Part 2 Continues.............Week two, Day 11, Sunday, Oct 9, 2016, Pacific slopes, lowland and coast, "Heading towards Quepos"!- The drive down the Pacific coast from Tarcoles is a beautiful drive. The murky waters of the Gulf of Nicoya (due to rainy season high river level runoffs) are now replaced with the immaculately clear and tropical blue waters of the Pacific Ocean.-
It was a very leisurely and relaxing drive interrupted occasionally by clusters of birds! :^) By now we were in Jaco, it was lunch time. Beny said he knew of a few restaurants in the area and he gave us a list of choices......Italian sounded good!
Beny pulled into the Marriott Los Suenos and the property was huge! The Mariott grounds had a giant golf course which immediately highlighted its numerous birds as we drove by. Beny looked at me and smiled, "I know my friend, we will be stopping here on the way out to photograph the birds"!! The landscaping on the grounds was amazing which included a large track of rainforest habitat. The entire Jaco fishing fleet was docked in this natural harbor........
.......and the view was magical!
The food was exceptional: fresh calamari, lasagna and spaghetti with hand-made pasta, fresh Caesar salads with grilled Red Snapper, and the restaurants famous sauce and meatballs!-
After lunch, a little walk up and down the harbor boardwalk, and time to go birding! On the long drive to the restaurant through the property, the first group of birds that I spotted were a flock of Black-bellied Whistling Ducks at the pond in the golf course. This will be our first stop. Beny stopped at the pond and most of the Whistling Ducks were standing on the grass on the side of the pond. In this flock of ducks was a surprise......something that I was hoping for: a Northern Jacana. One of my favorite marsh bird species; and a beautiful bird with odd large feet for walking on floating vegetation.-
While I was photographing the Whistling Ducks, a Solitary Sandpiper walked out of the ruff-
Jim and I were standing on the side of the road photographing the Whistling Ducks and I caught a movement out of the corner of my right eye. I looked over and saw an Iguana walking across a dirt access road in a field on the right side of the golf course. As I watched the Iguana walk into the grass, a head popped up out of the taller grass! It was a Double-striped Thick-Knee! This is the first one that I have ever seen. Pam and Jen joined us to look at this cool-looking bird, and Jim and I took a long series of pictures-
While we were fixated on the Thick-Knee, Jen let us know that the Jacana had flown to the side of the pond next to where we were standing. Looking over, the Jacana was giving us amazing views feeding in the emergent vegetation along the edge of the pond-
The little Jacana was quite active.....it kept flying from one side of the pond to the other-
Also surrounding the ponds were a few Great Egrets, Green Herons and a Bare-throated Tiger-Heron-
This pond was a great birding find, we stayed there for half an hour. Since it was mid-afternoon, we decided to head back towards San Jose and see what the ride back would bring us. We would always stop for any good bird opportunities, and maybe a souvenir shop or two......but we were definitely going to stop at one of the amazing fruit stands along the road in the Orotina area. Nothing better than fresh ripe mangoes from Orotina!
After a half hour ride, we were back in the Tarcoles area where the road is close to the beach. I felt Beny rapidly slowing down his van. To me, that is a signal that he has spotted birds! And that is exactly what happened. He pointed over to the left side of the road in the almond trees.....Macaws, and a whole flock of them! The Macaws were doing their typical afternoon routine which is feeding heavily on the almonds! We pulled over into the small dirt pull-off parking area, and the noise was deafening. If you have never heard the loud raucous sounds of feeding Scarlet Macaws, it is something that you will never forget!-
You would think that these large birds would be awkward in flight......but they are unbelievably graceful!-
Well, we had timed this perfectly. All five of us really enjoyed this private Macaw show. After ten minutes, all the Macaws flew out of the almond trees and headed inland............
Since we would be passing Playa Tarcoles on our way back, I asked Beny to go down to the beach again for a short stop. When we did, the procession of birds was still going on, but it had slowed down quite a bit. The first birds we saw when we stepped out of the van was a flock of Brown Pelicans-
Although fewer than this morning, the Frigates continued soaring down the coast-
We also had Scarlet Macaws starting to gather in the almond trees near the beach, but behind us-
Another interesting show.......Black Vultures were coming in constantly and starting to gather together on the beach in many small groups-
Well, it was getting late so we decided to get going. In a small flooded and swampy cow pasture were several Bare-throated Tiger Herons.......
......and flocks of Cattle Egrets-
No matter if you are driving through the lowlands of the Caribbean or the Pacific, if you see cattle or livestock, you will see flocks of Cattle Egrets!-
We were getting close to the fruit stands in Orotina, and Jen found a Hawk sitting in a tree along the road on the left side. Beny pulled around and stopped right next to a gorgeous Roadside Hawk. What a beauty! A few study images of a beautiful Roadside Hawk!-
We decided to leave the Hawk in peace and drove a short distance to one of the larger fruit stands. As usual, the place was busy.....all the vendors hawking (sorry) their produce. We ended up with quite a few bags of great fresh produce: mangoes, fried green plantains, mamon chino, papaya, green mango ceviche (Beny likes that), fresh cacao/chocolate, and fresh roasted cashews!
The mangoes were ripe and sweet which is the way this Gringo likes them.....most Costa Ricans like them unripe with lime and salt.
Beny picks out a huge ripe manga (large mango) for me which was almost as big as his head! And yes, it was juicy, sweet and delicious!! :^)-
What a great ending to a wonderful day! Tomorrow, Jen will be working at the Life Science Trade Show in the Intercontinental Hotel. So, Beny and I will be taking Pam and Jim to another of my favorite spots in Costa Rica....the Caribbean foothills and lowlands to the Rio Sarapiqui for a private wildlife boat ride; looking forward to it! Buenas nochas!
Week 2 Continues..... Day 12, Monday, Oct 10, 2016, Caribbean foothills, slopes and highlands..
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