Costa Rica Day 12, 17 February 2014 - Arenal Hanging Bridges, Arenal NP & Observatory Lodge

A visit to Arenal Hanging Bridges had been on our trip to do list and this morning we went for it - and wished we hadn't! This is the type of place I hate - coach loads of noisy tourists with little real interest in natural history being herded around the trails shouting and whooping and very hard to get past on the narrow paths. I loathed pretty the whole time we were there which was spent trying to avoid people to stand any chance of seeing some birds. Eventually I managed to find White-necked Jacobin, a couple of Swallow-tailed Kites and a welcome Orange-billed Sparrow. A Dusky Antbird then showed briefly but in the end we were just glad to leave.

We'd heard rumours of free public hot springs in the area but hadn't been able to find out where. We had noticed cars parked along a particular stretch of road though and upon investigation of a stream we found it was running hot - bingo! We had a great time wallowing in the the water with the added glow from having not forked out the exhorbitant prices the tacky resorts charge for the same water and plastic rocks! Into the bargain a Scaly-breasted Hummingbird was at the entrance to the track and 2 flying Muscovy Ducks had me doing a double-take!

During the day we also spent time around the lodge gardens and they came up trumps again with a superb Black-crested Coquette and Golden-hooded Tanagers amongst many of the same species as already seen there. Outside the lodge grounds along the entrance track we scooped with a mega Black-and-yellow Tanager high in trees, 2 Melodious Blackbirds, Grey-headed Chachalaca, 4 White-throated Magpie-Jays, Chestnut-mandibled Toucan and 2 Passerini's Tanagers.

Black-crested Coquette

Melodious Blackbird

From mid-afternoon we decided to pay the entrance fee to Arenal NP and walk the trails to the 1993 lava flow. The first part of the walk is boring and birdless through thick bamboo but nearing the lava flow viewpoint 3 Great Curassows showed amazingly well but in dense vegetation and in our extended walk we eventually saw a total of 8 of these beauties including several males. Long-billed Hermits were also pretty common and vocal while we also had 2 Crested Guans.

Great Curassow

Long-billed Hermit

Crested Guan


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