Monday, September 10, 2012

Best day of surveys ever!

It was the usual early start for the bird survey team: Up at the crack of dawn for breakfast, ready to leave base by 5am. Today’s survey was on Sierpe Viejo, and this morning, our efforts were to be rewarded in spectacular style!

We had barely left the ranger station before we spotted something swimming parallel to our boat close to the bank. We could hardly believe our eyes when we realised it was a tapir! We cut the engine and floated as the tapir swam alongside us before crossing to the other side of the canal right in front of our boat. What an amazing view of such a rarely seen and magnificent animal! Baird’s Tapir are an endangered species, and the largest animal that resides in the forests here at Jalova. Although we sometimes find their footprints, it is incredibly unusual and lucky to get to see one like this.

Swimming Tapir

Still buzzing from the tapir sighting, we climbed aboard the canoe to begin the survey not knowing what further treats awaited us. Partway through the survey we spotted the elusive Least Bittern, one of the most seldom recorded birds in our canal survey. So rare in fact, that the last time one was recorded was over two years ago!

Thinking this day really couldn’t get any better, we continued on to the end of the survey and what should we find awaiting us there but the enigmatic and beautiful Agami Heron! Much talked of, but rarely seen, the Agami has taken on a certain mystique. Yet nothing could have prepared us for how stunning and elegant it was, as we saw it for the first time.

Riding back in the boat, still filled with the excitement of the morning’s sightings, we saw dozens of Swallow-tailed Kites flying back and forth across the canal almost the whole way back. These striking birds have to be one of the most graceful and attractive of all raptors found here in Costa Rica, and seeing so many was quite a sight to behold!

Back at base, people could hardly believe our morning’s news, and everyone was wondering if our luck would hold out for the afternoon’s surveys. In fact it did: we were fortunate enough to see a tamandua at very close range. The Northern Tamandua is a tree-dwelling species of anteater that is seen here only very occasionally, so we were thrilled to have such a long and clear view of one as it clambered through the branches right above our heads.

Northern Tamandua 

More disbelief ensued as we reported our continued run of luck back at base and we reflected upon what had to be one of the best days of surveying ever!

-    -  Leo, Field Staff