Sunday, December 21, 2014

Costa Rica - Big Brown Native Fauna

Returning to the bus we crossed a bridge and looked down at the mud brown crocodiles lying on the muddy brown bank of the river below. Our next stop would be a boat cruise which would get us up close and personal with the ancient species.

Arriving at a primitive dock we boarded the shallow keeled tour boat and set off. Our first encounter was with a massive male, his long white teeth visible poking out of the sides of his closed snout. A female, one eye damaged in a fight with another croc, swam in the water nearby. Our boat pilot took us to within a few feet of the reptile. Mangrove swallows accompanied us the entire way, skimming over the water and flying around and about our boat as we drifted along. White herons stood like sentinels along the shore. Groups of cormorants roosted in the trees. A stork with stately legs foraged for food with it's long beak in the shallow water along the muddy bank. A large blue heron stood surveying the scene. A smaller, brighter blue heron joined it briefly before going off it's own way. In the distance a rosette spoonbill waded in the water. Pink, like the flamingo it's coloring a result of the pigment of the small water creatures in it's diet, the bird sports along it's side a bright coral stripe. It uses it's long spoonlike bill, hence it's name, to catch it's tiny prey. Later this incredible bird came closer to us affording us a better look. Lovely and graceful, it appeared both noble and self assured of it's breathtaking beauty.

Our boat captain spotted something on a log. Piloting us closer to it we saw a small brown lizard sitting on a dead plantain tree floating in the river. Our captain approached it attempting to startle it. Our ever exuberant tour guide started yelling "Go baby, go baby go!" The lizard sprung up and sped away, walking across the top of the water to the shore. We all burst into applause at the show the reptile had provided for us.

At one point a dozen crocodiles appeared. Varying in size and age they swam in the murky water or lazed along the shore. The crocodiles are able to survive in both the brackish water of the river and the salt water of the nearby Pacific. Some use the ocean's salt water as a place to recover from injuries when the animals fight. Although seeming almost invincible in adulthood, some live to a great age, few reach that stage as the eggs and hatchlings make for easy prey.

As we returned a tiger striped heron stood on the top of the boarding platform as if welcoming us back. Once again amazed by nature we were set on our way to the music of marimba players performing in the, by this point, ubiquitous open air gift shop.

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