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By this Author: ToonSarah

Birdlife and sloths in Arenal

Costa Rica, day six


View Costa Rica 2022 on ToonSarah's travel map.

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View of Volcan Arenal from Mystico Park

My sleep was a bit disturbed by some pain from last night's fall and by some very heavy rain. So we were surprised when the alarm went off at 5.15 (!) to see clear skies, stars and Venus shining bright above a horizon just growing paler ahead of the rising sun.

By the time we were in the minibus half an hour later, driving with our guide Anderson to the Mystico park, there was an almost perfectly clear view of the volcano surrounded by pink clouds. At our request the driver stopped and we all, Anderson included, took photos of the stunning sight.

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Sunrise over Volcan Arenal

Bird-watching walk

At the park Anderson explained the possible walks and I decided I was up to the middle option of about two miles with some ups and down. This proved a good choice; despite my injuries I was able to manage the climbs and descents, and I enjoyed the scenery and especially the three hanging bridges we crossed.

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On the trail

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View from the trail

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Hanging bridges

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Looking down from a hanging bridge

Most of the 30 or so species we saw were too far away to photograph although I had a go anyway. Anderson identified them all for us, but I only remember some names. There was a Crested Guan in flight; a Buff Rumped Warbler on our path; two types of woodpecker; several hummingbirds; a Double Toothed Kite; various parrots; a Flycatcher of some kind and Clay-colored Thrush. The best sighting was of a Broad-billed Motmot which posed beautifully right next to the path. We also saw some Howler Monkeys, Coati and a Tarantula!

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Parrot

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Flycatcher

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Poor photo of a Tarantula

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Coati Mundi

We were back at the hotel in time for a late breakfast and then had a relaxing few hours.

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View of Volcan Arenal from our room

We spent some time in the pool area, relaxing in one of a series of hot pools fed with thermal water and having a cold drink on some shady loungers with a view of the volcano. Clouds were drifting across from time to time but we saw the peak at times too.

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The hot pools

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When the clouds cleared

When we returned to our room it was to find the cleaner just finishing up. She had certainly made an effort to impress, with an elaborate towel elephant on one of the beds and a torn paper carnation adorning the spare toilet roll!

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On the bed

Sloths and toucans

Around 1.30 we were picked up for another wildlife tour, this time with a small group (a couple from Stratford on Avon and three Americans from Texas). The focus was to be on sloths and toucans, two of the most iconic Costa Rican species. Our guide Edson took us first to an area beside a river which he described as a sort of sloth corridor. Along the footpath we came across quite a few sloths in the trees, or rather Edson did, as he knew just where to look. Sloths don't travel around much, and he knew their favourite trees and hiding places. He had a name for each one: Raoul, Ronaldo, Walter, Rebecca, Scarlet. Many were sleeping and all we saw was the ball of fur, but a few showed their faces and we got a good look at the claws of a Two Fingered sloth, which is nocturnal.

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As we walked between sightings, and while we waited for sloths to move (!) Edson shared some interesting facts. The fastest a sloth ever gets is while mating, which they accomplish in just five seconds!

Interestingly I learned recently from a blog I follow, that of Dianne, the Rambling Ranger, that, 'When it comes to sexual endurance, the Monarch Butterflies put humans to shame. A pair of Monarchs will mate for up to 15 hours! They start mid-afternoon and finish shortly after sunrise.' Who would have guessed that between a flighty butterfly and an almost soporific sloth, it would be the latter that does it in just five seconds while the butterfly takes 15 hours!

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Look carefully - the one on the left has a baby!

Other facts from Edson included:

The mother gives birth up her tree, shooting the baby out on the umbilical cord so he/she hangs like a bungee jumper before being hauled up to cling to her fur.

They are also quite nippy on their once a week descent to the ground to poop, as it's much riskier down there for them.

And did you know that their bones are hollow, for lightness?

Not only did I get quite a few photos myself, Edson cleverly took photos on some of our phones through his telescope with excellent results. Here are a few of his shots.

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You can see the baby a bit more clearly here

We were then driven to a nice café where we had coffee, fruit and the traditional patacon snack - a sort of slightly crisp pancake made with crushed plantains. The café staff had placed bits of fruit, rind etc in some strategic spots so we saw quite a few birds here.

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Male Green Honeycreeper on the left, Red-legged Honeycreeper (I think) on the right

After a while we drove to a road higher up above the town of La Fortuna, where toucans are often seen in the trees. At first we were unlucky as they kept flying away just as we found them, but then we came across an Acari Toucan which stayed around a while.

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Acari Toucan on the left, Yellow Throated Toucan on the right

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Yellow Throated Toucan

Just as Edson was about to call it a day, I sensed, we found a Yellow Throated Toucan in a much better spot. And to round off the afternoon, one of the Texans spotted a sloth that was rather more alert and posed nicely for us. And now we learned the source of the names as she was invited to name her find. Her own name was Melissa but this was a male so she settled on Mel.

Back at the hotel there was just time for a shower and to sort the photos before dinner. We ate at the poolside restaurant which serves just two options, both set menus for two – a barbecue seafood platter or a typical Costa Rican meat barbecue which we chose. There was a selection of dips as appetisers with tortilla chips and patacones. Then a huge plate of different meats with accompanying vegetables such as corn and squash, and a couple of relishes. It was all very well cooked and delicious but a little heavy on the meat and light on vegetables for my taste. Still it made a change and it was pleasant sitting there over a few beers too.

Posted by ToonSarah 10:15 Archived in Costa Rica Tagged animals birds wildlife hotel hot_springs costa_rica sloths Comments (10)

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