You've probably heard about the devastating earthquake that recently struck Costa Rica and killed at least 23 people. It's the worst quake to hit Costa Rica in 18 years. I received an email today from the tour guide who led my first tour there in 2005. I was sad to hear that two of the sites we visited on that trip were destroyed and people we met were lost in the disaster. The first memorable site we visited was the La Paz Waterfall Gardens where we saw many beautiful hummingbirds including the endemic Coppery-headed Emerald, the gorgeous Black-bellied Hummingbird, and the pixie-like Magenta-throated Woodstar. The site was a beautiful resort and included a very fun waterfall-themed bathroom. The resort suffered severe damage in the quake. Pictures are below.
The second site, and most tragic story, was our visit to a tiny, family-owned restaurant called El Mirador in the town of Cinchona. We were welcomed into the restaurant to view their feeders that were backdropped by a spectacular waterfall. The fruit feeders were visited by many tanagers and Prong-billed and Red-headed Barbets. Their hummingbird feeders were visited by Magnificent Hummingbirds and Violet Sabrewings. While eating delicious snacks and drinking coffee, the little daughter of the owner came over to show us her "pet" - a tarantula about the size of my palm. It happily crawled over hands and she giggled at my fear of the spider. Tragically, El Mirador was destroyed in a mudslide due to the earthquake and the family perished. As my friend Mike put it, I'm thankful to have been lucky enough to experience this tremendous place.
An Emerald Toucanet (or Blue-throated Toucanet depending on who you ask) at the feeders at La Paz