The Real Jungle

Trip Start Dec 30, 2010
Trip End Ongoing

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Where I stayed
La Selva Biological Research Station

Flag of Costa Rica  , Province of Limon,
Friday, March 4, 2011

The La Selva Biological Research Station is an effort to showcase, explore, and preserve a tropical rainforest in much the same way as the Monteverde was designed to preserve and observe a Cloud Forest. Here, they average around 12 feet of rain per year and the preserve covers around 11,500 hectares. You immediately feel the difference as you enter the area as you see the brown fast moving creeks overhung by big leafed trees with their vines hanging down to the ground. There are the big strangler fig trees here and the tree ferns like in Monteverde; but the tree ferns are much larger....often 30 feet tall before the trunk branches into a fern with fronds that are 10-15 feet long and shading a huge area. And this is where you get your jungle audio tapes from. Flocks of Chestnut Mandibled Toucans scream from the trees and the roar of the Howler Monkeys answers back. A Damselfly hovers overhead in a swampy section; but it's wingspan is nearly 10 inches across and the brown moth hiding under the eaves looks more like the size of a bat than an insect. Upon arrival, they issue you a pair of knee high rubber boots...and they tell you not to venture off the paths.....and not to go from your cabin to the dining hall without them and your headlight in the evening to avoid the snake bites that can be so quickly fatal. Oh Boy! Another adventure. We finally got to a country that the State Dept. feels is safe and then we managed to find a dangerous part of it.
Anyway, I donned my rubber boots and set out across the metal swinging bridge that crosses the largest river...past the sign that warns against swimming because of the crocodiles and underneath the watchful Howler Monkeys and into the steamy green woods. All of a sudden the whole scene seems to change again. The vegetation is thicker, but because it is away from where it has been cut sometime in the past, the canopy now is so dense that visibility is now very limited even though it is 1:00 in the afternoon. Everything takes on a muted green and brown tone and surprising to becomes almost totally silent. Only Sharon's sharp eyes can pick out tiny brown lizards on leaves or a poison dart frog that is brilliantly red with blue legs; but is only the size of your thumbnail. Photography is almost impossible without a flash and even then we weren't able to convince the animals that we only wanted to take their pictures and that we weren't going to eat them. They just hopped deeper into the leaf litter where no one in their right mind would follow even if they do have big rubber'll just have to Google poison dart frog for an image. The trails start out as nice concrete sidewalks; but after an hour or so we were walking through leaves and over gnarly roots and through mud trying to look up, down, and around at the same time so as not to miss anything. Still we didn't really see very much..a troop of peccaries ambled by and we did see a trio of Broad Billed Mot-Mots; but in general the area around the camp buildings was much more alive with birds. Still you can't help but wonder how many things saw us that we didn't see at the time. In the morning we will be on a guided hike and it will be fascinating to see what the possibilities are. 
   The next morning we joined Edgardo our guide and four birders from England for our nature tour.  It was terrific for me because Edgardo knew every call and did a good job of finding the birds for us.  We saw another Poison Dart Frog or Blue Jeans Frog as they call it.  We also saw two different Mot Mots and two different Trogons and the real highlight was as we were walking back across the big swinging bridge, a whole troop of Howler Monkeys came across with us and then doubled back and came back by us again.   We could have reached out and touched them they were so close.  The mother was very cautious as she passed us with the baby  on her back but the baby was definitely very curious.  The crazy part was watching the mother jump from the bridge to the trees with the baby clinging to her back.   

Broad Billed Mot Mot                 N. Barred Woodcreeper             Chestnut Mandibled Toucan
Mealy Parrots                           Streak Headed Woodcreeper      Cheries Tanager
Lineated Woodpecker                Slaty Tailed Trogon                    Long Billed Hermit Hummer
Clay Colored Robin Blue Gray Gnatcatcher               Golden Hooded Tanager\
Black Cowled Oriole                 Violaceous Trogon                      Slaty Breasted Tinamou
Short Billed Pigeon                   White Crowned Parrot Squirrel Cuckoo
Vermiculated Screech Owl        Band Tailed Barbthroat Hummer  White Necked Jacobin Hummer
Rufous Mot Mot American Pygmy Kingfisher         Keel Billed Toucan
Black Cheeked Woodpecker     Wedge Billed Woodcreeper         Plain Brown Woodcreeper
Ochre Bellied Flycatcher           Rufous Mourner Long Tailed Tyrant
Boat Billed Flycatcher               White Collared Manakin             Golden Winged Warbler
Chestnut Sided Warbler            Banded Back Wren                    Red Throated Ant Tanager
Summer Tanager                      Black Faced Grosbeak              Montezuma Oropendola

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Harold on

Looks like you are seeing a lot of wonderful things. Great pictures. We will be roughing it for the next two weeks. Have to put up with a lot of food and stops at exotic islands. Thats right, we are going on another cruise. Hope I don't gain more than five pounds!! Take care.

Bobby A on

Love reading your firsthand account of another world.

Jim G on

Fascinating, keep enjoying this adventure and stay safe.

Tommy on

Great blog, Joe! Really enjoyed keeping up with it!

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