The embedded recording is of a Turquoise-browed Motmot (also pictured above) from Paloverde National Park recorded 2/27/89. Background species include Ferruginous Pygmy-Owl, and Mantled Howler Monkey. All content by D.L.Ross

   Navigating to this particular oasis in the midst of scorching sun would not be too hard, that is with ample Spanglish and muchas patience from the benevolent Ticos. At this juncture you would do far better to consult your guide books, take the GPS, and heed the recommendation of "4X4 required". Although it has been decades, I've been there a few times, 3, 4, maybe 6 visits. Once or twice in rental cars, a time or two in my own pickup trucks. On the first visit though, back in 1989, I caught a Taxi in Bagaces. I think I was picked up from the bus, stop-parabolic microphone and backpack over the shoulder. With a pre-trip to town, I had a box of food and a plan. Go to Palo Verde and record birds. The taxi --a red 4X4 was supposed to come back in a week. The ride in crosses ranches, scrub, rice plantations, a dried wash or two (one where an OTS student may have had a horrible encounter with killer bees). I remember some rocky areas not great on Toyota rental sedans.

   Perhaps miscellany, and much time removed, leave a recollection as obscured as the windshield and optics after such a dusty trek, but I can still tell you about Palo Verde. I can remember my best encounters with the then Ferruginous Pygmy-Owl, backlit by glowing green acacia leaves as it approached within a few feet of my microphone. I can remember vividly a morning when the air was still, when the the single plaintive calls of Thicket Tinamou rang like beautiful bells. The pure sound spreading like ripples on a still pond. There were howler monkey roars reverberating from a ridge-top, and my best attempts at Turquoise-browed Motmot recordings were rendered between the squeaks and clanks of a defunct windmill/ and pump.

   Other details gray away.. what I ate, the cans of stew, of atun con vegetales (greasy dark meat canned tuna with peas and carrots) and other gray food, where I stayed (though the Band-Aid patched green and tan Eureka pup tent is still somewhere in the attic). Now cast aside as inconsequential, or require some digging--hypnosis might work, but I might use that to find other lost items first.

   What comes back with clarity though, is the raucous racket of jacanas, gallinules and grebes encountered from the marsh edge, the enchanting calls of laughing falcons in the late afternoon, the flocks of Black-bellied Whistling-Ducks, wheeling and whistling wonderfully overhead at dusk and into the darkness. It is the lifer Jabiru stork, the flight shots, and the pretty much un-useable bill rattles on tape. This is what Palo Verde remains to be. Go there for the "beam beam" of euphonias, and the bizarre chortling of Rufus-naped wrens. I would say, go there if you can, and if atun con vegetales is not for you, try the atun con jalepeno--muy rico, and don't forget the crackers.

Other cool memories, include sitting by the fire, oak trees illuminated by flame, stars above, spectacled owls calling in the distance, far off clatter from Double-striped Thick-knees, din of frogs from the marsh. hum of mosquitoes, taste of DEET, the breeze picking up and canceling all sound, and then dissipating, deep guttural croaking of Bare-throated Tiger-Heron again, a green oasis, in the dry. Purple hyacinth flowers on a carpet of rich floating vegetation, stretching beyond my parabola's and telephoto's reach.

Page Created 10-20-2008

Parque Nacional Palo Verde
(Selective Memories of dust, heat, birds and marsh)
by David L. Ross, Jr.