8th February 2022
As a result of trying to get closer to this impressive adult King Vulture, I almost got myself killed!!
Over fifty miles south of Quepos is Uvita and mid-afternoon, the bus dropped me off on the doorstep of the hostel I was goin to stay at. I checked in, got somethin down my neck and then ventured out. The beach is south and less than a minutes walk from my digs through Parque Marino Bellena National Park but I choose to head towards the River Uvita. A thirty minute stroll to the north. Immediately on leaving, at the side of road, after seeing a couple of Tropical Gnatcatcher and a single Common Black Hawk, I got my first new species, Isthmian Wren. Before I hit the track, that was only ten minutes away to the river, there was a large open area that looked like a park and feeding on the lawn were 13 Southern Lapwing. Another new species but they were left behind when I saw what was behind the plovers also on the the short turf. A small group of Black Vulture were picking at a small carcass and towering above them was a bloody King Vulture!! I had to get closer somehow. Using the shrubs for cover that bordered the park, I lost count of how many Ruddy Ground and the odd Inca Doves I flushed but eventually I found myself next to a pond and was almost on top of the vultures as they continued to scavenge on the remains of some mammal. This was my first King Vulture on the deck and after having a good look at it through the bins, I rattled off some shots with the camera. I had only been there, coming onto twenty minutes, when two dogs started barking with aggressive growls thrown in, nearby. I didn’t like the sound of this and when I picked them up I could see that they were Rottweilers, both heading in my direction! I didn’t want to take any chances and could see that I could easily jump the inlet that flows into the pond and hopefully make my escape. I turned and made myself, as quick as I could, down the bank of the pond only to almost crap myself! I almost landed on a Crocodile or Caiman!! It leapt up into the air and crashed into the water, creating a lot of noise for those two beast to sniff me out. I duno which species of reptile it was. I didn’t stop there to wait for it to rise up from below so I could identify it correctly. But I know it was pretty big, maybe nearly two meters long and it was still there hidden by the murk of the water. If you’ve ever walked through the woods and suddenly, almost from your feet, a Pheasant explodes into the air, you jump out of your skin. Well that’s what I experienced, only ten times as worse! In the moment that reptile hit the water, I was long gone, in the opposite direction towards the two dogs. What do I do? Do I get torn apart by two Rottweilers or do I get torn apart by a Crocodile or was it a Caiman? This pond was also secluded away from the main track where no one would find my remains, except the King Vulture, if I was to be ripped to pieces by maybe both the dogs and the reptile. I was starting to get visions of how I was goin to get killed. Then I heard an English speaking woman shouting for the dogs to come to her. She was only a few yards away from me, as I hid behind a tree, but I was closer to that croc, than the woman was to me! Now all kinds of things were goin through my head. It was becoming clear that this was not a park but her garden. a massive one of that, and if she caught me on her property, would she take me to the police? Get killed or taken to the police? A few minutes later and everythin appeared calm and silent, until I heard a tiny splash. Enough to make me jump. To my relief, it was my first American Pygmy Kingfisher and what a stunner! Taking pics of the kingfisher took my mind off what just happened to me and I also enjoyed the close company of a couple of Green Heron, American Redstart and Northern Waterthrush and further away on the pond, Reddish Heron and Snowy Egret. No sign of the plovers or vultures but as I wondered back the way I came, on the border of the lawn, I spotted 2 Grey-cowled Wood Rail. There were also 2 Fiery-billed Aracari and quite a spectacle sight were, 15 Scarlet Macaw low overhead. That was some experience and it was all over to get closer to a King Vulture but hell, it was worth it!
This King Vulture got ,e into some serious trouble for so many reasons in trying to get closer to it
Up to 13 Southern Lapwing werre on the same lawn as the King Vulture
American Dwarf Kingfisher
There were 2 Fiery-billed Aracari in the garden
By the time I finally I arrived at the mouth of the River Uvita in the late afternoon, a relief was that the clouds had covered up the sun and there, dipping into the water so elegant and graceful inflight to bath, was a Magnificent Frigatebird. It repeated this a few times before moving out to sea. I scanned the shore opposite and there were a number of species of waders and heron ‘type’ birds. These including Least and Spotted Sandpiper, 3 semi-palmated Plover, 6 Turnstone and 2 Willet. Also 2 Reddish and single Great and Snowy Egret, 2 Tricoloured Heron and 6 White Ibis. Perched on top of a dead tree was a Belted Kingfisher briefly but the Willets were the only new species until that was when 2 Mangrove Swallow turned up. I returned south along the beach as the sun was dropping and for over nearly a mile I had it all to myself except for Scarlet Macaws goin to roost and small groups of Brown Pelican in V-formation flew north overhead. I was nearing the entrance from the beach into the national park where folks had gathered to enjoy the sunset, only to find the gates closed and I could see my hostel just up road. What else can go wrong for me?
This Magnificent Frigate was gracefully taking a dip in the river before moving out to see
There were up to 6 White Ibis
3 Semi-palmated Plover
Equal number of Least Sandpiper
And some 7 Spotted Sandpiper
Sunset from Uvita River mouth
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