Bosque del Río Tigre
Rio Tigre Newsletter
I usually do not have much time to write about now, but we have a brief lull so I thought I would mention what has been going on this season.
We have had a GREAT season with many great groups and lots of enthusiastic birders and naturalists. The season started with more rain than usual and great temperatures but the dry season has turned out to be one of our driest although far from our hottest. Guests are still using the blankets We are praying for rain and I imagine the wildlife would love some as well.
A couple new dishes have been added to the menu. Abraham has come up with a new slightly spicy rice pilaf and a great snapper poached in white wine. AND we are now serving a super brownie and ice cream dessert.
December 21st was the Osa Christmas Bird Count. The results for the CROP( Costa Rica Osa Peninsula) circle may be viewed on this link.
I hate to just dwell on birds since there are so many other exciting things happening with mammals , amphibians and reptiles but because the majority of our northern winter guests are birders that is what comes to mind. during april June, July and August we tend to have more guests interested in general natural history.
So for the birders: Tiny hawks were seen regularly and had a nest that fledged successfully. The White-tipped Sicklebill, White-crested Coquette, Scaly-throated Leaftosser, and Uniform crake have been extremely dependable all season. Of course the cotingas, Black-cheeked Anttanager, Long-tailed Woodcreeper, Marbled Woodquail have been seen regularly throughout the season.
Actually this is the first season that the Turquoise Cotinga did not disappear for a couple of weeks. There were not many ant swarms during the dry season but now that it has started raining a bit we should be seeing more army ant activity. I miss the Bicolored Antbirds that follow them.
So birding has been good all season but I must say that although we can still find all the normal species, we have noticed a decline in numbers of birds over the recent years and we are worried. Hopefully it is only a trend. We have noticed occasional crashes in populations of amphibeans, snakes, bats, and many other species over the years. Most of the time the populations explode later on. We have observed an insect crash over the last three years so that definitately would effect the bird populations.
Yesterday, two birders ran into some river otters chasing large crayfish up at the swimming hole...a nice diversion form birding.
That's all for now
First, thanks to all the folks that came down to help with our Christmas Bird Count (CBC). With 11 participants working throughout the day, we managed to log 208 species and 1626 individual birds. That was the highest count we have ever had for a CBC. 13 additional species were added to the count week list. We had a beautiful day with no rain and a slight overcast in the morning. Probably one of the best birds of the day was beautifully perched Tiny Hawk seen by my team up on the ridge behind the lodge. After we all got back to the lodge around 5 pm, there was a wonderful pork barbecue served to all. the day was a total success. Thanks again..
Other news: Due to the prolonged and heavy rainy season, the season started off with another famine affecting the birds and mammals. The famine did not seem to be as bad as the one in 2006 but obviously the animals were hungry. It was the fist time ever that we actually had multiple species feeding on the bananas at one time. Now it seems that the forest is providing adequate food since the feeder activity has slowed down and we are seeing several species carrying nesting materials. Yesterday the Orange-collared Manakins finally started to display....very late this year as was the first morning song of the Black-cheeked Ant-Tanager which we heard for the first time about 4 days ago.
Yesterday, one of our guests was out with Abraham and saw an anteater on the Bananal Trail just a few meters behind the house. He'd had a great morning with sightings of Marbled Wood-Quail, Great Curassow, Turquise and Yellow-billed Cotingas! Last week, a family was up river anad had the pleasure of seeing a Neotropic River Otter rolling around in the sand next to the river. In all these years, I've never had a prolonged look at that animal outside of the water!
We have some new staff this year. Roger Munoz, one of the son's from the family that owns the farm up the hill behind the lodge, is working with us guiding this season. He is part of the new generation of local guides. We are lucky to have him. He has been birding for many years and has been guiding, mostly in the Park, for over 4 years now. Not only is he extremely competent with the local avifauna but since he grew up in the area he has a diverse knowledge of all local natuaral history. He has managed to complete the guiding courses necessary to get his MINAET guiding license. This is quite an accomplishment down here and takes an incredible amount of persistence.
September 7 2010
A special announcement
December 17, 2010 – Join us in helping Osa birds and the Audubon Society by participating in the annual Osa Peninsula Christmas Bird Count 2010 , a century long tradition throughout the Americas . The bird counts across the Osa on December 17th, will help in monitoring the long term health of bird populations on the Osa and all bird species detected will be added to Audubon Societies international Christmas Bird Count database. The event is organized by Osa's conservation organization Friends of the Osa with the help of participating lodges, birding experts and bird enthusiasts like yourselves. No experience required. Just bring your walking shoes and a desire to see Osa's spectacular bird life.
At Bosque del Rio Tigre, early in the morning, we will divide up into two teams to cover our area which is a bit more than a 1 km circle, but a very diverse circle. Later in the day we will head down towards the gulf to cover some of the coastal plain and eventually the small mangroves at Playa Sandalo where we always find a Mangrove Hummingbird, one of the 3 endemics of Costa Rica. Meals will be available throughout the day as usual. We will not charge for guiding during the count day but we will ask for a donation to help cover the expense of teeshirts and transportation.
Other bits of news:
June, July and August 2010, were probably the wettest we have ever had! possibly wetter than a normal October, which is usally the wettest month. A year of extremes, for sure. We spent almost the whole 3 month season hauling our supplies in from the first river crossing, about 150 meters away. The river almost reached the 10 year flood level many times and has changed its course to it's original position (the 1998 position) in front of the lodge completely eliminating the entrance road we have used for the last 12 years. As soon as the rains stop it will be no problem to make a new road......we usually have to repair it anyway every year.
But even with all the rain, our guests were able to enjoy the morning walks with little or no rain. Afternoons were mostly spent taking it easy and enjoying the sound of the rain and rushing river with an occasional walk at the end of the day, when it often cleared up for a few hours. Wildlife was especially active when the sun peaked out throughout the day.
We are in the USA right now and the lodge is closed until mid November. Our caretaker has told us that the skys are fairly clear and the river is running clear at the moment. I wonder if the rains have stopped early?
June 30 2010
First , I would like to thank all our past guests for giving us the opportunity to continue living and working on the Rio Tigre. Bosque del Rio Tigre Lodge is now in its 13th season. Its been a wonderful experience for us and hopefully for all that we have had a chance to host in the last 12 years.
So much has changed since we opened our doors. That was back in the days of fax, and a phone call involved either a ride to Puerto Jimenez or a 1.2 km walk to the other side of the village to stand in line to use a phone with the whole village listening. It's still amazing to me to be able to write and send emails from the lodge. We can even make phone calls through a satelite system, although we still do not get calls in.
There are many more cars on the Osa now and many more hotels and supporting businesses. When we started there were probably only a handful of cars and about the same amount of hotels! Last year the road was paved from Rincon to Puerto Jimenez, making access to the Osa much easier.
But thankfully the Rio Tigre and the village of Dos Brazos has not changed much. If anything it has changed for the better. 12 years ago destructive practices were the rule with heavy equipment periodically coming into the river to make access to farms for lumber extraction or to work a goldmining spot. There is now almost no lumber extraction and all goldmining is by hand. Many of the farms have either been sold to conservationists or are less active than before. We actually have more forest on the edges of the village than we did when we started.
All last season, we had a Bairds Tapir living on the property. Although we never saw it, we did find it's tracks regularly and evidence of it's feeding.....it often will knock down vegetation, especially bananas. The park guards have been attentive and have been paying special atention to our area in order to protect this Tapir from poaching. That's another thing that has changed drastically. There is much less poaching in the neighborhood. Thanks to a brilliant move by Alvaro Ugalde , while he was the head of our local conservation region, many of the poachers were hired as park guards. In the first years thier behavior did not change much but now many of them are becoming serious about thier jobs and responsibilities and are no longer hunting. It's the beginning of a long process and hopefully the next generation will look at the world through different eyes.
What has happened in the last year? Well, it was an El Nino year and the tempuratures were higher than normal, a lot higher than normal. Rainy season was very dry and we had about normal rains during the dry season. Insect activity was still low and may have effected breeding of the birds once again. We were seeing a lot less northern migrants than in previous years. We really missed our Wood Thrush who used to spend his winter hanging out around our compost pile.
Birding was as good as usual throughout the season. There were definately more owls, with the Crested Owl calling almost evey night and the Black and White, being heard regularly. The White-tipped Sicklebill populations are still growing and for the first time there was one regularly seen on the property at the top of the Bananal Trail. The Little Tinamou is still foraging next to the kitchen and brought a young one this season. It was fun watching it grow. We got some reasonable photos of the Wite-crested Coquette since it spent some time at eye level, 3 m away, feeding on the Rubiaceae behind the office. It's a shame we are such bad photographers, we could have had great photos. Manakin leks are still active. The Red-capped Manakin lek just happens to be at eye level on the Gallinazo trail and was photographed almost daily throughout the season.
There were also some special sightings of mammals. Abraham was showing a family how to pan gold one day and the mother and daughter had decided they had had enough. They were walking up to the log bridge along the river's edge and saw an ocelot, just standing on the edge of the forest. As soon as it realized it was being watched it scooted into the forest, so no one else had a chance to see it. I still have not seen a complete ocelot, only the tail end.
Puma tracks were seen often, several guests saw Tayras, and we had an endangered Wooly Opossum with it's young in a tree two meters away, at eye level, from the second story viewing platform.
Stephan our guide saw a single Collared Peccary walking down the waterfall trail and when we were out scouting for the Tapir we found lots of evidence of a group of White-lipped Peccaries in the two streams on the upriver end of the property.
The White-faced Capuchin's almost daily rounds passed behind the office and often behind the lodge. Probably the same forest corredor that has brought the Capuchins closer more regularly, has also given the Howler Monkeys more forest to roam in and we see them less frequently.
So what else is new? I have spent the last year working with local community members to start a campaign to halt proposed, extremely destructive, in river gravel mining on the major rivers on the eastern side of the Osa. There are 10 proposed concessions and one that was approved 2 years ago. The approved concession was to support the road construction and has been a disaster! These concessions have the potential to destroy the biodiversity of the whole Osa. Originally there were 12 proposed concessions, two of them, almost in our village. Thankfully those two have been halted in the early stages of the approval process. If you would like to support this fight please see our Save Osa Rivers website, www.saveosarivers.org or write to me and I will send you more information. Some guests who have heard about the concessions have written and asked if this mining is any where near the lodge. The answer is NO! Although the approved concession is on 2 km of the Rio Tigre, it is on a section down near Puerto Jimenez and about 8 km from the lodge. The only visible effect we can see so far, is a possible lacking of river shrimp (prawns). We are planning on sampling the aquatic insects this June to see what effect it has had on the different parts of the river. We will be able to compare these sample to ones we took last year and samples others took in earlier years.
Other news: The Bosque del Rio Tigre family now has two young additions. Both Jendry and Lauren spent a good portion of the season on maternity leave and now have new family members. There may be another chef in the family. Since we were desparate for staff, we decided to try Roberto, our nephew and our construction and maintenece man, on the kitchen staff and he is great at it!
Abraham has perfected his Tuna steak marinade and Tuna steaks became the favorite meal of the season. Sopa Mariscos, or seafood soup, made with coconut milk has been added to the lunch menu as a special treat. Diala has created a new lunch salad with a mango dressing and also a new dessert of carmalized pineapple with icecream.
That's all for now.
Liz and Abraham
From our 2009 Birding page:
2009 Season Highlights:
Abraham has just cut a new trail around the forest swamp. Not only does it help with frog humting but now it is easier to locate the Uniform Crake. The White-tipped Sicklebill populations have been strong in the Rio Pizote and Abraham has been able to find them on a regular basis on thier night perches. The Striped Woodhaunter that appeared close to the lodge early in the season, has decided to take up residence and its call is heard regularly along with the call of the fairly large population of Scaly-throated Leaftossers.
Last season there were some unusual sightings on the Peninsula: a pair of Tropical Screech-Owls, various sightings of Scissor-tailed Flycatcher and Southern Lapwing has now become a regular on the Osa.
March 8 2009
My Aunt and Uncle were just down to visit for the first time in 11 years. My Uncle, the web designer, made a point of letting me know that this newsletter is again a bit out dated! He's right.
Thankfully, despite the world-wide economic woes, we are having a fairly busy season. We really thought we would have a lot of time to do our field work this season.
Michael Wickens from New York state has joined us this season to help with the guiding.
He saw his first wild cat a couple of weeks ago while he was birding on the road out of the village. He is unsure as to whether it was an Ocelot or a Margay. It ran across the road at a spot where two corners of two forests meet, lucky for him, the only corredor in the immediate area.
And the Peccaries are back. About a month ago we had a group cruise through the neighborhood. It appears that they came down the river and then crossed in front of the lodge and headed up the hill behind the lodge. We were able to get the park guards on their trail the next day. The guards have been trying to follow the herds to protect them from poachers.
The populations of the endemic poison dart frog Phylobates Vittatus has increased dramatically in the stream just up from my office and in our river valley. A good thing, since their populations in the Pizote river valley have decreased substantially in the last few years.
Although late this season, we finally have seen some male White-crested Coquettes in breeding plumage. And I saw my first one ever on some trees we have planted next to the office.
There is a Tawny-winged Woodcreeper using a hole made by the Rufous-winged Woodpecker right next to the office as well. It's hard to get any work done sometimes.
Crested Owl was calling from behind the lodge two nights ago.
The Striped Wood Haunter, an unusual bird in this area, was seen at the lodge several times at the beginning of the season and I heard it just a few days ago behind my office. Just recently, due to the dry weather, the Uniform Crake has become very visible. It was so wet last season at this time, we had a hard time finding it.
Many of you have probably heard about the excessive rains we had in late November and early December. Record breakers across the country. Our river reached the 10 year high of 1998. Raging to say the least! The river wiped out the entrance road and changed its course completely. We had the Rio Grande birders here for the previous three days. What a great group! But the river started rising just as they were preparing to leave. We got them out just in time. Abraham and I just barely made it back to the lodge.
The late and heavy rains delayed the flower and fruit of many plant and trees so many bird species were seen on our feeders much later in the year than normal. And then January and February were drier than normal and we are desperate for rain right now! The drastic weather seems to have brought on a shortage of interesting insects and frogs although in the last weeks we have started seeing more insects and hearing the dry season frogs again.
We were terribly worried about the bird breeding season's success but maybe it will all work out. We have been watching the Black-cheeked Ant tanager's nesting attempts this season and so far no nest we have observed (from a great distance) have been successful. But there is a fledgling we have observed nearby. And I actually saw my first bird leaving the nest. A fledgling Rufous-tailed hummingbird took its first flight accompanied by the adult hovering along with it at a distance of about 12". It successfully made it to a tree about 4m from the nest site.
One day we left a video camera about 30 m from an unattended Ant-tanager nest and went off down the trail to wait. While we were waiting quietly, a tayra (a large Weasel) came towards us and popped over a log. He was quite surprised to see us. It was the best look I have ever had of of a Tayra. A week later the nest was destroyed....I wonder if the Tayra got the nest!
I just realized after reading my March 2007 newsletter, that the weather story was the same two seasons ago, hummmmm! And last year, 2008, it rained all through the dry season. I really want to get a weather station.....but we have no where to put it except on the roof! And electronics do not hold up long in this climate.
We have been very occupied for the last year and a half, having taken on an endangered bird monitoring/research project supported by Friends of the Osa and their partners.Last year FOO sent Dan Lebbin down to train us and set up the project. Now all our free days are spent surveying for the endangered Yellow-billed Cotingas and Black-cheeked Ant-Tanager. Last year, most of our work was concentrated on the Yellow-billed Cotinga, a range restricted species that is probably the most threatened of all the endangered species on the Osa. By the end of the season, after analyzing the data and mapping, we realized that most of their breeding season feeding grounds were totally unprotected. Not good.
This season we have been re-surveying the breeding sites, checking for new ones, and collecting more behavior data. We have also taken on the project of documenting the range and distribution of the Black-cheeked Ant-tanager, a Costa Rica endemic and also an endemic to the Golfo Dulce. While doing these two projects we are collecting data on the Mangrove hummingbird, another endangered Costa Rica endemic and the Turquoise Cotinga, a range restricted species that is classified as "threatened" . The project is on-going and results will be published in the future.
Many of our surveys must be done by boat in the mangroves which is a bit costly. Our budget this year is a bit short and any help would be greatly appreciated. For more info please check out the FOO web site http://www.osaconservation.org/EndemicBirdsTrees.html
Friends of the Osa 1731 Connecticut Ave. NW , 3rd Floor Washington , DC 20009 USA
ALSO we have just posted some super bargain rates for the "Green Season"......hopefully some of you will be able to get down and enjoy the light rains with us.
That's all for now
March 13, 2007
I've been thinking that if I wrote shorter newsletters, I may do it more often. I've been reminded several times recently that this is overdue.
It's an "el Nino" year and it's been very dry and hot since mid-January. The rainy season was unusually dry also. With this and last years famine, although I can't be sure of the exact cause nor do I have data to back up this observation but it seems that numbers of many species were low most of this season. Almost all species have been visible but less of them in many cases. I do hope this is only part of a larger cycle but .......I have to wonder..
Despite all that, some of our guides that have brought down groups have said it has been the best birding ever....I think it just may be that they are more familiar with our "spots".
Of our specialty birds, the White-crested Coquette, Yellow-billed cotinga, Orange-collared Manakin, Golden-naped Woodpecker, Uniform Crake, have been either easy or fairly easy to see. The Black-cheeked Anttanager has been more visible than usual. The Turquoise Cotinga has been being difficult. Early in the season we saw a lot of females but few males.
Abraham found the first ever recorded nest of the Black-cheeked Anttanager. He has been looking for years now, with no success. We have both staked out the birds and tried to follow them with nesting material or food for the young, but they would never let us see where they were going. He actually found several this season. The first lost the eggs after about 3 days and the second one lost the hatchlings after a day or two. But at least we know where they hide the nests! Abraham and Luis Sandoval, our guide and ornithologist for the season are going to publish a joint report in the near future.
Thankfully it has started to cool off and we had a good drenching rain yesterday. And the birds were thrilled, as well as the Howler Monkeys. What a racket they made yesterday and this morning. The birds were out bathing and singing their hearts out.
So, yesterday, we had a Russian couple who had stopped by unexpectedly and were getting ready to do the "Pizote" hike with Abraham. Anna asked me if it was possible for them to see an Anteater, and not wanting to get her hopes up I told her the truth. "we hadn't seen any on that trip all season and maybe there was a 1 in 50 chance, just maybe". Well 4 1/2 hours later they returned after seeing an anteater on the ridge, close enough for good photos. I was amazed! What luck!
We are thinking about putting together some packages for the Herpetologist, especially those enamored with amphibians, for the wetter seasons. If there are any of you who have some ideas about this let us know.
April 30, 2006
Another successful season is winding down and we are starting to think about spring migration in the States. We will be closing on the 22nd of April and will re-open on the 27th of May with special reduced rates so more travelers can get a chance to enjoy our biologically diverse corner of the world.
This was a fun year for us and one of the most relaxed. Although we were close to full most of the season we found we had more time to spend with our guests. The new satellite communication system has helped a lot, eliminating the need to drive to Puerto Jimenez every day. We had help with the guiding from Scott Olmstead, starting in January through mid-March. He was an excellent guide and he brought a new enthusiasm for tropical nature study to the lodge. Although birding is his first passion, I found him studying Herpetology, Botany and Butterflies during his free time. He renewed our interest in butterflies and we have actually started a butterfly list this year. Scott also helped me get together the new site list of birds that I have been promising for over a year now! It should get posted on the site sometime very soon. We now have a list of 358 bird species that we have seen on the Peninsula, the majority within a 30 minute walking distance of the lodge. The "porch" list is up to 237 species. It is really a list of birds seen while sitting in the lodge. If we included the birds seen in the yard that were not visible from the "porch" it would be much larger.
We participated ,again in the Osa Bird Count on Dec. 27th. This year, the young birders from the local bird club, we sponsor, helped us out. Despite the short day, it was a rainy afternoon, we found 158 species in an area no more than a kilometer from the lodge.
Weather was generally cooler this year than previous years due to the light rains that lasted into January and then started again in Mid-March. Since 1998 we have been having very dry, rainless dry seasons and I had forgotten what a normal dry season was like in our neighborhood. This season it dripped, drizzled or rained a few minutes almost every day for much of the season keeping things cooler and greener, the way a rainforest should be. The night time frog walks were good all through the dry season and promise to get even better now that it has started to rain a little more in the evenings.
It's been an unusual and exciting season with both bird and mammal activity showing great variations from previous years. As some of you may know, we had a severe rainy season last year and there were many deaths of both birds and mammals in the National park and surrounding forest. Most, who study these animals feel that it was caused by famine. We had Squirrel Monkeys, who we have never fed and who have seen our banana feeders for many years without bothering with them, coming everyday to raid the feeders. Although we debated with ourselves and several local university biologists whether we should feed them in this extreme case, we decided not to put out more bananas until they were gone because we did not want to encourage the behavior. Toucans and Fiery-billed Aracaris were around all day in November and December. Normally, in previous years they would only visit once a day for those months when fruit is scarce but this season they were spending the whole day at the feeders. Other signs of famine were, evidence of Kinkajous and Coatis in the kitchen and on the feeders at night and bats feeding at the hummingbird feeders, leaving them empty in the morning. One day, Yorleny, one of our staff, saw a Greater Grison almost inside the house nosing around under the banana feeder. Grison, a type of weasel,seem to be one of our more timid animals.
The White-tipped Sicklebill, a type of hermit hummingbird, held off nesting until mid April this year (they normally start in February) and we noticed a lot less nests of other birds as well. Our Orange-collared Manakins, whom have nested around the lodge for years have not managed to get further than a day or two on the nest. Normally by this time we have had at least two nests in which the young have fledged or almost fledged before becoming prey for other animals. We suspect that food sources were greatly reduced. In November, as the rainy season came to a close, our forest floor was completely washed off with almost no leaf litter. That must have had an impact on insect populations as well as litter frogs, snakes and seeds. Many trees did not fruit or flower this season. As the dry season progressed and fruits, flowers and insects appeared, these unusual behaviors stopped for the most part.
We had a lot of unusual sightings of migrant birds this year. In the beginning of the season there were several sightings of Peregrine Falcons, a Yellow-bellied Sapsucker, Canada Warbler and a Chuck- will's-widow. In mid January we were seeing Orchard Orioles and Ruby-throated Hummingbirds near La Palma on the road to Rincon and in March we had Gray Catbird and Bay-breasted Warblers on the hill behind the lodge. Wood Thrushes were everywhere all season.
There were some interesting local species that showed up, as well, this season. Lots of Veraguan Mangos near la Palma. We had not seen the Mango for several years in our area. Also along the main coastal road, large flocks of Yellow-bellied Seedeaters and Rufous-breasted Seedeaters which have been difficult to find for years. The Black-cowled Oriole, a predominately Caribbean species, was in the yard in November and December. One of our guests found a Green-fronted Lancebill which is a type of hummingbird with an incredibly long bill. Abraham had reported this bird several times in the last few years, I was still skeptical but with 5 sightings now, I guess I am going to have to acknowledge it's presence here. Another new bird for the Osa List would be the Grey-breasted Crake in a lagoon on the entrance road, that Kevin Easley, from Costa Rica Gateway, reported hearing. We found a Striped Wood-haunter also, with a burrow nest, along the side of the river Pizote(according to Stiles and Skutch nest is undescribed but that was a lot of years ago). Unfortunately an early rain caused the burrow to collapse and we are not sure who survived. The highlight of the season was the Tropical Screech Owl, Abraham and two of our guests ran into, in the forest just behind the lodge. They were watching a Slaty-tailed Trogon swooping back and forth in an agitated manner and Abraham's binoculars came across the small owl! We have never encountered nor heard a small owl in our area before. Oh, and Abraham saw a Harpy Eagle, near the Rincon Bridge! A guest thought he was recording it on video but as it turned out, he had hit the pause button instead of the record button. I guess they were pretty excited at the moment!
And once more, I missed the cat! We had 4 days off in the beginning of March and had decided to go to La Amistat International Park, in the mountains on the border of Panama and Costa Rica. While we were away, our caretaker saw a Puma standing about 15 meters from the front of the lodge. We have still been seeing the tracks of our Ocelot but no sightings this season. Tayras, Kinkajous, Sloths, Otters and all the species of monkeys were seen fairly regularly this season. One morning our guests mentioned hearing a sound during the night, like someone walking in place on the gravel outside the lodge. Apparently a few of them were up shining flashlights outside making each other nervous, each thinking the flashlight was an intruder. At first I was puzzled until Abraham came out and we asked him what would make that sound. He knew immediately, of course. An Anteater tearing apart a termite nest! We looked and found that the termite nest near the kitchen was partially destroyed. A few days later Abraham woke up to a racket in the yard and found two Anteaters fighting in front of the lodge.
I guess that's all for now
May 25, 2005
Has anyone noticed that I never wrote an update since November 2004? Yes, we have been very busy! It was our best season yet. Lot's of birders from Holland and the US. Where do I start?
We finished our first phase of the interpretive nature trail and now have a trail map with 16 of the tree species marked and described. With over 750 species of trees on the Osa and a good many of those on our property, we have a long way to go.
In the beginning of December, Bosque del Rio Tigre Lodge sponsored the formation of "Grupo Onitologico de Osa" with the idea of giving the local folks, especially the children,an opportunity to participate in a natural history related activity. It has been a great success. Amazingly, even the youngest, a five year old, can get a scope on a bird and identify it rapidly, now. On days that we have been too occupied to go out with the group, we have arranged other activities for them. Silvia, a biologist from UCR, gave them a Rainforest Ecology walk and Carlos, from the new butterfly farm in Dos Brazos, run by SASI, hosted them one morning and explained the life cycles of butterfly's. We could not have done it without help from Terry Moore, of Leica Camera USA, who donated a box of 20 some used binoculars. Of course these will fill with mold in a year, so we will be looking for more donations in the future.
The Christmas Bird Count was a another success. Noel, from Sunny Travel in San Isidro, brought two of his friends to Tigre to help us out. Also, two of the members of the recently formed Bird Club joined the effort. We divided up into two teams, one to cover the lodge property and the other team birded the Rio Pizote and Rio Tigre, up river. We never managed to get very far from the lodge this year, never more than 2 km away, yet the total count came to 186. Just on the lodge property, with one team of 3, we had counted 148 species by noon. It seems that the diversity in the area is increasing although I feel we are loosing some of our open-land species due to increased forest regeneration locally.
Highlights of the season: Several Ocelot sightings, one just 20 meters behind the lodge where a Little Tinamou was sitting quietly across the trail from the cat. I suppose Abraham and the guests ruined the cats dinner! One of the local Tayra, was seen several afternoons across the river, standing on his hind legs, sniffing in our direction. The Howler Monkeys have been spending more of their time on our side of the ridge, waking us up too early in the morning. Thank goodness it's only a few days a week. In January, some of our guests came across evidence of a Tapir up on the ridge across the river. We should start seeing a lot more mammal activity locally since the poaching in our neighborhood has almost stopped completely thanks to MINAE, the branch of government that administers the park and forestry reserve, hiring the local hunters for park guards.
Birding was good, as usual this year. We now have a local, visible Faciated Tiger Heron, often a difficult bird to see and new to our neighborhood. The Black-cheeked Anttanagers were everywhere this year, making our job easier, although we still have not found a nest, which as far as I know, is still unrecorded. We had a view of our first White-crested Coquette nest. It was found by Ulisis Gallo, a past guide of ours. The Uniform Crake was around again this year and we had the pleasure of watching two of them together one day. hopefully we'll have some young around. Interestingly, we had many sightings of the Cedar Waxwing and Yellow-billed Cuckoo but the other migrants were lighter than usual. The Mangrove Cuckoo showed up on our property several times also. We have heard that it is wandering a bit more than before or so it seems.
The one area we noticed to be light this year was the raptors. No idea what we can blame it on but other than a great sighting of a perched Black-Hawk Eagle, I can't think of anything else in that department which was exceptional. Of course, we had the normal residents around but even fewer sighting of them than usual.
Green Season is upon us and we are expecting lots of professors and students this year. It's a great time for frogs as well as all the other wildlife, which generally tends to be more active with the light rains. There is a species of glass frog we discovered last year which may not be described yet. We are hoping he makes an appearance again at his regular spot so we can get a chance to study him further. Hope you can come join us on our "frogging" expeditions in the next few months.
Until next time
What a homecoming! Two days ago I flew into puerto Jimenez, loaded down with supplies for the season. After a brief stop at the local pulpuria (small food store), we headed out to Tigre. As usual the first hour was spent shuffling bags across the river and carrying them the 100 meters to the lodge. We usually do not fix the entrance road until sometime in December when we are sure we have seen the last of the heavy rains. Maribel served us a wonderful lunch (I've really missed the great meals) and I dove into the unpacking project.
It's a good thing the first thing out of the bags were my binoculars. So, I'm taking a pile of stuff up to the office and storage room near the main lodge and I hear the telltale calls of a mixed flock moving through. The next 20 minutes brought some of the most amazing birding. After picking out some of the normal tanagers, Golden-hooded, Bay-headed, White-shouldered, Grey-headed and Cherries, my binoculars fell upon a Blue Dacnis, Spotted-crowned Euphonia, then an Eye-ringed Flatbill, lesser Greenlet and several more species of Flycatchers. Next came some surprises, Yellow-crowned Tyrannulet and a Tropical Parula, both very unusual around this area and in both cases, they were only our second sightings around the lodge. As many of you who have visited us know, the Scarlet Macaws are common here but do not usually land in the front yard. Well, during this incredible mixed flocks passing, a pair came down into one of our Balsas as if to greet me. And then within 5 minutes of each other, the Bairds, Slaty-tail and Violaceous Trogons flew by and perched within 20 yards of me. I left the office and returned to the main lodge and aside from the usual 6 or 7 species of hummingbirds on the feeders, There were Blue-black Grosbeaks, Black-cheeked Anttanagers and Black-bellied Wrens, which are very hard to get a good look at.Oh, and I forgot to mention the Fiery-billed Aracari on the banana feeder .I was very content to be home and felt as if all my friends had come to greet me. 42 species in a matter of 20 minutes.
And then yesterday, after a morning of fixing the freezer and several minor electrical problems, I went out birding with a guide we are considering hiring for the season. It was the middle of the day and we had about 30 minutes to bird before a hard rain hit. We were graced by another great flock. Buff-throated Foliage-gleaner, some Woodcreepers, Dotted-winged Antwren, Chestnut-backed Antbird, Sulfer-rumped Flycatcher and Golden-crowned Spadebill. Again there were two very unusual birds for this location, Yellow-bellied Tyrannulet and Ruddy-tailed Flycatcher. The Flycatcher was my first sighting near the lodge. So just before the rain hit, a stirring in the brush brought a group of Marbled Wood Quail to our attention. This was a life bird for the guide.
Yes, It's good to be home! And if any of you are wondering what the birding is like in November and December...........
That's all for now, there's painting to be done.
Hope to see you on the Rio Tigre this season.
Oct 3, 2004
The lodge is now closed until November 6th and Abraham and I are in the U.S. getting ready for the Audubon Cape May Autumn Weekend which is held the last weekend in October. We have a booth at the Bird Show sponsored by the Cape May Bird Observatory. If anyone is in the area that weekend, it's worth stopping by. There is a great raptor show that goes on all weekend in the Convention Center.
Of interest in the birding department, we joined the Costa Rica Bird Club on a Pelagic trip off the Peninsula de Osa out of Golfito. As far as we know, this has not been done before, at least not any time recently. We all felt like novices and have a lot more to learn about those sea wandering birds. Some definite identifications were Sabines Gull, absolutely beautiful, Wedge-Rumped Storm-Petrel, Black Storm-Petrel, Audubon's Shearwater, Black Tern, Bridled Tern, Brown Noddy, Brown Booby, and Brown Pelican. In addition, there was possibly a Black-vented Shearwater which would be a new listing for Costa Rica. We need to do the trip again!
Just before I left for the States, we had the dubious pleasure of watching a Tiny Hawk take a Cherries Tanager right in front of the lodge. He sat there quite a while waiting for the prey to still, giving everyone an opportunity to really study him. He/she eventually took off with the prey leading us to believe there was an active nest nearby. I am waiting for some photos one of our guests took of the event.
Our new troop of Howler Monkeys spent most of the season just up the hill from the lodge feeding on some of the wild fruits and waking us up every morning. The White-faced Monkeys and Kinkajous were also spending a lot of time nearby, more than usual.
Frogging was spectacular this year. Lots of rain, more than the past few years, inspired the amphibians in their mating rituals. On the Boat-billed Heron Trail, we have a swamp that was full of Hyla Microcephalus, Hyla Ebbracata, Hyla Rosenbergi along with several other occasional species and a few small caiman enjoying the abundant food. We also found our first Snapping Turtle in that swamp. Along the edge of the temporary river that runs in front of the Cabina, we found a Glass Frog that may be an species or subspecies not previously described. He and his well-guarded eggs disappeared before we had a chance to thoroughly study him. All we needed to do was pick him up once more and double-check a few features on the ventral side but we didn't want to disturb him while he was guarding the eggs. I guess we would make lousy researchers.
In the reservation department, we are pleased to see that we are getting many reservations for the new season, Nov-April, and almost twice as many as we had this time last year. Lot's of birding groups. So it's a good idea to contact us as soon as possible if you are planning a visit. For those of you thinking of a holiday season vacation, we still have some days open at the end of December.
Enough for now.
First we want to thank all our guests and associates for making our Dec.2003-April 2004 high season the best ever. We really appreciate all the referrals since most of our guests arrive at our door via "word of mouth". It's almost impossible to convey the special and unique service we provide in our promotions and on the web site. Thanks again!
Of interest to the birders, there have been 13-14 new species added to our list this season including the Uniform Crake which caused a lot of excitement. A very rare bird to see. It's been hanging around the Boat-billed Heron lagoon about 5 minutes from the lodge. During migration I got my first good look at a Grey-cheeked Thrush. I imagine they have been here before but we've missed them. Several of our guests managed to get good photos of the White-crested Coquette and the White-tipped Sicklebill this year.
I've been in the States for the last month and Abraham returned to Costa Rica two weeks ago to get ready for the "Green Season". Reservations are starting to come in and it looks like we will have company for most of the season. Many folks ask me about the weather this time of year. This is my most favorite time of year. The almost daily rain keeps the wildlife active and the air cool. There are a few weeks of pure sun sometime during this period. But normally, the mornings are generally sunny and the afternoon or night rain may be for a few minutes or a few hours but almost never will it rain all day. It's much cooler than most of the East Coast in the summer. Because of the 12-13 hour days and the light overcast for part of the afternoon the earth never gets a chance to really warm up. And the frogs are in heaven. We will do a lot of frogging in the next 3 months so bring your strong flashlights. We can often find glass frogs (you can see their organs if you turn them upside down), tink frogs (very small and yellow with a loud call), Smoky Jungle Frog (huge with bright red eyes), Red-eyed Tree Frog, and many more species.
And before I close this letter and get back to packing for my return to Costa Rica, I wanted to mention that Abraham just called me and said that there was another Harpy Eagle sighting over in the next river valley about 3-4 km away. Some local birders have been out looking but ...no luck yet. We're anxiously waiting for him/her to make an appearance in the Tigre River Valley.
Feb. 11, 2004
We've had quite a busy season and this is the first chance I've had to sit down and get some news out to everyone. The dry season is upon us although we have had a bit of light rain for several minutes every few days. All through December and early January it was fairly wet and we were using our rubber boots for most of our walks but the trails have dried out now and hiking shoes will work for most excursions. Of course there is still the river, which has dropped to between ankle and calf deep continues to get the shoes wet so any future guests will still want to pack some sturdy rugged-soled sandals.
First I'll give you some highlights of the last few months. We had our first Christmas bird count on the peninsula this year. Unfortunately we only had 5 experienced birders participating and 15 helpers or new birders. But we still managed to count just under 300 species. There were some new additions to the Osa list including the Elegant Euphonia (previously known as the Blue-hooded Euphonia) and the Black-crested Coquette. The Elegant Euphonia is a middle and high elevation species and as far as I know has never been recorded in lower elevations. I know of 4 locations where it was found this year near the coast. For our part at Bosque del Rio Tigre, we came up with 166 species. We even managed to get some Marbled Wood Quail and their hatchlings on the list just before dark. Apparently there were various sightings of the Yellow-billed Cotinga ( a very rare endemic species only found in SW Costa Rica and a bit of adjoining Panama) even though the count area did not include their main stronghold in Rincon. Any one interested in helping out with the count next year, please let us know.
The folks at the ranger station just down the road have reported a Harpy Eagle sighting not far from here. They have also found tracks of the Baird's Tapir and various cats on the edge of the park and in the reserva nearby. A Jaguar was seen a week ago down near the beach directly east of the lodge in this river valley. I wonder if it is the same one we've been seeing.
The Tiny Hawk is still hanging around one of our favorite hotspots which used to be good for tanagers, honeycreepers and hummingbirds. Although we enjoy seeing the Tiny Hawk, he/she is making the other species weary.
The Orange-collared Manakin lek is larger than last year and there are 3 manakins with "dance floors" that are very visible from our viewing spot. They have put on some great shows this year!
We are in the height of the nesting season at the moment. We have still not found an example of the nest of the Black-cheeked Anttanager, which supposedly has never been recorded although we don't know if someone has seen one since Stiles and Skutch did their book. We have at least one nesting pair, we believe, but like most nesting birds they are very secretive. For those hoping to see this species, the good news is that they are coming to the bananas every day. We have found two nests of the White-tipped Sicklebill, the hummingbird with the strongly decurved beak. They are extremely difficult to see except when nesting. There are several hummingbird nests around the lodge. The Bronzy Hermit has some rather large nestlings and a very slow building Charming Hummingbird (previously known as the Beryl-crowned) is taking her time building a nest next to the cabina. There seems to be an explosion of this species this year, many more than usual. We found our first Bluethroated Goldentail nest this year....well, Abraham found it. He spent several days with a hummingbird photographer and came up with 15 hummingbird nests. His "eyes" still amaze me!
At the lagoon, we have at least four Boat-billed Heron nests, although we have not taken the time to find them all. Both the Baird's and Black-throated Trogons started making nests in some dead trees near the lodge. Unfortunately , I think they decided there was too much activity here and have given up on the location. The Double-toothed Kites started a nest in the same spot as last year but abandoned it quickly, probably because there was an iguana sitting nearby waiting for the eggs. Actually I've never seen an iguana eat eggs but everyone tells me they do. We've already seen many nests lost or abandoned this year. Some sources say that there is an 80% average nest failure rate in the tropics. That seems about right to me.
Some new species for our list include the Louisiana Waterthrush, Greenish Elaenia, Elegant Euphonia and the Black-chested Hawk. The latter we had seen before but we were not absolutly certain of our identification since they were not previously recorded down here.
I guess that's all for now
December 11, 2003
We are having heavier rains than usual for this time of year which is frustrating our efforts to get ready for the holidays. We are expecting a full house this year. Rains in December are not terribly unusual for the Osa. They are expected to stop within the next week or so. There are definitely signs of dryer times coming soon.
I like this time of year. Every morning a new bird adds his song to the morning chorus. This is the first sign of the new breeding season.
December 27th we will be participating in the first Christmas Bird Count to be held on the Peninsula de Osa. Some of our guests have arranged their holiday plans just to participate in this event.
Our future interpretive nature trail is coming along. It's definitely a slow process. Eduardo, one of our researchers has been tagging and identifying the trees and has one of our trails mapped out on the computer. Now we have to get it into a form our guests can use. I guess that will have to wait until after the holidays.
The Kinkajous are still spending their evenings out back in the Cecropia trees and it looks like the Howler Monkeys will be making the forest behind the house part of their regular territory. The troop of Squirrel Monkeys is larger than ever and has been passing by every few days.
More Jaguar sightings: Our cuidor saw a Jaguar cross the river beach right in front of our lodge a few days before Abraham arrived in the beginning of November.
There is a Tiny Hawk that has been hunting near one of our favorite birding spots. We can see him every morning but unfortunately he is keeping the mixed flocks of tanagers and honeycreepers away, Although he has not managed to greatly disturb the many species of hummingbirds that have been feeding on the blooming Guavas nearby.
The Turquoise Cotinga is being seen regularly across the river. We can usually get it in the scope from the lodge.
Well, we better get back to varnishing...the sun is going to shine today.
Liz and Abraham
September 6 2003
What's new at Bosque Del Rio Tigre?
First, I want to thank all our guests, friends and visitors for helping make the last season successful. It was wonderful having had the opportunity to share our "first love", the Osa Rainforest with so many of you. And we can keep on doing it due to your support!
WE NOW HAVE HOT WATER SHOWERS! I guess all our old friends are saying "it's about time".
We've just started photographing our birds with our new digital camera and our spotting scope. Some of our photos and some of our guest's photos may be found on the "Gallery" Page. Birding has been great, as usual. We've found a great tree for White-crested Coquettes in April. There was a family of White-necked Puffbirds hanging around on the hill behind the lodge and the Double-toothed Kite fledged two young ones this year.....and we didn't have our new camera to photograph them. They were precious, sitting on their branch next to the nest just 45-50 meters away.
Abraham has been getting creative in the kitchen again. He's come up with a great new ginger chicken dish. I was never a big fan of squid until Abraham tried his hand at it..WOW. Abraham and Diala, whom some of you know, together invented a fabulous baked rice pudding. We've been sending the recipe out on request. Of course we are still making our homemade banana marmalade and banana cake. As you might expect, our guests are still raving about Abraham's talents in the kitchen. To see some of his menu please check out the "Menu" page.
It's web site updating time. Anyone who knows of or has a web site that is compatible with our's please let us know so we may add it to our "Links" page.
We think the drought is finally over. We've had a lot of rain since May and the frogs have been loving it. It's been hard to sleep with all the frog racket. Red-eyed Tree Frogs can be found perched every several meters surrounding the house. Some of our guests had the pleasure of watching a pair mating one night. We also had a glass frog guarding his egg masses in various stages of development for several weeks. He and his precious eggs disappeared one day and we haven't the slightest idea what happened.
The Kinkajous have been regular night visitors for the last few months. One seems to favor a Cecropia tree on the corner of the lodge. We've just figured out how to use the telescope to see them clearly at night.
Some guests that were here in April, with Wildside Birding Tours, had the pleasure of seeing a young Jaguar crossing the road right in front of their taxi. That was a first for Abraham also. Jaguars are extremely shy creatures and almost impossible to see in the wild. We see many tracks, scat and kills of these beasts but seeing this cat is a very special treat.
Next season we will be offering a special package trip to the interior of the park in search of the Baird's Tapir, Crocodiles, Peccaries, Sharks and many of the larger "game" birds. A special for the birders will be the Spectacled Antpitta. The trip will involve a charter flight to the Sirena Ranger Station early in the morning. For those of you who are hardy enough to tolerate "roughing it", we can stay over night. For the rest of you, we fly out mid afternoon.
That's all for now
Liz and Abraham