Wildlife Photo Adventure in Costa Rica!

Wildlife Photo Adventure in Costa Rica!

A great surprise came when Tony asked me if I wanted to join as a participant on the TTL tour with Greentours – Natural History Holidaysto Costa Rica that he was leading with Chris Gardner. As we had our own little Birding & Photography tour there in March this year, I was very excited with the proposal.

Costa Rica – such a beautiful country with an amazing variety of wildlife, a laid-back attitude and service minded Costa Rican people. A country with great flavor of spice and color.

After my first trip to the country, when I got over 300 life birds, I simply fell in love with the place. This feeling only became stronger after the TTL trip with Greentours. Now I’m sitting here in Ottawa, editing amazing images and writing this BLOG entry while dreaming of my return.

Wildlife Photo Adventure in Costa Rica!
Male Red-legged Honeycreeper at Laguna Lagartos

Central American Agouti (Dasyprocta punctata), Bosque de Paz

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Collared Aracari at Laguna Lagartos

Rainforest detail

Scarlet Macaw, Photo courtesy Tony Beck

White-fronted Nunbird at Laguna Lagartos

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Male White-necked Jacobin at Laguna Lagartos

White Tent Bats, Photo courtesy Tony Beck

Nina photograping red legged tree frog Hyla rufitela 10
Me, photographing Red-legged Tree Frog in the rainforest, at Laguna Lagartos, Photo courtesy Martin Angel

The Red-legged Tree Frog I’m photographing over

Upon arriving at the airport in San Jose, the first bird we saw was, of course, the Black Vulture.

We headed straight for our first lodge at tranquil Bosque de Paz. What a magnificent place, with a wonderful bird feeding station, an orchid garden, a butterfly garden, a waterfall and a stream. I think I could remain only at this place for weeks, photographing the lovely surroundings and the amazing micro world inside the rain forest.We stayed here for two nights before we took the long drive over to Laguna Lagartos’ – 1250 acres of virgin rainforest. Having the place to ourselves was a plus and we had a hard time sitting still as the forest and wildlife was constantly calling our names.

I had the first view ever of a Puma’s paw print! It was fresh in the mud after a light rain shower, and we were walking the same trail as the Puma had just a few hours before us. I have to admit the thought was quite exciting!

Fresh Puma paw-print at Laguna Lagartos

Golden Orb Spider

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Black-cheeked Woodpecker at Laguna Lagartos

Strange insects, butterflies, damselflies, mushrooms, monkeys, frogs and plants were captivating, and held our attention for hours at the time. Back at the lodge and the fantastic patio, we watched and photographed Montezuma Oropendulas, Scarlet Macaws, Collared Aracari and many other bird species. We had Spectacled Caiman in the ponds next to the lodge and Emerald Basilisks running around the property.

While visiting a private home in the nearby area, a big earthquake hit an amazing 7.6 on the Richter scale. It’s absolutely crazy no one got hurt during this significant tremor. We were about 160 km east of the epicenter, and we could feel the natural phenomenon very well unfolding under our feet. So well, that after about half a minute I started getting bit worried as the movements continued. Another 15-20 seconds later, everything went more or less back to normal. The Howler Monkeys went totally bananas for about 45 minutes after the quake ended.

Nevertheless, Laguna Lagartos was a fabulous, lively and entertaining place .We spent 3 glorious nights there.

Our next stop was up in the cloud forest surrounding San Gerardo and Savegre Lodge. When I was there in March, I missed good views of the male Resplendent Quetzal. But, this time, with help from a local guide, we got him! The Quetzal loves avocado trees, and sure enough, there it was, obscured by branches, lianas and green leaves. What an amazing bird, with the “punkiest” hair-do I’ve ever seen.

After Sevegre, and the nice clean crisp mountain air, we headed for the Osa Peninsula. Getting there was fun and extremely interesting. We were transported by Aero Taxi from Golfito to Jimenez. The small airplane ride took only about 20 minutes giving us a fantastic view of the nearby area. Our lodge, Bosque del Cabo, is a private reserve overlooking the Pacific Ocean. During our 5 days stay, we observed several Humpback Whales, a Minke Whale, all kinds of monkeys swinging from the treetops, Crested Caracaras loafing around on the lawn, 9-banded Armadillos turning the earth for crabs and other food, and many other bird and mammal species. Of course, the loudest of them all were the many Scarlet Macaws ruling the air space.

Again, we had the place almost totally to ourselves, and the people at the lodge really spoiled us well. It was a serene and wonderful experience to have been there.

Our last night was spent at the fabulous La Cusinga Lodge in the Dominical area. The place grasped my heart so intensely, I simply have to go back! The sooner the better!

Unfortunately, all (good) things must come to an end. This time, I simply wanted to stay. I had purposely throughout the trip refused to look at my photos, so that I could extend the trip much longer after I got back home. I’m still editing images and re-living the tour – the places, the food, the people, the animals, the insects, the flowers, everything!

We were 11 happy travelers, including two leaders, who had a lot of fun, learning and teaching each other about nature, wildlife, flora, fauna and most important of all; photography.

Thank you to all you wonderful people: Moira Gardner, Mary Guy, Martin Angel, Heather Angel, Andrew Eadie, Michael Brooking, Ron Humphrey & Hilary Humphrey. You all made this trip so very unforgettable. Also a great thank you toChris GardnerandTony Beckfor your excellent expertise, patience and knowledge.

Nina Stavlund

Nina Stavlund

Nina is Norwegian, an extensive world traveller, and is now living in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada. She's also a passionate birder and nature lover. She's a professional photographer, graduated from "Bilder Nordic School of Photography" in Oslo, Norway. Her award-winning work appears in many catalogues, magazines, postcards, websites, calendars and more. Nina, & her husband Tony Beck, offer local excursions, international tours and photographic services through their company "Always An Adventure Inc". Nina also conducts photography and photo editing courses.

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Nina Stavlund

Nina Stavlund

Professional Photographer accepting new assignments! After working as an Executive/Personal Assistant for 15 years, mainly in the oil and gas business in Norway, I needed a change in my life. Since photography had been a passion since I was a child, I wanted to do something creative and meaningful in this field. This inspired me to visit Greece for 3 wonderful years. After returning to Norway, I decided it was time to become a professional photographer/artist. In 2010, I graduated from “Bilder Nordic School of Photography” in Oslo. At the same time, I was working full time with the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) International Arctic Program. In addition to nature & wildlife photography, I also do lifestyle, weddings/anniversaries, portrait and creative photography and I teach photography and photo editing.

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