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.
An ancient, gentle landscape, untouched by the overpowering forces of glaciation. Since the British Mountains arose in the Tertiary Period, only erosion has shaped the rounded summits and smooth slopes, broad flood plains, and fluvial and bedrock terraces.
Parks describes the Firth in terms of four regions. The first, which we did not visit, is the Aufeis Reach which provides much of the flow in the river in summer. Aufeis is water that trickles up from the ground and freezes in layers. We would see a lot of it further downstream, but we landed in the Mountain Reach where it had all melted.
The terrain throughout the Firth makes for easy hiking, but because the river changes course from year to year, it may not be possible to repeat a hike you did on an earlier trip.
The landscape is perhaps more dramatic in its history than visually. Over the millennia, rain, wind, freeze-thaw, and gravity have weathered the slopes, exposing the bedrock and moving bits of it downhill to form bedrock terraces, just as the river, in cutting through the earth, has left behind fluvial terraces.
Compare a typical scene from the Canadian Rockies.
The Rockies are much older than the British Mountains, but because of recent glaciation, erosion has had little time to wear down the rock. Note also the hanging valleys, some of which still hold glaciers.
Another feature which one does not see in glaciated mountains is tors, which are rocky outcroppings on lower slopes and ridges.
Life on the river can be lazy and comfortable or absolutely miserable, depending on what the weather gods dictate.
Campsites are wherever you want to put in and are generally welcoming and scenic.
Every party camps at Wolf Tors and on each of my trips we have spent two nights there.
Of course, the Firth has moods. On my third trip we were less fortunate.
One day, I may do a post on the travels of my little Hilleberg Jannu tent. It’s been through a lot and has never failed me.
After Wolf Tors, we entered the Canyon Reach and some exciting rapids. That’s for the next post.
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.
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.