The whales have arrived!

9 Aug

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Categories: Bahia Rica

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Whales migrating from both hemispheres pass by Costa Rica, so you have a pretty good chance of seeing whales if you are here in the right season.

We have now spotted the first Humpback whales for this year. It was a mom with her baby, and the baby put up quite a show breaching close to our boat.

Join us for an unforgettable encounter with these great creatures.

Bird Watching in Costa Rica

1 Aug

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Categories: Costa Rica, Ecotourism

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Many people come to Costa Rica specifically to see its wildlife, with the native birdlife being a particularly popular attraction. Indeed, many people who come with no intention of becoming a birdwatcher find themselves astonished by the beauty of iconic species like the Scarlet Macaw. About 850 species of birds live in Costa Rica and the region is considered to be particularly important for bird conservation. The variety of habitats in the region has allowed a wide range of species to thrive here. A selection of different habitats can be found just in the Nicoya Peninsula area. The cliffs and islands of the Nicoya Gulf are home to large colonies of seabirds, while the forest and mangrove swamps provide homes to diverse populations of other birds and wildlife. You will be able to spot a lot of different species even if you aren’t spending your days trying to track down the rarer species, but if you are serious about bird watching then you can spend the day touring the islands looking for colonies of spoonbills and frigate birds, or exploring some of the areas that have been set aside for conservation. The Palo Verde National Park, Curu Wildlife Refuge and Cabo Blanco National Park are all full of interesting species.

Species to Spot on the Nicoya Peninsula

Although there are hundreds of species of birds around Nicoya, there are some species that it is particularly worth looking out for:

  • ·Fiery-billed Aracari: a relative of the toucan, with which it shares its large, curved beak. A dark back is paired with a bright yellow belly and a red and yellow beak. Small groups of aracaris live together in old woodpecker holes, where they raise their chicks communally.

  • ·Violacious Trogon: a dark bird with a bright yellow belly and white tail feathers, this is a relation of the Resplendent Quetzal found in other parts of the country.

  • ·Clay-colored Robin: an inconspicuous brown bird that produces some of the most melodious birdsong heard during the rainy season. Local legend suggests that the rains only come because the robin calls them.

  • ·Scarlet Macaw: a distinctive and gregarious bird that is easy to spot thanks to its bright red, yellow and blue feathers, but rarely seen outside of nature reserves due to historic trapping for the pet trade. Red-lored parrots are more common, but their green plumage provides very effective camouflage, even when they gather as large flocks in the fruit trees.

  • ·Turquoise-browed Motmot: a brightly colored relative of the kingfisher, with which it shares its riverside habitat and burrow-nesting behavior. Blue and black plumage, with a particularly long and unusually shaped tail.

  • ·Rufous-tailed hummingbird: the most common species of hummingbird, a bright, jewel-like green color. Often found around Heliconias flowers.

  • ·Chachalacas: a large, brown bird that can be recognized by a call that sounds like its name.

  • ·Brown Pelican: the largest water bird in Costa Rica, its beak is unmistakable. Often seen in large flocks and diving for fish.

  • ·Frigate Bird: an elegant and acrobatic bird, with a dark body, white head and long, slender tail. Sometimes steals food from gulls and spends a lot of time hovering. Anhinga: known as the snake bird because it swims with its long neck above the water. A large, dark brown bird that can also be seen sunning itself after a dive.

  • ·Roseate Spoonbill: very distinctive, with its pink plumage and spoon-shaped bill.

  • ·Northern Jacana: a dark brownish bird with yellow spot on head. Its most interesting features are its extremely long toes, which enable it to walk across lily pads.

Preparing for Your Trip

Bird watching can easily be done while you are enjoying other activities in Costa Rica. If you take the time to look at your surroundings, you are sure to catch sight of some brightly colored birds in the trees, or a flash of feathers diving past you into the water. If you are serious about seeing the local birdlife, then you might want to plan ahead a bit more. You might want to plan a trip to one of the nearby nature reserves, or rent a kayak for the day so that you can get a closer look at the water birds.

You should also ensure that you think about any purchases that you might want to make while you are here. The list above is a good guide to some of the most spectacular species you can find in Nicoya, but you might want to get hold of a field guide so that you can identify more of the species. You will also want to invest in some good binoculars and a camera with a zoom lens if you intend to get a closer look at the birds. Although you will be able to get a good look at some of the larger and more brightly colored birds without binoculars, you will miss out if you find that you can’t see the parrots for the trees. If you don’t want to carry such heavy equipment on your flight, you will be able to find stores selling these types of equipment around the airports and the larger towns. It is sensible to make sure that you have plenty of the local currency available when you arrive in Costa Rica if you are hoping to buy any of this sort of equipment before you reach Nicoya, so checking for the best currency exchange services should be part of your vacation preparation. Failing to plan ahead could leave you facing unexpected costs, particularly when you need to buy expensive equipment.

Other Species

Although the birds of Costa Rica are spectacular, the rest of the flora and fauna in the region can be equally impressive. While you are searching for the elusive Jacana or Macaw, you may find yourself coming face to face with one of the more unusual inhabitants of the region. If you are quiet, you might be lucky enough to catch a glimpse of an elusive ocelot or jaguar, but if they elude you, there are plenty of anteaters, armadillos and sloths. You are most likely to see, or at least to hear, one of the four types of monkeys that live here: Capuchin, Squirrel, Spider and Howler Monkeys. At the right time of year, Ridley turtles can be seen nesting on the beaches of Ostional Nature Reserve. If you want to get even closer to the wildlife, you can try snorkeling. The fish are just as brightly colored as the birds.

Article by Julie Howlett

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