Monday, April 13, 2009

Monteverde and Santa Elena

The cloud forests of the Reserva Biológica Bosque Nuboso Monteverde and Reserva Santa Elena, in the Western central part of Costa Rica, contain a huge range of biodiversity and some amazing plant and animal life. Most of the year the cloud forest lives up to its name and the abundance of thick cloud, along with the dense forest, makes it hard to see the wildlife. To get a better view, it's necessary to get up into the forest canopy, which is made possible by some handy aerial walkways.

There are great views from the different perspective on the high bridges. Spotting the wildlife still takes a lot of patience though!

We spent a couple of days walking the trails, staring up into the trees on the lookout for the Three-wattled Bellbird, monkeys and, of course, the famous Resplendent Quetzal. We did get a glimpse of the bellbird from one of the walkways on the distant horizon, but nowhere near close enough to get a photograph.

Part of the reserve covers the "continental divide", which runs all the way from Canada to Argentina down the 'spine' of the Americas. Water on the Western side of the divide runs to the Pacific ocean; water on the Eastern side runs to the Atlantic. In a few breaks in the cloud, we could see the Pacific ocean to the West, around the Nicoya peninsula.

The cloud forest is teeming with plant and animal life. Amongst the most beautiful are the 30 kinds of hummingbirds that live there. This one is a Violet Sabrewing.

So did we see a Resplendent Quetzal? Yes we did. We saw several! Best of all was a mating couple, spotted together in the Reserva Santa Elena. We had to wait very quietly for a rather long time (a familiar story to any birdwatchers reading this blog, I'm sure), but we were rewarded with a fantastic close-up (about 4m) view of the male who obediently posed for a good 15 minutes or so for us to photograph him. Here's the result (and our proudest wildlife shot to date):

There has also been some unexpected, though no less exciting, wildlife. This chap is a Central American Bark Scorpion, found crawling around in our bathroom. Apparently they're not venomous enough to kill, but their sting can certainly cause a lot of pain. Kudos to Mum for carefully removing him with nothing more than a wine glass and a piece of paper!



Anonymous said...

It's great to see Liz and Greg enjoying themselves and sharing some of the amazing sights with you. I love the photo of them sitting smiling next to the danger sign!
The incident with the coatimundi reminds me of a similar experience I had in Bali, with a monkey and a packet of crisps! (on that occasion it was the monkey's teeth that I was afraid of)
I'm VERY impressed with the fact that you saw and photographed a resplendent quetzal!
Love Mum (Di)

Anonymous said...

was nice to meet you and do the lake tour together whit you. I wish you guys a good time and if you want so, ad me on facebook. Best regards, David from Switzerland