Birds, birds and more birds
02/17/2015 25 °C
Feb 17, 2015
Apparently we were to have a very lucky day. Off bright and early for a walk in the Monteverde Cloudforest Biological Reserve.
Monteverde was founded as an agricultural community in 1951 by a group of American Quakers who cleared virgin forests to create pastures for dairy farming. The were however aware of the danger or unrestricted settling/farming would cause to this precious habitat. They established a small privately owned wildlife snctuary that has since grown into the preserve.
All the reserves area within the Zona Protectora Arenal-Monteverde incompass 74,000 acres extending down both side of the Caribbean and Pacific slopes of the Cordillera de Tilaran. This area protects 100+ mammal, 400 bird and 1,200 amphibian/reptile species.
A cloudforest is an area similar to a rainforest but instead on relying on rain for essential moisture, adequate water comes from the semi-permanent clouds (heavy mist) that cover the area. Our guide is an avid birder, remarkable at spotting birds that we can’t see even when he points them out. Barely out of the van and he spots a motmot, a very pretty bird. We traipse up the path behind him and soon come across a pair of agouti, a large rodent about the size of a marmot with short front legs.
Onward, we came across an area where the quetzal had been seen earlier. Despite our efforts and those of other birders in the area, no quetzal was to be found (not that we would have known if we found it anyway). On we went to a large meadow with hummingbird feeders. There were dozens of hummingbirds fighting for a spot and several different varieties including a large violet one that apparently is the largest of the hummingbirds. The serious birders were off getting fleeting glimpses of a rare green bird that seemeed quite adept at moving as soon as it was spotted.
Up the hill further and Jaimie started shining his flashlight in small holes in the bank looking for tarantulas. Eventually he found one and decided to lure it out with a thin stick. She eventually succumbed and made a rush out of her den much to the surprise of those watching. She was a good 6 inches across and had orange stripes.
We carried on up the hill without spying anymore creatures and then turned around and headed back, checked on Ms. Tarantula again and got back to the field where the quetzel had been reported. Low and behold there was a group of 25 or so birders excitedly viewing the quetzel. It is a beautiful bird with a red breast and long turquoise tail feathers and we were very lucky to see it. The sighting was well documented by our group and we head back down, past a coatamundi and the motmot and back into town for the afternoon.