Sunday, February 14, 2010

Eco-Benin Visit to Costa Rica (Days 3 and 4)

I love Maquenque Eco-Lodge. I mean they are doing active habitat management for Pedros’ sake! They have different lagoons and are controlling water levels to attract birds and make sure food is available during the migratory season. This has paid off as during the time we visited Maquenque Eco-Lodge two Wood Storks and 21 Black-bellied whistling ducks. This was the first time either of these species had been seen at the lodge. Of course the lodge has only been open for 8 months. But the farm has been in the family for over 50 years.

Pedro and Viki are the members of the Artavia family that live on the property and manage the day to day activities. Seriously, this place is Great. Note the capital G. Fantastic. So many good things to say. I am not sure what else one could ask for. The morning chorus was magnificent with monkeys and macaws, the back porches with forests and wetlands right out the back door, the neat, clean and attractive cabins, the solar water heating systems, the steamy jungle river, the 60 species of birds in short morning walk, I could go on and on. There is just a lot to like about this place. Go there! And do so before the crowds; because it will happen. The place is too nice not to.

While in the area we also visited Laguna Lagarto Lodge and Mi Pedacito de Cielo. Mi Pedacito has done a lot to improve their site for visitors. That is not to say the place wasn’t already a good site to begin with. However, they implemented many things to meet the sustainable standards of the Costa Rican Bird Route. They have installed energy efficient lights, water and energy meters to measure water and energy use, put hand painted cloth bags in the rooms for laundry instead of having people use plastic bags. They have new interpretive signs up, have field guides in the rooms, have trail maps and a folder with ways visitors can be sustainable while visiting.

It was also great to see Marco Tulio, Pavel, and Hugo. I noted the Partners in Flight pin Hugo had in his cap that Terry Rich had given him as well as the binoculars that Lisa Garrett had given him during the first FAM trip to the bird route. Mi Pedacito de Cielo, aka My Little Piece of Sky, was Maxim’s favorite site thus far.

At Laguna Lagarto Lodge we had a chance to see the hides that a Hungarian photography company has constructed at the lodge. Someone like Dave Edwards would love these blinds. While at Laguna Lagarto I was also able to take Maxim canoeing in one of the lagoons. This was the first time Max had ever been canoeing! It was cool to be able to experience this with him. As we left the lagoons we had a pair of Scarlets AND and a pair of Great Greens flyby.

When we returned to Maquenque that night Nadine was there waiting. She had finally arrived. There was however bad news upon arrival as well. The “Casa Lapa”, the house I lived in, In Boca Tapada when I was part of the Great Green Macaw research project had been burned down the night before.

Boca Tapda needs some help right now in the form of environmental education. We hope to work with the lodges in the area to do so in the next 4 months so that this critically important forest and related biodiversity can be around for generations to come.

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