COSTA RICA - Photo Workshop, October 2015

I took part in a Glenn Bartley Photo Workshop in Costa Rica on October 4, 2015. This was my second workshop with Glenn Bartley.

This workshop took place in Costa Rica and the focus was on 'setups' in various locales in the Central and North Central parts of the country. There were six other photographers in the group. A very big plus to this workshop was Greg Basco, the well known American/Costa Rican naturalist and photographer. Greg was with us the entire trip. All our transportation on this trip was in a 20 seat bus, expertly driven by José López Vargas. José is also an excellent bird guide and photographer.

(Note: I arrived a day early and our friend and professional guide and birder, Diego Quesada, was kind enough to take me around to a few local spots for a day's birding. The highlight of the day, and actually one of the highlights of the whole trip, was Diego spotting a Golden-browed Chlorophonia at Galeria de Colibries y Restaurant near Cinchona. We got great views of this beautiful bird and I got a few decent photos. The last bird of the day was a Ferruginous Pygmy-Owl which took a few tries to find. Thanks Diego !)

The photo workshop group met on Monday morning, Oct. 4th, at the Bougainvillea Hotel. This is a beautiful hotel north of San Jose and about a 30 minute drive from the airport. We set off at 10:00am for our first destination. To my surprise we made a brief stop at Galeria de Colibries near Cinchona (same spot Diego and I visited the day before). This little restaurant off the road (RT 126) is one of many small, pleasant birding hotspots you'll find in Costa Rica. The restaurant has a porch in the back with fruit and hummingbird feeders. I won't try to list all the birds I've seen and shot off this porch.

The photography group stayed at Galeria de Colibries about 2 hours and headed on to our first destination, the Laguna del Lagarto Rainforest Lodge. We were there for 4 nights.

(One photo can tell you a lot)

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Laguna del Lagarto is located about 20 miles north of Pital, Costa Rica (Pital having the last paved road). Laguna is a great birding destination. Glenn, Greg, and José worked on props at the fruit feeders off the lodge's sheltered porch, then we worked on our photo skills (or lack of). Tons of birds at the feeders, from Keel-billed Toucans to Olive-backed Euphonias.

On the second day we did King Vulture photography. For this we walked to a well-built birding blind at the foot of a field. The blind was good protection from the rain and gave us a close view of the King Vultures feeding on a cow's head provided by the lodge. Also, one night at the Laguna Lodge we did bat photography at a setup developed by Greg Bosco.

The Laguna del Lagarto offered great birding and great bird photography. The lodge is very minimal and the tap water is not drinkable. And boy, did it rain; October is the rainy season and it poured every day and night.

After Laguna del Lagarto we headed to our second lodging, Arenal Observatory Lodge. This is a very comfortable and large lodge located at the base of the Arenal Volcano. Another great birding destination. Most notable for us were the Snowcap and the Blue-throated Goldentail hummingbirds in the lodge gardens.

During this time we made a side trip to Don Alvaro's farm where we had the opportunity to photo macaws in flight. Don Alvaro has done great things for the macaws of Costa Rica. Not much information can be found on Don Alvaro and his farm, except for a fine blog written by Julie Zickefoose (Julie Zickefoose Blog).

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After two days at the Arenal Observatory Lodge we departed for our final lodging destination: Bosque de Paz Lodge. This is the second visit for me to Bosque de Paz. At this lodge Glenn and Greg set up multiflash hummingbird photography. All well and good.

After two days we departed Bosque de Paz and spent the night before our departure at the Bougainvillea Hotel.

In summary, it was a another great experience. I would strongly recommend any one of Glenn Bartley's Photo Workshops in the neotropics. A million thanks to Glenn, Greg, and José for organizing and leading such a professional and amazing workshop. I had a good time, I met some wonderful people (the people in our group were interesting and a pleasure to be with), my photography capabilities improved dramatically, and I love Costa Rica.

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