Searching around on the map the night before I found a small, free park in the hills above Santa Elena. Since that was a rarity in the area, I decided to check it out. The next morning I packed a lunch and headed uphill. The park wasn’t that far but the 4500′ elevation and hilly terrain of the area were a bit of a challenge for a girl who has spent the last two years living at sea level.
The park had several winding trails and even a lovely stream running through it. The velvety brown seed pod of the Macuna tree was one of the first things to catch my eye. This is the tree responsible for the hamburger sea beans, like the ones I found this past summer on the beaches of the Texas Gulf Coast.
I was delighted to see my fourth species of toucan, the Keel-billed (or more colorfully, Rainbow-billed) Toucan. After following an industrious line of Leafcutter Ants through the park for awhile I settled on a mossy stone near the brook for lunch.
A tiny movement to the side caught my eye so I slowly raised my camera and turned toward it. There, peering at me from behind a leaf, was a handsome Blue-crowned Motmot. To say I was delighted is an understatement! I later learned that they nest in the banks of waterways, earning them the common epithet of “banco bravo” (riverbank guard).
It was a really great way to spend another day in the cloud forest!