This week, after about six months away from Costa Rica, I’m working at Xandari again, and it’s good to be back! On Saturday morning I walked around the trails for a couple hours and logged thirty-one bird species seen or heard, which counts as a pretty good list for Xandari, in my experience. Among the usual suspects were a few birds that are relatively uncommon sights, though not rare by any means: Chestnut-collared Swifts, Sulphur-bellied Flycatchers, and a male Long-tailed Manakin, which is always a pleasure to see or even hear. I also got an uncharacteristically good look at a Rufous-and-white Wren, a species that long eluded our efforts to spot when James and I first got here a year ago, despite its eerily human-sounding whistle that frequently pierces the forest trails. And although it’s a very common bird around here, I did get an okay photo of the male Red-crowned Ant-Tanager, which can be tough given their predilection for skulking around among dense vines.
Since I left the property in early December, Xandari’s coffee — much of it the esteemed borbón varietal — has kept moving forward, looking healthier and more developed. José Luis and his team have also been working on new seedlings (see photo on right), which will probably be ready to plant in a year or so, and the banana trees they planted for shade are already doing their job pretty well. The broad-leafed plants you see growing at ground-level are called tiquisque in Costa Rica, and a common English name (according to Wikipedia) is arrowleaf elephant ear. In the soil these plants have structures called corms that are swollen stems used by the plants for storage, much like tubers in other plants. If you’ve had taro in Southeast Asian cuisine, that’s in the same family as tiquisque, and the Xandari kitchens are putting the delicious corms to use in a newly-revamped menu.
As I notice more new things around I’ll keep sharing them here, and I’ll learn directly about the coffee plans from José Luis when I see him this week.