In hindsight this is a must stop destination. We stayed at the Volcano Observatory Lodge which offered superb rooms and the second-best food of the whole of our Costa Rican trip
. Perched in the pine woodlands looking out over the tropical forest on the slopes of Volcano Arenal, it was as stunning location and offered brilliant sunset scenes . The volcano is occasionally free of cloud and still smoulders of steam and gases but was last really active in 2010 . The gardens below the decking swept round and were accessible from most of the rooms . A few Coati (racoon type mammals) were frequent visitors and the forest echoed the call of the Howlers and Toucans . Passerini’s Tanagers and Band-backed Wrens were noisy around the rooms . A Hepatic Tanager, Slaty-headed Flycatcher and Shinning Honey-creeper were next and a brief view of a White-throated Magpie Jay which got me out exploring further .
Across a suspended footbridge from the hotel are further grounds, hotel rooms and the actual observatory building and the planting, particular the Verbena, around it was even better for birding
. Below the bridge in the little valley a few White-throated Robins (Turdus assimilis - a bit like our Ring Ouzel) sang from deep cover during the morning . I’d booked local guide Christian for a 2 hour pre-breakfast walk and we found a cracking range of hummers: Black-crested Coquette, Brown Violet-ear, White-necked Jacobin, Green Thorntail, Steely-vented, Purple-crowned Fairy, Violet-crowned Woodnymph, Rufous Tailed, Green Hermit, Blue Throated Golden-tail and Violet-headed. A pair of Curassow were wandering around the grounds and Crested Guans glided clumsily between fruiting trees . Further exploration during the day included further birds: Red-lored Parrot, Canada, Chestnut-sided and Wilson’s Warblers, Tropical Parula, Black-headed Nightingale-Thrush, Grey-breasted Wood-Wren . Whilst exploring one of the lava fields we added Spotted and Dull-mantled Antbirds, Slaty Antwren, Common and Grey-crowned Yellowthroats and saw a wild Agouti (a large tailless forest rat) and Red-eyed Tree frog, Agalychnis callidryas .
Band-backed Wren and Green Honey-creeper male
Vocan Arenal and I think Nutting's Flycatcher (can anyone confirm?)
Female Great Curassow and Black Phoebe
Coati and view from the lodge
Observatory part of the lodge and below Rufous-tailed Hummer nest with 1 chick
Red-eyed tree frog and Crested Guan
Blue-throated Goldentail above and Rufous-tail below