Quetzal Magic


As promised, I am here once again to share more of our Costa Rica adventures, this time reliving our vacation experience in the mountains along the Savegre River.  It was on this visit, while staying at the Savegre Mountain Lodge, that I had my very first “birding” experience and fell in love with the wonder and magic of photographing the abundant wildlife of Costa Rica. I have been photographing wildlife whenever possible in the different places we have lived for some time, but the opportunities within this country are limitless. I only hope to continue to have more adventures and the chance to capture the magic of life in the natural world here.

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It was here in this room that I began each day of our stay at Savegre Mountain Lodge. We began the day with breakfast from the buffet in the lovely restaurant there. We decided to take the complete meal ticket which included all three meals a day, buffet style. I was more than thrilled when they served Rainbow Trout fresh from the river at not one, but nearly every meal, even breakfast! We were pleased with all of the selections although some were repeats. Only once did we venture to another restaurant while on a hike and the food there was wonderful as well although much more casual. I’ll share that on another post.

In the cloud forest
In the cloud forest

Each morning and evening the clouds appeared across the mountains and you could set your watch by it-if you were wearing one, which of course we were not! 😉

Mountain Lodge office
Mountain Lodge office

Here in the office at Savegre Mountain Lodge, we were given special attention to all of our needs and any excursions or transportation needs were quickly addressed and taken care of. The friendly and professional staff made us feel welcome and comfortable.

Restaurant
Restaurant
View to the restaurant patio
View to the restaurant patio

Here in the restaurant we took all three daily meals and watched as the birds flitted around the gardens. The Hummingbirds were abundant and happy to “pose” for as many photos as I could take!

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Each has its own personality.1230.NEF

The weather at the altitude of around 7200 ft. was very chilly at night while reaching lovely warm temperatures during the middle of the day. We needed a fire in the fireplace or the aid of a small portable heater for sleeping. I believe we discovered it was around 42 degrees at night. Once up and around and out for a hike, we warmed up quickly and were glad the temperatures stayed in the low to mid 70’s.

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On the morning of our birding expedition, we arose early to meet our guide just after breakfast. The clouds roll out each morning, so close you think you can touch them.

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The beautifully manicured gardens began just outside our room and encompassed the entire lodge area. Near the restaurant we spotted many birds, including woodpeckers and the lovely little hummingbirds that come to the feeders all day.

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For our day of birding, a local farm just up the road was chosen where we were promised a chance to view and photograph the Resplendent Quetzal-or we wouldn’t have to pay the nominal fee to enter the property which came due upon departure. Now that’s the kind of faith I like!  The rare birds had already been spotted in the area in the dead treetops where they normally nest, and there was an abundant supply of their favorite small avocados which are a dietary mainstay. So.. with about twelve others, we headed up the hill to the farm with our own personal guide, Marino. Each group had a guide. Our group had only six. which made it easier for all to get a good look at the birds with the telescope and hear about the nature of their survival from our guide. All the guides are thoroughly educated in the scientific facts about these winged creatures as well as being able to recognize and even duplicate their calls. Marino was absolutely wonderful, taking his time and care to find the elusive beauty for us several times. Then, when the others were ready to climb back aboard the Jeeps and head to the hotel, he asked who wanted to walk back. We instantly said we did and were the only ones,  so we had an additional hour or more’s worth of birding with him on our hike back up the road. We saw the Quetzal yet again on that walk as well as passing through one of the trout hatcheries and getting a mini tour of the area from the very friendly man we came to feel was a friend.

Lee and Marino
Lee and Marino

Here is Lee with Marino, our guide for the morning birding hike.

Marino and me!
Marino and me!

Here Marino and I headed down the hill to go to another spot to try and observe the Quetzal who had posed for photos before dashing down to another area.

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Our first sighting of the precious bird was here, among the dead branches of this tree. It takes a true expert to be able to spot them as they blend so well and are so quiet. After a few hours and days of this process, we also became good at spotting the lovely birds.

Mountain View from our position
Mountain View from our position

This was only one of the many views we experienced while in the Savegre Mountains. It was breathtakingly lovely.

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The sky was amazingly blue that day and Marino was in awe. At one point he looked up and smiled,  saying, “Looks like a Picasso, yes?” How wonderfully perceptive.

Picasso Sky
Picasso Sky

And so we found the birds…

It is like they know.
It is like they know.

As though they know they are on display, they quietly and slowly eat their avocados, spitting out the poisonous seed and turn on their roosts, posing for awhile before flying off to watch us scurrying behind behind them in the hopes of gaining yet another rare look at their beauty.

Our first spot
Our first spot

It was in this tree where we first spotted our subject. You can see how far away it is and how well they blend.

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Apparently catching a Quetzal on film while in flight is rather rare. I just kept shooting throughout our sightings and was fortunate to get some fun s

At every turn they produce a new array of colors, making them seem to be different birds altogether.

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Through the scope
Through the scope

Every guide carries a telescope through which one can view and even photograph the birds that are spotted.

Apple blossoms
Apple blossoms

Part of our hike took us through the native apple orchard there where the trees were blossoming.

photo-6On our long walk back up the hill our guide, Marino, continued to point out the various birds he spotted, giving us valuable information on their natures and habits. It was a wonderful way to spend our morning.

Me by the Savegre
Me by the Savegre

Of course, a stop to rest by the river was welcome and necessary

Trout hatcheries
Trout hatcheries

This was Lee’s favorite part-the fish farming

Day's catch
Day’s catch

When I say we had fresh fish each day, I was not speaking in vague terms. It doesn’t get any fresher than this, folks.

photoI can honestly say I have not felt as much at peace anywhere else than right here in these woods…

A surprise!
A surprise!

And a wonderful surprise gave us a final glimpse that day of our beautiful friend, the Quetzal. It was not to be our last encounter as you will see when I post our Cataratas Day hike. Until then…

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From the lovely mountains near the Savegre River we wish you Pura Vida! For more information on Savegre Mountain Lodge and the various tours there which include many things as well as the birding excursions, visit their website at http://www.savegre.com. Be sure to visit the surrounding areas if time allows. We went to Turrialba Volcano ruins as well as the very old and rich city of Cartago, home of the Basilica de los Angeles.

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5 thoughts on “Quetzal Magic

      1. Well I think all of life is a dream really, and I have been blessed to have some really beautiful segments. Maybe someday we will return. It’s only money after all..😊

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