Monday, February 25, 2008

Tidbits #4,5,6

Tidbit #4

Tidbit #5

Tidbit #6

And...The winner is......

Tally: RNS has 2 wins (1 more and he gets his photo choice!- Good Luck & thanx for playing!)

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Tidbits #1,2,3

Tidbit #1

Tidbit #2

Tidbit #3

You can guess at 1 or all 3! Make sure you give me the correct #.
(See previous post for rules and contest prizes.)

Monday, February 18, 2008

The Tidbit Game

O.K., so I have nothing to post, and thought maybe a game would be FUN for YOU and ME. I give YOU a tidbit of a (Hannibal) photo, and YOU tell me what it is. If you are the first correct guess, you win Gold Star recognition in the answer photo, with your name, AND... if you win 3X's, you win a real prize! (A photo of your choice, sent to you thru snailmail) SWEET!... RIGHT?

Heres how to play-

Look at picture:

Identify picture if you dare!

Click on "Comments" at the end of the post.
Under "Leave your comment", type in your guess.
Click anonymous as your identity if you DO NOT have a blogger or google account.
(If you are anonymous, leave a nickname so that anonymous don't get all the credit.)
Wait with great anticipation for the winner to be revealed!

NOTE: More than 1 contest could be going at the same time.
You can enter as many times as want.
No purchase necessary to play!
Entrants need not be present to win!
Participation is REQUIRED!
A minimum of 3 guesses posted, before winner is revealed!

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Costa Rica - Creatures, Flowers and a Weird Dessert

Back to the start of our vacation: We grabbed a cab from the airport and began our 90 minute trip to the resort.

The cabbie pulled over at a souvenier shop so that we could walk a bridge to see these crocs. There were lots of them and they were bigger than I could imagine. I've never seen crocodiles in the wild before. It was the first glimpse of this other world.

We saw a few of these Variegated Squirrels on the resort. Not seen in the picture is a wide black stripe down his back.

What we thought was a seal in the water near the shore, was actually a Sea Turtle. We saw it surface many times but this was the only snapshot I could get. I was shocked to discover it was, in fact a sea turtle, only after I printed it out.

A Leafcutter Ant highway, using this fence. We were told, that in just 1 colony, the ants outnumber all of the Costa Rican population. Thats over 4 million per colony.

A Heliconia Flower which resembles a lobsters claw, only...pretty.

I never did find out what this plant was, but I like to call it the pineapple plant.

This was my favorite flower on the resort. It is a Laurel Clockvine.

Now for the dessert...

We were eating a surprisingly good pizza at our favorite resort joint, and decided we wanted something sweet. We check the menu and see the listings of desserts. The illustration showed a banana split. Right above the picture, were the words: Ice cream, jelly, & fruit.

(For illustration purposes, I created a fake menu)
We thought, o.k., topping is jelly; fruit is banana; we are good!
We ask the waiter if we could have the ice cream, fruit, and jelly. We asked what flavors of ice cream and he told us vanilla, chocolate, and strawberry. We pointed to the picture and said we wanted 1 for the both of us to share. He looked at us funny, said he could do that, and left. He came back a few minutes later carrying our order, set it down and left. We just looked at it...

We looked at each other. We laughed until we cried. There was a scoop of vanilla ice cream along side some red jello, and fruit cocktail, all in a bowl. (My fake photo illustration above is pretty accurate!) Where did we go wrong? Jelly is not jello. Where is the banana? Where is the 3 flavors of ice cream? The language barrier just exploded. At first, we thought that maybe this is a Costa Rican dessert? Who knew? We then attempted a taste. Ummm...not good. There is no flavor explosion with this marriage. We then question the menu. We remember the listings and think that when we asked for all 3 flavors of icecream, the waiter thought all 3 desserts. I can't imagine what he thought when he was putting this concoction together. We ate what we could, so as to not offend, and laughed in between horrible bites. Oh well, it was pretty funny to us, so we left a big tip!

This post is the final in the series: Costa Rica at a Glance

Monday, February 11, 2008

Costa Rica - International Birds Caught on "Film"

This series of photos are various birds of Costa Rica photographed at Punta Leona not featured in previous posts.

Tropical Kingbird; Found near the beach on an electrical line. (I'm not completely sure of the ID-If you are, let me know)

Spotted Sandpiper in non-breeding plumage (no spots).

Black-Throated Trogon near beach. (Not sure on Trogon species ID, color matchings not typical)

Rufous Naped Wren-Very common near the bungalows, with a variety of pleasant songs.

Yellow-Headed Caracara- Found frequenting the snack shop area - It is a falcon that competes with vultures for carrion, also hunts for live prey. ( I had to search the net for this ID, was not in my CR Bird Book, mostly found in the Amazon.)

Boat-Billed Flycatcher - Found near waters edge.

Summer Tanager - Found at the beach.

Virginia Rail - Found on a trail crossing the road with 5-6 others. Later seen on the same path crossing from a tree limb above. (Was not in CR Bird Book-Breeds in Guatamala)

Next Post: Tropical Flowers and Creatures not featured in previous posts!

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Costa Rica - Day 6 at a Glance

On our last full day, we booked a tour to a private island by recommendation of another tourist. We went to Tortuga Island by way of Catamaran, which was an hour and a half boat ride.

This was an interesting old boat in the bay as we were boarding.

This beachfront was site for Costa Rica's version of "Carnivale", on the peninsula of Puntaneras.

We arrive on the beautiful beach of Tortuga, and rent chairs from a vendor. The tour included a lunch of ceviche, salad, barbeque chicken, and poundcake with pineapple sauce.

We snorkeled here, but saw nothing exciting. It was pretty much a relaxing excursion, so we were alittle disappointed with the recommendation we got.
We then booked the "nightwalk" with our previous guide "Elliot" at the resort, and set out at 6:30 p.m. We were to dress with long pants, bugspray and a flashlight. There were 11 in the group, and we piled into a van and were hauled to our start. We stopped at where our path began for ziplining. I am now dreading this. That path was all uphill, narrow, and I remember those dirt steps. Elliot gives us our safety rules, which are: Stay on the path (duh!), don't touch the leaves because there could be vine snakes (which are highly venemous), keep flashlights on the ground so you can know where you are walking, and don't make alot of noise.
The jungle air was still, the temperature was steamy, and it was as dark as dark gets. Our first attraction was a Taranchula:

Our next stop was a crab that was in the rocks:

A Scorpion:

Then we stop again and observe Leaf-Cutter Ants. Elliot gives a demonstration on how strong they are by capturing one and having it grab a long stick. It kept dropping it. He kept trying. We were sweating to death! We wanted to get on with it...He kept trying...Cuttidad noticed the ants on the path. We were standing in their highway of transport. They were starting to crawl on our pants. We didn't approve of this at all! I started marching in place, as did Cutti. Elliot tells us not to stomp, that the vibrations will cause snakes and other ants in the ground to see what the fuss is about. We just want to move on... we finally do. Cutti is swiping ants off of her left and right. I check her clothes and swipe some more as we are walking. We make sure to not step in the ant highway as we go. We spot a Tinamou (Elliot said it was like a chicken in the trees, but I don't see that similarity at all) roosting:

We also hear some rustling in the underbrush, and find a Armadillo:

As we watch him try to hide, we also are trying to spot some kinkachous in the canopy above. I didn't know what these things were, but I kept looking. We still have the "creepy crawlies" from the ants, but at least we were not standing in them now. But...something is buzzing our flashlights. No one can see it, but we can hear it. It sounds like a large housefly. Elliot confirms it. A lady protests that she just got bit by it. Elliot objects. I, all of a sudden get a sharp stinging pain in my finger, and slam my flashlight to the ground. I also yell a few selective words. Then I tell him I just got bit. Elliot searches with his flashlight, must see it , then says we need to move on, because it is an "Africanized Bee". I know exactly what that means. A Killer Bee. We all scramble out of the area. Then... a giant wasp is following us. Great! This thing was HUGE! Elliot tells us all not to move, points his snake wrangler stick in my direction, and approaches. He flicks it off my shirt, and it flies off. He then said that if that one stung us, we would definately feel that pain. It ends up on Cutti's collar, she flips it off, and wants to scream out of the jungle right then and there. We know we can't run in the dark, so we needed to stay calm. This walk could not have ended soon enough for us. We were tortured enough. We see a moth but couldn't really appreciate its beauty:

We then hear cars in the distance and are relieved it was almost over. We got out, got shuttled back to the office, got in our golfcart and vowed to never ever do a nightwalk again. We thought it would owls and bats, not bugs and enemy insects! Our last night at the resort ended kind of badly, but if that experience was all we could complain about, I was good with it. And...I have stories to tell from all the drama that occurred.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Costa Rica - Day 5 at a Glance

Our 5th day started off by calling the Pygmy Owl with no luck, then went ziplining. We got completely strapped in, and trekked up a garganchuan hill to the start of the path to the first platform. Let me tell you, just the hike was enough to kill you. It was all uphill, and then... the jungle path was again uphill with dirt steps that only King Kong could stride comfortably. My legs were about to give out. Anyway...we made it to the 1st platform, got our instructions on safety, and were off...

Ziplining is a hell of a rush! We zipped from 11 different platforms, all in various heights, lengths & speeds. We were trained in how to brake, and how to cruise at full speed.

The instructors were absolutely great! Even with limited English, they were there to have a good time, and joked with us the entire time. They wanted to make our experience the best they could, so they took over our cameras, shot us in our action, and another guy even videoed the whole thing-with OUR videocamera. They even showed us how to zip upside down!

The whole experience was about an hour and a half long and was worth every penny. ($45) We would do that again any time!

We then went to breakfast (no Monkeys) and went looking for the Toucans. It has been a tough week trying to find these guys. We spied our usual areas, then came across an area we had yet to fully see. It was in a busy part where the food shops and pool meet, just off the beaten path. We usually stayed clear of this area, because of the chaos, but... We walked up and down and caught a glimpse of 5 of them flying in to the trees. Who'd of thunk it?

For most of the time, our necks were completely crained, looking up into these tall trees, with the sun backlighting the leaves. It was also tough trying to jockey around limbs and leaves for a good shot. We managed...

We shot plenty of photos and video as a few people notice us taking pictures of something...they joined in to our bounty...

We walked away with sore necks, but at last, we were successful in finding these elusive Toucans! This one has a broken beak...

The rest of the day was going to the beach, looking for Macaws, and calling Pygmies...none worth posting at this time...

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Costa Rica - Day 4 at a Glance

The day started off as usual; we wake up to the sounds of a Pygmy Owl calling, get ready in a hurry, call the pygmy to no avail, & go to breakfast (no monkeys). After breakfast, we go to our new hotspots, check things out, roam the area, come back to the room, pack for the beach and go.

This time, we were driving, spotted a huge Iguana, & stopped. Took a few photos, and saw him acting alittle funny. He started bobbing his head at something. We then saw his attraction. Another Iguana, just about as big, was headed his way. He did the head bobbing thing too, so we knew we were in for something... The 2 greeted eachother with some hissing, then the fight began.

Each twisted and gained advantage with great wrestling moves, and were extremely quick. The bites sounded crunchy, like bones and cartilage, but both fought through eachothers injuries for at least 45 minutes.

When all was said and done, the winner claimed victory with a hissing display to my camera!

We then headed to the beach for the afternoon...

We got hungry, went to the beach snack shop, tried some ceviche for the first time, and were greeted by another family of Coatis'.

This time, there were babies that had an orange coat to them. They were quite funny, because they would steal peoples stuff from the beach, run up to where we were, and rip open their prizes. We watched them until the sun was about to set, and headed home.

We decided to go out calling for the Pygmy Owl (at dusk), and got a response. We called some more, and knew he was above us in the nearest tree. Called some more and found him. I aimed the camera, shot a few, adjusted settings, still not right, adjusted some more, and he was gone. We called some more in a different spot, heard him again, and zeroed in on his new location. Tried again, and found the tree. I kept calling, he called back, and again, I spot him. I took a few shots, they looked right, and waited for him to look down at me. He never did. He got bored with my calling and left, but of all the times I called (every night at dusk, and every morning at dawn) , and with luck, found him, I never did get him to look down ( I took a total of 7 pictures from various locations). Here is my best shot: