Southwest Airlines, Oakland to Albuquerque, 1-31-19

The aerial photos in this collection were taken by Kathy Miller. On this west to east flight, Kathy was seated on the south-facing side of the plane, thus looking out to the south. The initial photo of the series is of Mono Lake and the Sierra Nevada Mountains, California. Kathy found nothing of interest to photograph in Nevada and started again after crossing into Utah. She then photographed some of the best scenery in the southwestern United States, all of which is shown in the included Google Earth map.

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Mono Lake lies to the east of Yosemite National Park, in the Sierra Nevada Mountains of California


This map is oriented with the south at the top of the map, to align with the views seen in the photographs, which were taken looking to the south. The yellow line approximates the flight path, which was over southern Utah, with views to the Utah/Arizona state line and beyond into Arizona.

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A hogback known as the Cockscomb runs north to south and bisects the bottom of the photo. It is cut through by the Paria River just above the center of the photo. The Paria River then flows eastward to form the Paria Canyon, which is seen at the left edge of the photo. The Cockscomb then continues south to Coyote Buttes, which is illuminated by the sun. Coyote Buttes contains the famous rock feature known as The Wave.

Much of what is seen in the above photo was contained in the original Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument. I say “original” because the current administration took an axe to Grand Staircase (along with Bears Ears National Monument). The administration, in other words, severely reduced the size of these two National Monuments … but we hope the courts will reverse this action.

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Two minutes flying time to the east reveals Marble Canyon at upper left, and the snow-covered Kaibab Plateau at upper right. Marble Canyon is the initial stretch of the Grand Canyon, and the Kaibab Plateau makes up the elevated north rim of the Grand Canyon. The entire Paria Canyon can be seen, along with more of Grand Staircase.

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One minute later the lower-most portion of Lake Powell comes into view. Paria Canyon is seen where it joins the canyon of the Colorado River, at a point 15 miles downstream from Glen Canyon Dam. The Grand Canyon begins here, at a place known as Lees Ferry.

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Another minute of flight time brings Gooseneck Point into view

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Less than an additional minute of flight time brings us to Dangling Rope Marina

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One more minute up the lake brings twin smoke plumes from the Four Corners Power plant into view. In middle distance is Cathedral Butte, and at the bottom of the photo is snow-covered Bull Ridge, which is the southern extremity of Fiftymile Mountain. This “mountain” is actually the 33-mile long eastern edge of the vast Kaiparowits Plateau, which is bounded on the west by the Cockscomb, and is at the heart of the original Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument. Fiftymile Mountain is directly uphill of and parallels the Escalante River – the other major part of the National Monument. See bonus feature below.


Fiftymile Mountain, from the trailhead to Coyote Gulch, a tributary of the Escalante River

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In another minute we are looking down at Navajo Mountain and Rainbow Bridge Canyon, which are located on the eastern side of Lake Powell. At this point, the plane is flying more or less over the confluence of the San Juan River with the Colorado River (although the confluence is underwater).

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Two more minutes brings us into a fairly remote region, with the San Juan River more or less under the plane

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Another minute to the east brings us into the area of Navajo National Monument, known for its cliff dwellings

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And another minute provides a view of Black Mesa and Kayenta. Monument Valley is directly under the plane.

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And five minutes later, this last photo shows Chinle Creek, which flows northward from Canon de Chelley National Monument, and the Peabody Coal Mine atop Black Mesa. This open pit coal mine supplies the Four Corners power plant via a private rail line that figures prominently in Edward Abbey’s immortal book: “The Monkey Wrench Gang”. See bonus feature next.

Monkey Wrench Gang


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The Wall

A stand-off in Washington continues over whether to appropriate 5.7 billion dollars to construct a “wall” along our border with Mexico, while American citizens are punished by the Trump administration with a record-length government shutdown. Trump boasted that the shutdown would continue until his demand for that particular sum of money was met.
Despite Trump’s insistence that the border is in crisis, recent news coverage suggests that the security of our border with Mexico is being well managed by a variety of means (barriers, fences, cameras, electronic surveillance, border patrol agents etc.), with the number of migrants entering via the southern border going down over the last number of years. And, I don’t doubt for a minute that, prior to Trump’s initiating his crusade for a wall, planners in the Dep’t of Homeland Security had already decided upon the most effective means to stop or catch migrants for each and every mile of the border.
But, why isn’t a wall that runs the entire length of the border a smart or practical idea? My wife Kathy and I have visited a number of areas along the border with Mexico, and it is an understatement to say that the terrain along the border is extremely varied, with large sections of the border unsuitable for the construction of a wall or too desolate to attract migrants.
The border with Mexico is 1954 miles long, and is geographically broken into two parts.  For 1260 miles, the eastern portion of the border follows the the deepest channel of the Rio Grande, from a few miles upstream of El Paso, TX, to the Gulf of Mexico. The western portion of the border does not adhere to natural features, but, rather, follows geopolitical boundaries i.e. the southern borders of New Mexico, Arizona and California.
Let’s take a look at those areas of the border that Kathy and I have visited, starting with the eastern end of the border, where the Rio Grande runs into the Gulf of Mexico. This spot is known as Boca Chica, and a 4WD vehicle is needed to drive the three miles of beach from the nearest road access to the north. It is, likewise, hard to access on the Mexican side. It is visited by fishermen, and the few tourists that are ready to tackle the problematic sands of the beach. As far as I can ascertain, no barrier has yet been constructed along the river here, and/or out into the surf. Nor, because of the isolation and lack of roads, is such needed.

Lighthouse in Mexico, with the Rio Grande in the foreground


Upstream view of the Rio Grande


Pelicans and other shorebirds, with the Rio Grande in the foreground and surf in the Gulf of Mexico beyond

Boca Chica.jpg

NOTE: In the above map, and all Rio Grande maps that follow, the river runs from left to right.

Found some 25 or so miles upstream from the Gulf are the twin cities of Brownsville, TX and Matamoros, MX. Brownsville is situated at the downstream end of the heavily-populated Rio Grande Valley, known for its citrus production, as a winter destination for “snowbirds”, extraordinary birding and wildlife refuges, and the Brownsville Ship Channel, that connects it to the Gulf.

The Sabal Palm Sanctuary is located along the Rio Grande in Brownsville. A barrier was constructed to the north of the Sanctuary 10 years ago, leaving it (happily) intact.


Sabal palm

The Santa Ana NWR is located on the Rio Grande, to the south of McAllen, and was saved from construction of a barrier by Congressional action in 2018.


Black-necked stilts and ducks, Santa Ana NWR


Spanish moss, Santa Ana NWR

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Butterfly in winter, Santa Ana NWR


Rio Grande, at Santa Ana NWR


Kathy looks at clothing discarded by migrants after swimming across the Rio Grande, Santa Ana NWR.

Construction of 33 or more miles of barrier is slated for the Rio Grande Valley, over the objections of most property owners and much of the local population. In the news lately is the scheduled construction of a barrier through the National Butterfly Center, south of Mission, TX.


Courtesy National Butterfly Center


Courtesy National Butterfly Center


Courtesy National Butterfly Center


The Rio Grande Valley is a unique ecosystem, of a sort found nowhere else in the United States.

Located upstream of the Rio Grande Valley are, first, Falcon and, next, Amistad Reservoirs. The terrain becomes increasingly arid and desolate as one travels upstream in this region.
Dryden Crossing is located 100 or so river miles upstream of Amistad Dam. Dryden Crossing is the take-out (end point) for the river trip that runs through the most downstream of the Rio Grande canyons – the Lower Canyons. This 83 mile stretch is found immediately downstream of Big Bend National Park
The desert canyon country of Big Bend National Park and surrounding lands is as rugged as it gets. The Lower Canyons are most easily visited by boat. The put-in is at La Linda Bridge and the take-out at Dryden Crossing.

Horse Canyon is the first of the Lower Canyons


Below Black Gap Wildlife Management Area


Balanced rock


Kathy, in Hot Springs Rapid


In low water, this is Complejo del Caballo Rapid


In high water, the same rapid as above is called Rodeo Rapid, and has the biggest waves on the river


Burro Bluff


Steve and Susan, in Upper Madison Falls


Lower Madison Falls. Left to right: Susan, Kathy and Steve


Kathy, in Panther Rapid


San Francisco Canyon


The Teapots, upstream of Dryden Crossing


The road to Dryden Crossing. Left  to right: Susan, Steve and Kathy


While showing off the beauties of these canyons, these photos also demonstrate that no artificial barriers are needed along the Rio Grande here. And that remains the case as one travels upstream into Big Bend National Park. The next canyon upstream from the Lower Canyons is Boquillas Canyon.

The put-in for the Boquillas Canyon run is located at Rio Grande Village, in Big Bend National Park. Found across the river is the Mexican town of Boquillas. The inhabitants of Boquillas depended, in the past, on Park visitors who crossed in row boats to purchase their crafts, and this trade has been disrupted by new Department of Homeland Security restrictions. Boquillas Canyon is 33 miles in length.


Boquillas, MX


Boquillas, MX


Rafting guests enjoy the Boquillas hot springs


Boquillas Canyon


Boquillas Canyon and the Sierra del Carmen, MX


The part of Mexico south of the Rio Grande in this area is extremely remote, wild and un-populated. Again, there is no need for a barrier along the river here.

The next canyons upstream are the short Hot Springs and San Vicente Canyons. The ten mile Mariscal Canyon comes next.


Kathy, in Mariscal Canyon


Mariscal Canyon


Kathy, in Mariscal Canyon


A fluted and polished limestone boulder, Mariscal Canyon

Equally forbidding to Mariscal Canyon is the next canyon upstream – the 19 mile Santa Elena Canyon. The put-in for Santa Elena Canyon is Lajitas, with the take-out at the mouth of the canyon. The Mexican village of Lajitas used to have commerce with the Texas town of Lajitas, including rowing their children across the river to go to school in the latter. But this, too, has been disrupted.


The Chisos Mountains of Big Bend NP, from Terlingua, TX


The Chisos Mountains


Kathy, atop Emory Pk., 7825′, the highest point in the Chisos Mountains


The beer drinking billy goat of Lajitas


Rock Slide Rapid, Santa Elena Canyon


Kathy, in Santa Elena Canyon

Santa Elena Canyon is the most upstream canyon in Big Bend National Park, but one more canyon is found farther upstream – Colorado Canyon.

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Colorado Canyon


Kathy, in Colorado Canyon

Upstream of Colorado Canyon are the twin towns of Presidio, TX and Ojinaga, MX. A north flowing Mexican tributary, the Rio Conchos, joins the Rio Grande at Ojinaga. This river replenishes the Rio Grande, which is otherwise dry at this point. The Rio Grande is dry, in fact, for the approximately 150 mile distance upstream to Fort Quitman. This stretch is now known as “The Forgotten River”, and has been taken over by the invasive tamarisk tree, with the river channel eradicated. Here, the river ran through the howling wilderness of the Chihuahuan Desert, and what’s left of it is in no need of a barrier. The 70 miles from Fort Quitman to El Paso, TX/Juarez, MX is populated, with barriers already in place where needed.



The border leaves the river a few miles north of El Paso, and, from there, follows the southern boundaries of New Mexico, Arizona and California westward. Big Hatchet Peak is located in the bootheel of New Mexico, where, at a point about 100 miles west of El Paso, the border makes a right angle turn, to run south for 30 miles, before turning again and continuing westward, to meet the southern boundary of Arizona. This area is extremely desolate and in no need of a barrier.


Big Hatchet Pk


This sign says it all


View to the east from Big Hatchet Pk. The distant range is in Mexico, with the border running north/south along the length of the intervening valley.

The last stretch of the border that Kathy and I have visited is that in the vicinity of Hereford, AZ. Here, the Huachuca Mountains rise immediately to the north of the border. Because of its proximity to Mexico, this area is famed for Mexican bird species that can be seen in few other, if any, places in the United States.


The Arizona woodpecker is mis-named, as its range is mainly confined to Mexico. Ramsey Canyon, in the Huachuca Mountains.


Anna’s hummingbird in December. Ramsey Canyon, in the Huachuca Mountains.


Ramsey Canyon, in the Huachuca Mountains


Ramsey Canyon, in the Huachuca Mountains

These mountains are known to serve as a corridor for migrants, and Border Patrol activity is evident in the area.


Kathy and I have no direct experience of the border west of Hereford, AZ, which passes through the Sonoran Desert before it intersects (and follows for about 20 miles) the Colorado River, from San Luis, AZ, to Yuma, AZ.  From there, as the southern boundary of California, it follows a beeline to the Pacific Ocean. Again, much of the border runs through desolate and largely unpopulated terrain.


Trump’s insistence on building a wall along the entirety of this border is nonsensical. Yes, one can make an argument for erecting barriers along certain additional high-trafficked stretches of the border, and that will certainly occur, regardless of how the current stand-off is resolved. Otherwise, I think it unlikely that Trump’s 5.7 billion dollar wall, to run along the entirety of the border, will ever see the light of day.


Steve Miller, author of the blog, in the Lower Canyons of the Rio Grande, 1999. Photo by Kathy Miller.


Kathy Miller, in the Lower Canyons of the Rio Grande, 1999.

(photos by the author except where otherwise noted)

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Heron Grabs and Swallows a Trout

Watch as this Great blue heron spots a rainbow trout, grabs it and then takes a short walk before swallowing it. Put up your volume to hear the heron vocalize after swallowing the trout. Rio Grande del Norte National Monument, near Taos, NM, 12-14-18.

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Aerials, Oakland to Phoenix, 12-29-18

Aerial photos seen in prior posts were photos taken on Southwest Airlines flights . This time I was flying American.

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Seconds after take-off. In the foreground is Bay Farm Island, to which the Oakland Airport connects. The San Leandro channel separates Bay Farm Island from the island of Alameda. In the background is Oakland. The red “X” marks the home of Kathy’s daughter, Laina Levy, and family. View to the east.


The Port of Oakland, and the approach to the Bay Bridge.


In the foreground is the same part of the Port of Oakland and approach to the Bay Bridge as seen above. In the middle distance is Emeryville, beyond which is Berkeley/University of California, and in the distance is the Sacramento/San Joaquin Delta. View to the NE.


The Berkeley Marina and the green rectangle of Cesar Chavez Park. Beyond is El Cerrito, Albany and Richmond. View to the NE.


Now flying to the south. Part of Monterey Bay and Watsonville, at the mouth of the Salinas River. View to the S.


Now flying to the southeast. The Grapevine, on I-5, south of Bakersfield. View to the S.


The San Gabriel mountains, with the ski areas of Wrightwood on the right, and Mount San Antonio (aka Mt. Baldy) on the left. The Los Angeles basin is seen beyond. View to the S.


Continuing to the southeast. Big Bear Lake and ski areas. Mt. San Gorgonio is seen beyond, view to the S.


The Salton Sea, view to the SW

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The Colorado River, where it exits the Blythe, CA area. View to the SE.

Phoenix comes up soon after crossing the Colorado River.

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Cranes at the Historic Los Luceros

How many times have I driven past the sign alongside Hwy 68 that identifies the “Historic Los Luceros”? Plenty. And how often have I visited this place? Never.

A post in Facebook Birders alerted me to the fact that a group of sandhill cranes were wintering-over on the 148 acres that make up the property, which is administered by the NM Dep’t. of Cultural Affairs. Yesterday (12-16-18) was a bright, calm and mild day, with the high temp hitting 50 degrees. I drove 15 minutes south from our place in Embudo to the ranch/historic site, which is also known as Hacienda Los Luceros. It is located on the Rio Grande, in the northern Española Valley village of Alcalde.

The drive into the property first passed through an apple orchard, with the fruit still on the trees. Eating the now fermenting apples were starlings and Lewis woodpeckers, and I stopped to photograph the latter.


Lewis woodpecker


Lewis woodpecker, eating a fermenting apple

The cranes were in full view, as I drove up to the parking area, but left as I pulled in. I then walked around the property, which included the original ranch house and several other buildings.


Capilla (chapel)


Cottonwood bosque (forest)




Sandhill cranes


Lewis woodpecker


Ranch house, with huge willow tree, view to the west


View of the Truchas Peaks, to the east


N. Truchas Pk.


River House


From the River House, the Rio Grande and, to the south, the Jemez Mountains


New Mexico olive in the foreground, and a big cottonwood


Sculpture of old machine parts


Old saddle


Cart wheel


Sandhill cranes

For me, one of the most thrilling bird experiences to be had is to see and hear sandhill cranes on the wing, and especially as they fly low overhead, preparing to land. The Sibley Field Guide to Birds describes their voice as: “A loud, resonant, wooden-sounding bugle with rattling or rolling quality”. Kathy and I first heard that bugle when we lived at the southern end of the Española Valley, in El Rancho. Come late October and November, we would hear their call and search the sky overhead to spot one or more “V”s of the birds. They would be very high overhead, as they winged their way south towards their main wintering grounds. Their wingbeat is described by the above author as a “slow rolling downbeat and quick upbeat”. It is a stately flight, with a gorgeous glide to their landing.


Sandhill cranes on the glide, as they return to their ponds in the evening, Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge, San Antonio, NM

And, until two days ago, I had not known that they could be found wintering just a few minutes drive downstream from our house.



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My Fate, Your Fate

My fate is your fate

We are all fated to see humanity fail

What a weird way to go

holding hands with one another

as we hurtle from the cliff


There’s no way to put lipstick on this pig

no way to put a good face on it

no way to whitewash it

we’ve failed

to figure things out

failed to curtail the greed

that is the ruin of the world



but it’s the way of evolution

to be reproductively successful

i.e. more successful than you

to leave more offspring than you

to succeed where you fail


What ever happened, then, to mutual aid?

that’s evolution too

that we do well when we work as one

And it’s true,

it worked

worked to get us where we were

at the end of the last ice age

Well … what happened then?


Well … we changed our ways

we tried to take control

of the natural world

to enslave food

and it has brought us to this moment

where we now look over the brink

down at the rocks that await us


But, but … , you say

is there no turning back?

Is this really it?

Is this truly the end, such a bitter end?


Yes, it is the end, and I regret it no less than you

I didn’t plan for it to work out this way

I don’t want it to end this way

It doesn’t accord with my sense of who I am

the master of my fate

nor does it accord with your sense of who you are

the master of your fate

Sorry, very sorry to say, that this end doesn’t accord with our collective sense of who we are

Masters of our fates

Made in the image of God

saved by his Son

A creature like no other

given dominion over the animals

“Wise man” we have named ourselves

so full of pride and conceit


There’s that story about the Garden of Eden,

where man and woman were innocent and enjoyed everlasting life

And, though forbidden by God to do so,

Adam and Eve tasted the apple of the tree of knowledge of good and evil

For their disobedience, Adam and Eve were expelled from the Garden and lost everlasting life

So, this is the question:

Can the apple represent anything but

man’s attempt to subjugate the natural world?


Those writers knew it then

Our species has sinned

Homo sapiens has lost everlasting life

Extinction by our own hand awaits us

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Costa Rica Birding South, Part 4

After two nights at the Las Cruces Field Station we traveled north, first through the town of San Vito and next down the valley of the Rio Coto Brus. That river was met by the Rio General, coming from the north, to create the Rio Terraba (which we had earlier crossed,  near its mouth, as we had driven down the Pacific coast). From the Rio Terraba, we now drove up the valley of the Rio General, passing square miles of Del Monte pineapple fields. We had twice run the Rio General 30 some years prior, with the take-out near El Brujo. After a stop at El Brujo, we continued to San Isidro, and then began the 9000′ climb over the Cerro de la Muerte (Mountain of Death). Erich told us that the route was given this name when it was a hiking trail, rather than a road, due to the fact that there were cases of people who had died from hypothermia after getting caught in bad weather at or near the top of the climb (11,500′). We stopped at Restaurante La Georgina, at 10,000′, to see what hummingbirds were in attendance at their feeders.


The Rio Terraba, near El Brujo


We stopped at El Brujo after the river crossing


Same as above


The Restaurante La Georgina


The feeders were hung outside the windows seen here


Lesser Violetear. Photographing a hummingbird from a few feet away allows for getting a very crisp image.


Magnificent Hummingbird


Female Magnificent Hummingbirds


Volcano Hummingbird (front) and Lesser Violetear


Volcano Hummingbird

We had stopped here 30 years before, on the way to running the Rio General.

1. CerroDeLaMuerteRestaurant-Edit

30 years ago it was the Restaurant Georgina …

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and had beautiful wooden floors

We crossed over the pass, which allowed us a brief look at the treeless “paramo” – but a lack of pull-outs prevented photographing the area. After a short drive downhill from the pass, we took a left onto the narrow and very windy road that descended the valley of the Rio Savegre, and arrived at the Savegre Hotel.


We spotted this coatimundi as we neared the hotel


It was a very nice place!


Erich brings out the maps to our rooms

We photographed birds on the grounds of the hotel, which provided a fruit feeder, and on walks along the river.


Our rooms fronted a bird-rich mass of foliage, including gladiolas




This Slaty Flowerpiercer went quickly from one gladiola blossom to another. Note its beak.


Same as above


Here it is at work, piercing a gladiola blossom at its base


At the base of the stand of gladiolas was this Gray-breasted Wood-Wren. I looked for it after hearing its song, which is described in the guidebook this way: ” Its loud, lengthy, rollicking melody is one of the most commonly heard and attention-grabbing sounds in its habitat.”


Acorn Woodpecker


Yellowish Flycatcher, on an early morning walk


Long-tailed Silky Flycatcher


Peruvian Trumpet, in front of our room



The Rio Savegre


Same as above


Same as above


Same as above


Rainbow Trout, Rio Savegre

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Tree roots, along the Rio Savegre, by Kathy Miller. Below: Movie of the Rio Savegre, by Kathy Miller.


Spot-crowned Woodcreeper


We left at daybreak on our first morning to hunt down the Resplendent Quetzals, and stopped at Don Raul’s establishment.


Don Raul’s sign


Don Raul, second from left, and the group. Success! He found the quetzals for us in trees on the steep hillside above and to the left.  Paths led to the best viewing spots.


First, we saw this female


Higher on the slope, another female


Male quetzal


Same as above, and showing his tail plumes


Same as above


Same as above


Same as above


Same as above


Same as above. A digiscope photo with Erich’s scope and Kathy’s iPhone


As we returned downhill, we noticed this tree being used as an acorn repository by Acorn Woodpeckers

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Greenhouse, photo by Kathy Miller

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Same as above


Quetzal art work in progress, created from a tire, photo by Kathy Miller

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A quetzal tail plume is shown us by Don Raul, photo by Kathy Miller



Another digiscope photo by Erich and Kathy, of a female quetzal seen along the river. Movie below: Vegetation on a fence post, by Kathy Miller

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Stained glass quetzal at the hotel, photo by Kathy Miller


A dessert. The food was very good!

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Oak forest, by Kathy Miller

Next door to the hotel was the “Feather Garden”, with many feeders, birds and a viewing area protected from the rain.


Feathers Garden


This and two photos below: Baltimore Oriole



Acorn Woodpecker


Costa Rica’s National Bird, the Clay-colored Thrush, in the rain


This and two photos below: Flame-colored Tanager



Violetear Hummingbird


Same as above


Violetear at a very clever feeder orifice


This and two photos below: Violetear Hummingbird



Mountain Thrush


This and two photos below: Rose-breasted Grosbeak



Rufous-tailed Hummingbird


Silver-throated Tanager and baby bird begging


Silver-throated Tanager


This and photo below: Tennessee Warbler



This and photo below: Yellow-thighed Finch



Group shot, before leaving the Savegre Hotel

Map: CR#3

As we began our return to San Jose, we made a stop at the Paraiso Quetzal Lodge.




Distant mountain




Collared Redstart


Large-footed Finch, with worm. I looked for this bird after hearing scratching in the nearby shrubs


Same as above


Lesser Violetear Hummingbird


Same as above. The bird is sitting on a sign that warns against touching the birds or using flash. 



Magnificent Hummingbird


Peruvian Trumpet




This and below: Scintillant Hummingbird



This and photo below: White-throated Mountain-gem Hummingbird



Hummingbirds at feeder


Female Magnificent Hummingbird


Tree with bromeliads. This and movie below, by Kathy Miller

Movie below by Erich Guzman.

This was our last birding stop. We then returned to San Jose, and departed for the United States the next morning. See map:


Map of the complete trip:


As was the case with our prior Road Scholar birding trip to Ecuador, all of our expectations were fulfilled. An element not mentioned above was that we were provided with an informative lecture about the site, at each venue. The most entertaining lecture was provided by Mariano, the owner of the Savegre Hotel. His father and uncle had discovered the valley of the upper Rio Savegre, and had both lived in a cave under a boulder for five years, while they labored to create a farm. Ultimately, the value of the valley for ecotourism was realized, and the subsequent development of the valley for that purpose has, in my opinion, been done responsibly. The valley and region is also known as “Dota” – and Dota is, no doubt, one of the finest destinations in Costa Rica. Despite strains imposed (according to our informants) by the increasing in-migration of citizens of other Central American countries, two of which are higher taxation and a shrinking middle-class, Costa Rica remains a charming and very hospitable country. “Pura vida” is how Ticos (Costa Ricans) refer to their country and sense of themselves and their lives. It was said to us on more than one occasion.

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