What a season it’s been! We’re well into the high season here at Saladero and it’s warm, sunny and the sparkling blue waters of Golfo Dulce are luscious and inviting.
We’ve had just absolutely delightful guests hailing from all corners of the planet, making for fascinating and lively conversation around the table at meal times. Countries represented thus far include Germany, Ukraine, Scotland, Ireland, Malta, the UK, Canada, South Korea, Holland and plenty of folks from the Pacific Northwest and east coast of the United States. Many new friendships have formed here in this beautiful paradise set here on the edge of Piedras Blancas National Park overlooking the rich Golfo.
Some of the fun bird and wildlife sightings we’ve had of late include, of course, the critically endangered Yellow-billed Cotinga (of which there are only between 250 and 1000 birds remaining, see our post here!) as well as many close encounters from the kayak, stand-up paddleboard and even snorkeling with the Pacific Green Sea Turtle as we came into the height of their breeding season.
We’ve also sightings of the tamandua (a large species of anteater) walk right by us while sitting out one evening on the Beach House patio and, further, a family of guests staying with us watched in awe as another climbed up a tree in the back corner of the garden. I call 2018 the year of the Tamandua because one visited just under my cabin the early morning hours of new year’s day.
The Scarlet Macaws, which were reintroduced back to the Piedras Blancas after becoming locally extinct in this area for a time, have provided a welcomingly colorful spectacle along the forest edge. In previous years, a pair nested in a dead standing tree here in our gardens but the tree has since fallen. I’ve been able to watch the pair from my “bird blind” shower outside my cabin fairly often as they’ve been prospecting for a new nest. They’ve been pretty quiet up there lately, so I’m thinking they’ve finally found a suitable nesting hole. Along with the macaws our guests have also enjoyed lovely views of the iconic Chestnut-mandibled Toucan and some nesting Golden-naped Woodpeckers from the Tree House balcony, high above the Beach House.
A beautiful and harmless Neotropical Bird Snake gave us some closeup views in the grass behind the kitchen. We’ve had plenty of monkey sightings, the cheeky White-faced Capuchins drinking water from coconuts by the Rancho picnic and camping area, Mantled Howler Monkeys also come through on occasion and are heard roaring from the forest on a fairly regular basis. We’ve even had some special sightings of the much more rarely seen Spider Monkeys which had experienced reductions in populations in Piedras Blancas in previous years so we’re excited to see them here, with tiny babies riding upon the backs of several mothers. What a great sign!
A Tayra, a larger member in the weasel family, was seen walking in the garden above the Glamping Cabins and Collared Peccaries–the wild pigs that are an important food source for the bigger cats–have made their presence known in the back gardens. Speaking of peccaries, we’ve recently retrieved the camera cards from our camera traps and the hogs were well represented on Trail One, the Puma Trail, with video of groups moving across the stream on various occasions, once with even a tiny piglet in tow! Also in the cameras we had many Agoutis and a spotted Paca (similar to groundhogs with long legs, both in the rodent family).
The Three-wattled Bellbird has also come to town, making it’s annual latitudinal migratory descent from the upper mountains (perhaps from as far as Panama) here to the lowland primary rainforest to forage on fruiting trees while belting out it’s strange “bonk!” from the treetops. We’ve had good views of singing males, both adult and juvenile (photo). The birds seem to be hanging around the wild nutmeg trees, similar to the cotingas and the chestnut-mandibled toucan. Seems like this tree is an incredibly important food source for a variety of species, even the white-faced capuchin monkeys will happily crack open the tough outer shell with their jaws and eat the brown nutmeg seed inside.
In the Golfo, our snorkelers have enjoyed watching a managerie of fish species including parrotfish, rays, triggerfish, moray eels, butterfly fish, angelfish. We Rob, a scuba diver-and-fisherman-extraordinaire here, Rob, who has been coming to Saladero on a fairly annual basis since the lodge first opened. Rob and his brother-in-law Kurt kept us endlessly well-fed on a variety of species of fish throughout their time with us, which we were happy to cook up into a variety of dishes! Rob taught our Ukranian guest Leon some great skills in the ways of fishing here and we enjoyed Leon’s haul of a big ol’ blue triggerfish in a fresh ceviche appetizer for his last memorable evening here!
Just this morning we said goodbye to a group from The Birding Club of Costa Rica that came with us to stay for several days. It was a huge pleasure to get to know these folk, many of which hail from the UK and the United States and have either semi- or completely moved here to the beautiful country Costa Rica. To join these keen birders on their exploration of our garden and trails was an enormous treat and, over the course of the past two day, the group saw and heard more than one hundred species, including our coatings and the three-wattled bellbird! With the help of the experts, including the fantastically talented illustrator of the Birds of Costa Rica guidebook, Robert Dean, we were excited to add a species or two to my own bird list! It was sad to see them go, but we’re looking forward to another group from the club which will be joining us next month.
The fresh sea breeze off the Golfo in the afternoons has become a perfect way to wind down the day and the sunsets over the Osa Peninsula have been just phenomenal and aptly timed for a gorgeous and tranquil happy hour vista.
Pure Life, indeed