I’m very fortunate to have visited Costa Rica more than a dozen times, but this little country is a true gem and there’s always something new and exciting for me on each visit. This year’s TTL trip was a great success and the highlights were many with the tour getting off to an auspicious start with a daytime sighting of a northern tamandua at Boqsue de Paz (Tony even managed a decent photo), then there were stellar views and photographs of four species of toucan and aracari, plentiful poison frogs (three species) and a wonderfully productive two and half hours spent photographing hummingbirds on Cerro de la Muerte at over ten thousand feet, coffee in one hand finger on the shutter with the other (tripod mounted of course).

The last main location of the tour is the incomparable Bosque del Cabo, simply one of the finest lodges I stay at anywhere in the world and the wildlife always delivers. It’s fairly usual for the resident guide Phillip Davison to present me with a snake of some sort and this year he came up with an adult barred forest racer, which once subdued under a plastic lid remained motionless for fifteen minutes while all got great shots – although I must confess I had crept into the best position and then couldn’t move to let anyone else in! Sorry team. The monkey population here is amazing, with troops everywhere, most commonly spider, howler and white-faced capuchin but this year we also had superb close encounters with the endearing little squirrel monkeys that sped around the garden and photography was a challenge. There were incredible numbers of white-nosed coati too and wonderful images of chestnut-mandibled toucans feeding on red palm fruits. However, for me the highlight was a chance encounter with multiple macaws. Driving down to a small creek outside of the lodge we became aware of a commotion two hundred metres ahead and drove on stopping the astonishing sight of up to twelve scarlet macaws at a time gathered on a big cluster of palm nuts. There was tremendous squawking and squabbling between birds with a constant toing and froing and whirr of vivid colours, making it impossible to ascertain how many birds were involved. This was answered after fifteen minutes when a flock of forty of these huge, garish parrots erupted from the small tree behind us and across the pasture followed a minute later by another thirty! It had been like an Amazonian clay-lick on dry land and a moment none of us will ever forget. Even in the final hours of the holiday we came across the seldom seen Degenhardt’s scorpion-eater at La Cusinga shortly before a stunning sunset brought events to a close. Pura Vida!

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