SKIPPERS: BEST SEEN IN CLOSE UP   1 comment


 

Wildlife, nature, fauna and flora of Costa Rica.

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  had seen a lot and reeled off a short list of expected sightings from this stage of the trip.  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.  If it is the last stop on your vacation you will very quickly become aware of the fact that you saved the best till last.

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 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.

Skippers: Best Seen In Close Up

 

Rainforest butterflies. Costa Rica. Hesperiidae. Pyrginae. Staphylus mazans. Mazans Scallopwing. Veridion Adventures.

Mazans Scallopwing, (Staphylus mazans)

 

Rainforest Butterflies. Costa Rica. Hesperiidae. Pyrginae. Tropical Checkered Skipper. Pyrgus oileus. Philip Davison. Veridion Adventures.

Tropical Checkered Skipper, (Pyrgus oileus)

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 is 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.

Rainforest butterflies. Hesperiidae. Hesperiinae. Anatrytone potosiensis. Costa Rica. Veridion Adventures.

Anatrytone potosiensis at rest

Rainforest butterflies. Hesperiidae. Hesperiinae. Anatrytone potosiensis. felipe del bosque. Veridion Adventures.

Anatrytone potosiensis with flash

 

 

Philip Davison Is a Biologist, Writer and Photographer Based in Costa Rica

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One response to “SKIPPERS: BEST SEEN IN CLOSE UP

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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.

    Like

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