Next morning we had an early wake up call from the nearby howler monkeys. Tortuguero is a wildlife enthusiast heaven. Capuchin monkeys climbed in the branches near the dock where we had morning coffee. Blue jean tree frogs jumped amongst the leaf litter next to the track. Across the river an osprey perched at the top of a tree viewing the water. Then at 5.30am we were off on our boat trip to the National Park.
Tortuguero National Park
The National park has stunning scenery and very peaceful except for bird and animal noises. As we entered the park we were greeted by a noisy group of Rainbow and Keel Billed Toucans in a tall tree next to the ranger station. A juvenile Tiger Heron stalked through the reeds as a night heron perched on a branch over the water.
Suddenly splashing in the river caught our attention. It was a dolphin leaping out of the water and swimming fast beneath the boat.
On the river banks male and female Basilisk Lizards were warming up in the early morning sunshine. A large male Iguana lay along a branch sunning himself. As it became warmer more birds and animals appeared along the river banks. Blue herons, Snowy Egrets and Little Green Herons looked for their breakfast. Turkey Vultures sat in dark silhouette against the sky. A loud crashing in the trees announced the presence of a group of Howler Monkeys. We watched as they clambered along the branches looking for food.
Anhinga – Devil or Snake Bird
Suddenly in the river an Anhinga was furiously splashing. It then came to the surface of the water with a Needle-fish speared on its bill. As we watched he tried to turn the fish to eat it. The Anhinga, with the fish still attached to his bill, clambered up on to a dead branch in the water. Frantically the bird kept trying to get the fish off his bill. Eventually he succeeded and turned the fish and gulped it down.
Further along the river a group of Mealy Parakeets were making a lot of noise from holes in a termite nest. A juvenille Blue Heron, in its white feathers walked along the waters edge. A flash of red and green/blue caught our attention. It was identified as a Slaty Tailed Trogon, which is a fairly common bird of the Caribbean coast of Costa Rica. Identified by its iridescent green/blue head, chest, back and upper tail coverts. It has a red breast and belly a yellow eye and beak. Turning around we headed back along the river where male and female Tiger Herons were starting to mate. A lone Bare Throated Tiger Heron was calling. Stretching his neck, showing beautiful colours and emitting a booming noise. Nearby 2 Tiger Heron chicks were sharing an untidy nest.
It was time to head back to the lodge for breakfast. At 10.30 a.m. we were going on a nature walk around the lodge grounds.
The Grounds of Evergreen Lodge
The gardens of the Evergreen lodge are beautiful and full of wildlife with a range of different habitats. Leaving the path we walked down to the river where hummingbirds flitted through the plants, landing fleetingly and hovering in front of the flowers. Sulphur and Blue Morph butterflies flew past whilst dragonflies hovered over flowers. Along the trunk of a tree a colony of Long Nosed Bats clung upside down to the bark.
A Montezumas Oropendulum flew overhead and perched on a nearby tree.Whilst Yellow Throated Toucans were eating the fruits from a palm tree. Spiders webs belonging to the Golden Orb and White Crab Spider linked tree branches. Leaf Cutter Ants busily trailed across the board walk carrying leaves. A Collared Aracari fed on fruit in a tree next to the track.
We stood on a bridge over a pond and looked down on a River Turtle sunning its self on a log in the water. Dragonflies flew over the water. A Caiman lay in the water as more turtles appeared around it. The national bird of Costa Rica, a Clay Coloured Thrush rustled through the leaves on the path. Nearby a Black Mandibled Toucan fed in a nearby tree. We headed back to our rooms before lunch and passed a Red Mantled Dragonlet perched on a flower.
Afternoon Boat Trip
Back on the river and heading back towards La Pavona. A Greater Kisskadee sat amongst the branches near the dock. Nearby a Tiger Heron perched stretching its wings on a branch over the water. In the river the eyes of a small Caiman peered above the water as it lay motionless. Leaving the main river we headed down a side canal with palm trees on the river banks. The scenery and the tranquility was amazing.
Suddenly there was a noise and looking back along the channel we saw a small group of Spider Monkeys. One was a mother with a youngster. As we watched she climbed up a tall tree followed by her baby. She looked across to the tree on the other bank and then leapt into the space between the two trees landing in a palm tree. Unfortunately, her baby was still in the tree on the other side. She called to him. He carefully crawled along the branch that was above the river. Reluctant to leap off he turned and went back along the branch. His mother kept calling from the other side. He tried again and got to the end of the branch but then looked across the river and once again turned back. This time he went back down the tree. The rest of the group were moving through the trees. He looked undecided but then once again went up the tree. His mother called and started moving through the palms. At last having got to the end of the branch he leapt into space and landed crashing into the leaves where he was reunited with his mother.
Back on the Main River
Moving on along the river an Osprey looked down on us searching for prey. Keel Billed Toucans perched among the branches and then turned acrobatically upside down to reach fruit. We motored past Tortuguero Hill, the remains of an ancient volcano and the highest point at 119 meters of this region of the Caribbean coast. Black and Turkey vultures soared above it rising into the sky on the thermals. A flock of Great Green Macaws flew across the river. Basilisk lizards and a juvenile Green Iguana basked along the banks. A small flock of Mangrove Swallows skimmed the water for insects. Lesser Kisskadee and a juvenile Blue Heron in its white phase perched among the vegetation. Almost hidden amongst the leaves was an Ani and a Ringed Kingfisher flew past.
After a marvelous day it was time to head back to the lodge for the evening meal. Tomorrow we were leaving and heading to Cahuita.
On to Cahuita
More Images from Tortuguero National Park