Wednesday, 9 May 2012

Arenal Observatory Lodge, Costa Rica

In hindsight this is a must stop destination. We stayed at the Volcano Observatory Lodge which offered superb rooms and the second-best food of the whole of our Costa Rican trip.  Perched in the pine woodlands looking out over the tropical forest on the slopes of Volcano Arenal, it was as stunning location and offered brilliant sunset scenes.  The volcano is occasionally free of cloud and still smoulders of steam and gases but was last really active in 2010.  The gardens below the decking swept round and were accessible from most of the rooms.  A few Coati (racoon type mammals) were frequent visitors and the forest echoed the call of the Howlers and Toucans.  Passerini’s Tanagers and Band-backed Wrens were noisy around the rooms.  A Hepatic Tanager, Slaty-headed Flycatcher and Shinning Honey-creeper were next and a brief view of a White-throated Magpie Jay which got me out exploring further.

Across a suspended footbridge from the hotel are further grounds, hotel rooms and the actual observatory building and the planting, particular the Verbena, around it was even better for birding.  Below the bridge in the little valley a few White-throated Robins (Turdus assimilis - a bit like our Ring Ouzel) sang from deep cover during the morning.  I’d booked local guide Christian for a 2 hour pre-breakfast walk and we found a cracking range of hummers: Black-crested Coquette, Brown Violet-ear, White-necked Jacobin, Green Thorntail, Steely-vented, Purple-crowned Fairy, Violet-crowned Woodnymph, Rufous Tailed, Green Hermit, Blue Throated Golden-tail and Violet-headed.  A pair of Curassow were wandering around the grounds and Crested Guans glided clumsily between fruiting trees.  Further exploration during the day included further birds: Red-lored Parrot, Canada, Chestnut-sided and Wilson’s Warblers, Tropical Parula, Black-headed Nightingale-Thrush, Grey-breasted Wood-Wren.  Whilst exploring one of the lava fields we added Spotted and Dull-mantled Antbirds, Slaty Antwren, Common and Grey-crowned Yellowthroats and saw a wild Agouti (a large tailless forest rat) and Red-eyed Tree frog, Agalychnis callidryas.

 Band-backed Wren and Green Honey-creeper male

 Passerini's Tanager 
 Vocan Arenal and I think Nutting's Flycatcher (can anyone confirm?)
  Blue-throated Goldentail

 Female Great Curassow and Black Phoebe

 Coati and view from the lodge

 Observatory part of the lodge and below Rufous-tailed Hummer nest with 1 chick

 Red-eyed tree frog and Crested Guan

 Blue-throated Goldentail above and Rufous-tail below
 Steely-vented below
Any further info please get in touch

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