With our daily walks around Xandari to build the resort’s checklist of resident birds and take photos of as many species as possible, James and I are taking full advantage of the remarkable trail system. It allows us to travel several miles around the thirty-odd acres of private reserve in Xandari’s property without tracing back over our steps at all, which would have negative implications on the eBird data that we submit for every outing (we don’t want to increase the chances of counting a bird twice!). Descending from about ~1,150m (~3,800ft) to ~1,080m (~3,550ft), on woody switchbacks that give us vantage points over the surrounding forest and allow views into the canopies of the trees below, James and I walk through many types of bird habitat, which both in theory and in practice yields us a higher species count than if we were to simply walk around the gardens right outside any of Xandari’s villas – though I don’t mean to imply that the gardens aren’t home to quite a few species here!
Xandari’s villas and main building are surrounded by colorful and diverse garden flora, as some of James’s posts have shown. In addition to these botanical collections that have helped make the resort known as a “mountainside slice of paradise,” the forest that Xandari’s west trail leads through is what I can call – as a nine-year resident of Costa Rica – true jungle or rainforest, at least in the loose sense of the words (I don’t want to step on any ecologists’ toes).
And we’re not only interested in the birds on these trails: James and I keep an eye out for cool insects and any other life we can share with readers at home. Two days ago, I got to see a raccoon for about five seconds before it ambled around the corner of the river, and last month, James spotted the eyes of this tree frog shining in our flashlight on a night-walk. Then there’s always the fungal growth that this blog has been host to for several years now.
We have to give huge props to Xandari’s gardening and maintenance staff for keeping the trails so clean and safe despite the radical changes that can come with a dry and wet season in a tropical country. Without them, it would be quite a bit harder to get around in paradise!