A Bird’s Life

The backpacker’s hostel treated us well, but it was time for the next leg of our journey.  A satisfying breakfast at the Rainforest Café sent us off up the road toward the Arenal Observatory Lodge.

Instead of turning up the road to make the jarring 8 km drive up to the observatory, we decided to continue up the main road to see where it led us.  We found success in the naturally frustrating art of bird watching, as the surrounding rainforest served up a bounty of flying creatures.  Every kilometer or so we would stop to further investigate the brief glimpses of fluttering wings or stagnant silhouettes we saw from the car.

Jan called for the first big stop, and our eyes turned to the right to feast on what appeared to be a tropicalized game bird.  It looked like Mother Nature couldn’t decide on what exactly she wanted this bird to look like.  It had a strong pheasant-like body with a long yet bold rectangular tail.  Ultimately we were unable to reach any conclusions on the species’ name, but to me, that uncertainty only reinforces the perpetual mystery of rainforest dwelling birds.

At the funky Dutch hotel up the road we turned around and headed back for the observatory.  Now it was my turn to test the reaction time of William’s foot as I called for a screeching stop.  Alas, a toucan!  We had been hoping to see one of these colorful little birds before we left the country, and we got a good look at it before it jumped off its perch and sailed through the air in front of us.  Red, yellow, orange and trace amounts of green and blue were haphazardly flashed on the bird’s small body.

A right turn finally put us on the bumpy road up to the Arenal Observatory Lodge.  From our previous visit to the lodge, we had learned that the best place to search for birds was at a river crossing about halfway up the road.  Because we were now trained in looking for darting birds that were small and quick, we almost blew our chances of seeing the day’s greatest treasure.  Our squinting eyes were relieved of their duties when we saw a large tiger heron standing in the road in front of us.  After granting us a long, hearty look, the heron quietly walked across the road where it initiated a tiptoe walk into some water-laden reeds.  A lightning fast stab briefly concealed the hunter before it re-emerged with a large frog that hung paralyzed from the bird’s tweezer-like beak.  We watched the heron violently shake the life out of the surrendering amphibian before it broke Mom’s dinner table rules and swallowed it whole!

We checked in at the lodge and headed for the waterfall.  The rain pounded down as we traversed a well-kept trail sidelined by…yup, you guessed it…tons of greenery!  Moss, small ferns, veiny leaves, and other forms of macro greenery were the highlight of the walk.  The sound of the approaching waterfall bounced between the trees before we got our first look.  Enhanced by the recent rains, water flooded down the falls in a force only nature could conjure.  The style of waterfall reminded us of Yosemite’s popular Vernal.  We finished our little walk with a stroll across a suspension bridge overlooking the small river valley that feeds into the waterfall.

Our inner hedonists were calling so we high-tailed it over to the jazucci.  By now the rain had subsided…the only irony was that we wanted it to pick up so we could jump in the pool while it was pounding rain.  Since the only thing constant here is change itself, we knew that if we waited it out, we would get our opportunity.  Sure enough, the rain picked up again, punching mini craters into the previously still pool.  We seized the opportunity to get a thorough soaking and enjoy the rain that makes this country go round.