Costa Rica Day 9, 14 February 2014 - Selva Verde Lodge & Rio Sarapiqui

Having arrived with no remaining light the following evening this morning was our first look at the lodge and its surroundings. To be honest, despite the hype I was disappointed with the lodge for a numbers of reasons and with hindsight would have stayed longer at La Selva. We'd originally booked 2 nights here because La Selva was reported to be spartan and Selva Verde Lodge was supposed to be luxury. The rooms themsleves are better but all the walkways have roofs making birding very difficult and the distances to walk to and from our room were long. The food here was also pretty rank. Belinda described it as like school dinners! Despite the high prices these still don't get you access over the river into primary forest. The only way to get past the locked gate is to pay (yes, they want more of your money!) to be guided. I was determined to do the whole trip unguided and find and identify my own birds. The up side of the place is the bar which does excellent cocktails and they forgot to charge us for some on one night!

Our room was close to the river and a quick look before the long hike to breakfast had us tiptoeing past Strawberry Poison Dart Frogs and Black & Green Poison Dart Frogs to the rocky river bank and then some marvellous views of an amazing bird on the far bank - SunbitternSpotted Sandpipers were common along the river. From the dining room balcony Montezuma Oropendulas were in and out of the fruit feeders constantly, a stunning male Summer Tanager popped in and a pair of skulking Red-throated Ant Tanagers lurked in the bushes.      


Summer Tanager

Red-throated Ant-Tanager

For the morning we opted for a walk around the lodge trails on the opposite side of the road. These are trails you are allowed to walk by yourself! Things started off nicely with another new hummingbird - the superbly named Bronze-tailed Plumeleteer. After that things quietened down with just Violet-crowned Woodnymph, White-breasted Wood-Wren and House Wren for our efforts and the going was muddy and very hot and humid. When we reached the central track a few more birds became apparent with Purple-crowned Fairy, 2 Paltry Tyrannulets, Stripe-breasted Wren and 2 Blue-black Grassquits. Nearing the road again a pair of stunning Black-throated Trogons moved across the track as we headed towards our lunch. On fruit feeders right by the path in the lodge grounds 2 Collared Aracaris taunted me at point blank range as I'd left my camera in our room!
Bronze-tailed Plumeleteer

Black-throated Trogon

Our treat for the afternoon was one we'd booked in advance - a white-water rafting trip down the river. What better way to treat your partner on Valentines Day! Needless to say I didn't take bins and camera but in a very enjoyable (if rather tame in terms of white water) couple of hours we still got some nice views of many river birds - 5 Neotropic Cormorants, 2 Bare-throated Tiger Herons, c15 Cattle Egrets, 6 Snowy Egrets, 1 Great White Egret, 2 Green Herons, 2 Little Blue Herons, 3 Amazon Kingfishers, 2 Green Kingfishers, 3 Ringed Kingfishers, 8 Black Phoebes, 3 Sunbitterns many Spotted Sandpipers and several Mangrove Swallows as well as Broad-winged Hawk.

Back on terrafirma at the lodge we had time for a wander so chose the short self-guided trail not far from our room. Chestnut-sided Warblers were very obvious and a confiding Buff-rumped Warbler flitted along the path in front of us. We also managed Passerini's Tanager, White-collared Manakin, Tropical Gnatcatcher, White-tipped Doves and Clay-coloured Thrushes.

Buff-rumped Warbler

Chestnut-sided Warbler

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