Thursday, April 21, 2011

Macaws! Macaws!

In and near Carara National park one can see dozens of Scarlet Macaws a day. We saw 14 fly out of one tree at one time. Wow!
 We headed to Carara for a few days of birdwatching this past weekend to get away from the noisy festival happening near our house. With newly improved roads it only takes two and a half hours to get there from Monteverde.
  We were very pleased with the relatively new place we found to stay near the park. More details about Cerro Lodge and other logistical details at the end of this post.
  The trails in Carara National Park are quite short even though the park itself is 47 square kilometers (18 square miles). Even so, Mr. Rududu and I happily spent three mornings of six hours each birding the park. Birdwatchers are notoriously slow walkers. Excellent birding is when you walk 100 meters from the entrance and simultaneously see three really interesting species and need to spend a half hour in that spot watching them. It really especially slows forward progress when you see new species and on this trip we added five new species to our Costa Rican list.
  One of our favorite birds of all time is the Streak-chested Antpitta. It's so little yet rotund. It has virtually no tail so it looks like a little ball on legs. Maybe we just aren't serious birdwatchers; we really go for the cute factor.
 We also were amused by this Boat-billed heron, one in a large group of these birds we saw roosting. They need big eyes because they are nocturnal. For some reason they remind me of elderly tailors.
  There are several trogon species in the area. This Baird's Trogon was a cooperative photo subject.
Every late afternoon we went for a walk along the road near the lodge and saw numerous macaws, parrots, motmots, and even a trogon. The northern dry forest habitat ends at the Tarcoles River so the lodge is at the end of the range for some birds. Because it's several kilometers from the highway, it's very quiet—something which can't be said about Carara National Park, where the sound of trucks using their motors to brake mingles with the calls of antpittas and antthrushes. At the lodge we saw this common lowland species: the Turquoise-browed Motmot.
I want to stitch a temari in his honor. See my previous post about the temari in honor of the Blue-crowned Motmot.
The Nitty Gritty
We got to Carara with our friends at Quality Transfers. It's so luxurious to not have to drive. Once there the lodge arranged for a local guide to take us to and from the park in his luxurious Hyundai for $15 each way.
  Cerro Lodge is only a few years old and is on a hill over looking the mangroves and a distant view of the ocean if it's not hazy. There were no moderately priced options in the immediate area so it's a welcome addition. The cabins have screens and ceiling fans. They are planning to increase the natural ventilation of the rooms. In April, the hottest month of the year, the ceiling fans mostly push hot air around. Fortunately there is a pool and a nicely designed outdoor restaurant and lounge area that gets a breeze so there's somewhere nice to hang out in the afternoons. Everyone's favorite feature of the cabins is that each has an outdoor bathroom with a little garden surrounded by a privacy wall. There is something hedonistic about taking a shower outside.
  They serve meals semi-buffet style; you order your main course of chicken, pork, fish, or vegetarian and choose from a variety of sides and an excellent daily soup. They are very accommodating about cooking special meals to order. They told me they would prepare any Costa Rican style dish I could think of. The non-meat options that they made for me included Chinese Rice without meat (what we call fried rice in the US), macaroni and cheese, and a pasta dish they called ravioli and cheese that was more like a thin manicotti. The food was tasty and extremely plentiful. If you need to order off-menu you will need to be able to explain what you want in Spanish.


lindsay said...

I LOVE Turquoise-browed Motmots!!

Carolina said...

Yes they are great. They must be a yard bird for you down in lower San Luis, right?

Grand Purl Baa said...

Common lowland species! He is beautiful beyond words.