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Felipe del Bosque Blog Sept 15 2010

Temp High 80°F  Low 73°F          Precipitation 0.1 ins

Today has started bright and sunny.  Hopefully the sky rained itself out yesterday and we get a dry period, for the time being at least.

It was a reasonable morning for both the birds and butterflies.  There was nothing out of the ordinary to be seen, just higher numbers of more species than yesterday.

One early morning sighting was a Green Urania Moth, (Urania fulgens).  These are spectacularly colored deep velvet black with bright metallic green stripes, with the hind wings bearing long swallowtails.  They are a day flying migratory moth, and sometimes appear in huge numbers, thousands strong.  As you walk around the grounds you find the vegetation covered in them as they lie on the tops of the leaves soaking up the sun.  If you pass by and disturb them all of a sudden you will be surrounded by a swirling cloud of color.  As they are day flying, many people mistake these beautiful moths for butterflies and are at a loss when they cannot find something that is so unmistakably distinctive in the guides to Costa Rican butterflies.

Green Uranias generally migrate in a southeasterly direction from Mexico down through Central America into Colombia.  The moth larvae feed on a large canopy vine, Omphalia diandra.  Having had one generation of moth larvae consuming vast quantities of its leaves, the Omphalia vine starts to produce defensive toxins against further attack.  It is thought that this is situation that drives the moths to migrate, essentially in search of a supply of non-toxic Omphalia on which they can feed.

Well, the sun continued to shine until it set today.  Then came the rain.  So far it is just a light drizzle but that always bodes well for the frogs.

Tonight Bosque del Cabo hosted an Independence Day spectacular.  There was a Tico Sour night in the bar.  The food was a amazing buffet featuring an wonderful variety of typical Costa Rican cuisine followed by a delicious rice pudding in milk.  The night was brought to a spectacular end with display by the staff dressed in traditional costume and performing a selection of Costa Rica folklore dances.

The other remaining piece of news from the day is that the two young wild cat researchers working within the grounds of Bosque saw a female Puma and her six month old cub on the “Titi Trail”.  They have also confirmed the sighting with photos taken by their remote camera, one of three on site.  Most of the visitors who witness seeing a wild cat over the years have generally seen them on the “Titi Trail”.  This female had been spotted with her cub by some of the staff when they were leaving for home one night.  Now we have photographic proof to back that up.

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

Most of my photographs are of very small things, the largest subjects in front of my lens are some of the larger frogs around the Bosque pond.  But I am surrounded by some very large forms of life, in fact some of the largest life forms on the planet, trees.

Trees are not easy to photograph; flowers and fruit, yes, trees, no.  If it is a tall tree then there is a lot of it to get in the frame which means you need to stand a long way back.  Then you have the problem of using a wide-angle lens which means unless the tree you want to take a picture of is standing in isolation you are going to get a lot of other things in the frame too.  If it is a normal tree, the roots will be in the ground but the crown will be 100 feet or more above, posing another problem of contrast, dark at the bottom, bright sky up above.

Anyway, bearing all of this in mind, I thought that today being Costa Rica’s Independence Day, I would try and photograph some of the beautiful big Guanacaste Trees, (Enterolobium cyclocarpum), we have on the grounds, this being the national tree of Costa Rica.

In open fields the Guanacaste Trees have a low spreading crown, not unlike a giant green mushroom.  In the forest however, it is taller with the branches spreading upwards.  This latter form is the type to be found at Bosque.

The Guanacaste Tree is a member of the Pea Family.  They are fairly common throughout Costa Rica as they can tolerate all conditions from tropical wet forest to tropical dry forest.  In the dry season, the flowers from the previous year produce the very distinctive curly brown ears to be found covering the ground at the base of the trunks.

Well that is enough of the trees; I am putting my macro lens back on and going off in search of some smaller things that I can get within an inch of.

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

White-nosed Coati


Red-lored Amazon

Scarlet Macaw

Pale-billed Woodpecker

Bright-rumped Atilla

Southern Beardless Tyrannulet

Great Kiskadee

Short-billed Pigeon

Chestnut-backed Antbirds

Black-hooded Antshrike

Chestnut-mandibled Toucan


Green Honeycreeper

Cherrie’s Tanager

Golden-hooded Tanager

Roadside Hawk

Great Tinamou

Black Vulture


Four-lined Ameiva

Barred Ameiva

Northern Cat-eyed Snake


Marine Toad

Red-eyed Green Treefrog

Banana Frog

Smokey Jungle Frog

Masked Smilisca

Tink Frog

Fitzinger’s Rainfrog


Dryas iulia

Eueides aliphera

Eueides lybia

Glutophrissa drusilla

Heliconius erato

Heliconius hecale

Heliconius ismenius

Heliconius sapho

Hermeuptychia hermes

Philaethria dido

Opsiphanes tamarindi

Pierella luna

Taygetis andromeda

Posted September 16, 2010 by felipedelbosque in Philip's Nature Diary

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