Skipping to Pewee   1 comment

Felipe del Bosque Blog Sept 6 2010

Temp High 84°F  Low 72°F          Precipitation 1.0 ins

Today started overcast and showery.  I knew it was going to an in day.  I was in town, then I was in my cabin doing research and then I was in the office typing everything up.

Two birds turned up today that I haven’t seen for some years; the Variable Seedeater, (Sporophila americana), and the Western Wood Pewee, (Contopus sordidulus).    The Variable Seedeater is a tiny bird which normally feeds on grass seeds.  The taxonomy of the bird is uncertain as it, as its name suggests, is highly variable and many of the assumed subspecies will interbreed.  The Pewee is one of the Tyrant Flycatchers of which there are 78 different species in Costa Rica.  It can normally be found on a high perch in a tree from where it sallies, catching insects before returning to the same perch.  The individual I saw today was in the company of a pair of Tropical Kingbirds, another species of Tyrant Flycatcher fairly common in the area.

On my way back from town to the lodge, I shared the taxi ride with two of our newly arriving guests.  During the course of the conversation I was asking them how much wildlife they had seen on their previous 10 days travelling around the country.  They reeled off a short list of expected sightings.  Several hours after arriving at the lodge I saw them again and asked how they had settled in.  The list of sightings they gave me for having been on the grounds for just one or two hours far exceeded all of their sightings in the preceding week and a half.

I do try to impress upon people that when they come to the Osa Peninsula that they are visiting a very special area and that is exemplified even further at Bosque.  If it is the last stop on your vacation you will very quickly become aware of that fact.

A little later in the day the clouds cleared and we actually witnessed a sunset.  As it was getting darker, I was walking behind the Bosque pond, where some well established Screw Pines had been dropping fruit.  The fruits somewhat resemble larger pineapples made up of faceted segments.  One particular White-nose Coati has been feeding here for several days, but this evening he was joined by two butterflies attracted to the sap of ripening fruits; Taygetis andromeda, a satyrid, and Caligo eurilochus, which is one of the owl butterflies.  The butterfly is named after the large and obvious spot on the hind wing which looks like the eye of an owl but it does act more as a bullseye serving as a target to deflect the strike of a predator to a non-essential part of the body.  The owl butterflies are large and have a typically slow lazy flight.  They are generally seen flying at the forest edge at dusk.

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

Skippers, you probably wouldn’t even notice them.  Many of the skippers are small, less than the size of your little fingernail, chocolate brown in color and fly close to the ground.  Even when you do capture one on camera, the diagnostic features required to identify it may not be obvious.  Quite often the female has different coloration and markings to the males.  Literature pertaining to skippers, guides and keys; they are all sadly lacking.  Skipper identification is therefore left to the experts and even then that may take some time.  I too, initially paid small attention to them, at least until I started to photograph them.  For whatever reason they seem to be sensitive to sound, light or the slightest movement, so when it comes to capturing the image you have spent so long composing, as the lens focuses, off they go.  If using flash, you also need to be using a high shutter speed because if you are using anything below 1/250 sec all you will have taken a photograph of is the leaf where the skipper had been perched.

Anyway, I have posted a few shots so you can see with patience it can be done.

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


White-nosed Coati


Red-lored Amazon

Scarlet Macaw

Bright-rumped Atilla

Tropical Kingbird

Western Wood Pewee

White-tipped Dove

Chestnut-backed Antbirds

Black-hooded Antshrike

Blue-crowned Manakin

Chestnut-mandibled Toucan

Cherries Tanager

Bay-headed Tanager

Mourning Warbler

Variable Seedeater

Common Paureque

Black Vulture



Mediterranean House Gecko

Northern Cat-eyed Snake


Marine Toad

Red-eyed Green Treefrog

Banana Frog

Smokey Jungle Frog

Tink Frog

Fitzinger’s Rainfrog


Caligo eurilochus

Heliconius hecale

Heliconius ismenius

Hermeuptychia hermes

Pyrgus oileus

Taygetis andromeda


Posted September 7, 2010 by felipedelbosque in Philip's Nature Diary

One response to “Skipping to Pewee

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  1. “The list of sightings they gave me for having been on the grounds for just one or two hours far exceeded all of their sightings in the preceding week and a half.”

    Absolutely!! That is so true. That is why I like to save BdC til last.


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