Christmas Bird Count 2014

On Jan. 10th the Tambor Bay Birding Association conducted its third annual Christmas Bird count! It was a great turn out at Hotel Tambor Tropical the night before the count, with 25 people getting organized into groups in preparation of a full day of birding ahead. The count began at 6PM on Jan. 9th with a nocturnal survey up to Raptor Ridge, the highlights of which was a great look at a cooperative mottled owl. The next day, four teams covered the areas of Curu, Los Delfines, Raptor Ridge and the Panica River, recording a total of 172 species and 1852 individuals. Highlights of the day included Crane Hawk, King Vulture and a new species for the Tambor Bay list, Greenish Elaenia! The count wrapped up with an excellent supper at H and B Restaurant and Cabinas, thanks folks!

A big thank you to our special guest Robert Dean, illustrator of the essential guide book “The Birds of Costa Rica: A Field Guide.” Thanks or helping us out with our count and we hope to have you again to Tambor Bay!

Thanks to Juan Carlos Cruz for all the photos!

Too see more images from the count visit the Tambor Bay Birders facebook page.

Click here to see a table of the count data from the Christmas Bird count 2014.

Meeting at Hotel Tambor Tropical on the evening before the count

Meeting at Hotel Tambor Tropical on the evening before the count


Special guest Robert Dean, illustrator of "The Bird of Costa Rica" field guide signing Paulas guide book!

Special guest Robert Dean, illustrator of “The Bird of Costa Rica” field guide signing Paulas guide book!


White-necked puffbird along the Panica Rive trail


Spotting birds behind H and B Restaurant and Cabinas


Enjoying the new routes along the Panica river trail


Violaceous trogon, always a stunner!


The benches were a much needed addition to the Panica river trail system!

The birders enjoying supper at the H and B Restaurant and Hotel

The birders enjoying supper at the H and B Restaurant and Hotel


A Report from Costa Rica

By Jack King

A long time friend, and my cabochon student from William Holland School of Lapidary in Young Harris, Ga. Michael Smith, told me of his trips with his wife to the same resort on the Pacific coast of Costa Rica where they had been going for over ten years. My eyes and ears really perked up when he showed me colorful jaspers that he had picked up while walking on the beach in front of the resort.

So, Kathy and I put this location on our bucket list to do. We learned that Michael and his wife, Ruth, are benefactors to a local school there and that the kids loved having visitors to practice their English with. I discussed it with Michael and it was decided that when we went that we would take books on rocks and minerals that were aimed at youth.

A couple of books from our old club library made into my suitcase along with the other selection of books that we ordered. So, we scraped together some frequent flyer points and made a date for June for us to travel to Tambor, Costa Rica, with our friend, Michael as our guide. We flew from Charlotte to San Jose, Costa Rica, rented a car and were soon on our journey.

What a journey it was to be. We had planned on a 1.5-hour ride to catch the five o’clock ferry. NOT! It was blowing rain sideways and we missed the turn to the ferry and drove another 30 miles before we realized that we were lost. By the time we made our way back to the ferry, there was no ferry in sight and the next one was at 8:30 p.m.

I told Kathy that it could have been a.m. So, we opted for a relaxed dinner and to wait. The ferry trip was another 1.5-hour journey then about another 45 minutes to our rooms. The resort was all buttoned up by this time of night and the manager had to get up to take us to our rooms.

By the next morning we were all walking the beach and it was easy to see the source of the very plentiful jaspers as well as minimal petrified wood along the beach. There was a river about a half mile up the beach which came down from the mountains dumping the treasures of red, green, yellow, orange, brown, and black jaspers. Sizes ranged from walnut sized to fist sized.

I knew that I had the space of the books that I had packed as well as a couple of gifts but was soon wondering which clothes I should leave behind in order to pack more rocks. We all brought our treasures each day back to tables on our porch in front of our room and it soon became a culling process as to which jaspers were the best of the best. A very had choice indeed.

One afternoon as I was sorting thru my finds, a gardener looked up at me and said: “ Do you like rocks?” in perfect English. And so, the next adventure of our journey path began. We met the man on Sunday morning and he took us to a VERY secluded beach where he dives to spearfish and he said that the bottom was littered with rocks that we would like and that they were different than the ones in front of our hotel.

We parked the car and trekked about a half mile thru some very hilly woods and found ourselves on a very steep rocky cliff overlooking a spectacular black sand beach. Of course, there were no steps down to the water. It was careful step by step between the boulders which Kathy, Michael and our guide took.

Yes, I wimped out. In about an hour they were back with the agates that they picked up on the sand as well as the dived for treasures that our guide swam for.

Our next day, for me was the best. And that is the day that Michael and I went to Tambor Beach School. This is not like any Char/Meck school folks. A concrete block building with tin roof and a couple of ceiling fans. Our hotel manager came along to be our make our English understandable.

We started out with the politest 5 years olds who sang to us in English. Then Michael gave a rock program and every eye was eager to see what we had brought. By the time we got to the 11 year olds, ( who you will see in the picture) they were like bees on honey when they saw the books that we had brought. Just like in Mary Fisher’s junior’s group, there were a couple of kids who were already into rocks and wanted to learn ANYTHING that we could tell them.

One asked had we seen aquamarine. On the way into the school, I spotted a walnut size chunk of red jasper in the parking lot. When we showed the kids this, at break time all that you could see were bent over kids. The next day a teacher sent word that many kids showed up the next day with bags of rocks. While on this journey, we learned that their local translation of CON MUCHO GUSTO, which means to them, “WITH MY GREAT PLEASURE.”

Well, for Kathy and me, this new journey in life was indeed with our great pleasure.

Costa Rican Return

By ,Wildlife Photographer – The Rich Coast

After a much easier travel experience to Costa Rica then the previous year, I find myself back in the remote town of Tambor. Apologies to all who were expecting blog posts over the summer, I wish I could have written about my experiences living aboard a small sailboat in St. Andrews but the time went by too fast and most friends and relatives were close enough to get a first hand anecdote.

This upcoming season in Costa Rica is an exciting one, during the off-season (Nov. – Dec.) I decided that I would come back to Costa Rica to focus full time on finding, studying and photographing birds. Why birds you ask? Well I can’t really answer that, I don’t really know why myself. Birds can be many things to many different people; for some they are the scourge that wake you up at 5am to find a garbage littered driveway, or a fresh patch of excrement on that new car. To some they may be small and non-descript or even carriers of some media-hyped pathogen. However, to a select few people birds are much more then that. Birds are living ambassadors of nature’s diversity that can offer a lifetime of discovery and adventure if only you slow down enough to be granted passage into their world. A world that can be found in your own backyard with a well stocked feeder, or along a wooded path that may someday lead you into the depths of a Costa Rican jungle…The truth is that you can find birds just about anywhere, if you go outside right now and take a look around I’ll bet you the first living thing you will see is a bird (not counting humans and their domestic counterparts). Seriously, try it! Birds are all around us, sharing in our experiences, hardships and history and we owe to them and ourselves to take the time to get to know them. Some people may have expected a more utilitarian answer, something…academic…and along the lines of “well, they are important indicators of ecosystem integrity” or even “they provide many important services to humans (eating pesky insects, pollinating trees, providing important models for our understanding of biological phenomenon, yak yak yak) But why does everything have to exist for our own benefit? Why does the conservation of our natural world rest firmly on the foundation that it must “do” something for us to be worth saving? Birds deserve to be here just as much as we do, and they have been here for much longer. I am not alone in this unexplained fondness for our feathered kin, as the estimated number of birders in North America lies somewhere between 20-30 million ranking birding just behind gardening as the favorite outdoor pastime. Ignore them and ignore the 20$ billion they spend annually in their quest for that checkmark next to a name in their guidebook. Anyway, all rants aside, I am very excited to be here once again and able to share my experiences with everyone back home. Their love and support make this adventure possible.

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Trip Advisor Recognizes Tambor Tropical for Excellence

Trip Advisor - Certificate of Excellence TripAdvisor recognized Tambor Tropical Beach Resort with a 2013 Certificate of Excellence. This prestigious award, which places the boutique resort in the top-performing 10 percent of all businesses worldwide on TripAdvisor, is given to businesses that consistently earn high ratings from TripAdvisor travelers.

Tambor Tropical’s ownership, management and staff wants to thank all our guests who have helped us reach this recognition. We pride ourselves in providing great customer service and really appreciate all of you made Tambor Tropical a part of your Costa Rican experience.

We would love to host you again and hope there is an opportunity for you to stay with us in the future.

The Tambor Tropical

Tamandua Encounter in Costa Rica

By Nick Hawkins, Wildlife Photographer


The Tamandua has a strong prehensile tail that can grip foliage and support their entire weight. This frees up their arms for ripping open insect nests or defending against predators.

As a wildlife photographer, it often takes a lot of time, planning and patience to capture meaningful images of the natural world. Other times, a chance encounter and a bit of quick thinking can produce a great image. Such occurrences are rare but many times turn out as some of my most memorable experiences as a photographer. Last night was certainly one of these times, when I came across a Tamandua, a type of anteater, in the backyard of Hotel Tambor Tropical.

These interesting creatures are not common, and their nocturnal and arboreal habits make them very difficult to observe. I quickly gathered my camera gear and using two off camera flashes, set-up underneath one of the trees that the Tamandua was feeding in. Luckily I had two friends with me who helped in holding flashes and other camera gear, we remained silent and all waited for the animal to descend down the tree.

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