Fantastic wildlife spotting

Trip Start Sep 28, 2007
Trip End Jun 25, 2008

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Flag of Costa Rica  ,
Monday, November 12, 2007

For our full day in La Fortuna we went to a wetland area near the  Nicaraguan border called  Caņo Negro.

Unlike the roads we had traveled  to get to Monteverde and La Fortuna, which were  potholed dirt and windy,  so incredibly slow, the road to Caņo Negro was a dream.

Our first stop on the way over was by a bridge where iguanas were covering the trees.

There were green ones and orange ones, some with huge queenly ruffs and crowns.  It was a very impressive sight.

After an hour and a half we were at Los Chiles town and boarded our boat.
The boat had a very quiet motor so we could drift along quietly and not scare wildlife off.

Within moments the driver was slowing and angling the boat for our first look at a Caiman.  Caimans are like freshwater crocodiles, only much smaller. I'm not sure if they would attack people, but it is  probably best not to smile at them.

Then it was a vivid green basilisk, commonly known as the Jesus Christ lizard for its ability to walk on water. We alarmed it with a splash of water and off it went propelling itself with quick flicks of its hind legs across the water to the bank. It is truly amazing to see and luckily I captured it on video.

All over the river were striking kingfishers (three species)and the Anhinga bird. This bird is also known as the snake bird as when you see it swimming its long neck looks like a snake. We saw lots drying out their open wings like shags. Their necks are very velvety looking, especially the males which have a black neck, not beige like the females. Later we saw a nest with two large chicks inside.

We also saw three types of heron. One called a boat-billed heron for its fat beak, the small gray heron and the great blue heron, who is a migratory bird and absolutely massive.

Keeping in threes, we were lucky enough to see three types of monkeys  howler, spider and the cute white-faced capuchin moneys. We-hadn't seen them before and they-were so engaging. They were eating the red fruit from the palm on the waters' edge, their faces so full of expression.

We also saw bats (long-nosed bats) who sleep on the bark of a pale tree and are almost completely camouflaged, as was the Potoo bird. He is an owl relative and sat in the heart of a palm where the leaves come out and was nearly impossible to spot.

We saw both species of  sloths - two-toed and three-toed (our lovely guide Carina kept joking about the five-toed variety).We actually saw one moving which was a first and the next one we saw was a mother with a baby on her front.

Carina managed to catch the beautiful violet blue morpho butterfly, as one was very friendly and kept flying around inside the boat.

Another amazing sight was the pale billed woodpecker we could see with his bright red face sticking out of a hole in a bare stump.

We saw other birds including mangrove swallows, great egrets,   a black cormorant,  and  the yellow tailed Montezuma Oropendula, which built the long pendulous nest we had seen on the volcano trip the day before and in Monteverde.

We also saw an earthy and black bird with a bright yellow beak on the wetland swamp called a Jacana.

Together with the raccoon we saw,alerted to us by three dogs barking under the tree, it was a magical trip and Carina had never seen more in a single trip.

We then went back to a restaurant for a yummy meal of chicken, rice and beans with watermelon juice and pineapple for dessert (pineapples and bananas are Costa Rica's main exports and we saw pineapple fields.

Over lunch we saw more birds: the pretty blue and gray tanager and the  red rumped tanager, who is striking.

We also saw a big flock of parrots and the fairly plain  national bird of Costa Rica. Compared to their other resplendent birds , the clay-coloured robin is pretty drab but we were told it has a beautiful song and farmers used to associate it with fertility of the land, plus they are everywhere.

There was also a dead tarantula to admire. They are so beautiful.
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