Frog and bird watching

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


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Flag of Costa Rica  ,
Saturday, November 10, 2007

From Ometepe we crossed back on the ferry and the went to the Costa Rican border.

The biggest thing to adjust to is the change in money. Instead of 18 to one US dollar as it had been in the last two countries, it was over 500 to one. Getting money out from the ATM was scary. I had to double and triple check the number of zeros to make sure I wasn't going to bankrupt myself.

Winding up the hill to Monteverde we had a great view over the Nicoya peninsula on the Pacific Ocean side.

It took us an hour and a half to go 21km, so that gives an idea of the road quality.

Monteverde sits high up in the cloud forest and the area was settled by Quakers avoiding conscription. They produce lots of milk and cheese products.

The temperature was a lot cooler, plus it was rainy and gusty. To me it felt like a  ski resort and is very touristy.

There were lots of adventure activities, like zip lining over the canopy but Costa Rica is famous for its bird life, so we decided to go bird watching with a quiet guy called Freddie early the next morning.

The weather was much improved and we saw loads of birds at the first place we went.

First up a beautiful blue crowned mot-mot. He has a pinky belly and  long tail with a piece out of it and then an extra frill. It reminded me of a badminton shuttlecock.

Next we saw a load of robins, fly catchers, humming birds and sparrows. Then we saw the brightly coloured emerald toucanet perched high in the tree.

In a big bare tree we saw the pretty blue gray tanager, an orange tanager and the blue-black grackles which are related to crows I think. That was all in a small residential area.

After that our luck waned as we saw much fewer birds at other spots.

We did see a huge black guan, which is a type of bush turkey and the uncommon grey heron who was poking around in a flooded field.

We saw two small dead snakes on the road, one brown and one bright green and poisonous.
We also saw sloths - the sandy brown two-toed variety and the grey three-toed one. To be honest they are hard to see and even with binoculars I couldn't work out their position. They look like large round lumps in the tree. Mark said they resembled hairy vacuum cleaner bags and I think that is a good description. They hold onto a branch, tuck in their head and use the trunk to support their weight where they can.  We had wanted to see them so were pleased.

After a nap and sandwiches with real German bread we went to the ranario - the frog pond, where they house many Costa Rican species in quite natural looking enclosures.

The frogs varied in size from a  small boiled sweet to the large cane toad and chicken eating frogs the size of a large bread roll.

Most of the frogs were asleep when we went at 2pm but the entrance ticket lets you come back for a second visit in the same day. We went back at 5.30pm and most of the frogs were awake.

We spent two hours wandering around with our torches. Some of the frogs are carnivorous so they put in little white mice for their dinner. The mice were so cute so I was pleased I didnīt see any eating going on. The cane toad was definitely on the prowl though.

The most active frog was the little red and green dart frog. He was so beautiful, the size of a lollie, moving around the fronds.Also incredibly impressive was the gaudy leaf frog who is everyoneīs favourite for his amazing red, blue, yellow and green colouring.

They also have glass frogs that you can see the internal organs for when they sit on the glass and tiger frogs with orange and brown stripes on their legs and orange feet.  
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