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Thursday, April 03, 2008

Bahia Santa Elena, CR (wildlife)

The bay here is surrounded by the Santa Rosa National Park which we were told is known for its population of howler monkeys. We have yet to see a howler monkey but one morning we did wake to see a pod of dolphins swimming in the bay. And on an afternoon beach walk outside the bay we caught glimpses of four sea turtles in the shallow waters off the sand. Still no howler monkeys after five days here, but we do see green parrots flying overhead in squawking pairs at sunrise and sunset every day. Oh, and one morning at sunrise there was a humpback whale lying almost motionless in the bay. After watching her for over an hour we decided she had either come into the calm protected waters to give birth to and/or to nurse the calf that periodically surfaced by her side. They still weren't the famous howler monkeys, but on a hike one afternoon we were scolded by three spider monkeys watching us from a tree just off the dirt road we were walking on. And yesterday, on our hike to the nearby waterfall and swimming holes, John twice caught sight of deer in the dry tropical forest. During a morning dinghy ride in the bay we were drawn to what we hoped might be the long sought after howler monkeys walking along the beach, but they only turned out to be half a dozen of some other kind of monkey with cream colored faces and shoulders having a good time swinging around in the low trees above the beach.

There are interesting noises at dawn and dusk that sound like a cross between a very loud bullfrog and a large cat growling repetitiously, as well as a long one tone hoooooot followed by the same thing in a different pitch. Perhaps these are the unseen howler monkeys? They are the first sounds of the morning followed by a jumble of bird song, and finally the sleepyhead parrots join the chorus before flying off to wherever they go for the day.

All in all it's been disappointing not to have been treated to an appearance by the mysterious howler monkeys, but we'll just have to console ourselves with the everyday sort of wildlife that has come our way so far...

Linda and John