Sunday, January 1, 2012

Jungle Crocodile Safari

The highlight of the morning was this boat tour, the Jungle Crocodile Safari.  Three main features--the boat ride on the Tarcoles River, birds in abundance, and crocodiles.

Not a minute out, we spotted a young croc sunning on a log, and we all took way too many pictures there.  The main show was when the boat captain, Santiago, spotted a sandbank with a small croc, beached us, and hopped out of the feed the croc a chunk of chicken.

We identified quite a few birds all along the way, though I seldom managed a good photo.

But quickly, Santiage found another muddy piece of bank, and jumped out to put on a show with a rather bigger, pregnant female crocodile.

And off again, with us amazed he still had his hand.  Here's what the whole area looks like:

Not much further on, we found a herd of cattle coming to the river for water. Erick had told us that only the day before, the oldest, largest croc, knicknamed "Osama" (because he hides well), had taken a cow.  Unlike wolves around Yellowstone, or mountain lions in Missouri, there is no revenge for the farmer--all wild animals are protected.  Period.  Costa Rica sees the wildlife and ecotourism as its true future.  So here we have an encounter between an ambitious young croc and the herd's bull, who kept a close eye on it, and seemed ready to stare it down.  (How much bull does it take to make a crocodile blink?)

Oh, and another bird...yellow-headed something, that seemed interested in the next show...

The next show being Santiago trying to rouse Osama...

by lifting his tail, and then pulling the sleepy croc off his muddy cushion.  They seem to have a nice relationship...

But the food is what matters...

Santiago got several rounds of applause during the trip.

Let's see...another bird...
And we spun around into the mangroves, the strange-rooted trees that thrive in brackish water, and provide a haven for quite a few species.  While there, we caught the briefest glimpse of a red macaw--really only because its bright red flashes out through the leaves.

A good tour.  Erick did comment on the tires and trash in the river, caused by dumping for miles upstream.  He says a group is working to clean up the river.  Maybe they should consult with Missouri River Relief, which does a great job back home.

Oh, I skimped on the birds, but Erick had given us a chart, and called out birds by number.  Here's the chart, with most of what we saw circled:

later, bob
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