Beauty and the Beast   3 comments

Felipe del Bosque Blog Sept 4 2010

Temp High 77°F  Low 72°F          Precipitation 0.0 ins

The dawn broke this morning with the prospect of a very overcast and rainy day but by the time breakfast was over, the sky had brightened and things were looking up.  The recent rains had prevented me getting a weekly butterfly count done.  Normally I conduct the counts on Wednesdays, so much so that even if people have forgotten what day it is, and that is not hard to do around here, when they see me dressed and equipped to go out counting butterflies they know it’s Wednesday.  The weather though, occasionally throws a spanner in the works and I can’t get out until later in the week.  If I don’t complete a count on or before Saturday, then I regard it as lost.  In ten years of counting, the weather has only prevented me completing a count on one or two occasions.  So off I went this morning armed with binoculars, camera and handheld tape recorder.

The promise of the day was not fulfilled by the butterflies, there are not that many species or individuals this time of year, you need to come in February/March to see clouds of butterflies, but it was a good day for the birds.

One more migrant has arrived, yet another warbler, the Prothonotary Warbler, (Protonotaria citrea).  The beauty of bird is not matched by its unusual name, although the two are linked.  The bright lemon yellow head and breast of the male are supposedly reminiscent of the yellow robes worn by the protonotarii officials of the Catholic Church.

Trogon sightings are not uncommon at Bosque; we have four species present on the grounds.  Normally found in woodland habitat I saw both the Black-throated and the Violaceous Trogons today.

One more bird worthy of mention, the Violet-crowned Woodnymph, (Thalurania colombica).  Hummingbirds were blessed by having those naming them possessing some degree of descriptive imagination. I watched a male continually re-visiting the same patch of Heliconias to feed.  Although the bird looks, at times, black, he is in fact a gorgeous deep violet/blue-black.  On his chest he sports a scintillatingly iridescent blaze of emerald green.

At the end of the day, the butterfly count was not as low as I thought it was going to be.  So having spent the day in the company of some beautiful birds and butterflies was certainly worth the wait over a few days of rain.

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

Following dinner in the evening, once the banter is over and everyone has returned to their cabins, if you give it an hour or so and return, you will find other guests have taken their place for the night.  The lights illuminating the dining area have attracted insects which now provide an after dinner feast for the Marine Toads, (Bufo marinus).

They are called Marine Toads as you can find them down on the beach but they are not tolerant of salt water so you won’t find them in the sea.  They are not generally found in the forest but rather around human habitation.  Also, they do not always need the stimulus of movement to feed, as do most amphibians, so they can take food from pet bowls that have been left overnight.  Males will grow to about a year old, females will continue to grow to about four years old.  At four years, the female Marine Toad can be anything up to 3 lbs in weight, making this the largest of the Costa Rican amphibians.

They are very poisonous; the two main poison glands appear as large expanded areas behind the eyes.  These are the toads that were introduced into Australia in the 1930’s to clear the cane beetles from the cane stems.  The Australian predators had never come across them before, fed on them, were poisoned and died.  That left Australia with a much bigger problem than it had originally, a massive explosion in the mouse and rat populations.  They have been introduced to Hawaii, Florida, Australia, Papua, and some Caribbean Islands, all resulting in the same problems, not the fault of the toad as we take them there.  No-one in Australia thought to talk to a biologist either, as the cane beetles they were introduced to feed upon live at the top of the cane stems whereas the toads live at the bottom.

Here in Costa Rica though the Marine Toad is native, it does have predators.  Opossums will catch them, split them open and leave the skins and some snakes are immune to the toxin.  Not too many will initially take a look at a toad and appreciate its beauty, but just before you vent you disgust have one more look deep into that eye, perhaps then you will see something different.

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


Red-tailed Squirrel



Red-lored Amazon

Scarlet Macaw

Pale-billed Woodpecker

Bright-rumped Atilla

Stripe-throated Hummingbird

Violet-crowned Woodnymph

Short-billed Pigeon

White-tipped Dove

Blue-crowned Manakin

Red-capped Manakin

Chestnut-backed Antbirds

Black-hooded Antshrike

Chestnut-mandibled Toucan


Green Honeycreeper

Shining Honeycreeper

Palm Tanager

White-shouldered Tanager

Cherries Tanager

Bay-headed Tanager

Golden-hooded Tanager

Mourning Warbler

Prothonotary Warbler

House Wren

Riverside Wren

Yellow-headed Caracara

Roadside Hawk

Great Tinamou

Black-throated Trogon

Violaceous Trogon

Black Vulture



Golfo Dulce Anolis

Mediterranean House Gecko

Northern Cat-eyed Snake


Marine Toad

Red-eyed Green Treefrog

Banana Frog

Smokey Jungle Frog

Tink Frog

Fitzinger’s Rainfrog

Stejneger’s Dirt Frog

Black and Green Poison Dart Frog


Anartia fatima

Arawacus togarna

Cissia confusa

Dione juno

Eueides aliphera

Eueides lybia

Eurema daira

Eurybia lycisca

Heliconius cydno

Heliconius erato

Heliconius hecale

Heliconius ismenius

Heliconius sapho

Heraclides cresphontes

Hermeuptychia hermes

Junonia everete

Magneuptychia libye

Morpho helenor

Morpho menelaus

Pareuptychia metaleuca

Parides erithalion

Perophthalma lassus

Phiaethria dido

Pierella helvina

Pierella luna

Pyrgus oileus

Saliana esperi

Staphylus mazans

Taygetis andromeda


Posted September 5, 2010 by felipedelbosque in Philip's Nature Diary

3 responses to “Beauty and the Beast

Subscribe to comments with RSS.

  1. More great knowledge Phillip, thanks for teaching us.

  2. Phil, I loved the marine toads and saw some beauty in them, I was also surprised at their size, they are the biggest toad I have ever seen. Grace loves reading your diary, in fact we all do, the pictures are amazing and the information very interesting.

  3. Oh yeah…. biiggg toad. We said hello to one after dinner upon returning to Sol. Sitting quietly in the corner of the room – but since it didn’t pay it’s share we decided he needed to leave for the evening. The small trash can and and the book in the room worked as a transportation device – but you could see the power of its jumps as it shook as my husband carried it out of the room. He went on to spend his evening back in the wilds.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: