Costa Rica Day Two: A Morning Exploring A Few Of The Many Trails At The Arenal Observatory Lodge

Costa Rica Day Two: A Morning Exploring A Few Of The Many Trails At The Arenal Observatory Lodge

Costa Rica Day Two lodge morning guide (2 of 18)
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I  was up before dawn on my first morning in Costa Rica. I was staying at the Arenal Observatory Lodge at the foot of the Arenal Volcano. After a cup of coffee in my room I  walked to the observation deck and found the volcano was still shrouded in clouds. I had not yet scene the summit.

Clouds also hung over  Lake Arenal in the distance. There was no one else on the deck.  It is usually crowded during  the day, with hotel guests and visitors,  mostly  birders,  watching the birds attracted to the melons that the hotel guides put out for them.

The  sound of birds filled the air but they were difficult to see in dim morning light and under the thick  cloudy skies. I left the observation deck and followed the Saino and Hormiga trails to the Nest and Frog Ponds. It was nice  walking through the well maintained lush green gardens in the dim morning light.

As the trail took me lower on a ridge it became even darker under the thick forest. My camera, a Sonny RX 10 iv mirrorless is not good in poor lighting conditions. I tried to photograph a few birds and a squirrel  I saw and  they were blurred. I used to have DSLR camera and long lenses but, because of shoulder problems, I needed to get a lighter camera. 

Even though I didn’t get any wildlife photos on these heavily wooded trails I still enjoyed the walk. The forest was filled with the songs of birds. I walked down to the Nest, a 92 foot observation tower and  climbed the stairs to the top. I will be honest and say I was uneasy up their myself, with the tower swaying in the strong winds. However, the views, even on this overcast morning were spectacular.

I climbed  down from the tower and continued my hike on the Monos trail back to the observation deck.  It was even darker in  this thicker old growth forest and I didn’t get any photos on this trail. I walked  back to the lush gardens and roamed here trying to photograph the dozens of species that regularly  visit,

the plants and flowers here. 

And  I was able to photograph some of them including this rufous tailed hummingbird. There are dozens  of these birds darting from flower to flower in the gardens.

I also saw dozens of clay-colored thrushes or  yiguirro . They are related to our American robin and are the national bird of Costa Rica. They eat fruit and forage on the ground like our robins looking for invertebrates and

This large turkey like bird, a crested guan was also very common in the gardens but threatened in the areas of their range where they are not protected because of hunting. .  They are not related to the turkey but are an ancient species related to similar birds in Australia. It walked through the gardens,

occasionally flying atop a shrub to feed on berries.

 I also saw a pair of scarlet rumped tanagers, this is the male,

and this the female,

and this beautiful summer tanager.

I walked through the garden past the Green Gate to the Farm road that I visited the previous evening. On the way I walked past some equipment used to monitor the still active  volcano. The  Arenal Observatory lodge is in Zone D the safest zone near the volcano in the event there is another eruption.

I again walked under the lodge pine trees and saw  a gate along the road.

I entered the gate and took it down a ridge and into some fields. There was barbed wire along the fence so I guessed there were still some cattle here.

In the fields I saw this dusky capped flycatcher,

this palm warbler,

and a pair of variable seedeaters, this is the male

and this the female.

I was enjoying my exploration  of the trails but the skies threatened rain and a few drop fell so I decided to head back,

on the way a black vulture

and a northern crested  caracara flew overhead.  Here is a link to some more of the birds I saw on my hike Costa Rica Day Two Arenal Observatory Lodge  morning hike birds  January 6 2024.

I hiked back to the gardens of the lodge

where I saw a few of the same birds and this pretty wasp visiting one of the many flowers in the gardens, Here is a link to some more photos from my 3 mile morning hike. Costa Rica Day Two Arenal Observatory Lodge  morning hike January 6 2024.

I returned to the lodge  at 9 a.m. just in time to have a hearty breakfast. After breakfast I edited some photos until 10 a.m. when I decided to take one of the free guided tours with a guide from the lodge. There were only three in our group, myself , a couple from Minnesota and our knowledgeable guide,  The skies were now party cloudy  and we had some sunshine for our walk.

We first stopped at the observation deck and our guide identified a green honeycreeper

  and the common  Montezuma oropendolas feeding on the melons.

We left the observation deck and followed our guide over the hanging spider bridge where he pointed out a a honey bees nest. These  tiny bees do not sting

He also pointed out  few  great curassows foraging near the bridge. He provided us with a lot of information as well  pointed out a  many birds on our one hour walk .

We walked down the Hormiga trail where we saw a beautiful  black checked woodpecker,

a streak headed woodcreeper

a wedge -billed woodcreeper and

a bay headed tanager.  Here is a link to a gallery on my blog website with some more photos from my hike. Costa Rica Day Two guide hike birds  January 6 2024.

We walked past the Nest, the 90 foot observation tower I climbed earlier. There was a group of birders atop the tower scanning the forest  for birds.

  We descended a ridge to  the Frog Pond where our guide told us about  the snakes and frogs and explained how they active at   continued  our  hike  under  the  canopy  of  trees. as we walked through the lush primary forest.. 

The morning sun filtered through the thick canopy of leaves.

Our guide, amazingly,  smelled, and then   found fresh monkey droppings  on the forest floor. Scanning the tree tops he  soon spotted a howler monkey sleeping  in a treetop.  I was hoping it was a spider monkey since I have seen howler monkeys in Panama. It was still a wonderful sight to see.

We also  saw some tropical  flowers growing along the trail on our hike  and our guide told us these  flowers were related to the ginger family.

We returned to the gardens and here I learned that the tall pine trees on the  grounds of the lodge were not native but are  from Honduras and the large, and beautiful, rainbow eucalyptus trees  were  brought here from Australia. They were planted after eruption volcano  to serve as a wind break and help restore the damage down by eruption in 1968.

Just as we  neared the lodge we saw two more critters,  a  pair of beautiful golden orbed spiders. I love seeing, and learning about, the flora and fauna of the countries I visit, and this short hike informed me so much about Costa Rica and it’s many exotic and beautiful plants and animals. Here is a link to a gallery on my blog website with some more photos from my hike. Costa Rica Day Two guide hike January 6 2024.

It wasn’t long after my hike that the rain began to fall again and continued into the afternoon. I would see a lot of rain the next few days, but what else should I expect, I was in a rainforest.

“The Earth will not continue to offer its harvest, except with faithful stewardship. We cannot say we love the land and then take steps to destroy it for use by future generations.” John Paul II

Plans to protect air and water, wilderness and wildlife are in fact plans to protect man.” Stewart Udall

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