Costa Rica is a land that is rich in biodiversity, and Sugar Beach is no exception. You cannot walk around the grounds here without seeing many different kinds of wildlife, and they are fascinating to watch.
Our first encounter with a native species came at our first breakfast. As we sat down for the meal, a large, blue, ornately tufted bird alighted on the wall behind us. He clearly was looking for some scraps of food, and he was perfectly willing to be very aggressive about it. He stuck around despite repeated efforts at shooing, but his rapacious appetite made him easy to observe up close. There are many of these birds in the trees on the resort property, and they make an astonishingly broad range of sounds — chirps, clucks, and squawks, among many others.
On the beach, you see pelicans, swallow-tailed kites, sandpipers, lots of fish, and every imaginable form of scuttling and slithering creature. When the tide is low tidal pools form in the coral formations, and they are filled with tiny fish, crabs, and other crustaceans that look like lobsters without claws. As you walk the beach, you see etchings left on the sand by sand worms, and the intricate tracks left by tiny hermit crabs, who hide under their shells as they hear human footsteps. In one of his explorations of the coral reefs, Russell found an intact crab shell and brought it back to our bungalow, where it has kept us company ever since.
The grounds feature snakes, countless tiny scurrying lizards, and iguana. The iguana are particularly interesting. They seem ponderous, lethargic and slow-moving, until they aren’t. I watched one cross the frazzled yard between our bungalow and the beach, moving with a sort of stately grace as it dragged its belly and long tail in the dust. As it reached the mid-point of the yard it stopped, bobbed its head up and down in rapid succession, and then scrambled quickly toward the shadows of the nearby tree line. I assume it spotted something that it hoped would be catchable and then edible.
This morning we saw our first mammal, and it was a memorable encounter. This furry creature looks like a cross between an anteater and a monkey. It features a long snout, some serious claws, and an extraordinarily long tail. As it carefully and slowly approached our eating area, it sniffed the air with obvious interest, and was rewarded with some scraps of food from diners at a nearby table.
The non-human residents of Sugar Beach are themselves worth the trip.