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Baby Great Potoo!

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

As big wet flumpy snowflakes pelt down on disconsolate Ohio goldfinches, I am headed back to Costa Rica, and I'm taking you with me. 

To La Selva, where a bold young collared peccary is grinding away on some hard tropical nut. Crounch crounch crounch crounch.

Where spider monkeys swing and leap through the trees, me open-mouthed below. The first thing you know of monkeys is a great swishing and crashing of leaves, a raining of things down from their foraging. They are hard to see and harder to follow. Being a monkey researcher would be taxing, as they can travel so much better and faster by brachiation than we can by walking. 

We watched this mother spider gather herself for a great leap across open air--with her baby, eyes squinched shut, hanging on for dear life. I was happy with this shot, with her brave bony fingers leading the way, her tail a question mark. They made it, to answer the question.

We had another afternoon of messing around at Selva Verde before we headed up to the Central Highlands. I got a bad shot of violet-headed hummingbird on vervain, my only sighting of the trip. Identifiable, at least. Hummer photos get better, I promise. Much better.

A striped-breasted wren flirted with me in the dark forest. There are so many wrens in Costa Rica, many of them giving sweet echoes of our beloved Carolina. Sweet Caroline DAH DAH DAH

We watched a green heron stalking frogs and dragonflies in a small pond.

And torch ginger drew the hermit hummingbirds in a little botanical garden across the road. It was bursting with beauty and color. Just the tonic I need today.

Soon we piled in our nice bus and headed up into the highlands. 

Our fabbo guide Mario would look out the bus window and spot itty bitty torrent tyrants in places like this. It's all about knowing what to expect. Spotting tiny birds atop rocks only added to his highly mysterious wizardy aura.

The crested guans perched near a rural mailbox were a bit easier to discern, as they flew across the road in front of the bus. 

I had two turkey gobblers fly across the highway in Maryland in much the same way on my trip back from New England yesterday. Always a treat to see them fly. Cracids are not turkeys by a long shot, but they're reminiscent. And they too have fabulous wattles!

Costa Rica is just so beautiful, with those mountains giving it relief both in a topographic and climatic sense. You can go up high and get cool, or go down to the lowlands and sweat a bit. Naturally, I liked the highlands. But the lowlands birds, ohhh. Well worth the schvitzing.

Mario holds his cards close to his chest. We were looking for something in the highlands on our way to Bosque de Paz, a private sanctuary/ecolodge. I didn't know what...

But we were happy to scan and watch whatever flew by. Finally he made a couple of cellphone calls and tightened up the directions a bit, and we drove a little farther up the road and came upon a big sign that read, "POTOO."

Which, when you've been fuddling around for about twenty minutes looking for something (you know not what), was about the funniest thing we'd ever seen. Oh. This must be what we were looking for.

It didn't take Mario long to spot the bird just a settin' up in the huge tree behind the sign. The lovely family who owns the land are delighted to share their potoo with anyone who comes by. Hence the sign.

We admired it and took digiscoped shots as well as this telephoto shot. What we DID NOT know was that this potoo was at that very moment incubating an egg she had laid on the bare branch. Mario went back with another group after I was back home, and sent me this phonescoped image.

Baby Great Potoo. Everybody squee together!!
Photo by Mario Cordoba

I have to say, being able to shoot images back and forth via email to my new friend Mario is the bomb. We've been puzzling out some bug and bat ID's that way. 

He knew I'd fall apart when I saw this photo, so he sent it. And I did. And now you can fall apart, too.


Love, love these shots. Keep 'em coming. Jim and Nancy CR 2/14

Posted by Jim Palmer April 15, 2014 at 8:13 AM

Any potoo takes up a big part of the bucket on my bucket list. Aren't those the ones that have a little crinkle in their eyelid that allows them to keep an eye on you even when their eyes are closed?

Great photos and a truly wonderful journey. I hadn't ever heard of a potoo before, and now I am in love!

Wow! Just wow!

Posted by April 15, 2014 at 5:56 PM

Yep, falling apart over the Potoo. Fabulous.

A single egg laid on the branch, who could imagine! Oh birds, you angels of courage and perseverance, delicate but strong beyond belief. Go, girl.

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I am falling totally apart!! That Mario! That Potoo! That fuzzy Potoo baby! I am so glad you posted this photo, along with the revisitation to parts of Costa Rica's beauty. MWAH!!

Perfectly lovely. All of it! And your new Costa Rican pal! How wonderful to make that connection.

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