Tityra, Gray-breasted Martin, Bananaquit, Shining Honeycreeper, Blue-black Grassquit, White-collared Seedeater, and Chestnut-headed Oropendula.
Back to Almonds and Corals in time for happy hour, then to our daily ritual run-through of the day’s birds, followed by an evening meal. Meals were always well prepared and the attention by wait staff, even though it was buffet style serving, was exemplary. Then it was off to our “pavilion” to pack bags for the next day when we would depart Almonds and Corals. After over five days on the Caribbean coast we’ll leave behind the warm and humid lowland forests in exchange for somewhat cooler temperatures found on higher ground at a lodge we have long anticipated visiting: Rancho Naturalista.
|large cool bug - no idea what kind|
|bats under Tod and Cindy's pavilion entryway|
|we felt like we were living in a jungle village|
|misting required umbrellas from time to time|
|comparing Marge to a coconut?|