Sea Biscuits


Fossilized and Modern Sea Biscuits, Santa Teresa, Costa Rica November 2019

My daily beach wanders usually turn up an interesting find or two. I stumbled across a fossilized Sea Biscuit (Clypeaster sp.) early on during my stay and the partial, contemporary one just recently.

I’m having difficulty pinning down an exact age for the fossil but they first enter the record during the Eocene (around 37mya). I suppose once your form has been perfected there is little reason to change it.

Note: The fossil is underside up, the other is top up. Also, I must content myself with just the photo, as Costa Rica prohibits the removal of any nature items from the country.



Chao, Santa Teresa


Sunset, Santa Teresa, Costa Rica November 2019

Magical sunsets made my time on the Pacific Coast so very memorable! Though I am looking forward to visiting the cloud forest at Monteverde, I will certainly miss this quaint surfing village.

Maybe Not Such a Good Idea?


In-line, Electric, Showerhead Water Heater, Santa Teresa, Costa Rice November 2019

Most Tico homes don’t have the necessary wiring or amperage to support water heater tanks (not to mention the fact that heating water requires a lot of electricity, which can be expensive). Those logistics coupled with the fact that hot water isn’t often necessary in this warm climate means that a simple, cheap option is often installed (note that I didn’t say that it was safe or even effective).

Enter the suicide shower, an in-line, electric, showerhead water heater. My first night using one was truly a shocking experience. There weren’t any instructions and since the water wasn’t warm, I reached up to adjust the knob. The little zing I received for my efforts immediately encouraged me to give up on that idea. I finished my cold shower in a hurry.

I have since learned that these devices seldom work, no matter what the setting. Now, I just try not to worry about it and hope for the best. Which is actually a pretty good way to deal with life in general, don’tcha think?

Yard Bird 8

This White-throated Magpie-Jay (Calocitta formosa) was surprisingly reticent to have its photo taken. Sadly, I was not able to capture the resplendent, long tail that makes this bird so distinctive (I suggest looking it up, it really is worth it). The male sports a much longer one than the female. I believe this to be a female, based on the complete neck ring and additional black above the eye.

As with the rest of the jay family, it is a noisy character with a large repertoire of sounds. I just never know what I’m going to find in my yard!

Tropical Paradise?

Well, it was bound to happen. Even though I’ve been careful, I am now host to the lovely intestinal parasite, giardia. This little bugger causes a diarrheal disease aptly named giardiasis. I’ll spare you the gory details but I will say the symptoms are triggered by food. So, not eating has suddenly become quite appealing (thankfully, drinking doesn’t seem to be a problem).

I had this once during college and clearly remember the experience. I even know exactly how I contracted it back then, I drank untreated water out of a mountain stream (hence the nickname “beaver fever”). It was so unpleasant that I don’t drink out of streams any more. There are any number of ways to ingest giardia down here so I can’t pinpoint the source this time. Ah well, this, too, shall pass.

I am sharing my misfortune so that those of you dealing with the record breaking cold spell understand that as I stroll down the sandy beach on a warm, sunny day I am suffering, too. That’s living in paradise for ya!


Yard Bird 7

This juvenile, Bare-throated Tiger-Heron (Tigrisoma mexicanum) likes my neighbor’s roof. It flies up there in the evenings after spending the day hunting for typical heron food (fish, amphibians, insects, and small rodents) along the creek that runs behind their house. The name refers to the distinctive feather-free, yellow skin under the bill. The adult version of this bird is quite dapper with¬†a vibrant rufous waistcoat (or in proper birder parlance, flanks).

Interestingly, the only U.S. record of this species was found in Hidalgo County, Texas on the western Gulf Coast, near the border with Mexico. Not too surprising since the Brownsville area is a well-known birding hotspot. I would be interested to learn when that was but can’t seem to suss it out.

Arboreal Termitaria

While researching Black-headed Trogons I learned that they are unusual in their family, as they take the easy way out when building a home. Instead of carving holes in trees they just utilize arboreal termite nests. There are certainly plenty of them to choose from down here!