Untamed Land

Untamed Land
Untamed Land

Saturday, February 12, 2011

All Good Things Must End

Puerto Jimenez, on the Osa Penninsula in Southwest Costa Rica marks the last stop on my extended trips. Although Puerto Jimenez is the largest town on the Osa Penninsula, It's tiny. There is an airstrip, a short wharf, some small restaurants and hotels, not much more to it.
The Osa Penninsula is home to Corcovado National Park, which is Costa Rica's most pristine, and one of the largest parks.
The Chestnut-mandibled Toucan in the photo above was eating a Papaya in someone's yard in the middle of town. The neighborhood children could not understand why I would want to photograph such a mundane sight as a toucan. They wanted me to take photos of them. I popped my camera's flash at them a few times to make them think I was taking their photo.
A small Orange-chinned Parakeet. They are often seen in large flocks. They are the most abundant local parrot.
Speaking of abundant. A Tropical Kingbird. They are everywhere.
I saw a lot of Yellow-bellied Eleanias in different parts of Costa Rica and assumed that this bird was just another one. Now I'm not so sure, it may be a Lesser Eleania. Eleanias are a kind of flycatcher.
Female Black-crowned Tityras have brown crowns.

A lot of my Costa Rica photos are too dark. This is because the high humidity of the place caused all three of the cameras I used on the three trips to malfunction. This is a Cherrie's Tanager.
A Green Heron stalks a fish in a Mangrove swamp at the edge of town.
This is the unusual fish that the Green Heron was after. It had luminous headlights above it's eyes. Way cool.
I worked hard to get this photo. There were several Gray-necked Woodrails skulking around the edges of the same Mangrove swamp where the Green Heron was. I sat quietly for an hour or more, letting the mosquitos have a feast, hoping for a photo like this. It was a lucky shot, my favorite of the whole trip. The original slide looks so much better.
The countryside around Puerto Jimenez was the first place that I ever saw a Yellow-headed Cara cara. Their range has expanded northward because of widespread deforestation.

Roadside Hawks are another common raptor in the area. This one is perched on someone's thatched roof.
I went to Puerto Jimenez because I read that Scarlet Macaws occur in the area. Since I really wanted to see them in the wild, I had high hopes of catching a glimpse of them. I arrived on to the Osa Penninsula at night and heard them calling at first light in the morning. I walked in the direction of their raucous screams and found them in a tree overhanging the main street in the middle of town. They were completely unafraid of people.
This is going to be my last blog post for about the next six weeks or so,  because I leave for Uganda on Monday night. I really hope to have some new adventures to write about when I get back.

Thursday, February 10, 2011


Golfito is a smallish town right on the Pacific Coast in the far south of Costa Rica. The town was originally built by the Dole company, that was then called the United Fruit Company, ( I believe). It was a company town that exported bananas until the big corporation moved on. The older homes and buildings are nicer than the average for that part of the world. The hills above town have good rainforest that has been protected as a watershed for the town. Needless to say, the birding around there is great. It is also very hot and humid.
One of the exotic birds of the forest is the glittery, Rufous-tailed Jacamar.
One day I decided to follow this small stream in the rainforest all the way to it's source. It was a little bit scary going so far into the forest by myself. I saw many birds. The best were crested Guans, Brown-billed Scythbill, and one of Costa Rica's two endemics, Black-faced Ant Tanager. The other endemic, Coppery-headed Emerald is a hummingbird that I saw in Monteverde.
There were a number of mystery frogs like this one, in the stream, and in the low branches next to it.
Another mystery frog.

A large male Brown Basilisk.

A large and creepy looking, (but harmless) millipede.
Ruddy Ground Doves are common in town.
There were a few Spectacled Caimans in a small pond on the edge of town.
Fiery-billed Aracaris are also common in Golfito along with Chestnut-mandibled Toucans.
The Lttle Hermit is a species of hummingbird. This is the only one of this species, I can remember seeing.
This was my first sighting of a White Hawk.
Cherrie's Tanagers are very common all around the region.
Social Flycatchers are common city dwellers throughout much of the Neotropics.
One wonderful experience I had was the day I found a pair of Slaty-tailed Trogons excavating their own nest in a termite nest. It was right above the road behind the soccer, (football) field. This is the male. Notice the termites clinging to his tail. He did almost all the work while the female patiently watched, and helped when the male paused to catch his breath. They both ignored me. I wish I could go back to that scene with the camera I have now.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Wilson Botanical Gardens

If you cross over the Cerro de la Muerte and keep going south to the Panamanian border, the last town in Costa Rica is San Vito. It is on the Pacific Slope and is is the location of the Wilson Botanical Gardens.
I intended to visit them on my first trip to Costa Rica but the principal buildings of the gardens burned to the ground while I was in Costa Rica. I went to Golfito instead after I read about the fire in the newspaper.
The gardens are famous for their bird diversity. Above a Blue-crowned Motmot enjoys a piece of banana.
By the time I visited the place on my second trip to Costa Rica, The buildings had been rebuilt and there was no sign of the devastating fire. The bird above is a Streaked Saltator.
One of the least colorful of the tanagers, Palm Tanager.
A spectacular little tanager, this Golden-hooded Tanager enjoys some Papaya.
Another beauty, Silver-throated Tanager.

Thick-billed Euphonias are closely related to the tanagers. Both are strictly New World bird families.

The Speckled Tanager is certainly more impressive in life than this photo indicates.
The photo is in bad light and cannot convey the unreal quality of the Bay-headed Tanager's colors.
A lovely female Green Honeycreeper feasts on a banana.
The male Green Honeycreeper is neon bright in life.
Another bird that is unreal in it's gaudy appearance, The Fiery-billed Aracari.
These toucans look like they are made of paper mache'. They occur in a small range on the Pacific Slope along the border of Costa Rica and Panama.

Splendour in the Grass

Splendour in the Grass, 8x10"
This is my latest. Certainly not my best, but as is usual, the actual painting looks much nicer than this photo. Wolves tend to be a popular subject and I expect this small painting to sell fairly easily once I send it to a gallery.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

The Carribean Lowlands

A few Snowy Egrets, a Tri-colored Heron, and a bunch of Royal Terns lounge around on Costa Rica's Carribean Coast in tiny Cahuita Nat. Park. I have posted about Cahuita before but I have so much good material from the place I'll include more of it here.
This is the first place that I ever got my feet wet in the Atlantic Ocean. Come to think of it, Cahuita is the only place that I've actually entered the waters of the Atlantic. This is a Yellow-crowned Night Heron.
Another Tri-colored Heron patrols the mouth of a stream in the park.
Spotted Sandpipers lose their spots in the winter. This individual was walking along a fallen log at the same stream that the two previous herons inhabited.
The rainforest in Cahuita comes right up to the beach. The largest of the toucans that can be seen in the jungle is the Chestnut-mandibled Toucan. This bird was just a few yards from the beach.

The most common woodpecker in this jungle is the Black-cheeked Woodpecker. I can't remember if I have used this photo before. I apologize if I have.

A large Anole,(Norops Biporcatus) hiding amoung the leaves.
A Green and Black Poison Dart Frog, (Dendrobates Auratus).
Small frogs and lizards are easy prey for this lightening fast predator, a Brown Vine Snake. It is mildly venomous and looks downright dangerous when it opens it's jet black mouth. This snake was all bluff, it never actually tried to bite me.
You better not call this snake's bluff. It  is both brightly colored, and dangerously venomous.
As a teenager, I saw one of these Eye-lash Vipers in the Los Angeles Zoo. It took my breath away. I dreamed about how awesome it would be to go to the jungle and see this snake in it's natural environment.
When I finally did find one, I almost jumped for joy. I was seriously tempted to try to smuggle this guy home with me when I found it in the mid 1990's. Luckily I'm not completely insane, so I left it behind. It never actually struck at me.
On my last trip to Cahuita, I found this even larger Eye-lash Viper. It did strike at me but I was well out of strike range so, no worries. You can easily see the heat sensing pit between it's eye and nostril.
Male White-collared Manikins display to females in pairs where two males hop back and forth between two branches at lightening speed, all the while snapping their wings loudly.
This Barred Antshrike was not in Cahuita, but it was in the Carribean lowlands.
White-faced Capuchins are amusing to watch, just like all monkeys.