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This Week’s Bloom

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Our “flower a week” project is back, after a brief break and this week, we have in my opinion easily one of the most unique and distinctive flowers found in Costa Rica.

These particular blossoms can be found in a number of various areas in the country, partly down to the fact that there are a large amount of different species of this particular flower. “lobster claw” as it is more commonly known.

One of the reasons this “lobster claw” is special is due to its abundance of nectar, this being a huge attraction for the hummingbirds as they are the main pollinators of these flowers.

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The Heliconia in all it’s beauty

Heliconias are grown for the florist’s trade and as landscape plants. These plants do not grow well in cold, dry conditions. They are very drought intolerant, but can endure some soil flooding. Heliconias need an abundance of water, sunlight, and soils that are rich in humus in order to grow well. These flowers are grown in tropical regions all over the world as ornamental plants. The flower of H. psitacorrum (Parrot Heliconia) is especially distinctive, its greenish-yellow flowers with black spots and red bracts reminding of the bright plumage of parrots.

Heliconias provide shelter for a diverse range of insects within their young rolled leaves and water-filled floral bracts. Insects that inhabit the rolled leaves often feed upon the inner surfaces of the leaf, such as beetles of the family Chrysomildae in bracts containing small amounts of water, fly larvae and beetles are the dominant inhabitants. In bracts with greater quantities of water the typical inhabitants are mosquito larva. Insects living in the bracts often feed on the bract tissue, nectar of the flower, flower parts, other insects, microorganisms, or detritus in the water contained in the bract. Almost all species of Hispinae beetles that use rolled leaves are obligate parasites of plants of the order of Zingibirales, which includes Heliconia. These beetles live in and feed from the rolled leaf, the stems, the inflorescences, or the unfurled mature leaves of the Heliconiaplant. In addition, these beetles deposit their eggs on the leaf surface, petioles of immature leaves, or in the bracts of the Heliconia. Furthermore, some wasp species such as Polistes erythrocephalus build their nest on the protected underside of large leaves.

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The Humming bird’s best friend

Be on the lookout for these beauties wherever you may be in Costa Rica, stop for a minute, admire it’s rich colours and intricate beauty and who knows you may just find a humming bird passing by.

Till next week

Pura Vida!

LISA GET’S SOME COMPANY

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Our resident crocodile down at Club Rio, Lisa, just recently got some company, in the form of 3 additional reptilians, crocodiles in this specific case, all yet to be named. Not only that, but she, along with her new friends had an entire area built specifically for them.

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Lisa enjoying the sun in her new home

The crocodile pit we constructed had reached completion a while back but we had yet to find inhabitants to fill it, or at least accompany Lisa in her new home.

Our three new crocs originated from the AquaCorporation in Cañas, and the reason behind their new journey to The Springs was due to a loss of habitat and diminishing food sources. With this loss in habitat and food the crocodiles then begun to venture into various territories taking a liking to the tilapia pools in the area, thus becoming a hazard to the employees who cared for and maintained these pools. The crocs were then captured due to the hazard and placed in a temporary enclosure. The initial plan was to transport and then release the crocodiles in an area known as Palo Verde, however our friends over at Minaet who have been such a big part in contribution towards Club Rio were kind enough to donate these crocodiles to us, in full confidence that we could provide a safe and natural environment for them.

Once our new friends arrived at their new home, our biologist, Victor Solis, led the way in transporting the crocodiles, and ensuring that they acclimatize to their new home efficiently. With crocodiles being very territorial by nature it was important for us to ensure that Lisa was moved into the pit first. Once this was successfully completed Victor (our new Steve Irwin) was able, along with a team of both strong and courageous men, to one by one introduce the three new crocs to their new home, and their new “friend.”

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Victor Solis, our biologist, leads the way bringing in our new crocs

Tensions ran high as Victor released each crocodile, not knowing how they would interact or get along with their new roommate. Low and behold it was as though they had known one another forever, hatched by the same mother and lurked in the same swamps together for days on end. The crocodiles have acclimatized really well in there new environment and have been quite the popular attraction among our Club Rio visitors.

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Our new addition couldn’t wait to dive right in

Next Time you’re down at Club Rio be sure to ask any of our guides or employees about our new crocodiles, and they will be sure to show you around!

 

Till next time, Pura Vida!

A FLOWER A WEEK…

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With Costa Rica being a haven for such a wide variety of inhabitants, and when I say inhabitants I mean not only our vast variance of four legged, slippery slithering, 8 legged crawling, winged creatures but also with no lesser importance, our variety of plants, trees and most importantly in this particular instance,  flowers.

With such an abundance of flowers at our grasp, some known to many, and other not so known we at The Springs have decided to embark on a little project we like to call “flower of the week” where we will journey into the depths of our jungles, forests and mountains to bring you closer to this natural paradise that surrounds us. Along the way we will be providing you with information and pictures regarding our weekly finds. Now this is not only for “floral boffs” but also for those with a keen eye for beauty, those with a green finger or two, as well as anyone interested in the beautiful surroundings of Costa Rica and what it has to offer. Who knows you may just find your next bridal bouquet in and among our blog ladies.

To kick things off this week, we have The Emperor Staff or Etlingera Elatior

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Bees taking full advantage of the Etlingera elatior

Etlingera elatior (also known as torch ginger, ginger flower, red ginger lily, torch lily, wild ginger, combrang, bunga kantan, philippine wax flower, xiang bao jiaing, indonesian tall ginger, boca de dragón, rose de porcelaine, porcelain rose) is a species of herbaceous. Botanical synonyms include nicolaia elatior, phaeomeria magnifica, nicolaia speciosa,phaeomeria speciosa, alpinia elatior, alpinia magnifica.

The showy pink flowers are used in decorative arrangements while the flower buds are an important ingredient in the nonya dish laksa. In north Sumatra, the flower buds are used for a dish called arsik ikan mas (andaliman/szechuan pepper spiced carp)

It is known in Indonesian as bunga kecombrang or honje, malay as bunga kantan and Thai as daalaa. In Thailand it is eaten in a kind of Thai salad preparation.

In karo, it is known as asam cekala (asam meaning ‘sour’), and the flower buds, but more importantly the ripe seed pods, which are packed with small black seeds, are an essential ingredient of the karo version of sayur asem, and are particularly suited to cooking fresh fish.

These particular beauties can be found in abundance down at our outdoor activity center Club Rio. Be sure to have a lookout next time you find yourself tubing or horseback riding, these flowers are most certainly a beauty to look at.

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The Etlingera elatior in all its beauty

Until next week!

Pura Vida!

The Springs Goes Green and Wins!

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IMG_6825Not only does The Springs Resort and Spa provide you with world class hospitality but we also keep a very keen eye on our environment, community and local projects in which we help those around us in our immediate and not so immediate communities.

Just recently The Springs Resort and Spa collected  985 Kilograms in recyclable materials and with this being converted to a monetary value, they were able to feed 150 students from local schools in the community such as Linda Vista, Agua Azul, La Guaria and Jauuri and the La Fotuna de San Carlos.

That not being all. Not only did The Springs raise 985 Kilograms, a whopping number already, but they were able to raise the most of anyone else in the competition, therefore receiving an award for having collected the largest quantity of recyclable materials in the area. We are all extremely proud of those who were involved in the project and who helped in collecting every kilogram of the 985 that were handed over.

Congratulations to all at The Springs, and keep at it! We’re sewing seeds for a brighter greener future!

Pura Vida

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Do you see what I see Cristian?

Do you see what I see Cristian?

 

Club Rio down at The Springs resort in Costa Rica has 5 new arrivals to its already abundant array of wild animals. These curious, mischievous and unique little individuals go by the names of Inky , Pinky, Ponky Luciana and Tokolosh.  We here at Club Rio prefer to see these little, and when I say little I mean “teeny tiny” friends of ours as unique individuals with very intricate and diverse personalities, most people would at first glance realize that they are better known as Marmosets.

There are several various species of Marmosets, and these particular few happen to be the Common Marmoset (Callithrix jacchus). These animals are native only to east-central Brazil, how they happened to become part of our family here at Club Rio is a very unique story. These animals as with many animals at our sanctuary were illegally held as domestic pets. These animals although cute, furry and friendly are not able to adapt to a lifestyle as a pet, and rightly so. Thus they have been sent to us down here as we are able to emulate their natural environment quite effectively resulting in a happier and healthier animal.

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To shed some light on these marmosets, Common marmosets live in stable extended families with only a few members allowed to breed. A marmoset group can contain as many as 15 members, but a more typical number is nine. A marmoset family usually contains 1-2 breeding females, a breeding male, their offspring and their adult relatives, be it their parents or siblings. The females in a group tend to be closely related and males less so. Males do not mate with breeding females that they are related to. Marmosets may leave their natal groups when they become adults, in contrast to other primate species who leave at adolescence. Not much is known of the reasons marmosets leave their natal groups. Family groups will fission into new groups when a breeding male dies. Within the family groups, the breeding individuals tend to be more dominant. The breeding male and female tend to share dominance. However, between two breeding females, one is more dominant. In addition, the subordinate female is usually the daughter of the dominant one. For the other members, social rank is based on age. Dominance is maintained through various behaviors, postures and vocalizations and subordinates will groom their superiors

Common marmosets employ a number of vocal and visual communications. To signal alarm, aggression, and submission, marmosets use the “partial open mouth stare,” “frown,” and “slit-stare”, respectively. To display fear or submission, marmosets flatten their ear-tufts close to their heads. Marmosets have two alarm calls: a series of repeating calls that get higher with each call, known as “staccatos”; and short trickling calls given either intermittently or repeatedly. These are called “tsiks”. Marmoset alarm calls tend to be short and high-pitched.Marmosets monitor and locate group members with vibrato-like low-pitched generic calls called “trills”. Marmosets also employ “phees” which are whistle-like generic calls. These serve to attract mates, keep groups together, defend territories, and locate missing group members. Marmosets will use scent gland on their chests and anogenital regions to mark objects. These are meant to communicate social and reproductive status.

Cristian explains the nature of these animals to a guest

Cristian explains the nature of these animals to a guest

As I stated earlier, these peculiar little animals are definitely a pleasure to be around, they’re extremely friendly, and have quite a unique sense of character. It’s an enjoyable experience being able to interact with them, knowing that they are in an environment similar to that of their natural habitat, that they’re healthy and happy too. Next time you stop by Club Rio be sure to ask your guide about these furry little creatures and their unique attributes. It is impossible to leave untouched by these special little beings.

Pura Vida!

Ponky curiously plotting his next mischievous move

Ponky curiously plotting his next mischievous move

 

 

 

Hummingbirds of La Paz Waterfall Gardens

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La Paz Waterfall Gardens Hummingbirds

We’re not exaggerating when we say La Paz Waterfall Gardens offers aviary experiences unlike anything you’ll find in all of Costa Rica.  Our well-established hummingbird garden is home to 26 of the 57 documented Trochilidae species that have been officially recorded in Costa Rica.

“Hummingbirds are always a treat no matter what your level of birding. This hummingbird garden is the most magnificent viewing area I have ever seen! Twenty six species of these feisty little hummers can easily be watched continuously. Thrills abound every second, as my senses almost cannot keep up with the constant movement. There, we birders can observe hummingbirds up close and study behaviors or even get peaks at color flashes not always seen at a distance. I highly recommend this hummingbird garden as a “must see” for any bird watcher visiting Costa Rica.” – Laurie Marsell, Birdwatching Tour Operator, Florida

Here’s a crash course in Hummingbird trivia:

  • Hummingbirds are the smallest birds in the world
  • For their size, hummingbirds have the largest heart & brain of all animals
  • Hummingbirds have no sense of smell
  • Hummingbird wings beat around 60 times per second
  • Hummingbird hearts beat from 500 to 1,200 times per minute
  • Hummingbirds are only found in North, Central and South America
  • Hummingbirds visit 2,000 to 5,000 flowers a day
  • Hummingbirds can consume twice their weight daily
  • Their color is produced by refraction of light, not by pigment
  • Their average speed is 45 miles per hour
  • Their tongues are twice the length of their bills
  • In addition to nectar, hummingbirds eat insects for protein
  • Hummingbirds cannot walk, only perch
  • Hummingbirds fly only 20% of the time

Finally, for those of you looking to check a certain species off of your Birdwatching Life List, here’s a list of those you’ll find buzzing around our feeders (and possibly landing on your hands)!

English Common Name

Scientific Name

Spanish Common Name

Magenta-throated woodstar calliphlox bryantae colibrí magenta
Coppery headed emerald Elvira cupreiceps Esmeralda capirotada
Green thorntail discosura conversil rabudito verde
Volcano hummingbird selasphorous flammula colibrí volcanero
Scitillant hummingbird selasphorous scintillatha colibrí centleante
Strite throated hermit ethornis srriigunaris ermitaño gorgiestriada
Black bellied hummingbird eupherusa nigriventris colibrí ventinegro
Magnificent hummingbird eugenes fulgens colibrí magnifico
Violet sabrewing campylopterus hemileucurus colibrí morado
Purple-crowned fairy heliothryx barroti colibrí hada occidental
Green- fronted lancebill doryfera ludoviciae colibrí pico de lanza mayor
Green violet-ear colibrí thalassinus colibrí verdemar
Brow violet-ear colibrí delphinae colibrí pardo
Rufous-tailed hummingbird amazilia tzacatl amazilia rabirrufa
Purple-throated mountain-gem lampornis cablaema colibrí variable
Striped-tailed hummingbird eupherusa eximia colibrí colirrayado
White-bellied mountain-gem lampornis hemileucus colibrí gorgivioleta
Cinnamon hummingbird amazillia rutila amazillia canela
Fiery throated hummingbird panterpe insignis colibrí insigne
Green hermit phaethornis guy ermitaño verdemango
Green- breasted mango anthracothorax prevostii pechiverde
Bronze-tailed plumeleteer chalybura urochrysia colibrí patirojo
White-necked Jacobin florisuga mellivora colibrí nuquiblanco
Green- crowned brilliant heliodoxa jacula brillante coroniverde
Steenybeneed hummingbird amazilia saucerroppc

Pura Vida!

Long Island to Arenal: One Wildlife Refuge Helping Another

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Let me start this entry by whole-heartedly saying, Greetings from Costa Rica!

We here at The Springs Resort & Spa have decided to change our approach to this blog and  bring our past, present and future guests closer to our own little universe here at The Springs Resort & Spa.

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Stopping to pose after a somewhat soggy birdwatching tour.

Last month, we had the pleasure of hosting a group of ten, mostly college-age, veterinary volunteers visiting Costa Rica from Long Island, New York’s Sweet Briar Nature Center. While here, they gave us some much-needed feedback on our two newest tours-in-the-making: the first being our Birdwatching Tour and the second, our Medicinal Plant Tour. 

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With half the volunteers working on habitat landscaping, everyone else spent the day in the wood shop.

 

But, most importantly, on their last day they all got their hands dirty helping to landscape and build new enrichment toys for the animals of our Wildlife Refuge at Club Rio Outdoor Center.

Janine Bendicksen, Sweetbriar curator and volunteer group leader, first brought students to Costa Rica six years ago with the intention of working alongside the various wildlife refuges that pepper the countryside. While this type of volunteer trip might have been a first for us here at The Springs, it was a huge success and most certainly won’t be the last.

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All nine volunteers plus our veterinary staff (and myself) proudly showing off the two boxes that were used for feeding for our adult puma, Guapo and enrichment play for our small group of Capuchin monkeys.

“I want to open their eyes up to a new world,” Bendicksen explained. ”I want to give them a meaningful experience by taking them out of their comfort zone. As a regular tourist, you don’t have the opportunity to see as much as you would as an insider. Working with your staff at the Springs gave them that opportunity.” 

Half the group spent their last day at the resort building catwalks (yes, literal “cat” walks) and hanging swinging coconuts for our most energetic resident, Simba, the adolescent male puma. They also had the opportunity to work with our veterinary staff, Roberto and Victor, to prepare meals in our clinic for the jungle cats, toucans and sloths.

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A hearty helping of “Two-Toed Sloth chow.”

Meanwhile, everyone else found themselves frantically measuring, hammering and operating an array of power tools in a frantic effort to finish a few, overly-complicated woodworking projects. Luckily, we were able to finish with the help of the hotel’s skilled carpenters.

Before the sun started to sink, we were able to build and implement an enormous scratching post for Simba along with two, very unique, wood and rope boxes — one of which was filled with plants and hung from a tree in the Capuchin monkey habitat. The other was filled with chicken and placed in the habitat of Guapo, our adult male Puma, as a sort of large-scale “Kong Toy”.

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Simba doing what he does best: killing coconuts.

As exciting as everything was for us humans, the animals obviously enjoyed everything even more, and all positively responded to their new toys and altered habitats.

As an employee of almost a year, I can honestly say that working to benefit these animals was one of my most rewarding work experiences to date.

“I want kids to find something they are passionate about, and want them to learn to do good for others,” Bendicksen said. “Give back. Pay it forward. Because, isn’t that why we are all here?”

I speak for The Springs when I say it was our pleasure to share our hotel and get to know and work with everyone involved in this trip. We wish them all the best in their future travels and hope to see them soon.

Thanks to volunteer/photographer, Dery Keretic, I was able to piece together this small video of some animal curiosity that day. If you’ve visited us before, you’ll see some familiar faces here:

 

 

Vacation In Costa Rica

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banner-principal9You can choose to vacation in Costa Rica if you are looking for a romantic getaway, eco-tourism or want to have a fun filled time with family or friends, or just want to unwind and relax. Costa Rica has something to offer to all types of travelers.  You can choose to enjoy the clear blue ocean, dense rainforests, mountains, volcanoes and wildlife that is found in abundance in this beautiful country. Continue reading

Resorts In Costa Rica

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banner-principal4Costa Rica is one of the most exotic countries in the world, and each year, hundreds of tourists visit this beautiful country to enjoy the lush green forest and a coastline that seems to extend forever. It is one of the most popular travel spots in the world and the many resorts in Costa Rica provide a happy and memorable experience for the tourist. Continue reading

Resorts Costa Rica

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room-img-09When you are going on a vacation, it is important that you are not overly worried about the place where you are staying. Resorts offer great value for money and when you book in advance you may be able to get some amazing deals. Resorts of Costa Rica can enable you to have a world-class travel experience with your family and friends and you can come back with a lifetime of cherished memories. Continue reading