The bus ride from Caño Negro to Selva Verde wasn’t very long and we arrived at the lodge well before lunch. Along the way, Roger spotted a number of swallows perched along a power line. He asked Dago to stop so we could look at them closely. One species was very large compared to the others—easily identified as a Gray-breasted Martin. The group discussed the possibilities for the other species for some time. Roger saw Southern Rough-winged Swallows, which were moderately easy to identify because of their overall drabness, and Cliff Swallows. I’m very familiar with Cliff Swallows and I just couldn’t see any of the classic field marks. The group studied those birds for about 10 minutes when suddenly, the light forehead (visor) field mark of the Cliff Swallow became obvious on several of the birds. Roger had been confident of his identification but he still had given us the time to come to that conclusion ourselves. I certainly appreciated that.
We drove up to the porte cochère of Selva Verde and filed off the bus. After a brief orientation to the property and our afternoon, we headed to our rooms along the extensive series of covered walkways lined with lovely plantings and feeders attracting birds. Oh, yes—we were definitely in the rainforest now! El Río Sarapiquí cuts through the grounds—a truly lovely setting. We stayed in the River Lodge rooms. Our room was one of 4 that shared walls; we could hear our neighbors when we were in the bathroom (the bathrooms shared an inner wall). But otherwise, noise was not a problem. I noted that again, we had no air conditioning or television. (How much more of a pampered Norteamericano could I be?) Not having a television was turning out to be a godsend—I had 2 good novels on my Kindle and I was thoroughly enjoying them. Also, the holiday from the world news was just delightful. Given it was quite hot and humid at mid-day, though, I worried that sleeping might be a challenge with only a ceiling fan. However, the room was 79o when we hit the hay and switched off the ceiling fan around 10 p.m. and was 71o early the next morning. No problema. Below, left to right, are photos of our cluster of rooms, the open-air lounge under the dining room, and the stairs leading to the dining room (which overlooks the Sarapiquí).
The grounds were extensive, with many trails available from the lodge. They provided us with a map, which I needed just to be able to find our room. There were informative signs along the passageway, but a good map never hurts.
Lunch was served in the ample dining room overlooking the river. The buffet-style food was plentiful, fresh, and delicious. I especially appreciated the signs by the main dishes—in both Spanish and English. I’ll take every opportunity to brush up on my Spanish nouns. The main dishes and desserts (postres) were served by the staff while the side dishes, salads, and drinks were self-serve.
As usual, we had a mid-day break. Z and I headed back out to explore the grounds. We found a long bridge that crossed the Río Sarapiquí (left). You can’t see my white knuckles here. It wasn’t a rickety suspension bridge by any means, but the decking of the bridge had lattice-type openings so you could clearly see the river below you. As a bit of an acrophobic person, I held on to my anxiety enough to take a quick look at the beautiful river both up- and downstream.
We ran into Roger at the patio by the river. Z wanted to ask him a question; I begged him to give the poor man a break. However, Roger leapt to his feet and asked we wanted to go exploring with him. No reason to look that gift horse in the mouth! The birds were rather quiet, but Roger pointed out several small frog species and a lone howler monkey, which allowed us to get a few photos before ambling away through the trees.
The rest of the group convened and we did some more exploring of areas further from the lodge. A lovely female golden orb weaver spider posed for photos at the education center. Before we crossed the busy road, Roger pointed out a tree full of Montezuma Oropendola nests in what I think Roger said was an almond tree (right—digiscoped). Across the road, we tracked down more birds (none photographable, barely visible only through serious, focused effort amidst the dense foliage). One lovely little frog posed for us on a leaf (lower left). Not knowing much about amphibians, I think this is the Caribbean race of the Red-eyed Tree Frog. First of all, it’s a common and widespread frog in Costa Rica. Second, there aren’t many green frogs with red irises in Costa Rica. Third, if you zoom in on the full-resolution photo (which you, dear reader, cannot do), you can see blue on the insides of the upper “arms” and legs. The only other likely species is the Parachuting Red-eyed Tree Frog, which is pretty uncommon. (I usually figure that the uncommon doesn’t happen to me very often.) Plus, that species wouldn’t have blue on the inner “arms.” I think. (Feel free to correct me if you know more than that!) Even more impressive than the birds were the various species of plants. Not being much of a plant person, I don’t know what any of these are. But they sure are pretty.
After a delicious dinner, we got our “marching orders” for the next day. Roger’s home is in nearby Puerto Viejo de Sarapaquí (not to be confused with Puerto Viejo de la Talamanca, on the Caribbean coast—don’t be fooled!) and he was going to spend the night with his family. We had an early morning ahead of us—leaving the lodge by 5:30, stopping to pick Roger up on the way, and birding the entrance road to the the La Selva Biological Station of the Organization for Tropical Studies (OTS) for an hour before heading in for breakfast there. After breakfast, Roger would turn us over to an OTS guide since an OTS staff person had to accompany any group on the grounds.
Click here to read about our day at La Selva.