Sometimes you have to brag a little. This photo of a red-eyed tree frog in Costa Rica was selected by Natural Habitat Adventures in their “Wildlife Photo of the Day” competition. I’ve entered photos in the past, but this is the first time I’ve won.
With a few days remaining before I leave for a blissful two weeks of internet-free snowshoeing in the Canadian Rockies, I’ll add another post or two on my trip to Costa Rica. The big birds are easy to identify; the small stuff will take a lot longer.
The Toucan tribe is almost as colourful as the macaws, and we were fortunate to see several species. The Emerald Toucanet posed regally for us.
There’s nothing regal about the others.
Although “Kill Bill” tried.
But this fellow didn’t.
For a regal-sounding name, nothing beats the Montezuma Oropendola. And he’s handsome enough to carry the name.
And of course, we need a parrot.
The remaining bird almost didn’t make it into this category; I think the red legs saved it.
I’ll give him one more chance to show off.
Sometimes I get lucky. The macaws flew only once before retiring to the trees where it was cooler. I set my Lumix FZ1000 to 400 z00m, aimed skyward, fired a burst, and hoped. When I cropped the specks in the frame, I discovered that the camera had captured their magnificent flight.
Macaws are clowns. It’s impossible to take them seriously, but their beauty is impossible to ignore.
We spent a long time with these birds, which are quite tame because they are raised and fed in this location.
The bird we all hoped to see, of course, was the elusive quetzal. They hide deep in the trees, usually obscured by branches and almost always in a dark place. We were fortunate to see several and follow them until we managed to get some clear shots.
More to come from my trip to Costa Rica. There are big birds, small birds and a lot of creatures that aren’t birds, enough material for quite a few posts.
I promise to finish my blogs on the Firth River as soon as I return from two weeks of snowshoeing in the Canadian Rockies. But I just got back from an eight-day photo tour of Costa Rica and have to share some of the delights. A great many places have learned that by putting out a feeder or even hanging some flowers from a branch will attract hummingbirds and tourists. It would have been nice to capture the birds at random in the bush, but feeders make photography so much easier. Below are my favourites from three locations.
Eleven days. Ivvavik Nation Park in the Yukon. Ten thousand square km of wilderness north of the Arctic Circle. No roads, no inhabitants. A unique river that escaped the glaciers that scoured and scraped across Canada over the past two million years. Just us. Three rafts carrying people who love being the only humans in a place that has remained virtually unchanged since our species first appeared on the continent.
It begins with a bush plane that drops us off in a pleasant meadow. It ends on a lonely spit of land by the Beaufort Sea.
I’ve rafted the Firth three times with Nahanni River Adventures. I’d like to do it again before I die. It’s that magical.
I’ll have several posts about the river, using photos from two of my trips (my computer ate everything from my second journey). Below is a sampling.
I don’t like cities, although I live in one and appreciate the amenities it offers. I don’t pretend to know Yellowknife, but I like it. It’s the capital of the Northwest Territories and its only city.
Four days between rafting trips gave me time to do laundry, plan a couple of hikes (mosquitoes quickly suggested a different itinerary) and visit the old town, which was a pleasant 30 minute walk from my hotel. First Nations, ravens, bedrock, quirky buildings, and Great Slave Lake: those are the images I remember. But even more, I remember how everyone I met while walking smiled and said “Hello.” That doesn’t happen in my city, where people seem afraid to look you in the eye.
From my hotel, I could see the lake in the distance, a generous swatch of the huge northern sky, and one of the brightly coloured buildings that are plentiful in places like Yellowknife, Whitehorse and Inuvik, but sadly lacking in Canadian cities farther to the south. When snow covers the ground for much of the year, what’s wrong with some blue, red, green, purple and yellow to break the monotony?
The historic old part of the city is especially colourful, with new beauty every few steps.
Quirky houses are everywhere.
But the real beauty of Yellowknife is the lake.
I never did the hikes I planned. Just walking around the city, chatting with the friendly locals, including some who were down on their luck but no less friendly, was enough for this visit.
Will I be back? Of course. The North is a magnet that keeps reeling me in. And this trip, which began on the Nahanni, was not at an end. From Yellowknife I flew to Inuvik and a rafting trip on the Firth. That’s for future posts.
Most of the flowers I saw were old friends from the Rockies: death camas, potentilla, lousewort, asters, bog rosemary, and reindeer lichen. Lady slippers occur there as well, but the beautiful Mackenzie orchid (a version of Cypripedum guttatum) thrives only in the mist of Virginia Falls. At least I recognized it sufficiently to call it a lady slipper.
The following pretty bloom was a real puzzler.
I spent a long time searching the internet in vain for this one. Fortunately, one of our guides was a trained botanist and came to my rescue a few days ago. Its common name is northern groundcone, and it’s a parasite.
The final plant oddity isn’t really unusual; I just had not encountered it before. Plus, it wasn’t fully in bloom. This time, Ben Gadd’s wonderful Handbook of the Canadian Rockies provided the answer, as it usually does for anything in the Boreal forest.
It’s another orchid. No leaves. It feeds on dead plant matter with a little help from fungal friends.
We didn’t see a lot of wildlife, but it was there.
A couple more sky pictures. The clouds were endlessly fascinating.
And finally, here is what the Nahanni would look like today if the mountains had not risen up around it. It still has its curves and oxbows, but they are far less obvious as they flow through deep canyons.
That’s all from the Nahanni. The next posts will deal with the rest of my summer holiday: Yellowknife and the Firth River.