Costa Rica Birding South, Part 3

Our next destination was the Las Cruces Field Station/Wilson Botanical Garden. What a great place!

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Our room had a bird-watching balcony …

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and was named”Orchidae”, the latin name for orchids. And had an orchid by the door!

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The flowering shrub discussed before was planted along the walkway to the rooms, here attracting a Rufous-tailed Hummingbird

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Kathy, at the Orchid Room

The Botanical Garden was a delight.

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Erich leads us through the Garden, with spotting scope on shoulder. iPad photo by Kathy Miller

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ShinyLeavesKATHIMG_1039

iPad photo by Kathy Miller

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LeavesOnTreeKATH IMG_0064

iPad photo by Kathy Miller

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My version of the same tree and vine

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HeliconiaDSCN4719

This, and two photos below: Heliconias

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Kathy. Seen above and beyond is the deck that held a fruit feeder and otherwise provided  a great vantage point.

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AgoutiDSCN4731

Agouti

BambooDSCN4707

Bamboo

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Bananas

BerriesKATH IMG_1045

Palm fruit. iPad photo by Kathy Miller.

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Bougainvillea

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FernCoilDSCN4855

Giant fern

FernKATHIMG_0067

Kathy’s iPad version of same

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Forest, seen from the observation tower

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Same as above. iPad photo by Kathy Miller

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In the Garden. iPad photo by Kathy Miller

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Fragrant flower on a tree that leaned up against the dining hall porch

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Steve Miller. iPad photo by Kathy Miller

But what about the birds!?! A fruit feeder on the deck of the dining hall building attracted many birds.

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Bananaquit in bottlebrush tree

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Blue-crowned Motmot

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Blue-crowned Motmot

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Thick-billed Euphonia (front) and Blue-gray Tanager

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Blue-gray Tanager

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Buff-throated Saltator, in the rain

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Female Cherrie’s Tanager (front) and Blue-gray Tanager

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Cherrie’s Tanager

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Erich Guzman, in front of the feeder

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Female Green Honeycreeper

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Same as above

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Male Green Honeycreeper

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Same as above

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Same as above

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Golden-hooded Tanager

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Same as above

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Roadside Hawk

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Same as above

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Rufous-tailed Hummingbird in bottlebrush tree

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Silver-throated Tanager

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Speckled Tanager

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Streaked Saltator

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Thick-billed Euphonia

White-crestedCoquetteIMG_1029.jpg

White-crested Coquette Hummingbird (digiscope photo by Kathy Miller and Erich Guzman)

A side trip took a surprising turn. As we drove past a small farm, Erich saw the farmer cutting sugar cane and told Ricardo to pull over. The farmer had a sugar cane press right there, and we were treated to freshly-pressed sugar cane juice!

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The hand-made press

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Farmer and son cut and press cane

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The juice pours out and is filtered

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And we are served. Left to right: Carrie, Bill, Alice, Kathy, Pam, Cecilia and Rhonda. Not shown: Mary, Erich and Ricardo. The juice was delicious.

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Ricardo. The sugar cane is seen behind.

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I noticed the gentleman’s boats and we began to talk about where he went fishing. He then produced this photo of a huge snook, that he caught in the Rio Terraba.

Erich then asked him about getting access to a nearby pond. It turned out that his family owned a lot of property in the vicinity, which included the pond. We drove to their property, and then were led to the pond.

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But we didn’t see many waterbirds there

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Back-lit lizard on the far side of a leaf. Photo idea thanks to Bill.

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Beehive Ginger

More birds:

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Crested Guan

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Same as above

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Palm Tanager

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Collared Trogon

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Golden-olive Woodpecker

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Fiery-billed Aracari

Fiery-billedAracariDSCN4928

Same as above

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Crested Caracara, at perhaps a quarter-mile away

Map: CR#2

After two nights at the Las Cruces Field Station, we started our return to the north, and to the highest altitudes found in Costa Rica.

 

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Costa Rica Birding South, Part 2

On the morning of Day #3 we drove south from the Villa Lapas along the central Pacific Coast, heading for our next birding venue – the Esquinas Rainforest Lodge. On the way, we made a birding and lunch stop at the Hacienda Baru National Wildlife Refuge.

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Small creek

Following three photos are of the Blue Dacnis.

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Cherrie'sTanagerBaruDSCN4311

Cherrie’s Tanager

Following two photos are of the Chestnut-sided Warbler

Chestnut-sidedWarblerBaruDSCN4301Chestnut-sidedWarblerBaruDSCN4308

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Gray Hawk

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Rufous-tailed Hummingbird

The town of Dominical was just across the river from the refuge.

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The mouth of the Rio Baru, at Dominical

We were greeted to the Esquinas rainforest by a sighting of a toucan (Black-mandibled toucan).

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Toucan (Black-mandibled toucan)

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We saw many more toucans thereafter

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The lodge was gorgeous!

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View from our room. The Esquinas rainforest altitude is close to sea level.

The next morning we were greeted by the curassows, who own the grounds. The black bird is the male.

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Male and female curassows

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Female curassow

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This blue-flowered shrub is a favorite of hummingbirds, and we saw it at various venues. Charming Hummingbird.

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Butterfly at same shrub

The following four photos are of the Charming Hummingbird.

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There was a caiman in the pond

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Ginger family

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Same as above

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Golden-hooded Tanager eating palm fruits

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The Gray-necked Wood-Rail was seen all over the grounds

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Green Kingfisher at the pond

The following three photos are of heliconias.

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LotusDSCN4511

Lotus, in the pond adjacent to the lodge

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Mealy parrot

OrchidDSCN4428

Common orchid

PalmFruitDSCN4454

Palm fruit

ShinyLeafDSCN4395WhiteFlowerDSCN4533

Yellow-oliveFlycatcherDSCN4457

Yellow-olive Flycatcher

YellowFlowerDSCN4556

Band-tailedBarbthroatDSCN4435

Band-tailed Barbthroat Hummingbird

CrownedWoodnymph(F)DSCN4543

Crowned Woodnymph Hummingbird

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Same as above

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A dip in the the pool was very welcome

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Alice

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Basilisk lizard

We also did some side trips, one of which was a blistering death march, to see birds in the nearby pastures. Gotta get those lifers!

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Dickcissel

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The elegant Fork-tailed Flycatcher

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Lineated Woodpecker

Red-crownedWoodpeckerDSCN4566

Red-crowned Woodpecker

Smooth-billedAniDSCN4477

Smooth-billed Ani

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Southern Lapwing

Streak-headedWoodcreeperDSCN4481

Streak-headed Woodcreeper

Stripe-throatedHummingbirdDSCN4504

Stripe-throated Hermit Hummingbird

PearlKiteDSCN4575

Pearl Kite

After two nights at this beautiful lodge we left for the higher altitudes, which began with a steep 3000′ climb to the plateau where we would find the Las Cruces Field Station/Wilson Botanical Gardens. See map: CR#2

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Costa Rica Birding South, Part 1

A year ago, Kathy and I took a Road Scholar birding trip to Ecuador. It was fabulous! So, we decided we should do a similar trip this fall, and chose Road Scholar’s Costa Rica South offering. It was subtitled: Motmots to Quetzals, and it lived up to that billing. The itinerary would take us through the southern parts of Costa Rica, which we had seen little of on prior trips there. Those trips took place in the 1980s and 90s, and were centered on rafting. The one birding foray we made at that time was to Monteverde, in an attempt to see the Resplendent Quetzal – Costa Rica’s most famous bird. And though we tramped around for a good while on muddy trails, no go. The one vivid memory of that outing that sticks with us is the earthquake that shook our hotel one evening. When we saw the lamps suspended over the dining table begin to sway, we got right up and went outside.

Back to this trip, which didn’t begin well. Our afternoon flight from Albuquerque to Dallas was delayed, which blew our connection to San Jose, CR. We were re-routed to Los Angeles, and re-ticketed onto a Delta red-eye flight from there to San Jose. Instead of getting there at 9 PM on Nov. 1, we arrived at 7 AM the next morning, and were, thus,  just able to connect with our group prior to the scheduled departure at 9 AM for our first birding venue. That location was the Hotel Villa Lapas, and Carara National Park and the Rio Tarcoles, on the central Pacific coast. The hotel name – “lapas” – means scarlet macaw, and we were assured that we would have plenty of opportunity to see that bird.

Our group of 9 consisted of older people, which included the 88 year-old Alice. Kathy and I were the only non-retired persons represented. Some in the group were ardent birders, while others were fairly new to the game. By virtue of participating in, now, two dedicated birding trips, Kathy and I must be considered “birders”. While that might be so, however, we both do not keep life lists, which disqualifies us as serious birders, whose aim always is to add “lifers” to their life lists. My primary attraction to birding has lately become a quest to photograph birds, more than merely to check new birds off the list. Our guide, Erich Guzman, was, of course, the single most important individual in the mix. As was the case with our guide in Ecuador, Edwin, he was an exceptional individual. And, in a similar fashion to Edwin, Erich had an “eagle eye” – the ability to spot birds in dense foliage that far exceeded the rest of us; carried a Swarovski spotting scope; and had the means to play bird songs to attract them to us. What Erich added was the invitation to use our iPhones in conjunction with his spotting scope to take “digiscope” photos of birds. Such photos are usually of higher resolution than those taken by all but the most expensive DSLR cameras, equipped with long lens. Kathy took such photos on a number of occasions, and they are included in what follows. The camera I used exclusively is the Nikon Coolpix P900, a superzoom that zooms to 83X. The photographs I present here range from very sharp to considerably less so, but all serve the larger purpose of documenting as fully as possible the birds we saw, which totaled 245 species. The first two photos seen below were taken at the Villa San Ignacio, located in the San Jose suburb of Alajuela (the first night’s lodging that Kathy and I missed), and the second two beside a pond that was located along the road that we followed on our departure from Alajuela.

Clay-coloredThrush(SanJose)DSCN4051

Clay-colored Thrush, photographed at a feeder at the Villa San Ignacio, Alajuela. The National Bird.

Hoffman'sWoodpeckerDSCN4090

Hoffman’s Woodpecker, photographed at the same feeder as above

NorthernJacana(SanJose)DSCN4052

Northern Jacana

Orange-chinnedParakeet(SanJose)DSCN4059

Orange-chinned Parakeet

The Villa Lapas is set in a lush lowland rainforest, bisected by a clear creek. The grounds and the creek upstream of the hotel abounded in birds.

Fiery-billedAracarisDSCN4182

Fiery-billed Aracaris, eating palm fruits, on the hotel grounds.

Fiery-billedAracarisKATH MG_0937

Same as above, but “digiscoped” by Kathy, using Erich’s spotting scope and her iPhone. As can be seen, this method provides better resolution.

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Fiery-billed Aracaris

GreatKiskadeeDSCN4239

The Great Kiskadee Flycatcher is seen all over in Costa Rica

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Iguana

RedFlowerDSCN4261

Ginger family

RiverWavesDSCN4264

The creek, viewed from the foot bridge that connects the two areas of the hotel

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Summer Tanager

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Agouti

ChapelDSCN4276

Chapel, located on the grounds of the hotel

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Palm trunks

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White-whiskered Puffbird (female)

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White-whiskered Puffbird

White-whiskeredPuffbirdKATH IMG_0972

Same as above, digiscoped

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Bare-throated Tiger-Heron, seen along the creek

SteveKATH IMG_0997 (1)

The blogger, iPhone photo by Kathy Miller

What else did we see as we walked the path along the creek? The cryptically-colored snake seen below was passed by seven persons, including guide Erich, before it was noticed. Those seven persons walked within 18″ of the snake. It’s the very poisonous Fer de lance.

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Fer de lance

Our next destination was Carara National Park, located close by to the hotel.

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The park receives much visitation

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Trail sign

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Rufous-tailed Jacamar

Below: 3 second digiscoped movie of the same bird.

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Turquoise-browed Motmot

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Same as above, with caterpillar prey

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Turquoise-browed Motmot

ScarletMacawDSCN4204

Nesting Scarlet Macaw. Two macaws occupied this and another cavity located just above this one.

ScarletMacawKATHIMG_0946

Same as above, digiscoped

GarteredTrogonBZDSCN4255

Gartered Trogon

GarteredTrogonKathIMG_0969 (1)

Same as above, digiscoped

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Fungi. Below: Movie of Leafcutter ants

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Walking stick

Two side-trips provided these owl sightings:

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Spectacled owl

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Old growth, next to plantation of teak trees (right)

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Ferruginous Pygmy Owl

FerruginousPygmyOwlIMG_0953

Same as above, digiscoped

WhiteFlowerDSCN4221.jpg

Ginger family

Our last outing was a boat trip to the estuary and mangrove forest of the the Rio Tarcoles.

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Rio Tarcoles, upstream view

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Black-necked Stilt

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Great Egret

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Boat-billed Heron

GreenKingfisherDSCN4115

Green Kingfisher on a mangrove root

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Mangrove forest

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Mangrove Swallow

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Osprey on the left, and Wood Stork on the right. Discarded fishing net is seen in the foreground

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Roseate Spoonbill

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Same as above

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Roseate Spoonbills

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Scarlet Macaws

ScarletMacawsDSCN4084

Same as above

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Roosting Great Egrets

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Evening at the Rio Tarcoles estuary

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Looking out of the estuary to the Pacific Ocean at sunset

We departed the Villa Lapas after two nights, for a drive south along the Pacific coastline to the Esquinas Rainforest Lodge, located at Gamba. On the way, we stopped at the Baru Reserve, where we walked some of the trails and had lunch. See map:

CR#1

 

 

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A Special October Evening, 10-24-18

It rained all night, and then all day. As the sun set, the rain began to let up, producing what I call the “yellow light” and a rainbow. What makes the yellow light that one sees only in these conditions? This is how it was once explained to me:  As a rainstorm (in the west) dissipates, it may leave behind a low ceiling of clouds. This ceiling will often be close above the western horizon, and will thus create a narrow gap through which the rays of the sun will pass. That gap acts as a filter to the sun’s rays, and is responsible for the yellow color of the light. The most striking example of such I’ve ever seen was on a stormy evening as I and friends drove west from Salt Lake City, with a low ceiling of clouds over the Great Salt Lake ahead of us. This created a uniform horizontal gap, which acted as the filter. Behind us, to the east, a perfectly horizontal yellow band of filtered sunlight illuminated the base of the Wasatch Mountains.

As to rainbows, the usual case is that rainstorms move to the east over our house. As they dissipate in the evening, the sun to the west creates rainbows in the remainder of the storm to the east (although some of these photos show a rainbow more to the north).

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View to the north, of cottonwood trees and rainbow across the river from our house

Cliff&CloudDSCN3937

Extreme telephoto of cliff edge on La Mesita mesa in dispersing cloud. view to the southwest

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Apricot tree (below) and pistachio tree, by our house, view to the north

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Add cottonwood tree to the above

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Pistachio tree and rainbow, view to the west

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Cottonwoods and rainbow, across the river from our house, view to the north

p.s. a brief Google search did not turn up confirmation of what I said above about the storm filtering of sunlight. Can anyone offer confirmation or otherwise?

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California Scenes, Fall, 2018, #3

We left the Bay Area by way of Sonora Pass and then turned south on Hwy 395, which follows along the east side of the Sierras. You can’t beat the great mountain scenery that the drive down Hwy 395 brings to the eye.

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View south from the Sonora Pass road to the Emigrant Wilderness

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Leavitt Pk., from the Sonora Pass road, view to the south

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Extreme telephoto of Tower Peak, which sits on the ridge that forms the northern boundary of Yosemite National Park, view to the south

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View west from Bridgeport, of Matterhorn Pk. (left), and the Sawtooth Ridge

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Descending to Mono Lake, view to the south

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At Gull Lake, on the June Lake loop, and the cabin once owned by Kathy’s family

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Gull Lake, view to the north

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Ruddy duck, on Gull Lake

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Convict Lake and Laurel Mountain, view to the west

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Mt. Morrison looms over the south side of Convict Lake, view to the west

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On Laurel Mountain, this mountainside is identified on the topo map as the Sevehah Cliff

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Returning to Hwy 395 from Convict Lake, looking north at Mt. Ritter (center) and Banner Pk (right). The Minarets are seen on the far left.

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Wider angle view than the above, to include, on the left, the Mammoth Mountain Ski Area

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On the descent to Bishop, looking west to the Sierra crest and Pine Creek Canyon

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And looking to the east from the same spot are the White Mountains

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Looking west from Bishop, Mt. Lamarck (left) and a high snowy plateau that I once traversed, on the way to the John Muir Trail

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Looking southwest from Bishop to Mt. Emerson

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Looking west from Big Pine. I believe this is N. Palisade Pk.

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Looking west from Lone Pine to Mt. Whitney

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Mt. Whitney and Keeler Needle (center)

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Seen to the south of Mt. Whitney is Lone Pine Pk.

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Lone Pine Pk.

The Sierras begin to lose altitude as one drives south from Lone Pine, and into the desert. We spent the night in Kingman, AZ, drove through snow in Flagstaff and saw, further east, normally dry washes running bank to bank from sustained heavy rains. We arrived home that evening.

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California Scenes, Fall, 2018, #2

We drove north from Jalama Beach to the San Francisco Bay Area, where two families of our children and grandchildren reside. My son Ethan and wife Flo live in Albany, and my step-daughter Laina and family (The Levys) live in Alameda.

Ethan and I took a walk on the Albany Bulb, which is a peninsula created out of concrete from dismantled highways.

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Ethan

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The San Francisco skyline from the Albany Bulb

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Wild sunflower (?) seedheads

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Bushtit in fennel

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Sculpture at the far end of the Albany Bulb

At the Berkeley Marina.

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Sport fishing boat returns to the Berkeley Marina. They were out for salmon. The San Francisco skyline is seen in the background.

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Sailboard launch area, with the Port of Oakland seen in the distance, to the south

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California towhee

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Green heron

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Snowy egret

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This and below video: Yappy Hour at Terrace Park, Albany. Ethan, Jenny and Vinny (brown dog)

PeruvianTrumpetsAlbanyBZDSCN3718

Peruvian trumpets, Albany

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Lotus, UC-Berkeley Botanical Garden

The Levy family lives close to a great birding walk along a section of shoreline of San Francisco Bay.

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Avocet

GreaterYellowlegs?AlamedaDSCN3836

Greater yellowlegs

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Greater yellowlegs

At the end of our week’s stay, we attended a Hula dance performance that included Laina and her daughter Kara. Here is a number  with Laina.

We then started home, going by way of Sonora Pass and then down Hwy 395, along the eastern slopes of the Sierras, which will be shown in Part #3. Links to Parts #1 and #2 are found at both the top and bottom of this post

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California Scenes, Fall, 2018, #1

Kathy and I left for California in late September, first to attend the Hammerlee Family Annual Reunion at Carpinteria State Beach. As before, we had secured the Raccoon group site for five nights.

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Kara

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Kathy and kids, finding sea life in a kelp holdfast

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Some sea life found in a kelp holdfast

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Laina

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Mark and Fletcher

Sean&BenetCarpinteriaDSCN3529

Sean (left) and Benet

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Brittle star

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Sea urchin

Sheila&KidsCarpinteriaDSCN3523

L to R: Sean, Benet and Sheila

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L to R: Benet, Sheila and Sean

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Same three

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Same three

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Sheila and Sean

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Sheila

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The structure

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Benet

The beach has lots to see. The first four pix are of a Great egret in the freshwater lagoon.

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Extreme telephoto of an oil rig in the Santa Barbara Channel. The curvature of the earth hides the lowermost portion of the structure from view.

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Same, with more of the more distant rig hidden from view

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Palm and rainbow

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Pipe, in cross-section

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Channel Islands are seen across the channel

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Say’s phoebe

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The next four pix are of a Great egret and Snowy egret (smaller)

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Snowy egret

Carpinteria Beach is known for its tar seeps.

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Curlew

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Whimbrel

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Willets

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Sunset at Carpinteria State Beach

We next stopped for a night at Jalama Beach, on the way to the Bay Area. The next seven pix are of blackbirds bathing in the freshwater lagoon. One is a Redwing blackbird and the others are Brewer’s blackbirds.

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Redwing blackbird is seen on the left

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The freshwater lagoon at Jalama Beach

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Western pond turtle (?) in the lagoon

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Sanderling

The post continues with Part #2 – the San Francisco Bay Area.

 

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