Birding Without Borders

Day 113: Karmic Balance

Birding takes some unexpected turns.

April 23, 2015: Quepos, Costa Rica — Yesterday, Johan, Roy, and I stopped at a side road where, in the past, they have seen a roosting Spectacled Owl. We didn’t find the owl, but we did come across a truck with two guys dumping garbage in the forest. The truck was from a company that makes snack foods, and the garbage was mostly chip bags and wrappers (hundreds of them). Roy took a photo of the truck and its littering drivers with his cell phone as we left, then found the company’s Facebook page and sent the picture to its moderator. Today, he received a polite phone call from a manager at the company, followed, amazingly, by an email with photos of the same guys on the same road, being forced to clean up their pile of trash! The manager also asked if we’d like some free snacks (Roy declined). I guess there is still some justice in this world…

We kicked off the day at Savegre Hotel, a four-star accommodation tucked in the Cerro de la Muerte highlands. The hotel kindly put us up for the night and let us loose on its buffet breakfast this morning, and I nearly had culture shock being surrounded by such luxury! From there, the three of us worked our way to Costa Rica’s central Pacific lowlands today, picking off dozens of regional endemic birds along the way. We spent this afternoon birding the grounds of Alexander Skutch’s farm (Skutch was a pioneer ornithologist and philosopher in Costa Rica who lived to be eight days shy of 100, and was so beloved that his house is now a museum). It was fun to be walking in the footsteps of one of the greatest birders of all time.

Meanwhile, I received a delayed piece of tragic news today. Months ago, I made arrangements to spend five days in Guatemala, beginning this coming Sunday, with a fantastic local birder there named Hugo Haroldo Enriquez Toledo. I interviewed Hugo for Birding magazine a couple of years ago, and have been looking forward to birding with him during my big year in Tikal. I hadn’t heard from him in a while, though, which was odd. This morning I found out that Hugo passed away in a car accident a couple of months ago; having been well out of the loop lately, I had no idea. The world has lost a wonderful birder, guide, and conservationist, and I’ve lost a birding companion who I won’t quite get the chance to meet. May he rest in peace.

Finally, I just heard that Costa Rica’s national airport, where I’m scheduled to fly from on Sunday, was shut down today because of a volcanic eruption (planes and ash don’t mix). I hope that volcano behaves itself this weekend.

New birds today: 33

Year list: 2223

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