Monday, December 8, 2008

More critters from Costa Rica

Alright, so the previous post was a lot of talk. There was some catching up to do. But I have a ton more photos from Los Jardines de la Catarata La Paz, a place that seems to have been designed with the photographing tourist in mind. I mean, all the ‘wildlife’ here is boxed or caged, or – when it’s free-ranging – attracted with copious amounts of bananas, all for the benefit of the lazy tourist, who wants to see critters up close but doesn’t want to spend an awful lot of time searching for them. Anyone who's ever visited a rain forest or a cloud forest knows that the wildlife in these places, abundant as it may be, is often damn hard to see. Not so here.

Take this well-fed Tennessee Warbler, for instance. Why bother trying to catch small moving insects when you can eat banana all day every day? There’s enough for everyone, and when the banana is finished, a new one magically appears.

This Baltimore Oriole is singing the Banana Boat Song.

This is a Sara Heliconian, one of the many butterflies in the butterfly garden. The Costa Rica Lonely Planet guide casually boasts that this is the largest butterfly garden in the world, but I’ve seen bigger. It’s pretty big, though. They do a nice job of showing all stages in the butterfly life span with actual specimens.

Here’s another heliconian, Heart-spotted Heliconian.

This is a Polydamas Swallowtail, nectaring.

Here’s a male Violet Sabrewing, a large hummingbird that is easy to observe in the butterfly garden.

This raccoon is debating whether he should have another banana.

And finally a completely wild, unfed creature: the sloth! They may have a bad reputation for being lazy, but this guy – unlike most creatures at the gardens – was actively foraging on food he completely found on his own. OK, so what if that food was leaves from trees, which were quite abundantly available. Still, it’s the principle that counts!

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