I’m definitely not a twitcher. Bird watching has never even been on my maybe list. But it’s impossible not to get bitten by the bug on an early morning forage into the Costa Rican cloud forest.

The early start wasn’t attractive and it was damp, cold and misty to boot. So by the time we arrived at the entrance to the Monteverde reserve I was feeling a bit grumpy. Five minutes later we were listening to our guide Adrian tell us about the inhabitants of the forest when suddenly he stopped, cocked his ear and then he was off. I looked at my friend with a “what’s occurring?” glance, forehead furrowed, eyebrows raised. And then off we followed, catching him in time to hear the next part of his tale until he stopped again, ear cocked and off he went.And suddenly we were running too and that was the shape of the next few hours…chasing Adrian around the forest and watching the most extraordinarily beautiful birds I’ve ever seen.

Central America 094If you’re visiting Monteverde a guide is absolutely essential. They can hear and see the airborne creatures in a way you could never hope too. They’re entirely tuned in and if you’re lucky will find you some stunners like Adrian did for my group. The real prize is the legendary quetzal. Officially the national bird and name of the currency of Guatemala, the gorgeously resplendent green and red plumage of this endangered species is hard to beat.

Central America 395 (2)We were lucky that day, not only did Adrian find one, it helpfully stayed in one place for quite some time and we could even see it without a telescope. Saying that the other big bonus to engaging one of the forest guides is that they have very large telescopes. Apart from the hummingbirds my photos were all taken with my iPhone through a telescope. According to Adrian that was the best camera to use. Once he knew I had one his rousing call as we approached a bird was “Prepare your phone” and I did as I was told!

Central America 112When we emerged from the forest three odd hours later the sun had come out and layers of clothing had been tied around bodies. It was still only 11am but we’d had one of the best and most exhilarating mornings of the trip so far and had photos that I’ll never tire of looking at.

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