Tuesday, 23 November 2010

Someone to watch over you

                    The Laughing Falcon ( Herpetotheres cachinnans)

We were having lunch on the balcony when the noise started, a cackle that rose in volume for about a minute before falling silent only to start again.
We had heard it before, but up in the trees among the coffee bushes, high above the house, whereas this was close at hand. Very close at hand.
The bird, the Laughing Falcon, was perched in the branches of the guapinol tree, just some eight metres away from the balcony...and this is the photograph I took. Not a brilliant photograph...but good by my standards!

The Laughing Falcon eats snakes and small rodents and there are plenty of snakes in the cafetal...the  area where the coffee bushes grow...so why was it so close to the house?

Well, two days ago we saw signs of rats near the chicken houses, so we can only suppose that the Laughing Falcon had seen them too and was on the lookout for prey.

We have always been astonished at the fearlessness of birds here....put out over ripe bananas on the balcony and the birds will descend....toucans, mot-mots, chacalacas, tanagers, flycatchers... with hardly a side glance at us, though the whirr of a camera sends them up and away for a few minutes.
The flycatchers have made two nests in the chandelier on the balcony...very eco-chic of them..so that's supper indoors until they have reared their babies. .
In France, we preserved our rooks against all comers, but there were very few other wild birds in evidence...owls, the occasional buzzard...but nothing like the company of mixed birds we had always had in gardens in England.
Blame 'la chasse'...the shooting fraternity.... and the farmers with their pesticides.

Not that people don't go out shooting things in Costa Rica...they do, but it has no organisation behind it.

Not that there are no pesticides in Costa Rica.....there is stuff being used here that has been banned for years in Europe.

As Danilo said while eating cauliflower cheese at lunch the other day......

Pure toxin!

He remembers much more wildlife about when he was a boy forty odd years ago and is convinced that pesticides are at the root of the problem...together with the advance of houses into what used to be countryside.

We live some three kilometres from town...three kilometres vertical, that is!

There are just three of us in this valley, which is down to cattle, goats and coffee and our house is on the end of the rough gravel road, so despite being so close to shops and transport we're lucky in having a real rural environment .....thus all the birds.

And I'll leave you with a much better photograph......the blue crowned mot mot....

.Just imagine having this chap five foot from your breakfast table...

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  1. Very odd - your new post on French Leave shows up but when you click on the link it doesn't appear ... thought it might have been my fault but did the same thing on Dumdad's blog ...

  2. Return of the Native, I wish I knew!
    I'd edited it, then pressed publish...turned to view post...and it had gone!
    Went back to edit...and that had gone too...just the title left...

    I must have touched something I shouldn't...but I don't know what!

    Earlier this post would not come up on other people's blogs either...so I think I've just been Bloggered!

  3. That there's really a bird called a chacalaca makes me very happy. Does it look as good as it sounds?
    Re your French problem, I live in London and I've met at least one French man who used to shoot at rooks when he lived there. Lying on the roof in his underpants, no less.
    I'm seduced by the idea of birds nesting in your chandelier. Definitely worth a photo if they will let you.

  4. Your place sounds like heaven....

  5. Zoe, yes, a Frenchman lying on a roof shooting rooks in his underpants sounds just about par for the course!
    I'll try for a photograph...but I don't want to upset them.

    Pueblo girl, the birdlife astounds me after the years of sterility on France...but we're lucky here in that we don't have large scale agriculture around us.

  6. It's true that there is little bird life around here. The only birds we seem to have in occasional abundance are magpies which I suppose could explain why there is little else...

    Your new place does sound lovely, but do you worry about what you're eating if it's full of harmful chemicals?

  7. Wow. Bill Oddie would die from sheer ecstasy! I'd be pretty made-up too!

  8. Sarah, yes, magpies are a real pest where other birds are concerned.
    And yes, I do worry about the chemical use...so the garden is in production!
    i don't want to disappear like the wildlife!

    Steve, it certainly starts the day off on a high note..

  9. It looks lovely, I would very much enjoy all those birds.

  10. Mr. Fly loves birds so he is delighted...the binoculars live on the table on the balcony within immediate reach!

    We are lucky in being on a migration route too...so lots of seasonal visitors.

  11. And aren't the names great too - Blue Crowned Mot Mot: love it.

  12. Mark, I seemed to be having one of those double act conversations with Danilo when the mot mot appeared during lunch...I kept saying mot mot and he kept shaking his head and saying bo bo....so eventually it dawned on me that this is how mot mot is pronounced here..

    I do sometimes ask myself how we ended up in a Spanish speaking country which must have been deeply influenced by Glaswegians to judge by the presence of the glottal stop.

  13. How on earth can you stand it, Fly? All that noise and wildlife. Aren't you hankering to get back to France? It's lovely here at the moment, freezing rain and snow on its way. I bet you're missing it madly. :)

    We have an abundance of tits this year (no sniggers, thank you), and the little devils are pecking and munching their way through 6 fatballs a day on the bedroom windowsill. I think they must have spread the word far and wide and invited every tit from the south Vienne to come dine with them.

    Your new home looks like paradise.

  14. nodamnblog, having been able recently to join a decent library, go to the theatre, the cinema and a festival of baroque music without it costing an arm and a leg and not having to worry about transport, I am currently missing rural France like a hole in the head.

    No good trying to tempt me with seasonal delights...snow, frozen roads with no provision for gritting...I am coping very well, thank you, with the trade winds and the start of the dry season...heralded by thunderbolts of unprecedented violence sizzling past the windows.

    It's great to feed the birds, isn't it?
    No, I am not sniggering...I was sniggering a moment ago as it brought on images of Dali but have now stopped.
    We had so few birds, thanks to the spreaders of pesticides, so I suppose word has spread in the south Vienne that those mugs of foreigners have got it wrong again and are putting out food instead of poison.
    The neighbour used to shoot swallows because their droppings were untidy!