We waited a long time to visit Arenal Volcano and see the special wildlife there. In the distant past we stayed near Arenal when the volcano was erupting every hour and a half and digital cameras hadn’t been invented. Now quiet, the geologists say Arenal can be safely approached and hiked for about the next 400 years. That should work. The Arenal Observatory Lodge is 1.7 miles from the volcano. Presumably wildlife chased away 10 years ago by the lava have returned.
Arenal cast its spell before we even got to the hotel. Our first view of the volcano was shrouded in hazy rain and looked like King Kong lived there and we were the first to discover it. Approaching the hotel on pebbled roads, we saw gray-headed chachalacas and a melodious blackbird, new birds for us. Welcome to Arenal!
But after all, we were in Costa Rica and it rained very hard as we checked in. As we learned, however, rain seems to be an afternoon-evening thing. Mornings are typically sunny and wonderful. An ordinary person can’t explain this but everybody knows it. The rainy season arrives abut the end of May and this rain was a warm-up.
As promised, the morning came with a world class view of “our” volcano. The Lodge is fabulous and we met interesting people from Spain, the Netherlands, Great Britain, Los Angeles and Canada. We came for these experiences and hoped to see wonderful birds and other creatures. A pair of great curassows awaited us at a nice feeder we could see from an observation deck. These are large birds, unmistakable and unique. North America has nothing close.
I’m not going to describe all the details of how we saw the birds…….I’ll mostly show them to you. The Arenal experience is a living wonder for birders and nature lovers. As a bonus, other delightful animals included the iconic Costa Rican red-eyed leaf frog.
We went down to a frog pond at 9 pm and found several frogs (called ranas here) and got some beautiful photos. The star of the frog show defies belief. The red-eyed leaf frog is a symbol of Costa Rica. The rain earlier in the evening brought them out, along with a little poisonous snake.
I went the first night and Arlyne came with me the second night.
As another bonus, the next day we saw a poisonous toad that looked as menacing as anything I’ve ever seen.
We chased the white-necked Jacobin (large hummingbird) around some flowers until finally capturing a photo. Brilliant.
Crested guans saw us but didn’t seem perturbed.
Red-legged honeycreepers started showing up mid-morning. Picturesque little guys for sure. As a surprise, a yellow-crowned euphonia showed up briefly followed by one of my favorites, a female green honeycreeper. This lime-colored bird was the jewel of the morning. In the early afternoon, we saw two golden-hooded tanagers. Sometimes lucky photographic “accidents” can happen and the two tanagers created one! Great Stuff! I never saw this coming. I don’t know if these two birds were fighting, playing, showing off or what. I caught them as I was photographing another bird. What luck! Don’t try this, I’m a semi-professional.
Thanks for following us around Costa Rica…………wait until next time!!