Coincidental dates…Last night’s weird event on the veranda…Small things…

Last night’s video illustrates how bats are consuming all the
sugar water in the hummingbird feeder at night.

“Sightings on the Veranda in Costa Rica”

This style of feeder attracts more hummingbirds than the new style we purchased.
This morning Tom mentioned coincidental facts about our upcoming travels that made me laugh.  Here they are about today’s date of October 23, 2017:
  • One month from today, on Thanksgiving Day, November 23, 2017, we’ll board Celebrity Infinity in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, for a 30-night cruise.
  • Two months from today, on December 23, 2017, on Tom’s 65th birthday, we disembark the ship in Buenos Aires Argentina.
  • Three months from today, on January 23, 2018, we fly from Buenos Aires to Ushuaia, Argentina, to board Ponant Le Soleil for the expedition cruise to Antarctica for 17 days.

This is odd, isn’t it? We certainly didn’t plan for these dates to coincide on the 23rd of any given month. It’s purely a coincidence.

Now, on to our “small things story” occurring last night on the veranda but having begun several weeks ago.

When we rented this lovely property beginning on August 1, 2017, we noticed a hummingbird feeder hanging from a hook on the veranda after settling in for a few days. Of course, with no syrup contained therein, no hummingbirds stop by for a sip.

After a week or so of noticing this, we decided to give it a try. In our old lives, we had the typical red hummingbird feeder filling it from time to time with homemade syrup (1 cup white sugar to 4 cups plain water, cooked or well mixed to dissolve the sugar) during the short summer months in Minnesota.

As the sun went down, the hummingbirds continued to feed on the sugary syrup.  After dark, it was an entirely different story.

We rarely saw any hummingbirds sipping the sugary syrup and didn’t give the feeder much of a thought. Living on a lake in Minnesota, we busied ourselves observing many other types of wildlife:  bald eagles, wild turkeys, beavers, geese, loons, coyotes, owls, foxes, and many other types of birds and wildlife. 

At the time, we weren’t interested in taking the time for photos.  Our lives were full, leaving us constantly busy keeping up with daily life; work, home upkeep, family, and friends. We didn’t have time to wait for wildlife to appear magically. When there was a sighting, it was merely the result of being in the right place at the right time. 

We were thrilled to see or hear any wildlife, including the neighborhood’s albino squirrel, the raccoon climbing the tree, the wood duck tossing her chicks to the ground from the wood duck house high in a tree, and the loon’s heartwarming fluttery call.

As we’ve traveled the world with plenty of time on our hands, we can easily spend hours searching and reveling in the treasures Mother Nature has to offer wherever we may go.  Here in Costa Rica, as we’ve mentioned in previous posts, we’ve been enthralled with various birds. This vegetation-rich country has to offer, which is without a doubt a haven for our aviary friends. 

Certainly no birding experts by any means, we’re easily able to find great pleasure in spotting and hopefully identifying birds as we see them taking photos when we can.  

Sadly, many we’ve actually seen have moved so quickly we haven’t been able to take that treasured photo. We’d have to have the camera close at hand every moment of every day and, although generally, it’s at our side, it takes a moment to turn it on and focus on a photo when the sighting is long gone. It’s the way it is.

It took several hours for the hummingbirds to flock to this new style of feeder.

Back to the hummingbird feeder… Once we made the first batch of syrup, we were hooked.  All-day, as we sat outside on the veranda, the hummingbirds came poking their sharp little beaks into the four tiny holes from which they could extract a sip. Some were so ambitious they make partake as many as a dozen times during one visit.

On a few occasions, we accidentally left the feeder outside at night only to find it was empty in the morning regardless of how much it contained at the end of the prior day. Did the hummingbirds flock to the feeder at night, taking every last sip?

Then, a few weeks ago, the feeder starting leaking. The liquid was dripping, attracting ants and bees to the area. We tried everything to create a tight seal, but alas, it was worn out from all the activity.  

When in town to shop, we walked throughout Atenas, trying to find another feeder to no avail. While grocery shopping, I found what appeared to be a birdseed feeder and purchased it for US $1.75 (CRC 1,000). If it didn’t work, we wouldn’t be out much.

A few days ago, we made a fresh batch of syrup, loaded the new feeder, and placed it in the same spot as the former feeder. The hummingbirds didn’t seem interested for several hours, but finally, they were sipping from this different style of feeder.

Then, it happened again…we left the feeder out one night to find it empty in the morning. How does this happen?  A four-cup batch of syrup usually lasts for three or four days.

Last night in the dark, we set up the camera on the tripod, waiting to see what would transpire.  Did hundreds of hummingbirds come to guzzle the entire batch?  As we watched, we were shocked by what we witnessed. It was bats.

This explains today’s video we took while we sat outside on the veranda in the dark, the bats paying no attention to our presence. As frequently as they sipped, it was easy to see how they’d consume the entire container in one night.

In years passed, I was terrified of bats. Not so much anymore. Many of my fears have long disappeared since the onset of our travels. Bats are everywhere, and besides, they eat mozzies that love to feast on me.

Recently, while dining in the formal dining room each evening, we’ve noticed hundreds of bats in the yard at night. Little did we connect the disappearance of the syrup in the hummingbird feeder with the bats. We learned our lesson to bring the feeder indoors each evening, leaving it in the kitchen sink after rinsing the exterior with water to ensure we don’t get ants in the sink overnight. So far, so good.

Here again, an example of how the “small things” occurring in our lives of travel finds us intrigued and fascinated with the miracles of nature. We hope our readers enjoy our small experiences as well as those of a more significant variety.

May your day find you enthralled with small things, whatever they may be. Please feel free to comment at the end of this post to share some of your “small things” experiences!

Photo from one year ago today, October 23, 2016:

In Bali, nature at its finest on the edge of the infinity pool.  We spent hours watching this praying mantis. For more favorite Bali photos as we prepared to depart, plus the final expenses, please click here.

Feeding hummingbirds…A simple syrup…a simple task…for simply wonderful bird watching…

It’s fun to watch the hummingbirds stab their delicate pointed beaks into the tiny holes of the feeder. See below for our easy recipe for the syrup.

“Sightings from the Veranda in Costa Rica”

This is a brown recluse spider we found on the veranda near our bedroom. Yikes. This morning Tom found a can of spray and sprayed it around the doorway and bedroom. Most insects don’t bother us, but anything venomous like this makes us take action.

When we arrived in Atenas, Costa Rica, 44 days ago, we noticed a hummingbird feeder hanging from a hook under the veranda roof. We had a red plastic feeder hanging from a tree in our old lives, but it was often blown to the ground in the spring and summer winds and storms.

Besides, no sooner than I’d make the sweet solution and refill the container, it was empty. Our lives were action-packed with work and responsibilities, and keeping this up was hardly a priority.

It’s rare to see more than one bird feeding at a time. They noisily fight with one another for dominance.

When we contemplated filling the feeder here in Atenas over these past weeks, we decided we’d give this a try and see if we could attract hummingbirds after spotting many beautiful and unique birds. 

At this point in our lives, we certainly can’t say we don’t have time, especially when we don’t have a rental car every other week during which we spend most of our time at the villa.

I looked up my old simple hummingbird feeder recipe to find this easy to make the concoction which the birds always seemed to love:

Hummingbird Feeder Syrup
4 cups water
1 cup granulated white sugar

Place water and sugar in a saucepan. Stir well. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and let simmer for about 10 minutes. Cool thoroughly.  Pour into the feeder. Any leftovers may be kept in a glass jar in the refrigerator for a week.

Soon, I’ll get a better photo.  Some of these hummingbirds are colorful.

Since neither Tom nor I consume any sugar, finding a good-sized container in the cupboard for guests to use certainly was an inspiration. In the past week, we’ve made three batches. Now for the first time in years, granulated sugar is on our grocery list app on my phone.

As we watched the feeder, which is in plain view as we’re seated on the veranda most days, until the rain and the wind make it impossible in the late afternoon, we’ve been thrilled to see dozens of hummingbird hits a day. They love it.

Over the first few days of filling the container, Tom stood on a wooden chair from the outdoor dining table, carefully reaching up to avoid dropping the feeder and maintaining sturdy footing on the chair. 

Yesterday, (duh) we decided he could avoid the risk of standing on the chair. As it turned out, the feeder is hanging from a hook attached to an outdoor rolling shade. 

If he rolls down the shade to eye level, he can avoid standing on the chair to take the feeder down to refill it over the sink in the kitchen. His fact is a huge motivator in keeping us interested in keeping up this refilling process. The below photo illustrates what we mean by lowering the rolling shade.

Tom was rolling down the veranda shade for easy access to the hummingbird feeder.

Speaking of photos, I’ve yet to take a decent photo of the hummingbirds partaking of the sugary syrup. The timing is crucial, and each time I attempt to take a photo, I’m either in the wrong spot with too bright a background or too dark and rainy. I’ll continue to work on this.

Over these past few days, something was baffling us. We could see a slight reduction in the amount of syrup in the feeder at the end of each day, perhaps down an inch or so, but most, if not all, of the syrup was gone in the mornings. Again, we’d make a new batch and refill the container, only to awaken the next day for the same scenario.

Last night, we decided to keep watch in the dark to see precisely what was happening. Much to our surprise, about a dozen hummingbirds were swarming around the feeder, fighting with one another for dominance and access to the sugar water. We laughed. Who knew they’d come at night in the dark.

At this point, we decided we’d bring the feeder inside at night to return it to its usual spot first thing in the morning. After all, isn’t the feeder intended to satisfy our greedy observation…as well as provide sustenance for the birds? This way, it’s a win-win.

The bright background makes photo-taking tricky.  I’ll keep trying.

This makes us laugh. “Just think,” I told Tom yesterday while we kept a watchful eye on the feeder while we lounged in the pool, “In only five months, we’ll be busy dropping pellets in the bush to attract 350 pounds (159 kg) warthogs to stop by for a visit.

From a tiny hummingbird to a giant pig…hmm…life is good.

Photo from one year ago today, September 13, 2016:

Upon further inspection at this restroom stop on the five-hour harrowing drive in Bali, we realized the narrow trough was the toilet. The bucket of water and scoop was for tidying up, not washing hands. Luckily, we always keep antibacterial wipes on hand. This facility was clean compared to others we encountered.  For more details, please click here.