New England Coastal BIrds

New England Coastal BIrds

Saturday, October 15, 2016

Krausman's Woodcarving Studio 2016 Costa Rica "Pura Vida" Birdcarving Extravaganza!!

       Week Two Continues, Day 15, Last Day, Thursday, Oct 13, 2016,   Alejuala.........Hard to believe that today is the last day in Costa Rica! Its been and unbelievable time here and I think we all are still trying to absorb it all! We met so many new and great people both from our workshop, and the wonderful people of Costa Rica. I hope that I was able to express my gratitude and most heart-felt Thank You and Muchas Gracias to everyone! I know Jen and I, Pam and Jim are all more enriched and humbled by all of was a great pleasure!

      Today Pam was feeling much better Thanks to good rest and the antibiotics, Thank You Dr. Amanda! Jen is finished with her Trade Show, so we can have a nice leisurely and relaxing day. We did most of our packing last night, and will finish it this morning. With so many suitcases, it was a job making sure everything was packed correctly and the weights were within the limits. Our flight leaves early in the am, so we will have to make sure everything is in order.

     We all decided to have a late breakfast and then do some sightseeing and a little bit of casual local area birding. Beny will be here around 10:00 am and we will figure out what to do when he gets here. Since I like to absorb as much of Costa Rica as I can when I am I decided to do a little "parking lot: birding on the Hotel's grounds. Even though the Parakeets have left already to go feed, there are still many trees and palm trees on the property which may hold a bird or two.

     The morning was very overcast and it was threatening rain; not sure how much birding we would be able to do. But Beny is great at alternate plans, so we will again be in his very capable hands!-

                 Actually, the parking lot was busy with birds this morning; not many species but plenty of wings flying around the Hotels property. There were four Hoffman's Woodpeckers-

                                                 Several White-winged Doves-

                       A pair of Blue-gray Tanagers were feeding on the berries from the hedges-

                                            The ever-present Great-tailed Grackle-

               Beny walked into the Hotels atrium while we were sitting in the lobby trying to figure out what to do this morning that didn't require a long day and lots of walking since this was (supposed) to be a relaxing day of casual momentum! :^)

       While we were trying to figure out what to do, Jim and I got into a discussion about Toucans and how we wished we had better photo ops with them this trip. As usual, Beny's radar was on track, and he pulled out his cell phone and made a call. He had a short conversation with the person he called. He looked at me and Jim, smiled and said "Let's go, I have another surprise for you"! I asked him what he had up his sleeve, and he told me that we would be happy! Beny told us that he had a friend that lives in Alejuala not too far from the Hotel. He has a small private estate with a small amount of land, but most of the land is "La selva tropical" (rain forest). There are many birds here and we should be very happy with what we see. The owner of the property was in San Jose this morning, so we had his permission to enjoy his land.

         Thirty minutes later Beny pulled into this steep driveway, opened the gate and continued up a short distance. The beautiful house was situated into the tropical landscaping surrounded by the typical lush Central Valley rainforest. Right away we saw birds........Blue-crowned Motmots, Blue-gray Tanagers, Hummingbirds and many other small Passerines. Beny, you did it again!! :^)-

            The sky was very overcast and getting darker by the minute. But, on this estate, there was a short walkway/trail through part of the property. If it started to rain we would only have a short sprint back to Beny's van. We had just started walking down this landscaped trail, when I caught a movement in the trees over our heads. There were several large birds hopping in the branches of the trees.........Gray-headed Chachalaca,-

                                  They were feeding on the small black Palm Fruits-

       Pam heard a rustling in the brush along the small landscaped stream, it was an Aguti; a small/medium sized animal the size of a Woodchuck. The Aguti moved quickly, and I only managed one fleeing image of it. The last time Jen and I saw Aguti, it was in Selvatura, Monteverde in the year 2000.

            A few yards farther down the walkway........,TOUCANS!!! There were three or four of them hopping from tree branch to tree branch. This was the surprise that Beny arranged for us!-

          It just gets better and better (to quote a friend) when suddenly one of the Toucans landed at the opening of a nest cavity in a large Palm Tree.  Unbelievable!! Toucans nest several times during the year, not sure if this Chestnut-mandibled Toucan had an active nest here, or maybe (as Toucans do) checking out this nest cavity for eggs/young birds for food, or maybe just being a curious Toucan-

                     Jen pointed out a Rufous-naped Wren in the tree branches over my head-

      In all the excitement, Jen started tapping on my shoulder rapidly....ARACARI!! Right in front of Jim and I at twenty yards was a striking Fiery-billed Aracari! This was a bird that I would have never expected to find in a suburb of San Jose! Amazing! Jim was "WOW-ed" by this bird........and so was I!!!-

          Wow, now a dilemma.......since we now had several Toucans and an Aracari around us, which ones do we photograph? Answer: both of them!-

           While I was moving my camera back and forth between the Toucans and the Aracari, again, Jen tapped me on the shoulder. She pointed to a tree ten feet in front of me; another Fiery-billed Aracari, and it was gorgeous!-

          This Toucan must have been jealous, it landed between Jim and I and the Aracari-

                          Another Chestnut-mandibled Toucan flies by, but didn't stop.-

                        The Toucans and the Aracari were feeding on these small red berries-

 Pam spotted a "medium-sized reddish bird"fly in and land on a tree branch; a Squirrel Cuckoo-

                                               Toucan "hops" up to a higher branch-

                                                      Toucan flies off .........

                    ...............and lands at another tree nest cavity that we didn't see.-

                 After thirty minutes of absorbing these amazing Toucans and Aracaris, they slowly left the area.....but not before leaving us with an amazing and lasting experience! Thank You Beny my friend!!

      The sound of Orange-chinned Parakeets filled the air this morning. While we were driving out of this magnificent estate, a small flock landed in the higher branches of this dead tree-

          One of the places that we wanted to include in our seminar tours for next year is Zoo Ave. (Bird Zoo not Bird avenue). Jen, Pam, Jim and I figured on the last of the three-day tours scheduled  from the Hotel in the San Jose area (before heading up to Savegre- explained at the end of this page). Beny said that we were a short drive away to Zoo Ave, we could be there in fifteen minutes.

     We decided to spend about an hour and walk around Zoo Ave. The sky was threatening to start raining at anytime now, and you could hear the rumbling of thunder getting closer. But it wasn't raining now, and there are many places to tuck in out of the rain......let's go.

     I mentioned to Pam and Jim that they had quite a few birds, and animals here, but my favorite part was the Birds of Prey! They had many Hawks, Owls, Vultures and a few Caracara that are non-releasable rehabbed birds, but the enclosures are large with close viewing. When Jen and I were here last two years ago, they even had a Great Potoo (Pajaro estaca grande).

     I also told Pam the have a Turtle Pond......and if you know Pam......!:^) We entered the Zoo as the thunder was getting louder and louder and closer! Thankfully we all had rain gear and umbrellas!-

        But this year, Zoo Ave was featuring a National Celebrity; Grecia the Chestnut-(mandibled) Toucan.  Grecia suffered an attack that destroyed its maxilla. Grecia was saved by a computer generated  plastic maxilla restored and treated by a Veterinarian.. Here are two links that tell the story:

     Beny told me about Grecia last year on the phone so I read all about the bill restoration of this very unfortunate Toucan. Now since we were going to Zoo Ave, I wanted to see Grecia. We didn't have too long to wait. Just a short walk after the entrance of the Zoo was a large flight cage. Jen and I looked up, and there was Grecia! Fantastic!!-

              The clouds grew darker and the thunder louder, we decided to say Adios to Grecia and move along and see as many of the Birds of Prey displays as possible before the clouds opened up! First stop, my favorite: Ornate Hawk-Eagles-

                                                                  Striped Owls-

                                                                  Spectacled Owls-

                                                         Tropical Screech Owls-

                                                    Magnificent White Hawks-

                                                          Swainson's Hawk-              

                                                              Crested Caracara-

                                                       Ferruginous Pygmy Owl-

                      And a favorite Owl species of mine, the curious looking Crested Owl-

                                                 And the very rare Pam-fowl!! :^)

       And yes, it started to pour! We made it back to Beny's van just in time....another great morning! Jen mentioned that when she was in Costa Rica a few months ago on business, Beny took her to a restaurant that his friend owned.  He was the head chef and served the "best steak in Costa Rica"! By now it was mid afternoon and we were all a little hungry, sounds like the perfect place.

    The name of the Restaurant Bistro was called????????????-

        Chef Jimmy Pichando (left) and Beny's friend Head Chef ?????????????? (right)-

                                  Everything was prepared on a wood fired grill-

                  It was pouring hard, with lightning cracking all around us.......quite a rain storm-

                                     Pam and Jim enjoying their amazing lunch-

                                                  Grilled Filet with grilled veggies-

          Grilled New York steak, with homemade grilled sausage, grilled onion, squash, plantain, potato, and red peppers-

                                                        Rain, rain and more rain!-

        A friend of ??????? came to visit, his name was Cristobal Mairoquin and he was an artist and sculptor. We asked him if he had any of his work with him and he said he did. He brought in a collection of his hand-carved wooden bowl sculptures and placed them on one of the tables. They were beautifully carved and finished made from local wood from trees that were salvaged. -

                                 Jen and I, and Pam and Jim really loved his work..........

        So we bought quite a few of them; they were beautiful. Jen and I bought four of them: Pam and Jim took the others. Cristobal told us the species of wood he used which I was familiar with.......

                                            Madero negro (aka Madre cacao) Gliricidia sepium-

       And my favorite bowl made from a favorite wood species: Aguacatillo (Ocotea ssp.)-

                                                     Madero negro/Madre cacao-

       After a lovely lunch, and the rain finally ending, we said good-bey to ?????????and headed back to the Hotel. It was late in the afternoon, and we still had a little packing to do. But we only had one more stop to make. Next year for the seminar we will be changing the format a bit. We will schedule all the day tours on the first three days of the schedule, based from a Hotel in the San Jose area. Because we are using the San Jose area as our base for the first there days, all the day tours will be within one to two hours from the hotel. The last day we will do a local tours (possibly) featuring Zoo Ave, a Winery, or other choices.....this is still early in the planning stages. From there, we will all travel to Savegre Hotel for the six day seminar. When that is over back to the San Jose area Hotel for the next day departure. Again....this is still in the early planning stages, we will have this formulated soon. 

      Beny knows and uses a very special classic Costa Rican boutique hotel in a private area suburb of Alejuala, San Jose for his very special customers. We stopped by to check out this Hotel and we were extremely happy and pleased with Beny's recommendation! And just as at Savegre, this Hotel is offering us a great package deal.....double room occupancy which includes breakfast and dinner for a fantastic reduced rate!

                                                 Clean, comfy and large rooms-

                                                                     Restaurant and Bar-

                                                                         Sitting room-

                                                        They have a work-out room-

                                                                 And an Internet room-

    Just down the street are two ponds full of Black-bellied Whistling Ducks and Muscovey Ducks-

      We left the Hotel very pleased, and now night was beginning to fall on Costa Rica, and our two glorious weeks in paradise!-

                                Friday morning, we were on our flight heading home!-

        It was an amazing two weeks in Costa Rica! But the Krausman's 25th Anniversary "Pura Vida" Costa Rican Extravaganza was a birdcarving Magnum opus! There has never been anything like this before. For me, this dream came true and it is one of the most precious gems in my professional art career.Thank You to all who made it so special. But mostly to Jen, Pam and Jim for making it happen!

         Next years Seminar/Workshop will again be very special. We are offering two bird choices for the subject species: Emerald Toucanet and Costa Rican Pygmy Owl! You can choose either or both species. The seminar will be nine days: three days in the San Jose for the day tours, including a travel day to Savegre. The seminar/workshop will again be six days (five full days painting) at Savegre. Marino will be available again for all the mini-birding tours, and we will schedule a single day-off tour to the Quepos Mangrove boat tour with Rafa and an additional event (to be determined) depending on the requests. 

       Savegre will again be offering great rates for us including meals. The carving part of the seminar/workshop will be the same, by home carving instruction. The dates will be furnished soon, but will be around the same time as this year.

IF YOU ARE A BIRDER, NATURE LOVER AND NOT A BIRD CARVER, but want to experience Costa Rica like others did on this trip as shown in this blog report,  You are welcomed to join us, and have the same fantastic rates that we will be offering. YOU DON"T HAVE TO BE A BIRD CARVER TO JOIN US!!

       FOR COMPLETE DETAILS AND SCHEDULE- Contact Pam and Jim Krausman at the          Krausman's Woodcarving Studio:

        ANY QUESTIONS? Please feel free to contact me; email: 
                                                  or Pam and Jim

                         Again Thank You Everyone......see you next year!!