First bird on our estuary trip was a juvenile Little Blue Heron standing on a mangrove root.
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!
Green Heron in the mangroves. They like to hide.
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.
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.
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.
We were very close to this bird and he didn’t care.
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!
He identified it as a Streak-backed Oriole, definitely a new one for me and number 199 on my blog sidebar list of birds!
There is the streaked back.
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.
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.
Further up the estuary.
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.
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.
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.