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Getaway Weekend and Bird Watching Pt 2

July 22nd, 2007

q2.jpgI was so tempted to go back and change my last post promising Part 2 for the next day… but I figured someone would bust me in about two minutes… so here is PART TWO. Sorry for the delay… my BLOG was not displaying properly and I chose to update it before posting again. Not sure if this was necessary as most of my readers get updates by email or by RSS… but it makes for a good excuse.

On we go…. Part 2

So after a white-knuckle trip down the side of the mountain, we arrive safely at Savegre Mountain Hotel. I promptly attempt to register at the garage. A patient campasino informs me that guests normally register in the hotel lobby, and directs me to that location approximately 40 feet behind me. I try to come up with something clever to explain why I am trying to register in the garage, but I am suffering from some sort of stress thing, so I just get back in the car and drive the 40 feet. I have no idea why I did this, except it seemed important at the time to make a showing that I was not a total idiot.

HummingbirdGetting out of the car, the first thing that hits you as you step out of the car is the hummingbirds. It is not that the hummingbirds are rare here… they are not. But never are you going to see maybe 300 of them within 10 feet of you. Now I know why there are so few in my back yard. They are all here, and that 300 number pales when you learn there are 4-5 more locations where they are congregating around feeders in equal numbers. I took a bunch of crummy pictures, but if you want to see them, click here.

We check in without further delay and are directed to our cabin, a spacious thing with a ceiling about 50 feet above the floor. The reason for this becomes clear when I build a fire in the fireplace only to discover that Ticos may not fully grasp the concept of a vent or of drafting. Our cabin fills with smoke, so we decide to take walk.

There are numerous trails where you can see an enormous amount of wildlife. Wildlife here means birds as the other wildlife, like the monkeys, have all died years ago… most from falling out of trees laughing at gringos building fires in the cabins.

One of the trails (senderos) is about 25 KM long (about 16 miles). We give that one a pass. Anything that long requires a motor vehicle or a thinner person.

On the way, I am told that there exists a tree where the Quetzals come to chow down on avocados. I am also told I must arise early in the morning at first like in order to catch them on film. I decide this would be cool, so I make plans for the next morning if I have not passes on due to smoke inhalation.

The smoke has cleared from the cabin, so ML and I return to await arrival of friends Ray and wife Patricia. Ray is the one who discovered this place and I must admit… he hit gold. The Rio Savegre area and h0tel simply sucks the stress right out of you. Normally, it takes me 2-3 days to relax, but for some reason, this is happening in minutes.

R and P show up with a supply of munchies and various beverages all of which contain alcohol. As it is now raining, we spend time in front of the cabin allowing nature and the Seagrams to do their thing.


There is only one meal plan here… all meals included. This is, of course, because there are no restaurants withing 200 vertical miles. We head over to the restaurant coincidentally located 45 feet in front of the garage, and are treated to a large buffet containing the usual Tico fare of rice, beans, fish, chicken, funny meat, and tiramasu. While this restaurant will never win any awards for fine cuisine, it is certainly quite acceptable… acceptable enough that I make 2-3 return visits.

There is no nightlife here. You are expected to commune with nature then go to bed. We decide this is OK so we all head off to our cabins. A small surprise is that it is now cold! I mean REALLY cold… like 40 something. Blankets are not going to be enough so I decide to build another fire. We open all the windows and I do my thing.

So after deciding to sleep on the floor…

The Quetzal!

QuetzalOK, morning arrives and I am off camera in hand to capture a photo of the evasive, reclusive and ever resplendent Quetzal.

I clump my way up a short trail to the Quetzal tree. Now I have no idea why I would think there was not already Quetzal IN that tree, but I do know I have no future whatever as a wildlife photographer. As I draw near, a brilliant flurry of blue, red, and green blasts out of the Quetzal tree and disappears into the forest.


Now I have no idea why I would think there was not already ANOTHER Quetzal in that tree, but now I am SURE have no future whatever as a wildlife photographer. As I draw closer, another brilliant flurry of blue, red, and green blasts out of the Quetzal tree and disappears into the forest.

(Bad word.. much worse than “Nuts!”)

QuetzalOk… perhaps the pros find a semi secluded place from which to watch the damned tree and try to remain silent? I do this, and after maybe 15 minutes that feels like 15 hours, a Quetzal flies back to the tree and promptly hides on the opposite side of the trunk. I am patient however, and after another five minutes, the little devil pops his furry head around the side of the trunk. Their heads look like a green fuzzball… about the size of a walnut. Odd since their body is much larger and their tails are about 2-3 feet long!

I snap about 342 photos hoping to get 1-2 that are decent. I am pretty sure the pros get their shot the first time. Above right and left are a couple that at least do not totally suck. Click any to enlarge.

Saving wildlife.

Dead BirdAfter breakfast, we hear our neighbors yelling. It seems a wild parakeet has flown into their (close) window and has died.

“Not so”, says my wifey.

As regular readers here and in my personal BLOG know, ML is a country gurl and loves all living things regardless of how many legs they have. She races to get to the dead bird.bird2.jpg

“Aha! Not dead”, says she. “All we need to do is blow air up its butt!”. I am translating this rather loosely from the Spanish!

If this were any other person than my wife, I would advise treatment of some sort, but for now, I keep quiet and watch her as she blows air up its butt.
bird3.jpgShe does this far maybe 2-3 minutes (not actually touching here lips to that area I might add). The bird begins to move a bit and in another moment, spreads it wings and takes off!

I am fairly sure this technique is not taught at the leading veterinary schools in the USA, but to watch this is pretty amazing. It also beggars the question as to who was the first person to try this technique and how on earth that thought came into their mind in the first place.

Ok…. that’s it. Another fun weekend coming up soon. This place costs $200.00 per night including all meals… less if you elect to rent a cabin without the fireplace.

4 Responses to “Getaway Weekend and Bird Watching Pt 2”

  1. Miguel on January 6, 2008 11:04 pm


    Muy interesante…aire arribe de la cola…un milagro…tango que tratarla con mi esposa…hehehaha…

  2. Miguel on January 6, 2008 11:08 pm


    Muy interesante…aire arriba de la cola…un milagro…tango que tratarla con mi esposa…hehehaha…

  3. Tim on January 8, 2008 8:53 pm

    Oh Miguel… be very careful! They resist this! 🙂

  4. Keith on December 21, 2010 2:14 pm

    In the UK we are experiencing freezing weather which is a potential death sentence for many birds, but with just a little water,
    food and shelter, gardens can become a vital haven for birds and other wildlife.

    Put out food regularly, specially in severe weather.

    Feed twice daily if possible in the morning ad early afternoon before it gets dark

    Introduce a bird table and high calorie seed mixes .this can also be used to put out kitchen scraps such as fat and suet, mild grated cheese, cooked potatoes , pastry and soaked fruit.

    Put out hanging feeders for black sunflower seeds, sunflower hearts, sunflower-rich mixes or unsalted high fat peanuts.

    Ensure a supply of fresh water every day. If it is very cold use tepid water, but it is vital NOT to use any antifreeze products, which can be poisonous

    Put out unwanted apples and pears for blackbirds, song thrushes and other members of the thrush family.

    Bird cake and food bars are very good because of their high-fat content. are also high in oils. You can also feed kitchen scraps, such as fat and suet, mild grated cheese, cooked potatoes, pastry and dried fruit. Food bars of fat hung up or rubbed into the bark of trees is a great help for treecreepers, goldcrests and many other species.

    Put up a nest box to provide roost sites for smaller birds. They will then be used for breeding later in the year.