The morning bird counts were in areas of more dense forest, where finding birds can be difficult. Here are Kelly and Elise trying to spot species in a mixed natural reforestation area:
Their view was a creek area below filled with trees, where birds can be challenging to pick out from the background:
After breakfast we walked through the primary forest with the Leaves and Lizards guide, Oscar Hidalgo. Oscar has been an excellent resource for the students, using his twenty-plus years of experience as a guide and knowledge of the species found in Costa Rica. Our second night here he gave an excellent introduction and slide show outlining Costa Rican ecology. He is also very serious about his work and the safety of the group. In spite of the concerns anyone might have had about being near the volcano during a pyroclastic flow, Oscar knew exactly what was safe and what was not. He is similarly careful about safety in the forest, and gave an excellent tour of Orlando's forest. In the photo below, Oscar is at far right showing the students a strawberry poison arrow frog that he observed in the leaf litter:
One of the nice surprises this morning was that one of the other guides, Enrique, had found a sloth in town that needed to be relocated to the Leaves and Lizards property. Sloths are at risk in city areas since they can be bothered by children and dogs, and need to be put somewhere that the trees are taller and the habitat more abundant. Enrique trusted the students to carry it to an appropriate place and to conduct the actual release. Kelly initially helped to carry him, and he was pretty trusting and calm:
This was a three-toed sloth, with characteristic slow movement and beautifully unusual face. Its fur is an ecosystem in itself, harboring colonies of algae and lichen that add a green tint to the fur, and moths that cling to the hairs and have life cycles linked to the sloth movement in the trees. After we arrived to a more secluded area of the forest, Elise took over the actual release, and gave him a boost onto a vine, where he quickly disappeared into the canopy:
The release of the sloth was another of the very close-to-nature experiences that this group has been able to get in our short time here!