A New Deception   3 comments

Felipe del Bosque Blog Sept 1 2010

Temp High 90°F  Low 73°F          Precipitation 3.7 ins

Well, what an excellent start to the day.  I was out early this morning doing my bird count when a little flash of white caught my eye disappearing into one of the large white trumpet-shaped blooms of the Crepe Gingers.  Now I have been here ten years and I am looking at butterflies, my specialty, every day.  Over that period of time I have identified hundreds of species.  But even so, I know when I seeing something that I have not previously seen and that was the situation this morning.  I did not want to scare the unidentified, and as yet, not really seen, insect that I knew was in the flower head, which was unfortunately facing away from me.  Ever so slowly I bend forward to take a peek inside and sure enough my initial thoughts were confirmed, a little chocolate-brown skipper with a distinctive bright white patch on the trailing edge of the hindwing.  I stood looking at it, taking in the mental image for as long as it would allow me to, as regrettably I was not carrying the camera.  Then, in typical skipper fashion, it quickly disappeared.  I hurried back to my cabin to consult one of the few photographic guide books I have that cover the skippers of the Neotropics and sure enough, there it was; Cobalus virbius.  I have not previously seen this species in all the time that I have been here and I may never see it again, (sadly no photographic record), which makes September 1st 2010 a red letter day for me.

Of the four species of monkey we have on the grounds of Bosque del Cabo: Spider, Howler, Squirrel and Capuchin, it is the latter that are normally bold enough to come in and around the area in front of the restaurant.  That was the case this afternoon when a troop of bold and daring Capuchins came to feed on the bananas and coconuts.  For anyone who has ever tried to open a coconut, (that scene from the movie, “Cast Away” springs to mind), you will know it is no easy task.  But I always find myself looking on in amazement at the adept manipulations of the Capuchins.  One bite with those sharp teeth and strong jaws gets them through the husk, a rip with the arms and off comes the husk and finally one more bite and “voila”, they’re in.  Give it a try.  I bet you end up resorting to Tom Hank’s method.

The whales were enjoying themselves again today.  Two adults were breaching and a calf which would just stick its head out of the water.  No definitive answer as to why whales do that but the most plausible is because it is fun, they are enjoying themselves.

Finally as I finish for the night, a storm just rolled in and we are experiencing a torrential downpour.  This is fairly typical weather for this time of year, hot and sunny all day and down comes the rain at six.

Philip is a biologist, writer and photographer as well as the onsite naturalist guide at Bosque del Cabo Rainforest lodge on the Osa Peninsula, Costa Rica.


Photo Feature

Even those walking around the grounds of Bosque del Cabo in search of some smaller life forms to photograph, the task may not be easy.  You may come across various fungal fruiting bodies, mushrooms of various form, size and shape that prove an enticing subject.  You may happen across industriously occupied lines of the ubiquitous Leaf-cutter Ants which pose an interestingly enough challenge.  The lines of moving green leaf can be viewed as a living Andy Goldsworthy sculpture.  Butterflies which quite often will only sit still long enough for you to get the photograph composed before annoyingly fluttering off before you hit the shutter.  You can find grasshoppers, katydids and crickets, occasionally a praying mantis or walking stick.  It is never too hard to find spiders; Golden-orb and Silver-orb Spiders exist in sizable numbers all around the outsides of buildings.   They all require you to re-adjust your field of focus.

But no matter how hard you look, there are going to be certain animals right in front of your field of vision that your eyes may never be able to distinguish from the background in which they are hiding.  There are some katydids that are so cryptically colored, their bodies formed into to shapes so little resembling an insect and more like a piece of vegetation that it sometimes beggars belief.  The whole idea of cryptic coloration, camouflage, is that you don’t move because once you move you have blown your cover.

Above are just a few photographs of examples taken from in and around the grounds of Bosque where something happened to catch my eye.  For every example that did catch my eye there were probably thousands that did not.  The green katydid is colored the same as the vegetation amongst which it is sitting, its hind end pushed up like a plant shoot.  The leaf-mimicking katydid whose resemblance to a dead leaf is so perfect it could not be bettered.  Even its legs are textured and colored to resemble small twigs.  Then there is the bark-mimicking katydid which blends in perfectly with the pale tree bark.   Its body form is broken up by spines and thorns protruding from all extremities.  Finally a hawk moth whose body is covered with dense green hair likening it to deep cushiony moss on tree barks where it rests.  The wings have the same moss green color and are broken up by a pattern closely resembling the underlying texture of the tree bark.  All four examples would be nigh on impossible to find except opportunistically.  So when you go out, take a second glance because everything may not be as it seems.

Text and Photographs are taken from the forthcoming book:

The Natural History of Bosque del Cabo by Philip Davison

Species List for the Day


Howler Monkey

Spider Monkey

Capuchin Monkey


Red-tailed Squirrel

White-nosed Coati

Nine-banded Armadillo


Red-lored Amazon

Scarlet Macaw

Pale-billed Woodpecker

Rufus-tailed Hummingbird

Chestnut-backed Antbirds

Black-hooded Antshrike

Chestnut-mandibled Toucan

Blue-crowned Manakin

Red-capped Manakin

Green Honeycreeper

Blue-grey Tanager

Bay-headed Tanager

Golden-hooded Tanager


Great Kiskadee

Tropical Kingbird

Mourning Warbler

Riverside Wren

Yellow-headed Caracara

Roadside Hawk

Turkey Vulture

Black Vulture



Northern Cat-eyed Snake


Marine Toad

Red-eyed Green Treefrog

Banana Frog

Milky Frog

Smokey Jungle Frog

Tink Frog

Fitzinger’s Rainfrog

Black and Green Poison Dart Frog


Battus polydamus

Cobalus verbius

Heliconius erato

Heliconius hecale

Heliconius ismenius

Heliconius sapho

Siproeta stelenes

Pyrgus oileus


Posted September 2, 2010 by felipedelbosque in Philip's Nature Diary

3 responses to “A New Deception

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  1. congrats on the butterfly sighting…too bad the camera wasn’t around your neck. don’t you know NEVER go anywhere down there without it??? One day my dream is to see a whale while there. Hasn’t happened yet, but perhaps one day. Is this the best time of year to see them???? Enjoying the blogs!!

  2. So enjoying the new blog! We’re making our first trip to BdC in December and this is a great preview. I’ve been copying and pasting your list of sightings of butterflies and birds into Google images in order to get an idea of the types we might be seeing while we are there. Again, great blog!

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