Selva Verde- Heart of the Rainforest

After spending last week in sunny Florida, where the temperatures were a balmy 80-85 degrees, I am finding these last few days of low 20s here in Massachusetts a little hard to bare. And so I am inspired to reflect on the final stop of our 2012 Costa Rican adventure.

Selva Verde is located in the central part of Costa Rica where you truly feel like you are in the deep jungle. We stayed at La Selva Lodge located beside the Sarapiqui River, and in our two nights there, were treated to more amazing wildlife.

Red-eyed tree frog at night

Red-eyed tree frog

A highlight for me were the frogs we encountered. Our first night, we were treated to several red-eyed tree frogs foraging among the vegetation around an artificial pond at the lodge. These frogs have become a symbol of sorts for rainforests, and to see one in the wild was spectacular.

Resting red-eyed tree frog

Resting red-eyed tree frog

Tree frog eggs hanging above the water

Tree frog eggs hanging above the water

In the morning, we were able to find one frog sleeping on a palm frond next to the pond, and also located an egg mass neatly attached to a leaf, dangling over the water that would eventually become the home of the tadpoles that emerged.

Green and black dart frog

Green and black dart frog

Further investigation of the lodge area revealed two types of poison dart frogs. It is truly remarkable to see these little jewels jumping free around the forest.

Strawberry dart frog, aka a blue jeans frog for its blue legs.

Strawberry dart frog, aka a blue jeans frog for its blue legs.

Of course, we couldn’t miss a boat trip down the Sarapiqui River, which yielded more incredible birds

Sungrebe

Sungrebe

Broad-billed mot mot

Broad-billed mot mot

and our only trip siting of a three-toed sloth!!

A three-toed sloth lounging in a tree

A three-toed sloth lounging in a tree

Advertisements

Costa Rica Dreaming

A while back I promised more about some wonderful exotic vacations my family has been privileged to take over the last couple of years.  Today, I find myself housebound due to the latest “snowpocalypse” to hit Massachusetts, and dreaming of those lush, tropical places, so it seemed a perfect time to reflect on one of these incredible journies.

American crocodiles on the Tarcoles River, Costa Rica

American crocodiles on the Tarcoles River, Costa Rica

In March of 2012, we were treated to 8 days in the gorgeous country of Costa Rica.  Our first of three stops on this trip was to the mid-Pacific coast, near the Tarcoles River, famous for American crocodiles, where we stayed at Villa Lapas (home of macaws).

Scarlet macaw from the balcony of our room.

Scarlet macaw from the balcony of our room.

Blue-grey tanagers. One of my favorites!

Blue-grey tanagers. One of my favorites!

As avid wildlife watchers, we spent our time looking for the astounding diversity of birds, reptiles, amphibians, mammals and insects in the region.

A leaf-toed gecko in our open air shower.

A leaf-toed gecko in our open air shower.

An anhinga drying its wings along the river.

An anhinga drying its wings along the river.

Franklin weaves a grasshopper from a palm frond.

Franklin weaves a grasshopper from a palm frond.

We took a boat trip along parts of the river, and one day, woke at the crack of dawn to visit Carrara National Park with our dedicated bird guide Franklin.

A stunning Costa Rican breakfast!

A stunning Costa Rican breakfast!

We enjoyed an abundance of fresh fruit and vegetables (the pineapple was my favorite), really good coffee, and tremendously warm, wonderful people during our stay at Villa Lapas.

Ranier making us fresh Costa Rican coffee.

Ranier making us fresh Costa Rican coffee.

Stay tuned for more Costa Rican adventures.  Next stop, Arenal volcano!

Wonders of Winter

It comes as no surprise that watching birds is a regular activity in my family. My mother-in-law holds a Ph.D in Ornithology, and her passion for our feathered friends has seriously rubbed off on my son, who has become quite an accomplished birder over the last few years. Our love of birds has taken us to Costa Rica, Ecuador, and many spots in the US (posts on these amazing trips to come!). We maintain bird feeders and bird-friendly habitat in our yard, and participate in several citizen science projects involving birds.

A white-breasted nuthatch on the suet feeder

A white-breasted nuthatch on the suet feeder

House finches and a field sparrow on the tube feeder

House finches and a field sparrow on the tube feeder

One of these is Project FeederWatch coordinated by the Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology. FeederWatch runs from mid-November through early April, and engages us in identifying and counting the different species of birds that visit our yard in a 48-hour period, along with recording some basic weather data.  In addition, we provide a profile of our yard including number and types of feeders we put up, the size and vegetative composition, and the presence of important resources like water and cover.  The data we and other FeederWatchers collect help scientists track broadscale movements of winter bird populations and long-term trends in the distribution and abundance of birds.

Today, we are in the middle of our second watch period of this 2013-2014 season, the 27th season in FeederWatch history.  We look forward to many more days of observing the types and numbers of birds that visit our yard in the coming months.

A fox sparrow in the forsythia bush

A fox sparrow in the forsythia bush

A beautiful Carolina wren

A beautiful Carolina wren

The highlights for today were one brown creeper (a first for our yard in the 11+ years we’ve lived here), three fox sparrows (we’ve only ever observed one before), 43 dark-eyed juncos and a favorite of mine, a Carolina wren!