Category Archives: Uncategorized

A new warbler

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Catching up with Costa Rica photos!

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There’s that volcano, out there somewhere.

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Raccoon-like coatis just off the deck at Arenal Observatory Lodge.

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Chestnut-sided Warblers were in town for the winter.

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A common bird of second growth and scrubby forests, the Chestnut-sided Warbler is distinctive in appearance. No other warbler combines a greenish-yellow cap, a white breast, and reddish streaks down the sides.

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Capuchin monkey overhead.

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The volcano was recently active.

Two more new birds

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Melodious Blackbirds at the fruit feeder trees at Arenal Observatory Lodge.

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The Melodious Blackbird is a rather unique and vociferous all black icterid of Mexico and Central America. It has a relatively thick and long bill, but most noticeable is that the legs and feet look a size too big on this mid-sized blackbird.

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Arenal Volcano stayed hidden behind clouds during our visit.

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Inside an observation tower we found a small, strikingly-colored bird resting on the floor. It may have flown in an open window and hit another window or couldn’t find its way out. It seemed fine. And what a great close up look!

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Figured out later it was a Green Honeycreeper.

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Very attractive small tanager of humid tropical lowlands. Found in humid evergreen forest edges, plantations, and gardens; at times with mixed-species feeding flocks of honeycreepers and euphonias. Often in pairs, feeding at all levels in fruiting trees and bushes. Note the short, curved bill. Males are a unique green-blue color with black hood and a banana yellow beak. Female resembles female Red-legged Honeycreeper but is larger, brighter, uniform green, with yellow lower bill and grayish legs.

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Tiny little thing. It made it out the window and away into the tropical forest before we left.

Golden-hooded Tanagers

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More Costa Rica birds from our trip in January.

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We were at the Arenal Observatory Lodge when we spotted these Golden-hooded Tanagers.

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The Golden-hooded Tanager (Tangara larvata) is a neotropical species that inhabits humid forest and forest edges.

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Gorgeous colors on this petite banana-eater!

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The tanagers comprise the bird family Thraupidae, in the order Passeriformes. The family has an American distribution. The Thraupidae are the second-largest family of birds and represent about 4% of all avian species and 12% of the Neotropical birds.

Amazilia tzacatl

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This little jewel of a bird was in a garden at the Arenal Observatory Lodge, in Costa Rica.

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Rufous-tailed Hummingbirds were all over and easy to see, as they are bold and territorial.

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The food of this species is nectar, taken from a variety of flowers, including Heliconias and bananas. Like other hummingbirds, it also takes small insects as an essential source of protein. Rufous-tailed hummingbirds are very aggressive, and defend flowers and shrubs in their feeding territories. They are dominant over most other hummingbirds.

Breakfast bird club

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Great Curassow pair on the grounds of the Volcano Lodge, Hotel & Thermal Experience near Arenal Volcano in Costa Rica.

Very large game bird of tropical forest, eliminated from most areas by hunting. Rarely found except in protected parks or very remote areas. Usually seen on the forest floor, singly or in small groups, but also feeds in trees. Males often sing from high in canopy: song is a very low-pitched, almost subliminal, booming sound. Not likely to be confused if seen well. Both sexes have distinctive curly crest. Female plumage is variable: some have bold barring, others have darker and mostly unbarred plumage.

 

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Finally got photos of the Orange-chinned Parakeet. I keep seeing them fly over in small flocks.

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Small, fast-flying parakeet of humid lowlands on the Pacific slope. Favors forest patches and fairly open country with hedges and tall trees, including towns and villages. Usually seen in pairs or small flocks; associates readily at fruiting and flowering trees with much larger and longer-tailed Orange-fronted Parakeet. Flight is distinctively bounding, not direct like larger parakeets. Plumage is green overall with bronzy shoulders; small orange chin patch is very hard to see.

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The feeding station was very active this morning. Crested Guan pauses for his portrait.

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Crimson-collared Tanager appears.

The Crimson-collared Tanager is beautiful and easily identified black and red bird with a strikingly pale bill that is endemic to Middle America, where it is found from southeast Mexico south to Panama.

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Fruit lovers.

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So many species in one spot.

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Parakeet banana face.

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Clay-colored Thrush, Blue-gray Tanagers, Palm Tanagers and a parakeet.

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Yellow-throated Euphonia on the scene.

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Tiny finch of tropical lowlands and foothills, mainly in humid areas. Found in forest canopy, adjacent clearings with trees, gardens.

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Palm Tanager and Greyish Saltator.

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Montezuma Oropendola is a large member of the blackbird and oriole family. We have seen a lot of them here in the Arenal region.

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I think that’s a female Scarlet-rumped Tanager.

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Crested Guan has a nice mohawk.

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Tiny crest – we have seen these little sparrows all around.

The Rufous-collard Sparrow is a ubiquitous resident of lowland and montane scrub from Mexico south to Tierra del Fuego.  Rufous-collared Sparrows have a gray head with two broad black crown stripes and a blackish line through the eye, prominent rufous collar, rufescent upperparts streaked black and white underparts with black patches on either side of the chest.  The sparrows are very tolerant to human presence, and are a common sight in settlements across South America.  Rufous-collard Sparrows are often encountered hopping on open ground as they forage for seeds and insects or singing from a  prominent perch on a shrub or rock.

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The Scarlet-rumped female among the breakfast crowd.

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I tinkered with camera settings and I’m happy with today’s photos. Still a lot to learn!

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Rainforest feast.

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Birds small and large.

“I was happy” … watching birds

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Greyish Saltator and a couple of Palm Tanagers at the feeding station near our breakfast area at the lodge yesterday morning. Our table was closest to the birds.

The greyish saltator (Saltator coerulescens) is a seed-eating songbird that is widespread in the tropical Americas. Traditionally placed in the cardinal family (Cardinalidae), the saltators actually seem to be closer to the tanagers (Thraupidae). In El Salvador, it is well known as dichosofui after the “elaborate” version of its call, which sounds like a drawn-out ¡dichoso fui!, Spanish for “I was happy!”

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Blue-gray Tanager looks bluer next to its Palm Tanager relatives.

The Palm Tanager is one of the most widespread and familiar birds of humid lowland forests of the neotropics, from Nicaragua south to southern Brazil. The Palm Tanager is similar in many ways to the Blue-gray Tanager (Thraupis episcopus), although the Palm Tanager is less likely to colonize urban centers, as do Blue-gray Tanagers. Palm Tanagers are common at forest borders, but also occur in the canopy of the interior of forest. As the name suggests, Palm Tanagersoften are associated with palm trees, but by no means are they restricted to living in palms. Their diet is roughly equally balanced between fruit and arthropods.

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This is a Gray-headed Chachalaca, a member of the guan family of “jungle turkey” birds.

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The Gray-headed Chachalaca is a resident of Central America from Eastern Honduras south to northwest Colombia. Like most species of chachalaca, the Gray-headed Chachalaca is plain in coloration. Bright chestnut primaries, conspicuous in flight, distinguish the Gray-headed Chachalaca from the similar Plain Chachalaca (Ortalis vetula). Gray-headed Chachalacas are largely arboreal and forage in groups of 6 to 12, only occasionally venturing to the ground. These loud birds have a varied diet consisting of fruits such as the spikes of guarumo trees, guavas and guara fruits as well as leaves and sometimes insects. Inhabitants of tangled thickets and brushy second growth woodland, these birds are common throughout most of their range.

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Bananas, nom nom.

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Palms and Blue-grays sharing papaya.

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Scarlet-rumped Tanagers appear on the scene.

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Fairly common in humid tropical lowlands. Favors evergreen forest edges, plantations, and verdant second growth, such as areas along roadsides. Forages mainly at low to middle levels often in fairly noisy small groups. Male is unmistakable if seen clearly: velvety black with a blinding scarlet rump. Female is very different: note distinctive bluish-white bill, tawny rump, and grayish head.

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Crested Guan, another “jungle turkey.”

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Chachalaca.

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A different saltator, the Buff-throated.

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Chachalaca, I just like to say the name.

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The buff-throated saltator (Saltator maximus) is a seed-eating bird. Traditionally placed in the cardinal family (Cardinalidae), it actually seems to be closer to the tanagers (Thraupidae). It breeds from southeastern Mexico to western Ecuador and northeastern Brazil.

This is the type species of Saltator. Consequently, it and its closest allies would retain the genus name when this apparently polyphyletic group is eventually split up.

The buff-throated saltator is on average 20 cm (7.9 in) long and weighs 42–52 g (1.5–1.8 oz). The adult has a slate-grey head with a white supercilium and a greenish crown. The upperparts are olive green, the underparts are grey becoming buff on the lower belly, and the throat is buff, edged with black.

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Our old friend the Clay-colored Thrush.

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Banana time.

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Good side view of the Buff-throated Saltator.

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The female of the Scarlet-rumped Tanager looks completely different!

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I note the Scarlet-rumped is eating seeds of the papaya rather than fruit.

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Palm and Blue-gray Tanagers feast.

Baltimore, do you know where your orioles are?

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Orange and black caught my eye outside the door of our lodge.

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It’s January. Baltimore, do you know where your orioles are?

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Medium- to long-distance migrant. Baltimore Orioles spend summer and winter in entirely different ranges. From early April to late May, flocks arrive in eastern and central North America to breed from Louisiana through central Canada. They start to leave as early as July for wintering grounds in Florida, the Caribbean, Central America, and the northern tip of South America.

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New bird! It’s called a Scarlet-rumped Tanager, for obvious reasons.

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We walked the grounds of our lodge after a 3-and-half hour drive from Tamarindo on the coast up into the mountains. It was lush and beautiful. Then we had a delicious dinner, soaked in the thermal hot spring pools, and went to our lovely rooms.

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This hummingbird knew I was there watching it. I had help on Facebook’s “What’s This Bird” identifying it as a Rufous-tailed Hummingbird.

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The name makes sense.

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The Rufous-tailed Hummingbird is a medium-sized hummingbird. It has a distinctly rufous-colored tail, from which its named is derived, and a bright pink bill. Like other hummingbirds, it feeds on nectar and small insects. It can be highly territorial over feeding areas. The Rufous-tailed Hummingbird is perhaps the most common species of hummingbird at forest edge and in gardens and cultivated areas from southern Mexico south to northwestern South America.

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Preening.

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Beautiful little bird.

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Fan palm fruiting.

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Tropical Kingbird rests on a rooftop.

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An extremely common and widespread bird of the American tropics, the Tropical Kingbird barely reaches the United States in south Texas and southern Arizona.

More birds tomorrow, I’m sure!

Jacana and more

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Oystercatchers on Playa Brasilito.

For the first time on this blog I am using someone else’s photos to share the birds I saw. The four of us old friends vacationing together went for walks on three different beaches two days ago and I didn’t have my camera. David kindly shared some of his great photos with me.

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Such a unique bird.

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Orange-fronted Parakeets nibbling flowers.

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The most numerous parrots on the Pacific Slope of Central America, the Orange-fronted Parakeet is found from Western Mexico south to Costa Rica. Primarily colored a dull green, the Orange-fronted Parakeet has an orange-peach forehead and lores, dull blue mid-crown, olive-brown throat and breast, yellow green belly and blue flight feathers. These parakeets inhabit a variety of habitats including forest edge, deciduous woodland, Pacific swamp forest, savanna, arid thorn scrub and even cow pastures and urban areas. These birds feed primarily on fruits and flowers, but outside of the breeding season, large flocks have been known to cause damage to maize and ripening bananas.

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Yum yum, flowers.

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Hey, new bird!

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I think it’s a Northern Jacana. Two were walking and wading around in a muddy pond just behind Playa Brasilito.

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The northern jacana or northern jaçana (Jacana spinosa) is a wader which is a resident breeder from coastal Mexico to western Panama, and on Cuba, Jamaica and Hispaniola. It sometimes breeds in Texas, United States, and has also been recorded on several occasions as a vagrant in Arizona. The jacanas are a group of wetland birds, which are identifiable by their huge feet and claws which enable them to walk on floating vegetation in the shallow lakes that are their preferred habitat. They are found worldwide within the tropical zone. In Jamaica this bird is also known as the ‘Jesus bird’, as it appears to walk on water.

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Bird #201 for me.

My 200th blogged bird

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In late afternoons and early evenings here in Tamarindo, strange birds with long forked tails come out to feed and play.

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These are the Scissor-tailed Flycatchers. These photos make them my 200th bird!

The scissor-tailed flycatcher (Tyrannus forficatus), also known as the Texas bird-of-paradise and swallow-tailed flycatcher, is a long-tailed bird of the genus Tyrannus, whose members are collectively referred to as kingbirds. The kingbirds are a group of large insectivorous (insect-eating) birds in the tyrant flycatcher (Tyrannidae) family. The scissor-tailed flycatcher is found in North and Central America.

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Adult birds have pale gray heads and upper parts, light underparts, salmon-pink flanks and undertail coverts, and dark gray wings. Axillars and patch on underwing coverts are red.[2] Their extremely long, forked tails, which are black on top and white on the underside, are characteristic and unmistakable.

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Marvelous!

More: Scissor-tailed Flycatcher at Cornell Lab of Ornithology Neotropical Birds Online

Exploring a Costan Rican estuary by boat

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First bird on our estuary trip was a juvenile Little Blue Heron standing on a mangrove root.

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We took a boat tour up the river that flows into the ocean between Tamarindo and Playa Grande, Costa Rica. We walked to the boat launch from our condo.

The salt and brackish estuary is part of Las Baulas National Park. Our boat and guide were part of Discover Tamarindo tour company. The four of us paid $25 U.S. each for an afternoon tour that lasted a bit longer than the scheduled two hours and was educational, enlightening and relaxing too.

And I got some bird photos!

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Green Heron in the mangroves. They like to hide.

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Snowy Egret intent on something in the water below. Our guide Juan Carlos told us all about the mangrove trees (7 different kinds in Costa Rica, compared to our three kinds in Florida) and the estuary and its importance to fish and wildlife in the region.

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This is a Spotted Sandpiper.

Though you may think of the beach as the best place to see a sandpiper, look for Spotted Sandpipers alone or in pairs along the shores of lakes, rivers, and streams. Once in flight, watch for their stuttering wingbeats, or look for them teetering along rocky banks or logs.

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This Yellow-crowned Night Heron was sleepy that afternoon. Juan Carlos said he was sunbathing to heat his feathers and kill parasites – something many birds do.

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Awake now.

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We were very close to this bird and he didn’t care.

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Juan Carlos spotted an oriole in a tree on the riverbank. He was expert at whistling different bird calls and getting them to appear – what a skill!

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He identified it as a Streak-backed Oriole, definitely a new one for me and number 199 on my blog sidebar list of birds!

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There is the streaked back.

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Audubon Field Guide…

Dry tropical forests, from northwestern Mexico to Costa Rica, are the usual haunts of this colorful oriole. The bird is a rare stray into the Southwest, mostly southern Arizona and southern California.

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Icterus pustulatus is in the Blackbird and Oriole family.

Icterids make up a family (Icteridae) of small- to medium-sized, often colorful, New-World passerine birds. Most species have black as a predominant plumage color, often enlivened by yellow, orange or red. The species in the family vary widely in size, shape, behavior and coloration. The name, meaning “jaundiced ones” (from the prominent yellow feathers of many species) comes from the Ancient Greek ikteros via the Latin ictericus. This group includes the New World blackbirds, New World orioles, the bobolink, meadowlarks, grackles, cowbirds, oropendolas and caciques.

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Further up the estuary.

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Juan Carlos nosed the boat onto a dirt bank and we walked a short way into the dry forest to see Howler Monkeys. They are the only type of monkey that can live in this region that is so dry half the year because they can use the water they get from the leaves they eat.

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This one was rubbing his chin on the tree… scratching an itch maybe?!

Here is a map of western Costa Rica showing the location of Tamarindo. We flew in to Liberia airport and rented a car. Our trip up the estuary was two days ago. Yesterday we explored, walked and swam on beaches north of Tamarindo – Playa Grande, Playa Brasilito, Playa Conchal. We drove through Playa Flamingo and up to Playa Catalinas before we turned to go back to our own vacation beach. Beautiful area.

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Boat launch area. We didn’t see crocodiles but they are there. They relocate the largest ones to another part of the park with fewer tourists and surfers!

There are numerous tour operators. We were very happy with Discover Tamarindo.