Bruce in kayak.

"We specialize in small group travel, which minimizes environmental impact, increases safety standards and allows for personalized, enriching and authentic experiences."

— Bruce Smith, founder and owner, Seascape Kayak Tours Inc.

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Halcyon DaysMay 3rd, 2009

We write this during the final countdown to our seasonal departure from Costa Rica. There are seven days left until we leave to run the summer kayaking season on Deer Island in the Bay of Fundy, New Brunswick, Canada. Seven halcyon days.

The rainy season has begun. A few nights ago, we were driving home from Curú Wildlife Refuge at dusk when the first substantial rain began to fall, making the dirt roads suddenly oily and greasy. We nearly got stuck in the slippery mud dropping off a friend who lives near the river.




Last night we were awakened by a deafening roar of rain, the first true torrential downpour that lasted several hours and brought a fresh, cooler feeling to the hot, sticky air. As a result of this hard shower, the water in the ocean in front of Tambor Tropical and in the nearby River Panica has turned to a ruddy red. We paddled up the Panica this morning at high tide and saw a variety of birds, including beautiful pink Roseate Spoonbills and tall, regal white Wood Storks. Every paddle offers opportunities to see a tremendous number of wading birds such as egrets and herons, the most common being the Snowy Egret, Little Blue Heron, Tricolored Heron, Tiger Heron and Green Heron.





Two days ago, we saw a heron we hadn’t seen before in the Panica River, the Boat-billed Heron, which searches for fish at night. Its shoe-shaped bill is thought to help it catch food in lower light, in which precise spearing of fish with a narrow bill would be difficult. The bird was hiding in the thicket and very shy, but we got some decent photos that show its huge, human-like eye and unmistakable bill.


We also saw a Belted Kingfisher this morning, one of five types we see in Costa Rica, the others being the Ringed, Amazon, Green and American Pigmy. The kingfisher has been the subject of a fair amount of folklore, hearkening all the way back to Greek mythology. There is a myth that Zeus was jealous of a female character, Alcyone, for her power over the wind and waves. In a jealous rage, Zeus killed Alcyone’s husband by destroying his ship with lightning. Alcyone threw herself into the sea to join her drowning lover and they both turned into kingfishers. So through the years sailors believed the kingfisher could protect them by calming stormy weather; they referred to the kingfisher as the Halcyon bird. Kingfishers were also thought to nest for seven days of peace and calm when rearing their young, and these were called the Halcyon Days. (Les Beletsky, Costa Rica Travelers’ Wildlife Guide.)





The paddling season in Canada is shaping up with plenty of day trips and multi-day experiences on the calendar May through September and we’ll have to hit the ground running once we arrive. Meanwhile, as we pack gear, clean boats, store belongings and prepare to depart, we are listening to the Howler Monkeys, watching all the birds, feeling the rains move over the sea, and trying to get every ounce of enjoyment we can out of our final halcyon days in Tambor.


When we next communicate with you, it’ll be from an entirely different climate at the opposite end of the Americas, but one with just as much beauty and joy to offer paddlers, wildlife lovers and everyone who makes the time to visit our very special corner of the universe: Deer Island. We hope to see you there this summer.


Pura vida,


Bruce and Frances

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