We had a very pleasant and enjoyable stay at the lodge and in the La Fortuna area in general. My group was especially pleased with their accommodations and I was happy with my room as well, even though my view was not quite as good and I couldn't see the birds that they had so close to their rooms!
I thought that the food and the service at the lodge were outstanding and we all appreciated the time in the field with Sr. Christian Campos. When we arrived on Thursday, May 16th, the bird feeders appeared to have been neglected for a few days. We requested some fruit to be put out for the birds and soon many were coming in for us to see. However, the rabo de gato bushes around the deck were attracting many other birds, especially hummingbirds. One of the hummingbirds that I had hoped to see, the tiny Black-crested Coquette, was present at times either in those flowering shrubs or in the same shrubs near the observatory building.
The staff was helpful and accommodating to us. I made friends with a man working at recepcion, Leonel, whose hometown, Pital, was only a few kilometres from our next destination. Please tell him that I said "hello."
After we arrived I asked whether you were available because I wanted to thank you personally for all your help in setting up our visit. I was informed that your office was in San Jose so you would not be available for that purpose. Que lastima!
I was pleasantly surprised that we actually could see all of Volcan Arenal for a few minutes on two or three occasions, so I was happy about that. Afterall, we were visiting during the winter when I didn't expect to see it at all!
We were delighted to see all three species of monkeys, including several encounters with my favorite species, the Black-handed Spider Monkey. One evening just before dark, there were some loud noises coming from the pines behind my building. It turned out to be about 8 female spider monkeys, each with a baby. They were squabbling about something. It seemed that there were two groups, so perhaps it was a fight about territory.
We also got to see a Tamandua at the beginning of the Waterfall Trail, but I was alone when I saw the uncommon and uncommonly beautiful Ocellated Antbird in the garden below the observatory building!
I look forward to the day when I can return to wonderful people, the birds, the other animals, and the lovely accommodations of the Arenal Observatory Lodge!
Mark W. Larson