Today is Day 13 of our 18 day trip around this amazing country of Costa Rica. We just hiked out of the cloud forest, having spent several days at the San Gerardo field station, which is run by Giovanni and his wife Ibania. Their son Andre’ has grown a lot since our last visit! What wonderful people, and what an amazing cook Ibania is! We were well taken care of. Students enjoyed the hammocks that were hung the entire length of the upstairs porch, outside the rooms. This set-up provides an incredible view of Lake Arenal and Arenal Volcano. The region is situated near the Continental Divide, so gets frequent rains from the Caribbean side of the Divide. The frequent presence of clouds and rain often obscures the peak of Arenal, which was the case during our stay, but the serenity and beauty of the forest made up for it! We think students will agree that this was one of the most peaceful places during our trip.
During our time at the field station, course participants enjoyed some much-needed project time and multiple walks in the forest learning about cloud forest ecology and the biology of this area. This included medicinal plants, epiphytes, mammals like the coati and agouti, a host of insects, and many birds, including a myriad of wrens, tanagers, vultures, and so many others that are either residents or migrants. The birders in the group had the rare opportunity to go on 6am birding walks with our guide, Mark Wainwright. What an unbelievable and unsurpassed experience this was. The bird biodiversity in this region is incredible. On our way out of the field station today we saw a White Hawk Pseudastur albicollis, which for all of us who saw it, was a truly spiritual moment. Hopefully our pictures will capture the beauty of all the animals and plants we photographed.