Thursday, March 15, 2012

Seabirds Return

My first weekend back in Ireland after the trip to Costa Rica on the 22nd February, I managed to get back west to Loop Head where all the seabirds had returned to the cliffs and were taking up breeding positions already.  This is much earlier than usual.

 Lines of nesting auks at Loop Head © John N Murphy
Guillemots on the sea © John N Murphy

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Central Park

On our way home from Costa Rica we had an overnight stay at Newark, New Jersey. So I got a chance to visit Central Park for a couple of hours to do a bit of birding.  There were fewer birds during my visit this time than I have seen in past trips to this fantastic location in the middle of Manhattan Island.  I would have loved to have had enough time to get out to Jamaca Bay, as I have done in previous visits to the Big Apple.  Below are some shots from this trip and previous visits to the park.

 American Robin © John N Murphy
 Black-capped Chickadee © John N Murphy
 Hooded Merganser drake © John N Murphy
Bufflehead female © John N Murphy
Common Grackle © John N Murphy
Common Grackle with a damaged upper mandible © John N Murphy

Saturday, March 10, 2012

White-faced Coati & Others

There were many reptiles and other mammals that we came across on our trip to Costa Rica.

 White-faced Coati © John N Murphy
 Jesus Christ Lizard © John N Murphy
 White Bats roosting under a banana leaf © John N Murphy
 Green Lizard © John N Murphy
 Variegated Squirrel © John N Murphy
 Stick Insect (head to the right, tail to the left) © John N Murphy
 Ctenosaur Lizard © John N Murphy
Orb Weaver Spider © John N Murphy

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

White-throated Magpie Jay

The White-throated Magpie Jay is similar in size to our European Magpie. They have a wide range that stretches from Mexico to Costa Rica.  It is gregarious and often travels in flocks of 5 – 10 birds. They are noisy birds that will mob their observers.

The White-throated Magpie-Jay has an average length of 20 inches, with its long tail accounting for about half that length.  Its upperparts, including the wings and much of its tail, are blue/blue-grayish in color.  The underparts are white, as are the sides of its head.  There is a black band running across its breast and halfway up each side of the neck.   It has a stout bill and black legs and feet.  The males and females are alike in appearance.

White-throated Magpie Jays © John N Murphy

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Arenal Volcano

Our last port of call in Costa Rica was Arenal, the Volcano and Observation Lodge. At 5,437 feet, the Arenal Volcano looms large and ominous over the pastured green hillsides that surround its base. Although currently in a resting phase, Arenal remained the country’s most active volcano for the past 43 years. Its storied history is charged with eruptions – both major and minor – that have intimately affected the region and the people who live here.

 Bananaquit © John N Murphy
 Palm Tanager © John N Murphy
 Red-legged Honeycreeper male with female in the background © John N Murphy
 Crested Guan © John N Murphy
 Buff-throated Saltator © John N Murphy
 Faciated Tiger Heron © John N Murphy
 Dusky-capped Flycatcher © John N Murphy
 Tropical Pewee© John N Murphy
 Shinny Cowbird © John N Murphy
Black Phoebe © John N Murphy


During our visit to Costa Rica we encounter three different Monkey species. The scientific name of the white faced monkey found throughout Costa Rica is Cabus capucinus. It is also called as the white throated monkey or alternatively, the capuchin monkey. This capuchin monkey is considered to be the most intelligent among the New World Monkeys. 

Essentially native to Central and South America, the White-faced Monkeys have small slender bodies covered in fur, which is either black or brown. They are found in most of the countries National Parks (Santa Rosa National Park and Manuel Antonio National Park) and reserves (such as the Cabo Blanco Reserve) in Costa Rica.

White-faced or Capuchin Monkeys © John N Murphy

Howler Monkeys are some of Costa Rica's loudest inhabitants. It is said that the call of a howler monkey can be heard for 3-4 miles away, even through the thick tropical forest. Howlers live in small groups of about 12 individuals. Scientists believe that the dominant male of the group uses his loud voice to keep the group spaced out enough so they don't have to compete for food.
 Howler Monkey's this one has a baby on board © John N Murphy

Monday, March 5, 2012

Chestnut-mandibled Toucan

The Chestnut-mandibled Toucan is a large, massive-billed bird found in lowland rainforests from southeast Honduras to western Ecuador. The Chestnut-mandibled Toucan is a habitat generalist that can occupy gallery forest, plantations, and even large gardens as long as there are suitable trees. It is one of the larger, more conspicuous species of toucan, and is often noted for its yelping, far-carrying vocalization (described by locals as “Díos te dé!”). It is largely frugivorous, but like other toucans it occasionally feeds on insects, lizards, and the eggs of other birds. Its nesting habits are little known, and although it is hunted in many areas, it remains fairly common throughout most of its range.



On the 12th of February we moved on once more. This time our destination was Monteverde and the surrounding Cloud Forest in the west of the Tilarán Cordillera Mountains and National Park.

The history of Monteverde began in the early 1950s, when a group of Quaker families from United States arrived to Costa Rica in search of peace and tranquility. Some members of these families were imprisoned by the American government due to the fact that they didn't want to take part in the Korean War. For that reason they decided to settle in Costa Rica, mainly because of its lack of an army and also because of the nature they found.

However, long time before the arrival of these Quakers, the Monteverde area was already settled by a group of Costa Rican farmers, coming from towns like San Ramon de Alajuela, Esparza and Miramar. Their purpose was to establish farms for subsistence living.

Monteverde was founded by these American citizens, to establish their own reserve for conservation and protection of water and nature. In the early 1970s, a vast amount of the reserve was donated to the Tropical Scientific Center (CCT), an organization in charge of the investigation and preservation of the land. This region boasts over 400 different bird species and a massive collection of other biodiversity.

 Blue-gray Tanager © John N Murphy
 Common Tody-Flycatcher © John N Murphy
 Yellow-throated Euphonia © John N Murphy
Social Flycatcher © John N MurphyBlue-and-white Swallow © John N Murphy
 White-tipped Dove © John N Murphy
 Hoffman's Woodpecker © John N Murphy

Brown Jay © John N Murphy