Among the Natural Splendor and Wildlife at Ecocentro Danaus, Costa Rica

Among the Natural Splendor and Wildlife at Ecocentro Danaus, Costa Rica

jean and ecocentro danaus sign, la fortuna, costa rica

Bob and I covered a lot of ground on our second day in Costa Rica.  We began birding before sunrise and by early afternoon, we decided to check out Ecocentro Danaus on the outskirts of La Fortuna. The small private reserve was rich in wildlife.

ecocentro danaus trail map, la fortuna, costa rica

After paying the entrance fee and having a look around the Reception Kiosk, Bob and I were tempted to sit a spell on the building’s porch.  Flashes of bright plumage betrayed a well-stocked feeding station at the edge of the forest.

a scarlet-rumped (passerini's) tanager, ecocentro danaus, la fortuna, costa rica

From a bench at the Observación Aves, Bob and I looked out on a continuous parade of feathered beauties that delighted us.  A male Scarlet-rumped Tanager (Passerini’s) almost glowed in the dim light.

a female scarlet-rumped tanager, ecocentro danaus, la fortuna, costa rica

With more subdued plumage, a female Scarlet-rumped Tanager blended more easily into the background.

It would have been easy to confuse this male Olive-backed Euphonia with the female Tanager because the plumage is similar in colour.  The bright yellow cap and orange rump helped with identification.

a blue-gray tanager, ecocentro danaus, la fortuna, costa rica

One of my favorites was a Blue-gray Tanager with electric blue wings set against a powder blue body.

a buff-throated saltator, ecocentro danaus, la fortuna, costa rica

Refusing to be overlooked, a Buff-throated Saltator boldly perched facing us and fended off other birds at the fruit buffet.

an agouti, ecocentro danaus, la fortuna, costa rica

Taking Bob and me totally by surprise was this Agouti that crept from the shadows of the low vegetation to retrieve bits of fruit dropped by the birds.  With a tasty morsel gripped in its teeth, the Agouti quickly disappeared back into the forest.

jean on the trail, ecocentro danaus, la fortuna, costa rica

Deciding that it was time to explore, Bob and I set off on a self-guided tour to discover the wonders of that small patch of rainforest.  The Main Trail covers a circular route that takes in a Butterfly Conservatory, Botanical Garden, Tree Nursery and a natural lagoon. Ecocentro Danaus is dedicated to the preservation of Costa Rican biodiversity and forest regeneration.

a wood thrush, ecocentro danaus, la fortuna, costa rica

A rustling of leaves drew my attention to the forest floor thinking I might see an amphibian, but instead, a Wood Thrush was turning over leaves and probing for insects.  These birds breed in our home country, Canada.

a white-collared manakin, ecocentro danaus, la fortuna, costa rica

Piquing our interest was a sound nearby that seemed out of place.  Repeated at intervals, it was akin to a childhood toy called clackers.  Hunting down the source led Bob and me to this male White-collared Manakin.

a white-collared manakin, ecocentro danaus, la fortuna, costa rica

Male White-collared Manakins use their wings to create a sound like that of twigs snapping in two.  These birds are resident breeders in Costa Rica.

jean on the trail, ecocentro danaus, la fortuna, costa rica

It wasn’t long before Bob and I found ourselves at the Butterfly Conservatory.  Ecocentro Danaus raises 30 different species of these delicate beauties, so it was possible to see all stages of a butterfly’s life cycle.

bob with a blue morpho butterfly, ecocentro danaus, la fortuna, costa rica

Of course, we were most impressed with the Blue Morpho Butterflies, but so many other species dazzled us that I have featured the Butterfly Garden in a separate blog post.

jean on the trail, ecocentro danaus, la fortuna, costa rica

Leaving the Butterfly Conservatory behind, Bob and I were once again in the corridor of natural rainforest populated by wildlife that has chosen to live there.  The small pocket of regenerated forest is an isolated haven amid surrounding farms.

a rufous-tailed jacamar, ecocentro danaus, la fortuna, costa rica

It was sheer luck that we espied this Rufous-tailed Jacamar where it sat shaded by dense tree cover.  Perched a good 50 feet away from the trail, it blended in so well with the background that the bird was almost invisible.

a rufous-tailed jacamar, ecocentro danaus, la fortuna, costa rica

Thank goodness it shifted its position so we could appreciate its beautiful orange underparts.  It is quite a striking bird.

jean on the trail, ecocentro danaus, la fortuna, costa rica

We were happy to find a sunlit stretch of trail where sunlight assisted with spotting creatures in the dark shadows.

brazilian red coat flower, ecocentro danaus, la fortuna, costa rica

We stopped to admire some stunning red flowerheads of the Brazilian Red Coat…

yellow flowers, ecocentro danaus, la fortuna, costa rica

and yellow blossoms on a tall shrub, quite possibly a Cortez Tree.

a yellow-headed gecko, ecocentro danaus, la fortuna, costa rica

Studying the interesting flora is what led me to notice this tiny lizard, a Yellow-headed Gecko.  A pocket of water on a giant leaf made the perfect spot for it to have a refreshing swim.

a yellow-headed gecko, ecocentro danaus, la fortuna, costa rica

We moved in for a closeup of the wee reptile only to see it clamber up the side of the leaf where it, too, could have a better view.

a yellow-headed gecko, ecocentro danaus, la fortuna, costa rica

Within seconds, the Yellow-headed Gecko darted away to safety.  The changing light made the characteristic colour of the species stand out more.

the dark lagoon, ecocentro danaus, la fortuna, costa rica

A little further on, an opening through the trees revealed a glimpse of the dark lagoon.  The lagoon was formed in the reserve’s early stages of development when the owners dug a reservoir to hold fresh water.

a caiman, ecocentro danaus, la fortuna, costa ricaOne day, the owners discovered that 3 Caimans had found their way to the newly-formed lagoon, and the reptiles have been swimming in the water hole ever since.  The wetland ecosystem continued to grow with reptiles, amphibians, insects and mammals discovering this small piece of ideal habitat.

a young common basilisk, ecocentro danaus, la fortuna, costa rica

Turning back to the trail, I nearly jumped out of my skin when quick movement at the edge of the leaf litter had me thinking “Caiman”!

a common basilisk, ecocentro danaus, la fortuna, costa rica

The joke was on me because it was only a small lizard called a Common Basilisk.  It was about 20 inches long.

a common basilisk, ecocentro danaus, la fortuna, costa rica

Incongruously, a sighting of a young Common Basilisk is not that common at all.  A Basilisk is otherwise known as a Jesus Christ Lizard for its ability to walk on water.  This feat is possible because of the lizard’s large feet and flaps of skin between the toes.

a broad-billed motmot, ecocentro danaus, la fortuna, costa rica

In terms of the trail, Bob and I were about halfway around the 600-metre loop.  It was amazing that we could spend so much time in such a small area.  Noticing an unusual silhouette in the canopy, Bob and I used our cameras to zero in on a Broad-billed Motmot.

a broad-billed motmot, ecocentro danaus, la fortuna, costa rica

We were lucky to catch the Motmot sitting quietly between sallying forays to catch insects.  I am particularly intrigued by the unusual tail racquets that project beyond the ends of the tail.

a boat-billed heron, ecocentro danaus, la fortuna, costa rica

Ever been in the forest and feel that you are being watched?  Well, that is the eerie feeling Bob and I had as we moseyed along the banks of the lagoon.  Looking to our left, our eyes met those of a Boat-billed Heron.

a boat-billed heron, ecocentro danaus, la fortuna, costa rica

We had been informed that a family of Boat-billed Herons annually nest alongside the freshwater lagoon, and within minutes, we spotted the other adult Heron perched overlooking the water.

a young boat-billed heron, ecocentro danaus, la fortuna, costa rica

It soon became apparent to Bob and me that the parents were keeping a keen eye on their fledgling.  Knowing that these birds can be quite aggressive against a potential threat to their offspring, we cautiously photographed the birds from a distance.

jean on the trail, ecocentro danaus, la fortuna, costa rica

Shadows were growing longer as we picked up our pace on the back half of the trail.  Our ears were acutely tuned to the sounds of nature around us, and we constantly scanned our surroundings.

a sloth, ecocentro danaus, la fortuna, costa ricaBalanced on a tree branch high above the walking path was a Sloth lulled into somnolence by the slow rocking of the limb.  I’m sure it was grateful for the light breeze passing through.

a torch ginger blossom, ecocentro danaus, la fortuna, costa rica

Ecocentro Danaus still had more to offer as we returned to the reception area.  A Torch Ginger Plant refused to be ignored where it grew tall and sturdy.

a torhc ginger flower, ecocentro danaus, la fortuna, costa rica

Surprisingly, these perennial flowers can achieve heights of between 17-20 feet.  So glad that this one was at eye level so we could appreciate the intricacies of the blossom.

an agouti, ecocentro danaus, la fortuna, costa rica

Bob and I decided to spend another few minutes observing the bird feeding station.  To our delight, the Agouti had returned and gave us better views.

an agouti, ecocentro danaus, la fortuna, costa rica

Agoutis are rodents that feed primarily on fruit, seeds and nuts.  As a matter of fact, they are one of only a few species that are able to crack open Brazil Nuts.  They have amazingly strong and exceptionally sharp teeth.

a red-legged honeycreeper, ecocentro danaus, la fortuna, costa rica

With the fruit recently replenished on the feeding station, birds such as this Red-legged Honeycreeper started to return for their late-afternoon feast.  Time was getting on.

a male black-cheeked woodpecker, ecocentro danaus, la fortuna, costa rica

We were entertained for several minutes by a male Black-cheeked Woodpecker with a very showy abdomen.

a male black-cheeked woodpecker, ecocentro danaus, la fortuna, costa rica

Black-cheeked Woodpeckers consume a large number of insects but will not turn down a meal of fresh fruit or nectar.

a russet-naped wood-rail, ecocentro danaus, la fortuna, costa rica

We were so preoccupied with the flamboyant Woodpecker that this elusive Russet-naped Wood-Rail nearly slipped by without us noticing.  A denizen of swampy forests and forest edges, the Russet-naped Wood-Rail would find the habitat at Ecocentro Danaus perfectly suited to its needs.

a lesson's motmot, ecocentro danaus, la fortuna, costa rica

Moving on toward the parking lot, Bob and I had to pause and admire this Lesson’s Motmot.  A bird often seen in Costa Rica, it is another species exhibiting elegant tail racquets.  Earlier in our walk, we had witnessed one of these birds entering a tunnel in a small ditch alongside the trail.

a lesson's motmot, ecocentro danaus, la fortuna, costa rica

We later learned that these birds nest in tunnels in banks.  They lay eggs in Costa Rica between March and May, so the bird might have been preparing its nest tunnel or attending to eggs that had already been laid.

a collared aracari, ecocentro danaus, la fortuna, costa rica

As we were about to hop in our car, an employee from Ecocentro Danaus came rushing up to us.  He was keen to point out a pair of Collared Aracaris that were busy feeding their nestlings.

a collared aracari at its nest hole, ecocentro danaus, la fortuna, costa rica

Collared Aracaris are small, slender toucans, and this pair had laid their eggs in an old woodpecker nest high in a tree trunk overlooking the parking lot.  The chicks would be fed insects initially with fruit being introduced to their diet as the babies grow larger.

arenal volcano, seen from ecocentro danaus, la fortuna, costa rica

By the time we left Ecocentro Danaus, it was 5:30 p.m.  With Arenal Volcano throwing long shadows across the landscape, we knew it was time to head back to our lodgings for a rest.  It had been a full and rewarding day!

You May Also Enjoy:

jean birding on river to mangrove swamp, san blas, nayarit, mexico, pic 4

Our Unforgettable Birding Trip In the Mangrove Swamp near San Blas, Mexico

Resplendent Quetzals prepare their nest in Monteverde Cloud Forest

Among the Wildlife at Hotel Kokoro in Costa Rica

A Bird’s Eye View at Mistico Arenal Hanging Bridges

jean spots Black-crowned Night Heron, minesing swamp, ontario

Our Paddle Into The Wilds of The Minesing Swamp

Frame To Frame – Bob and Jean

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *