Thursday, January 31, 2013

Continued adventures in Selva Bananito and La Selva

On Our last night in Selva Bananito we each planted a tree on the property. This will not only leave our mark in Costa Rica but also help create habitat for more wildlife. The staff were very grateful. After dinner we had a big bonfire to finish our stay at Selva Bananito.

The next morning we headed out in the army truck to our next location at La Selva. This final location is used primarily for researchers and field biologists. We saw many experiments being conducted out in the forest.

The following day we went on a guided tour through the property. We were very thrilled to see an active two toed sloth crawling through a tree to eat and hang upside down! This was the first moving sloth we'd seen on the trip. We also saw many peccaries, trogons, and lizards.

We spent the next day finishing up our journals and species lists. We explored the property both on foot and by bikes. In the afternoon we played soccer-a professional team is forming. That night we went on a guided night hike. We were excited to see a silky anteater, red eyed tree frogs and a kinkajou.

The next day we set out ready to hit the water. We went rafting down Puerto Viejo river. A very calming, scenic day where we saw many bird species. We floated down the river in just our life vests too.
The last day in La Selva was spent working on our projects. We even presented them to a couple researchers interested in our results of bird biodiversity in Costa Rica.

The time has come for our trip to end. We were all very sad to say goodbye to this wonderful country and the people we met along the way. It has been an amazing and unforgettable experience. Hasta luego Costa Rica- we'll be back!

Photos by: Dom Scaffa, Kyle McCarthy, Jen LoDico, and Keara English

Thanks for following everyone! -Jen & Dom

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Suria and Selva Bananito Adventures

We left Tiskita and headed back into a cloud forest to hotel de Suria in San Gerado de Dota. We were amazed to see how foggy it was as we drove through the clouds up the mountain. Once we arrived, we spent our days hiking the area and exploring caves. We also were able to see a male and female pair of the resplendant quetzal.

One of the days we went to a resplendant quetzal research facility. There, we were taught how the field biologists conduct their studies. After, we went to a trout farm and learned about how they save resources. We even got to take our turns fishing and ate our trout for dinner!

The last full day in San Gerado de Dota we hiked up Cerro de la Muerte, or the hill of death. A very steep climb, but well worth it. We were interested to see how the foliage changed so drastically as we climbed up to 11,000 feet in elevation.

The next day we traveled to Selva Bananito. The last hour of the drive we ditched our bus and drove up in an old army truck! Once we arrived, we immediately decided this was going to be a great spot. That night, the owner gave us a special presentation about how this ecolodge started and its importance.

The first full day we were taken out by a guide to go birding and saw over 50 species in only 2 hours! After lunch, we were taken out on another hike to explore the property and learn about the history of the land.

The next day we went on another guided hike to learn about the forest. We were showed a kerosene tree that could be lit on fire even in this humid climate. The guide showed us many plants where medicines come from and even silk web from a spider that is so strong you can pull it and it won't break. We were excited to see a hog-nosed viper and a parrot snake on our tour.

The rest of the day we went horseback riding on the property and were able to gallop. We also went tree climbing which was a fun experience for all. We were so high up the Montezuma oropendola's were at eye level.

Friday, January 18, 2013

The adventures continue in Tiskita!

Last night we went on a guided night hike. We were very lucky and excited to see the most dangerous snake in Latin America, the fer-de-lance(pictured). On the hike we also saw a red-eyed tree frog.

This morning, all the students split into groups and conducted their bird counts. We have already surpassed our goal of finding 200 different bird species!

During the day, we took advantage of the last time we would be at a beach in Costa Rica. Students swam in the ocean and relaxed on the sand.

During our class discussion, the owner of the lodge surprised us with green coconuts called pipa (pictured). Also pictured is a northern ghost bat that resides outside of one of the cabins, a red backed squirrel monkey, and a dot-winged antwren.

Pictures by: Micah Walker

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Uvita and Tiskita Adventures

After we left Monteverde, we headed over to Uvita to stay at Villas Gaia. There, we spent a lot of time relaxing by the pool and exploring the local beach. One of the days we went whale watching and snorkeling. Dolphins (pictured) swam right up to our boat! We were able to see puffer fish, starfish, parrot fish and many other tropical colored marine life.

After Uvita, we then arrived at Tiskita Jungle Ecolodge. We are staying here for four days. While on the property, we went on a guided tour by one of the lodge owners. He taught us about the forest and we saw a chestnut-mandible toucan and spectacle owls (pictured). Students were also able to explore the new beach and nearby town.

Thursday, all of the students split into their groups and conducted bird counts. Many beautiful birds were seen such as the violacious trogon and the long billed hermit. Throughout the day students observed various species of mammals including coatis, tent bats (pictured), white-faced capuchin monkeys, and red-backed squirrel monkeys (pictured). Some students spent the day on a horseback ride on the beach and into the mountains while other students ventured over to a waterfall (pictured).

Pictures by: Dom Scaffa, Jen LoDico, and Micah Walker

Friday, January 11, 2013

Monteverde Adventures

On Tuesday, we arrived at University of Georgia (UGA) Costa Rica and began exploring right away. We were taken on a guided tour of the campus and learned about the relationships of different organisms in the forest.

The following day we went to the cloud forest on another guided tour by an experienced Costa Rican naturalist. We were able to see a variety of hummingbirds, the resplendent quetzal, and coatis. This hike gave us the opportunity to see a lot of the endemic species to the area. That evening we went on a guided night hike around campus in hopes of finding reptiles, amphibians, and nocturnal mammals. We saw kinkajou, pygmy rain frogs, and a few sleeping birds.

The next morning we set out into groups to conduct bird counts in the surrounding areas of UGA; this will give us an idea of the biodiversity in the campus. Following this we went on a coffee tour of two local coffee plantations, where we had the chance to try some fresh coffee and sugar cane. Later on the group ventured on a hike to a known waterfall and enjoyed the beautiful view. The water was freezing but all had a great time swimming.

Yesterday some of the group took advantage of UGA's farm and milked the cows and learned about sustainable ways to deal with human and animal waste. During the day, students spent the day in the town of Santa Elena to do some souvenir shopping and eating at local restaurants.

Photos taken by: Jen LoDico, Dom Scaffa, Micah Walker, Dr. Kyle McCarthy