Yard Birds 2

A noisy family of wrens caught my attention in the backyard this past week. Though this is my first time seeing Rufous-naped Wrens (Campylorhynchus rufinucha) their inquisitive nature and boisterous actions were enough to point me to the correct bird family. A wren is a wren is a wren.

I was impressed by their size, they are just slightly smaller than the Cactus Wrens I grew up with in the Sonoran Desert (the largest wrens in the United States).

 

No Longer Secret

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Clouds Obscure Sunset, Santa Teresa, Costa Rica October 2019

In my time in Santa Teresa I’ve inadvertantly uncovered an important bit of hidden information. For those of you wondering about what they were hiding all this time, I’ll tell you: Secret’s secret? It doesn’t work in this climate. At all. My routine now includes a mid-afternoon shower to refresh me during the hottest part of the day.

Lastly, I selected this photo because of the contrast between the clouds, surf, and basaltic rocks, however I’ve now noticed a face in it. Anyone else see it?

Pondering Perro

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Perro Pondering the Sea, Playa Carmen, Costa Rica October 2019

This sweet boy has joined me at my favorite spot on the beach the past several mornings. He waits patiently while I stretch through my yoga routine, then after a few rounds of fetch, he goes out on patrol. Sometime later he joins me on my towel for some scratches under the collar. I looked up from my journal the other day to this scene. Don’t you wonder what he was thinking?

Note: Just in case, perro is Spanish for dog. My Spanish still isn’t great but my Spanglish is awesome!

One Last Trip

The recent passing of my aunt Coralie has been sitting heavy on my heart as she was very dear to me. Most of my young life she lived in Texas. During her annual visits to Tucson I appreciated how she made a special effort to spend time with me.

A lifelong traveler, she’d send me postcards from whatever far-off country she was exploring. Her gallivanting filled me with wonder and, while I was born with a curious spirit, Coralie gets credit for encouraging my wanderlust.

Born in 1930, Coralie marched to the beat of her own drum, which wasn’t always easy back then. The family moved from Milwaukee to Tucson in 1934 in hopes of finding a brighter place to weather the Great Depression. After graduating from Tucson High School she began working in local government. That career path led her to Denver where she took the civil service exam which resulted in a job at the Pentagon.

In the late 1960s, in a very unusual departure from the family’s hardworking ethic, Coralie quit her job and hopped on a freighter bound for Europe. After a few months of touring around she walked onto the Weisbaden Air Force Base and landed a job as a secretary. Several years later she transferred back stateside, to Kelly Air Force Base in San Antonio.

Coralie worked in the purchasing department for the C-5A Galaxy (at that time the largest aircraft in the US fleet). She loved her job and excelled at it, even attending night school in order to get a college degree to further her advancement. She especially delighted in her paid vacations and used her time off to continue her worldly travels.

Since Coralie enjoyed her work, she was in no hurry to retire. Every year, after age 65, the General she worked for would ask her when she was going to retire. With a wink Coralie would reply, “You’ll be the first to know.” Turns out, the military had to close the base in order to finally get her to retire!

In early 2001 she moved back to Tucson, to my great joy. Over the last eighteen years I was fortunate to spend a lot of time with Coralie. Since she never married or had children, my step-sister and I happily filled in the latter role. Many a laughter-filled evening was spent around her dining room table. Game nights were especially fun (though you had to keep a close eye on Coralie, since she inherited Grandma’s penchant for a little self-dealing, if you know what I mean).

While her traveling had slowed in the past few years, in the end she had visited every continent (except Antarctica). A dedicated member of her church and supporter of several charitable organizations, Coralie’s intelligence and thirst for knowledge will be missed by many.

I will especially miss our long conversations and random adventures: museum visits, lectures, outdoor concerts, and even a behind-the-scenes tour of the University of Arizona’s sports facilities. Bon voyage on your last trip, Coralie, I will treasure all our wonderful memories…

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Coralie, October 2015

Muchas Lluvias!

Thought I’d share a bit of the recent downpour, taken from my front porch. They aren’t kidding around about this being the rainy season. The pattern this week out here on the Nicoya Peninsula has been sunny mornings followed by wet evenings.

The rain does cool things down a bit which is much appreciated. The temperature only hits the low 80s (with humidity in the 90s) but somehow the sun down here feels hotter. And this is coming from a girl who grew up in Tucson and just spent the past summer living on the Texas Gulf Coast.

The rainy season may not be a tourist’s delight but the locals love it, especially the plants. This is a dry tropical forest, meaning that when the dry season starts in December plants will respond by dropping their leaves to conserve water. The lush greenery that surrounds me will soon turn brown and be coated in dust. Hard to fathom right now.

My Lucky Day!

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Flotsam Colones, Santa Teresa, Costa Rica October 2019

Wow – what a great day! Not only was the weather absolutely perfect for a long beach stroll but the ocean gifted me with a bunch of colones. Up until now, I’ve mostly been finding small coins (roughly equivalent to our US penny). I’ve been using the change to buy my daily banana from the market on my way to the playa (about ten cents).

Today I headed north for a longer than normal jaunt, eager to explore new territory. Rounding a bend I noticed a bunch of colorful rectangles mixed in with bits of plastic debris. The odd shape warranted a closer look and I’m so very glad I did!

At the current exchange rate, 57,000 colones equals $100 USD – that’s a lot of bananas! Thanks, ocean.

On another note: Aren’t colones pretty? They are mostly made of plastic and each denomination features an iconic native animal.

 

Berry Nice

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Ornamental Banana Bloom, Santa Teresa, Costa Rica October 2019

True banana plants grow well here but this ornamental variety (Musa ornata) serves as a fast-growing privacy fence lining many yards. Plus, as you can see, they really are quite stunning. Though they do produce fruit, it is largely inedible due to the size of the seeds.

Last thought on bananas for now, did you know the fruit is actually, botanically speaking, a berry? Go ahead, look it up, I’ll wait. Oh, and once you have the weird world of berries all figured out, could you explain it to the rest of us?

Yard Birds 1

I have a small gnatcatcher to thank for pointing out this stunning couple in my yard. As a birder, my eyes catch and follow movement among the trees, while my ears listen for cheeps, chirps, and whistles.

So even though these Black-headed Trogons (Trogon melanocephalus) are vibrantly colored, and by no means tiny, I almost overlooked this pair since they were so still and quiet. And no, I never did get a good shot of that gnatcatcher, it zipped away while I was photographing these two.

Though the genus name trogon is Greek for nibbling (since they chew on wood to make their nests), this species is a bit of a standout as they nest in active termitaria (technical term for termite nests). I think they’re pretty smart, why do all that extra work if you don’t have to?

 

Water Dwellers

So, this is what might happen if you own three cameras. You “might” forget to import the media from one of them because you forgot which ones you had with you at the time. Because, honestly, who would take all three cameras with them at once? I mean, obviously, two is plenty…cough.

The following short videos are from my boat ride to Isla Tortuga a couple weeks ago. It was a treat to spend a bit of time with these charismatic creatures!

 

Note: As you can hear in the video, I was fascinated by their white bellies (and yes, I’m aware that I sound like I’m 12). The white belly is actually a pretty unique feature, as humpback whales in the southern hemisphere sport white bellies (unlike their northern counterparts who have black bellies).

Slow Learner?

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Toy House on Beach, Santa Teresa, Costa Rica October 2019

Just about a month ago, I shared a little post where I mentioned my need to be more specific when I put a request out to the universe. Apparently, I am still wide of the mark. The ocean gifted me this toy house this week.

A house on the beach would fit me perfectly, even if it was a purple one. Though obviously, I need to include more parameters: like large enough for me to actually live in, for starters. But what a great view, yeah?