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Thursday, March 21, 2013

Lazy Birding

3/9/13    El Zota Biological Station

So sleeping last night was pretty interesting.  First of all, everything here is damp- including the sheets.  Takes some getting used to.  Second, about 45 minutes after laying down (I was drifting so I'm not positive), a Black and White Owl started calling from out in front of our building.  And he was just going at it.  Very loudly.  Not a sound I'm accustomed to by any means.  (really cool though).  Then a rainstorm rolled through a few hours later.  It cooled everything down, but man was it loud!  We were also told the Howler Monkeys would wake us up around dawn.  Didn't happen.  I still have hope though, we will be here for another three nights so I'm hoping we'll encounter some.

Our morning began with a short jaunt down to the lagoon where we spotted some fish, a Common Slider (turtle), a Brown Basilisk (lizard), and some Purple Gallinules (birds), all before breakfast!  Which was another tasty meal of rice and beans plus fresh bananas and watermelon.


After breakfast, and some birdwatching right in camp, we headed out on our first trek through secondary rainforest.  It was dark, muddy, and rainy.  It was awesome!  We didn't see many animals, just some poison dart frogs, though we did see some Baird's Tapir tracks.  We left the forest to trek along a rocky driveway for another hour.  We saw a LOT of species along this path because of the edge effect it creates with the forests.

We saw things like Brown-Hooded Parrots, Coatis (pretty rare sight), and Leaf-cutter ants.  When we made it back to base, Joy and I explored around the main grounds for a while before heading back to get ready for lunch.

After lunch we sat on a patio and partook in some "lazy birdwatching" where we spotted some Rufous-tailed Hummingbirds and Green Honeycreepers (male and female).  Coffee break was around 2pm and we began our second hike at 2:30.

We once again saw some Brown Hooded Parrots in the banana trees.  We also saw some Spider Monkeys (!!) and some Swallow-tailed Kites.  This hike was back along the gravel trail, past where we came out of the forest the first time.  We eventually took a side trail that was ridiculously muddy.  It was almost up over my tall boots!  Luckily it didn't quite make it that far.  We didn't see all that many new species after this point, except for some bullet ants.  I'm sure you can imagine what their bites feel like.

We returned to camp to find another group had arrived.  After they had their 'orientation,' dinner was moved up.  Everyone then moved over to the library where we wrote down a list of species seen.  Between everyone in the group we saw/heard about 100 species.  That's crazy!

We then had a little bit of down time before night hiking!  We walked down the main road for a bit then stopped so Dr. George could play night bird calls into the dark.  I really enjoyed the call of the common Potoo because it's pretty soothing.  Another enjoyable call was the Central American Pygmy- Owl.  Sadly we didn't get a chance to see many of the birds we heard responding.  In fact, the only owl we really saw was the beastly Black and White from the night before.  They're actually pretty small and adorable but man that one was loud!

The day finished off with a cold shower (no hot water here).  Tomorrow starts with a pre-breakfast hike at 6 AM.  Ready?  Go.