Sunday, January 27, 2013

Adventures in Costa Rica

Fiery-Billed Aracari- taken in the wild

I just returned from a week-long vacation in the lovely country of Costa Rica. I have to say - it is a Nature lover's paradise. Gorgeous, lush mountains, jungles, rainforests, the most amazing beaches I have ever seen...... and amazing wildlife!

Green-Crowned Brilliant hummingbird- taken in the wild

It was hot and humid, and we sweat a LOT. But totally worth it. We visited some national parks, including Manuel Antonio (known for awesome wildlife and amazing beaches) and Carara - more wildlife! Monteverde was a cloud forest, and you could zipline thru the canopy. Wildlife everywhere and the most amazing foliage I have ever seen. And one of the most amazing butterflies I have ever seen (and unable to photograph, sadly, because of its "drunk" flying pattern)

Capuchin or White-Faced Monkey - taken in the wild

We stayed in an amazing house that was visited by monkeys, toucans, and geckos. It was nice to have a great home base, where some pals made some amazing meals including fried plantains with brown sugar, fried rice with pineapple, and home made guacamole! We stopped at a local fruit stand and loaded up on fresh mangoes, avocados the size of my head, plantains, bananas, passionfruit, and pineapples. I will never get fruit as good as that ever again.

Chestnut-Mandibled Toucan - taken in the wild

Costa Rica is a very earth-friendly planet. Recycling everywhere, water conservation, electricity usage, and lots of natural land/wildlife conservation. The people there are so friendly, and we made many friends on our excursions. I am glad I know enough Spanish to get us around- it came in very handy! I had some great conversations with the drivers as they told me about the history of their country and I told them about America. The food there was delicious, and plenty of fresh seafood! All 9 of us had a wonderful time -whether it was floating in the pool, getting massages, exploring the town of Jaco, morning and evening hikes on the massive hills in the neighborhood, or hiking in the forests. 
There is SO much more I want to do there- visit other parts of the country and explore. I know that some day I will return to that amazing country.


Sunday, January 13, 2013

Hoots and Musings

 Long-Eared Owl
Northern Saw-Whet Owl

Today I went on a field trip with a local Audubon Society to Iowa to look for owls. We saw 4 species, and 2 that I had never seen before! Northern Saw-Whet Owl (new one for me!), Long-Eared Owl, Short-Eared Owl (another new one for me!), and a Great Horned Owl. It was ridiculously cold, but totally worth the trip. Missed out on some pics of the Short Eared Owl, but we saw some hunting at dusk. I hope to go back and see if I can find them again. 
My break from dog agility is coming to an end very soon. While I am excited to start training and competing again, this break has been awesome. I've been able to get out and do lots of exploring. I've seen a lot of things that I don't think I would have seen if I had kept on with my busy agility schedule. I think both myself and the dogs will be coming back from break with excitement and a fresh start to the new year. It also helps me put things into perspective- while competing and training my dogs is a wicked fun hobby- it is important for me to get back to Nature and see what it has to offer. I feel that same level of excitement whether it be an awesome run with one of my dogs, or snapping a photo that really exceeds my expectations. It's all about balance. Nature has taught me that.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Happy 2013!

Spent New Year's Day outside with the camera....a little chilly.... but nice to get some sun on the 'ol noggin. Went to a National Wildlife Refuge not too far from my house and did some hiking with a fellow photographer pal in search of some little birds from the north called Redpolls. I saw one, missed the shot though. Maybe next time. Did see plenty of other great birds, including this gorgeous little Kestrel. They are mini raptors! Their coloring is amazing. All in all, a great way to spend the first day of 2013!