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Felipe del Bosque Blog Sept 19 2010

Temp High 84°F  Low 73°F          Precipitation 1.65 ins

This morning started off in the same vein as the past few days, grey and wet.  By the time breakfast was over, that had changed and the sun was shining.

As I sat eating my gallo pinto a female Great Currasow came strutting around the canteen area.  These are large turkey sized birds; the males are jet black with a white belly and yellow bill whereas the females are mottled browns.  They are very able flies and roost in trees but they prefer to forage on the ground.  In many areas it is rare to see them because they are commonly hunted for food.  Here at Bosque del Cabo, they wander around at liberty, wholly unafraid of their human cohabitants.  The ever present Black Vultures which always hang around the canteen area, hopeful of picking up any discarded scrap of food, were being chased by the Currasow, their scant treats being stolen from right under their beaks.

Over in the distance I could see an Agouti sat back on its haunches eating some large fallen seed, probably a palm nut.  Two young White-nosed Coatis made their way over to the canteen area, not yet as bold or confident as some of the adult males, but nonetheless you could see them summoning up the bravado for the chance of snatching a free meal.

It was a reasonably good day for the birds and butterflies.  I noticed that the leafless fig tree in the corner of the garden that had served as a perfect vantage point for some of the flycatchers over the past few weeks was anything but leafless.  It was now sporting a crown of bright fresh green foliage.

One of the Clusias is now flowering and fruiting, pale pink five petalled flower and small white globular fruits.  This family of plants also has the ability to strangle and take over a host plant in the same fashion as some of the figs, but generally not to the life terminating extreme as some of its Ficus contemporaries.

During this morning I was paid a visit by Ricardo Moreno, a young Panamanian research scientist, who along with his Costa Rican partner, Aida Bustamante, have been studying populations of wildcats in the area, (www.yaguara.org).  I had sent them a photograph of a cat print that I thought might be a Jaguar.  They had studied the photograph long and hard.  The jury was out for a long time but finally returned with the verdict that although it could well be a Jaguar, indications were that it was the track of a very, very large male Puma that they know inhabits the grounds of Bosque from photographs of him passing by some of their motion sensitive camera traps.  Just to be sure though, Ricardo made the trip to take a plaster cast of the print.  Unfortunately all of yesterday’s rain had washed all signs of it away.  So erring on the side of probability, we are going to say Puma not Jaguar.

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.

www.bosquedelcabo.com

Photo Feature

Bosque del Cabo is situated on the tip of the Osa Peninsula, Costa Rica.  It is surrounded by a whole variety of different habitats which makes it so special in terms of its outstandingly high biodiversity.  With regard to the  coast, there is the relative tranquility of the Golfo Dulce beaches which contrast with the more rough side on the Pacific Ocean coast.  The Pacific beach area has lots of rock pools in which, when the tide is low, you will find an amazing amount of weird and wonderful sea creatures.

The lodge is surrounded by both young secondary forest and mature primary forest.  Each has its own unique inventory of plant and animal species.  Many of the animals are highly mobile and can be found throughout the property.

There is another, but sometimes overlooked series of habitats that exist here, the tropical gardens.  We have a dedicated team of professional gardeners who maintain these artificial habitats.  Many of the plants grown in the gardens are not of Costa Rican origin but rather they are exotic tropical garden plants used to add a splash of color, scent and interesting variety in the area around the restaurant and cabins.

I thought I might just run through the spectrum of some of these exotics that you may see during your stay.

Crepe Ginger, (Costus speciosus), is not a true ginger although it is closely related to them.  It belongs in the Costa family, Costaceae.  It is originally from South East Asia.  There are several large groups of Crepe Gingers in the gardens of Bosque.  I have seen them being visited by Rufus-tailed Hummingbirds, Stripe-throated Hermits and Purple-crowned Fairies as well as several species of bee.

Torch Ginger, (Etlingera elatior), is a true ginger in the Zingiberaceae family.  This is another plant from South East Asia.  it is cultivated as a show plant in the grounds of Bosque.

Hibiscus, (Hibiscus rosa-sinensis), is a plant thought to be originally from South East Asia but its origins are by no means certain.  What is certain is that this is a very common and widely used plant for hedgerows.  It is not easily mistaken for any other plant.  Hibiscus belongs to the Malvaceae or Mallow family.

Mexican Shell Plants, (Tigridia pavonia), are only found in certain parts of the grounds, particularly in the tropical garden across the suspension bridge.  The ephemeral flowers open in the morning but by the evening the blooms will have wilted.  In Mexico it is known as the “Jaguar Plant” because of the spotting on the petals.  They belong to my favorite family of plants, Iridaceae, the irises.  I always had a selection of different irises growing in my garden in the U.K.

Ylang-ylang, (Cananga odorata), is a plant from South East Asia but is now grown all over in the tropics because of a heavy sweet perfume the flowers emit as the sun sets.  The scent attracts in night flying insects so the Ylang-ylang is pollinated mainly by night flying beetles.  The essential oils of Ylang-ylang are used as the base oil for the Perfume Chanel No. 5

The Water Hyacinth, (Eichornia crassipes), is a South American plant that will now be found growing in most rivers throughout Central and South America.  It is a very quick growing plant and can be something of a pest where it chokes up rivers and streams.  Here at Bosque it is to be found growing in the pond, where the leaves provide perfect calling stations for the little Banana frogs in the evening.

The Bamboo Orchid, (Arundina graminifolia), is an orchid from South East Asia.  It is a ground rooted orchid, as opposed to most native Costa Rican orchids, 88% of which grow as epiphytes on the sides of trees other vegetation.  The Bamboo Orchids line the pathways from the restaurant to the cabins.

Text and Photographs are taken from the forthcoming book:

The Natural History of Bosque del Cabo by Philip Davison

Species List for the Day

Mammals

Howler Monkey

Spider Monkey

Nine-banded Armadillo

Agouti

White-nosed Coati

Red-tailed Squirrel

Birds

Red-lored Amazon

Mealy Amazon

Scarlet Macaw

Stripe-throated Hermit

Great Currasow

Pale-billed Woodpecker

Bright-rumped Atilla

Southern Beardless Tyrannulet

Streaked Flycatcher

White-tipped Dove

Chestnut-backed Antbirds

Black-hooded Antshrike

Chestnut-mandibled Toucan

Mangrove Swallow

Bananaquit

Green Honeycreeper

Cherrie’s Tanager

Golden-hooded Tanager

Yellow-headed Caracara

Roadside Hawk

Great Tinamou

Turkey Vulture

Black Vulture

Reptiles

Basilisk

Four-lined Ameiva

Golfo Dulce Anolis

Northern Cat-eyed Snake

Amphibians

Marine Toad

Red-eyed Green Treefrog

Banana Frog

Masked Smilisca

Tink Frog

Fitzinger’s Rainfrog

Black and Green Poison Arrow Frog

Butterflies

Anartia fatima

Eueides aliphera

Heliconius erato

Heliconius hecale

Heliconius sapho

Hermeuptychia hermes

Morpho menelaus

Phoebis agarithe

Siproeta stelenes

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Posted September 20, 2010 by felipedelbosque in Philip's Nature Diary

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