I am a birdwatcher, and have been doing this for almost 10 years (this is when I realize how old I am). As I come from a megadiverse country, my expectation about birds are usually high and Costa Rica was an excellent place. During our banana trip, I found over 150 species, constituting over 15% of all species in the country. Approximately 20 of them were lifers (lifer is a slang used by birders to tell others about a species they had never seen before).
Birds are incredible animals, I would say the best ones ever (although some people of the Banana Team argue this), covering all ecosystems, with incredible colours, from songs that can be recognized to alien-like sounds and behaviours that would blow your mind. This is my personal description of birds and, considering that 2018 is the “Year of the Bird”, my excitement about birdwatching in one of the most incredible countries for birdwatching was fully noticeable. But before going on this blog, I want to apologize publicly to the Banana Team for being a little bit distracted and distractive…. I am sorry! But I can help watching the sky, any tree, or the sand banks to spot a bird!
Saying that, I was glad to visit all the areas we were at. Our trip started in Guapiles, we were hosted in Earth University, then we move to Uvita for a couple of days in the beach, then right to Finca Passiflora near San Isidro el General (south of San José) and then straight to Talamanca region, where we stayed at Rancho Tranquilo and visited a lot of indigenous communities and the Bribri culture. I was happy be a direct observer of the relationship between nature and production, as in all those areas the integrative agroforestry system was used to cultivate so many kinds of fruits and so many banana varieties.
Agroforestry tries to recreate the balanced state of vegetation as in nature, and birds absolutely love it. In all these locations, I was happy to wake up every morning with the song of a Clay-Coloured Thrush or a Great Kiskadee or get scared by the song of a Great-necked Wood-Rail (as early as 5am) that, according to the book Birds Of Costa Rica by Richards Garringues and Robert Dean, has a song reminiscent of a group of drunken chickens.
Toucans were one of my favourite experiences; I heard or spotted toucans almost every day. I was familiarized with the Yellow-throated toucan as it has an onomatopeyic interpretation of “dios-te-de” (god-give-you in Spanish) but definitely not with the endemic Fiery-billed Toucan or the gorgeous Keel-billed Toucan, this birds definitely where part of my favourites.
Another experience that is usually not perceived by walkers are the clicks and snaps of the manakins. These little ball-like cute birds were always jumping around, curious about us and our cameras. We spotted 3 different species: White-collared, Blue-crowned and Red-capped Manakins, but Gosh, they are hard to find!
The list can go on and I don’t have enough words nor space to talk about all birds we watched in our trip. They went from very colourful and bright as the Gartered Trogon, to migratory birds like warblers and sandpipers, but definitely this trip and living among people with a love of nature let us understand that trying to maintain an equilibrium of vegetation and production, convert areas to make them more attractive to biodiversity (and birds, off course), I was wondering all that time in Costa Rica…Why we don’t live and grow food like that?
Biological Survey Manager
Julian is an environmental engineer graduate from Ecuador, a banana paradise. Finishing his master in Computational Methods in Ecology and Evolution at Imperial College London in 2017, he is interested in trying to understand the relationship between native remaining ecosystems and productive areas in the neotropics. Birdwatcher by day and diver by night, he hopes that Bannageddon helps to make a better world for birds and local workers in banana plantations.