6 - 13 April 2002
by David Whiteley
My wife has one requirement for vacation - a beach. And I have one requirement for vacation - seeing our feathered friends. I'd read that Costa Rica was one of the top spots to visit for birdwatching. But did Costa Rica have beaches? Why yes they do, and after some research we decided that Punta Leona was the place for our first visit to Costa Rica. It has beaches and is well situated with respect to Carara Biological Reserve and Manuel Antonio National Park, as well as conveniently located in a region near the southern extreme of the tropical dry forest and the northern extreme of the tropical wet forest. We wanted to stay in one location since we were only staying a week and didn't want to spend much time driving about the country.
I obtained the Stiles and Skutch bird guide and began intense study of what might be seen in the April time frame. We wanted to travel to Costa Rica during the dry season to avoid the worst of the biting insects. Unfortunately, contrary to other trip reports I had read on this site, mosquitoes are present and despite applying copious amounts of DEET AND wearing long pants for much of the time, I still acquired about 25 bites during the trip. However, my wife got by without any bites and she went without DEET for much of the trip. Bottom line - if you attract mosquitos in the states, you'll probably attract them in Costa Rica.
I was disappointed with the artwork in the Stiles and Skutch bird guide. I suppose I've been spoiled by Mr. Sibley. Of course the Costa Rica guide was last published in 1989, so some allowance needs to be made for that. Where possible, I made use of guides for the US, Mexico, and Colombia to obtain better images of potential species that might be seen. Despite the less than "state of the art" artwork, the Stiles and Skutch text is quite good. However, the material has become quite dated as regards species status and distribution. I found it more helpful to read trip reports to determine the probability of observing any particular species.
Also, I'd read that you'll hear more birds than you'll see. So I obtained the Cornell University CD for Costa Rican birds of the Caribbean Slope. Of the over 200 species on the CD, there are over 100 which also occur in the Punta Leona area. Study the CD thoroughly as it will help tremendously with some birds that you have a high probability of hearing but not seeing (owls, nightjars, tinamous, etc.). Of course, it will also help identify other birds as well. Also, the recording for the Slaty Antshrike is a dead ringer for the voice of the Barred Antshrike.
Using all of the resources I could get my hands on, I estimated that 140-175 species would be observed with 104-138 being lifers.
DAY 1 - Saturday, April 6, 2002
We arrived in San Jose and processed out of the airport with no trouble at all. We were greeted at the exit by a very polite gentleman who offered us a taxi. The Punta Leona website advises the use of the orange taxis and that is what we had. Fare was $70 (Punta Leona said the fare would be between $70-80). We had decided to use taxis and tour vehicles to get around. I'd read and heard too many horror stories about renting a car in Costa Rica and about the roads in Costa Rica. We survived the trip never once wishing we'd had a car.
The trip to Punta Leona took about two hours from San Jose. The cab had AC but the driver didn't use it. I think if we had asked, he would have turned it on. The driver stopped at the famed bridge over the Tarcoles River near the Carara Biological Reserver. We were able to see the crocodiles without getting out of the taxi. I was really surprised by the bridge. I had expected a bridge through thick vegetation and a river well below the bridge. Well the bridge could have been in Indiana as it was pretty much surrounded by open country.
Upon arriving at Punta Leona we checked in. I attempted to sign up for the evening bird walk but there was not an evening bird walk until the following Friday. I had thought there was an evening bird walk every day but I had misunderstood the Punta Leona website. So we tried to sign up for the daily morning bird walks throughout the week. Surprisingly, I found out there would not be any morning bird walks Tuesday, Wednesday, or Thursday. Though disappointed, we did sign up for those that were available.
We went to our room and unpacked. The room was fine though anyone coming here needs to understand that you are in the tropics and there may be an insect here and there - after all, this isn't a Marriott on some beach surrounded by concrete streets. I took a quick walk around part of the Selvamar buildings before sundown. In about 30 minutes I observed 16 species and 14 lifers. I was stunned to see and hear Melodious Blackbirds right away in the area (the Punta Leona Naturalist Guide confirmed their presence later in the trip). Apparently they have made themselves at home in Costa Rica since the Stiles and Skutch guide was published.
Just a note about meals at Punta Leona. I'd read from other trip reports that the food wasn't too hot. Other than the beef being on the tough side, we found all of the meals and restaurants to be quite acceptable. The service was quite good and the snack bar serves a mean cheeseburger. If you don't waltz in and expect to order prime rib and chocolate eclairs, you shouldn't be too disappointed. Also, we drank the tap water at Punta Leona without any problems at all - we actually thought it tasted better than our tap water back home.
Species Observed - 20 (four observed in San Jose)
Lifers - 15 (one observed in San Jose)
DAY 2 - Sunday, April 7, 2002
We awoke the next day for the 6:15AM bird walk. On the way to the reception desk, we spotted many of the more common birds from the day before. At the reception desk, we heard and then saw a Red-billed Pigeon. The Naturalist Guide arrived and we introduced ourselves. The guide is Joshua Reyes. He has been at Punta Leona for the past two years and had taken over for the previous guide, Roy, whom I had read glowing reviews of in previous trip reports. Joshua explained that there would be no walks on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday because he had to return to San Jose to take certification tests for his guide position. Joshua did provide a copy of a hand drawn trail map which came in very handy when we went exploring on our own.
For the walk we were also joined by a gentleman from Switzerland who was now residing in San Jose. Joshua told us the walk would take about an hour and a half depending on what we saw. So the five of us began the walk and not more than 50 yards from the reception desk, Joshua heard and then spotted a Slaty-tailed Trogon. We proceeded up the main road to the guarded gate and beyond. Birding was very good all along the way. Of particular note were Blue-crowned Motmots with which Joshua exchanged calls.
We then departed the main road on to the Trogones Trail. Shortly after starting this trail, Joshua spotted a Squirrel Cuckoo, but it flew over and out of sight before we could recognize it. Birding was not quite as good as the path was narrow and the fields of view were small due to vegetation. However, Joshua's narrative of the native plants and animals prevented any boredom from creeping in. Near the end of this path I missed a second potential lifer - one I would not get a second chance at. A Riverside Wren was calling and briefly spotted by Joshua and my wife. Alas I didn't know the song well enough to add it to my list.
The Trogones trail ended at a gravel road onto which we turned. After a couple of turns, I spotted a Squirrel Cuckoo and we all had good looks. We returned to the main road and walked back to the reception desk. Much to my surprise, the walk had lasted almost three hours!
After breakfast and a nap, we walked along the beach to the Leomar Suites. An Amazon Kingfisher was spotted skimming the waves and came as close as 20 feet. This turned out to be a rather fortuitous sighting, as this would be the only time this species was observed. Fortunately its about the same size as the Belted Kingfisher, with which I am quite familiar, or I may have mistaken it for a Green Kingfisher which was observed many times in the same general area. Only a couple of species of shorebirds were seen before we headed up the beach to the main resort road. As we made our way down the hill, we spotted four additional lifers.
Species Observed - 39 (49 total for the trip)
Lifers - 23 (38 total for the trip)
DAY 3 - Monday, April 8, 2002
We joined Joshua again for the morning bird walk. Today we walked the Paso Monos trail. Only two other people, a mom and her son, accompanied us. This trail is primarily a dirt road with excellent views of the forest and ocean. This would become our favorite trail of the visit to Costa Rica. As we made our way up the hill, a Chestnut-mandibled Toucan emerged from it's hole in a tree for a splendid photo opportunity - unfortunately noone had a camera! A little further on Joshua and my wife saw some flitting in a high thicket. I was able to get a good look at one of the birds and identified it as a Tropical Gnatcatcher - a life bird for Joshua as well! Always great to be there when someone else gets a life bird, especially the guide! At about the highest point on the path, overlooking the ocean, I spotted a Mangrove Cuckoo in a tree. Another surprising observation, as it was only the second time Joshua had seen a Mangrove Cuckoo at Punta Leona. We headed back down a street through some private homes and the walk was over.
Following the walk, I arranged for tours the following three days. We had hoped to take the Tempisque River Cruise but none of the tour companies seemed to be offering it (though it is still shown as being available on the Punta Leona website). I was very disappointed as I had counted on this cruise to yield a decent number of northwestern coastal and riparian species. My expectations for 100+ lifers appeared to be in grave jeopardy. We opted for the Carara tour on Tuesday, the Manuel Antonio tour on Wednesday and the Tarcoles River Cruise on Thursday. We had hoped to take the morning Tarcoles River Cruise but the tides would not allow the cruise to occur - so we scheduled for the afternoon cruise.
I only did a little more birding along the beach the rest of the day, but was able to pick up 3 additional lifers: Common Tody-Flycatcher, Green Kingfisher, and Long-billed Starthroat. The iris of the flycatcher is not near as pronounced as shown in the field guide.
Species Observed - 41 (68 total for the trip)
Lifers - 15 (53 total for the trip)
DAY 4 - Tuesday, April 9, 2002
We were picked up bright and early for our Carara tour by Alvar "Al" Gutierrez and his driver Ignacio. This tour was run by Fantasy Tours and provided a comfortable van. Turns out we were the only ones on the tour - wow! First stop was a restaurant by the Tarcoles River. We were served a tasty breakfast. At first, Alvar and Ignacio were seated at another table but we asked them to join us. What better way to establish a relationship with the guide and driver? Our tour was only scheduled for the first half of the day and I asked Alvar and Ignacio what they would be doing afterwards. They said they would be heading back to Jaco if they had been scheduled for another tour. I quickly asked if they knew where the Tarcoles estuary was located and if they'd be available to take us there. Alvar said they'd have to check the schedule later in the morning, but if they were available they would take us.
Alvar introduced us to the joy of salsa lisano (aka salsa inglesa) - a wonderful savory sauce we found ourselves requesting and using during most of our remaining meals. Al explained it wasn't hot - "This isn't Mexico!" he said emphatically. The trees surrounding the restaurant were full of birds, and it took my full concentration to pay attention to the breakfast conversation.
After breakfast we walked over the Tarcoles bridge and observed the crocodiles and wealth of birds there. Alvar dropped some bread in the water which attracted the fish, which in turn caught the attention of a nearby crocodile which took after the fish. Very entertaining. Alvar then took us down the bank where we were able to take closer pictures of the crocodiles.
We proceeded to a trail between the bridge and the actual reserve headquarters. Perhaps this is the Vigilancia trail (I forgot to ask and unfortunately we didn't stop at the main headquarters for a trail map - although I'm sure we would have if I had asked). At the head of the trail, another group was examining an armadillo. The guides always seem friendly to one another and eager to help each other spot wildlife along the paths. Alvar told us about the native flora and fauna as we made our way along the path. We had moved some ways along the path and had gained some separation with the group we had seen when we started the trail. Alvar then turned with a mischievous grin on his face and looked back down the path. He commenced his Howler Monkey imitation which apparently was good enough to fool the other guide, because he brought his group up quickly to investigate. As soon as he saw Alvar's smiling face, he knew he had been duped. But the other guide was good natured about it.
We proceeded to a marsh which sported numerous jacanas and tiger-herons. A solitary Purple-Gallinule, small crocodile, and Basilisk Lizard were spotted as well. Alvar did his best to locate Boat-billed Herons but came up empty. We returned the same way we came and continued to see birds along the way. As we neared the end of the path, a guide up ahead was waving to us anxiously. As we hurried to his position, two Slaty-tailed Trogons were observed. The guide commented that the male was the largest of this species he had ever seen. It certainly would be the largest Slaty-tailed Trogon we would see during the trip. Another example of the guides helping one another.
We boarded the tour van at about the advertised ending time for the tour, yet we headed directly to the Tarcoles River and estuary. Apparently Ignacio had determined that they were available for this trip. No discussion was ever made of additional compensation for this side trip. Our first stop was along the roadside where Alvar hopped out and pulled a couple of fruits from a tree. He offered us the fruits and I declined at first. However, after he told me he would be insulted if I didn't try it, I accepted. Of course he was able to eat it without any trouble but my wife and my faces about turned inside out when we ate it. Turned out to be from a cashew tree. And the part we ate would eventually turn into a flower, while the other part was the nut itself. Alvar continued plucking items from trees for us to taste with the usual results - Alvar ate the items with no problems and our faces turned inside out. The last thing he plucked and peeled was a loofah sponge - who knew they grew from trees?
We walked to a small restaurant and had something to drink, after which Ignacio picked us up and we proceeded to Tarcol Lodge located on the Tarcol estuary. Alvar obtained permission from the owner for us to bird from their building. We scoped the estuary for some time and some juice and cookies were provided. The owner, Kathy (I believe was her name), joined us a little while later and she told us about some of the birds they have this time of year. She was quite friendly and Tarcol Lodge appeared to be in an excellent location for birding. She said if she had know we were coming she would have made us lunch. One last quick scan of the estuary yielded perhaps the biggest surprise of the trip - a Reddish Egret. I couldn't believe my eyes at first, but Kathy confirmed that it had been around for the last several days. We said our goodbyes and headed back to Punta Leona.
Along the way I asked Alvar what the Manuel Antonio tour was like. He filled me in and I asked them if it was possible if they could take us on that tour as well. He said it wasn't very likely as they didn't have much control over the scheduling. We stopped at the 400 year old Ceibo tree on the Punta Leona grounds and took some pictures of Alvar and Ignacio. Then they returned us to the reception desk and we gave them a very nice tip to cover their additional costs for the side trip as well as for their excellent guidance and companionship.
No more birding today - time to rest and relax. A little over three full days left and I only need 28 lifers to break 100. I now think I have a shot despite being unable to cruise on the Tempisque River. My wife is doubtful of my goal, though hopeful.
Species Observed - 67 (102 total for the trip)
Lifers - 19 (72 total for trip)
DAY 5 - Wednesday, April 10, 2002
I was up at 4:00 AM in the hopes of spotting some owls or nightjars. I took the Paso Monos Trail and heard much scurrying on the trail. Each time I shined the flashlight on the perpetrator, it turned out to be a land crab. They seemed to be everywhere. Other than the crabs it was very quiet. Daylight was slowly approaching when I flushed something on the path. It flew up just a few feet and then back down - must be a nightjar of some sort. I stepped a little closer and it flew again. I could now see it and simply observed it while it hunted for a few minutes. The size and white markings on the tail, wings, and throat indicated it was a Common Pauraque - another lifer. I also started hearing other pauraques and what were probably Lesser Nighthawks, but the calls were not sufficiently close to those I'd heard before to count this species as observed.
I returned to the room but my wife was running a little late so I headed down to the reception desk to make sure the Fantasy Tours van didn't leave without us. I was only about halfway there when I saw the Fantasy Tours van heading down the main road 10 minutes ahead of the departure schedule. Somewhat irritated, I flagged the van down and lo and behold, it was Alvar and Ignacio coming to pick us up at our room!! Was I happy to see them again. And when my wife showed up a few minutes later she was happy as well.
Alvar had seen some birds on the small creek by the main road when they had left yesterday, so we stopped for just a moment to see if they were still there. And they were - several Muscovy Ducks and many White Ibis. While I'd seen Muscovy Ducks in the states I'd never known their origin and had never counted them on a life list. But now I could count this species without doubt.
We were joined by a family of four, whom we picked up at another location. On our way to pick them up I asked Alvar if he knew where Boca Damas was located. He said sure. I asked if we could stop there on the way to or back from Manuel Antonio, if the family didn't mind, and he said we'd stop on the way because there would be more birds in the morning.
There had really only been one disappointment on the trip so far, and it was very, very, very minor - no life raptors yet. However on the way to Manuel Antonio, both species of caracara were observed as well as a Roadside Hawk. We pulled over for the Roadside Hawk and he perched on a wire not more than 10 feet from the van. But more was to come!
We reached Boca Damas, which turned into a convenient restroom stop, and the conditions couldn't have been much better. The tide was out and there were herons and egrets everywhere not to mention a lifer Whimbrel and a pair of lifer dowitchers. This spot could have used more time, but we needed to be on our way to Manuel Antonio. Along the way, Alvar picked some native vegetation from trees and shrubs, which we were obliged to eat. Still not too delectable, but at least we had company in our "misery". Alvar also demonstrated that lipstick could be created from some of the vegetation.
We arrived at Manuel Antonio and proceeded down the trail. The trail was wide with good views. However I'd have to say this was the least birdy trail we were on during our visit. Perhaps it was more critical to get on this trail early in the morning.
While not the most productive for birds, the variety of other wildlife seemed to be greater. Sloths were spotted immediately. Alvar had heard that a Great Potoo had been seen the last few days. Sure enough, another guide pointed it out to us. We got the scope on it and it was amazing how well camouflaged it was. My wife was fortunate enough to see its head move. A few more lifers were spotted and we ran across a small troop of squirrel monkeys and a few howler monkeys. A Laughing Falcon was heard on two separate occasions (fourth life raptor of the day).
We reached the beach and spent an hour or two there. There were numerous iguanas and Capuchin Monkeys. Bats were also observed at their roosts. The beach was beautiful, and all too soon we had to be on our way back to the van. We stopped at Quepos and ate our "meal of the trip" where we introduced the family to the wonders of salsa lizano. After we dropped the family off we proceeded back to Punta Leona via the "public" access road.
As we were driving along, I spotted something on a post by the road and called out for Ignacio to stop. On the left side of the van, at about 4:00 PM in the afternoon, was a gorgeous Ferruginous Pygmy-Owl (fifth life raptor of the day). I pointed him out but no one else saw him right away because they were looking too far away. Finally everyone saw him just across the road on the post. I opened the window to take a picture but it flew into a nearby tree. I got out and came as close as I felt possible without disturbing it and took some photos. Other than looking this way and that, the owl never budged from the tree. An absolutely stunning sighting.
Alvar and Ignacio dropped us off right at our door and again we gave them a nice tip for arranging their schedule so they could take us to Manuel Antonio and for their continued excellent guidance and service. In retrospect I may have overlooked another lifer - Smooth-billed Ani. Supposedly they are more abundant the further south you go. However, though I didn't pay close attention, I don't recall any of the ever present anis being appreciably larger than the Groove-billed Ani's. So maybe, I didn't miss anything at all.
We didn't do anymore proactive birding the rest of the day, but on our way to dinner, my wife spotted a woodpecker I dismissed as a Hoffmann's. However, she thought it looked different. I took a look with the bins and sure enough she was right - it was a Red-crowned Woodpecker, another lifer. I wonder how many of the ever present Hoffmann's may have been Red-crowned Woodpeckers? This species must have increased it's range since 1989 as well, as the guide says it only occurs as far north as Parrita.
Definitely a raptor kind of day - over 10% of the species observed were raptors and over 25% of the lifers were raptors. Good thing we enjoyed it, because these would be the only lifer raptors observed during the trip.
With two full days left, my wife is convinced I'll reach my goal of 100 lifers (and so am I).
Species Observed - 43 (128 total for the trip)
Lifers - 17 (89 total for the trip)
DAY 6 - Thursday, April 11, 2002
There was no scheduled tour today until afternoon and so I was up early again to walk the Paso Monos trail. No pauraques seen today, though plenty heard. I reached the lookout area and decided to wait until I could see better before proceeding on. Turns out this was a good plan as Crested Guans started calling from the hills. A flock of parrots/parakeets flew tantalizingly out of range of positive identification. They were quite vocal but unfortunately I didn't recognize the call. I could see the flock occasionally flit from tree to tree in the distance but still no luck with identification.
I was weighing my options for approach - when last sighted, they were still a good 200-300 yards away in the hills. However as I stood there, they flew into a tree not more than 50 yards from me. Good luck favored me again by revealing the noisy flock to be filled with Crimson-fronted Parakeets. I was able to observe there acrobatic foraging for a few minutes before they abruptly disappeared as quickly as they had came.
I went back to the room to have breakfast with my wife. We then headed out to try the Gigantes Trail. You have to walk the main road to reach the trailhead for the Gigantes Trail. As on Sunday, birding along the main road was very good. Birding along the Gigantes Trail wasn't quite as good due to the narrow field of views, low light due to the dense canopy, and very tall trees. We walked this path rather quickly and returned to the main road. Birding on the way back to the room was quite good along the main road. Birding along the main road was only slightly less productive than birding the Paso Monos Trail and probably deserved more time than we could give it.
We had lunch and headed to the reception desk to catch our ride to the Tarcoles river cruise. Joshua had returned from San Jose and passed his tests without any problem. I asked if he might take the Limoncito Trail for the birdwalk on Friday and he said it was possible. I also told him I needed just two more lifers to make 100 for the trip. He GUARANTEED I would make it.
We had lunch and caught our ride to the Tarcoles river cruise. There we met our guide, Pedro. We accompanied a father and son from California, Tom and Dale. Pedro asked what we wanted to see. The cruise could concentrate on birds or crocodiles but not both. Tom and Dale deferred to us and I was not hesitant to speak up - I voted for birds. On our way to the boat, a gorgeous Turqouise-browed Motmot was perched out in the open for all to see. We boarded the boat and there was seating to allow passengers to face looking out to the left or right side of the boat. We were surprised because we had seen tour boats previously that had people packed in like sardines all facing forward. We were able to get up and walk around as we pleased. We even were allowed to step up onto the forward platform as we desired.
The sheer number of birds observed was astounding and certainly was the highest of any site we visited. There were kingfishers, egrets, herons, sandpipers, and swallows everywhere. And as previously mentioned, we had been advised to take the morning cruise because there was more bird activity then - I can't imagine how this could be. Pedro seemed to have remarkable eyesight as he was able to see things with the naked eye from very far away. His narrative was also very entertaining. Boat-billed Heron provided my 100th lifer of the trip. We were able to view two Boat-billed Heron chicks on a nest, as well as the anxious mother nearby.
Pedro and the boat driver, whose name escapes me unfortunately, were happy to take us closer to anything we wanted to see better. Pedro was very disappointed when the pathway to one of his favorite brances of the river through the mangroves was blocked off by locals who were anchored and fishing. He said there were American Pygmy-Kingfishers back there. He tried to find them elsewhere without any luck, though we did pick up Mangrove Warbler, which I could only count on a subspecies list. As the tour neared its completion, we viewed a pair of Scarlet Macaws perched high in a tree. Apparently it is fairly rare to see them perched and only marked the second time I had seen the species perched during the trip.
Having reached the 100 lifer goal, I decided to relax a little bit more and enjoy the sun and water (much to my wife's delight). We retired to the pool for several hours. I did make one quick jaunt on the Paso Monos Trail and turned up yet two more lifers.
Species Observed - 73 + 1 subspecies (150 + 1 subspecies total for
Lifers - 15 (104 total for the trip)
DAY 7 - Friday, April 12, 2002
We strolled to the reception desk for the morning bird walk. While we awaited Joshua's arrival a Crested Guan flew into the trees above us - a rather good sized bird. I could now count this guan species as seen and not just heard. There were a good number of people on this bird walk, perhaps 10-15. Joshua did take us on the Limoncito Trail as I had inquired about him doing the day before. This trail was wide with goods fields of view. Four more lifers were tallied on the walk with perhaps the most beautiful bird of the trip being observed - a Black-throated Trogon which provided splendid views through the scope. A rather quiet Rufous Piha was also observed. After returning to the room and listening to its voice on the CD, I realized I had actually heard many Rufous Pihas during the past fews days and had simply not recognized the voice. And at the end of the walk on the beach, a Yellow-bellied Elaenia was seen - the only elaenia of the trip.
We rested by the pool and beach for the day before the evening's night walk. As suggested on the Punta Leona website, it is recommended that you bring your own flashlight. Flashlights will be provided, but many were on the dim side by the end of the walk (note - binoculars are also provided during the day walks for those who do not bring them). The night walk was conducted on the Gigantes Trail. A van took the seven of us to the trail head. While not birdy, it was a fascinating walk with observations of many insects, some scorpions, and a frog. Joshua also pointed out many of the native trees including a "bleeding" tree and a "Milk of Magnesia" tree. But the highlight for me was the groaning calls of two Great Potoos. Other than these two birds, I couldn't hear any other avian calls.
Species Observed - 20 (154 + 1 subspecies for trip)
Lifers - 4 (108 total for trip)
DAY 8 - Saturday, April 13, 2002
Well, all things must come to an end. We took one quick walk around the grounds before catching our taxi back to San Jose. Nothing new but a rathy disheveled Slaty-tailed Trogon was seen very near our door. When we arrived at the airport, the driver couldn't locate the Delta terminal. He stopped to ask for directions so I hopped out real quick and spotted a Rufous-collared Sparrow on ledge. Once in the terminal I was able to see Gray-breasted Martins, the last lifer of the trip, gliding around the terminal.
Species Observed - 20 (156 + 1 subspecies total for trip)
Lifers - 2 (110 total for trip)
In closing, let me say that the trip couldn't have been better. Despite the unavailability of the Tempisque River cruise, the number of species and lifers observed still fell into the range I had estimated. And I was very fortunate to record my 500th and 600th life birds in this beautiful country. My wife enjoyed it so much she told me to make plans for a return next year.