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Felipe del Bosque Blog Nov 22 2010

Average Daily Temp High 84°F.  Average Daily Temp Low 72°F.

Average Daily Rainfall 0.23 ins.  Total Weekly Rainfall 1.61 ins

Average Daily Temp High 28.4°C.  Average Daily Temp Low 22.2°C.

Average Daily Rainfall 4.9 mm.  Total Weekly Rainfall 34 mm

After five weeks away, enjoying dry, bright and sunny conditions in Nicaragua, I returned to what I had left behind, torrential rain in Costa Rica.  This year has to be the wettest I have experienced at Bosque del Cabo.

The drive up from Puerto Jimenez brought sightings of creatures I commonly see on a daily basis but had missed on my month away; Scarlet Macaws, Chestnut-mandibled Toucans, Tropical Kingbirds and not so often seen at Bosque, Blue-black Grassquits.  Approaching the lodge, flitting around in a tree there was the unmistakable orangey-red coloring of a Summer Tanager, a regular annual returnee to these parts having spent the Northern summer in the U.S. it now going to spend the Costa Rican summer here.

The rain just kept coming.  Although it may be a little more difficult to spot wildlife in driving rain, it is still there.  I had seen all four species of monkey within 24 hours of my return.  One forlorn looking Capuchin Monkey was hanging around the kitchen/restaurant area in the hope of snatching an easy meal.  The following day a whole troupe of Capuchins arrived standing erect on the banister around the restaurant deck, all looking longingly at the potential feast on offer.  Unfortunately, whilst providing good photographs, such behavior cannot be encouraged and they were quickly re-directed in the location of the forest by a troupe of serviette waving waitresses.  All the rain has probably caused a dearth of fruiting and so a reduction in insect numbers and so on down the line, but nonetheless generalist feeders like the Capuchins should not suffer from lack of food.  In fact they have been up to their Toucan eating tricks again over the past few days.

One day a surprise visitor was seen walking across the lawns, a Kinkajou.  These are nocturnal mammals related to the White-nosed Coati, so to see one out in broad daylight was unusual in itself.  But this individual was either old or hungry.  Like the Capuchin Monkeys it headed straight for the kitchen area.  Despite its pitiful plight and the longing in its large dark eyes, it is not possible to start feeding the wildlife here, so it turned its back and stumbled off down the path in search of sustenance in other quarters.

The birds too, are looking bedraggled having experienced seven months of rain without time to dry their feathers.  Male Great Currasows particularly look the worst for wear with their curly crests definitely fallen.  One resident female Currasow is always vying with Agoutis around the staff canteen for food.

Large flocks of Magnificent Frigatebirds have been soaring overhead, so distinctive with their long thin wings and forked tails, without a movement they glide silently over the lodge.  The Scarlet Macaws on the other hand, fly by and noisily announce their colorful presence with loud, raucous calls.

Crested Caracaras, Yellow-headed Caracaras and Roadside Hawks are still the main raptors around the grounds with the occasional call of the Laughing Falcon.  At nights Crested Owls can be heard calling.  A pair of Yellow-headed Caracaras has raised a young one, which despite almost having its full adult plumage is still plaguing the parent birds for food.  Today they were trying their utmost to give the youngster a hard time and encourage it to forage for itself.

A pretty little bird, the Yellow-throated Vireo has been taking the stage in trees near the restaurant.  Also a good number of Tyrannid Flycatchers; Bright-rumped Atilla, Dusky-capped, Great Crested and Streaked Flycatchers along with Tropical Kingbirds can currently be seen engaged in their typical sallies to catch insects from various perches in the trees.

We did have a group of visiting naturalists on a private tour stay for the best part of a week.  Guides like to bring their visitors to Bosque, not only for the wealth of fauna and flora, but because it is so accessible.  It was a mixed group with interests in everything from birds, butterflies and mammals.  They were not disappointed.  Several highlights for them were the Squirrel Monkeys, a Tamandua and Spix’s Disc-winged Bats.  One visiting ornithologist added several good sightings in terms of a Panama Warbler and a Black and White Warbler.

As we walked through the forest today we were able to witness a wide front of hunting army ants.  They were accompanied by the ever present Gray-headed Tanagers.  Amongst many excited followers of the hunting column were Northern Barred Woodcreepers and Tawney Winged Woodcreepers.

It is still a good time for the amphibians though.  Once the sunsets, even over the sound of the rain, the calls of male frogs permeate the early evening air.  Frogs of many species can still be found breeding around the pond with lots of fresh eggs being deposited every night.  That provides a steady supply of food for the Cat-eyed Snakes which are still around in relative abundance, shockingly so for visitors on the “Sunset Tour” who are amazed by the sight of so many serpentine forms moving through the vegetation in search of freshly laid eggs.

As this is now a weekly rather that daily blog, it reflects the daily events over a seven day period, and a lot can happen over that period of time.  Over the course of the past week, the most noticeable change has been the decrease in rainfall and the number of hours of sun being experienced now at the lodge.  Although the trails are still sticky, the grounds are drying up rapidly.  I still hesitate to say the dry season is upon us but things are looking hopeful, so watch this space for further news.

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

My first week back at Bosque for the start of the new season has allowed me to go out and get a few more potential images for the book.  I am determined to get the book finished this year.

The first subject that caught my eye, and if you are a regular follower of this feature you will not be surprised to find it was something small, was a Bark Scorpion, Centruroides limbatus.  I have photographed this species several times in the past but this was an ideal opportunity to get some detailed shots as the creature was stationary on a mossy log and there was no moving vegetation.  This meant I could shoot at very small apertures f/22 – f/45, long exposures and use a lot of flash to light it up.

Centruroides limbatus Centruroides limbatus

 

Centruroides limbatus

The Nasy End of a Bark Scorpion - Centruroides limbatus

I will repeat that which I have stated in the past that there are no deadly scorpions in Costa Rica, although they can give a painful sting.  I wanted a close up of the venom delivery apparatus so that people could see what it is that hits them.  When seen in close up, the tail segments and sting look like a mediaeval machine of war, heavily riveted together, a reflection of the reality, that barb can deliver a powerful, if not terminal defense against any would be predator.

 

The Kinkajou, Poto flavus is a nocturnal procyonid.  At night the sound of rustling in the treetops along with that very distinctive whistling sound will lead you to the presence of Kinkajous.  They can normally be seen using flashlights to catch the bright orange eye-shine as they run along the branches of the trees.  This one had abandoned its night time habits and was wandering around the grounds of Bosque during the day.  Being fruit and nectar feeders, it could well be that because the excessively wet conditions which have caused little fruiting to have taken place this year, this individual was forced to change its behavior and risk a daytime excursion in search of food.

Poto flavus Poto flavus

On my way to a canopy tour, the trail maintenance man, Raphael, took me to one side and said he had a snake to show me.  I never miss the opportunity to see a snake, so I took a detour to be presented with this wonderful 6 foot plus Terciopelo.  These large pit vipers are normally only seen at night, and then generally down by the creeks.  A highly alarmed and agitated bird had given away the presence of this individual who was a long way from the beaten path.  Its body was covered in mud where it had obviously worked its way under the dead tree lying in wait to ambush any unwary rodent.  Had it not been for the vigilant bird and the curious Rafa, this one would have gone undetected.  I returned later with the camera and got to within a foot to take the shots.  The snake knew I was there but sat completely motionless, which is just as well as these shots were take with an exposure of 30 seconds.

 

Bothrops asper

The Nasty End of a Terciopelo - Bothrops asper

 

Finally, just for Pasha if she is reading.  Some months ago I was requested an article on bats.  There are 80 species of bat on the Osa Peninsula.  Finding their roosts is not always an easy task.  Spix’s Disc-winged Bats, (Thyroptera tricolor), use the as yet unfurled leaves of Heliconias as roots.  You will get three or four individuals all tucked down into an incredibly small diameter tube.

 

Thyropterus tricolor

Spix's Disc-winged Bat - Thyropterus tricolor

As you can see from the photograph, these bats are unusual in two respects.  Unlike other bats which hang upside down, Spix’s Disc-winged Bat roosts head up.  Not having anything to hang from, the bat has muscular controlled suction discs on its wings which enable it to cling to the smooth surface inside the unfurled leaf.  As the leaf opens, the bats need to find a new one in which to roost, which will not usually be a problem.

 

Text and Photographs are taken from the forthcoming book:

The Natural History of Bosque del Cabo by Philip Davison

Species List for the Week

Mammals

Howler Monkey

Spider Monkey

Capuchin Monkey

Squirrel Monkey

Central American Wooly Opossum

Virginia Opossum

Agouti

Red-tailed Squirrel

Alfari’s Pygmy Squirrel

Spix’s Disc-winged Bat

Three-toed Sloth

Tamandua

Vesper Rat

Birds

Red-lored Amazon

Scarlet Macaw

Grey-necked Woodrail

Great Currasow

Pale-billed Woodpecker

Lineated Woodpecker

Purple-crowned Fairy

Crowned Woodnymph

Rufus-tailed Hummingbird

Long-billed Hummingbird

Stripe-throated Hummingbird

Crested Caracara

Yellow-headed Caracara

Roadside Hawk

Laughing Falcon

Magnificent Frigatebird

Common Paureque

Crested Owl

Chestnut-backed Antbird

Black-hooded Antshrike

Short-billed Pigeon

White-tipped Dove

Tropical Gnatcatcher

Bay-headed Tanager

Cherrie’s Tanager

Golden-hooded Tanager

Grey-headed Tanager

Summer Tanager

Black and White Warbler

Mourning Warbler

Panama Warbler

Tennessee Warbler

Swainson’s Thrush

Mangrove Swallow

Black Swift

Blue-crowned Manakin

Red-capped Manakin

Chestnut-mandibled Toucan

Great Tinamou

Little Tinamou

Black-throated Trogon

Northern Barred Woodcreeper

Streak-headed Woodcreeper

Tawney-winged Woodcreeper

Plain Xenops

Yellow-throated Vireo

House Wren

Riverside Wren

Whistling Wren

Bright-rumped Atilla

Dusky-capped Flycatcher

Great Crested Flycatcher

Southern Beardless Tyrannulet

Streaked Flycatcher

Tropical Kingbird

Black Vulture

Turkey Vulture

Reptiles

Cat-eyed Snake

Terciopelo

Barred Forest-racer

Common Basilisk

Golfo Dulce Anolis

Four-lined Ameiva

Amphibians

Black and Green Poison Arrow Frog

Marine Toad

Red-eyed Green Treefrog

Banana Frog

Milky Frog

Masked Smilisca

Smokey Jungle Frog

Fitzinger’s Rain Frog

Tink Frog

Stejneger’s Dirt Frog

Butterflies

Dryas iulia

Glutophrissa drusilla

Heliconius cydno

Heliconius erato

Heliconius hecale

Heliconius ismenius

Heliconius sapho

Hermeuptychia hermes

Morpho helenor

Morpho menelaus

Parides erithalion

Pierella helvina

Pierella luna

Philaethria dido

Pyrgus oileus

Plants

Yellow-trumpet Vine flowering

Calabash flowering and fruiting

Cannonball Tree flowering

Rosa de Monte flowering

 

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Posted November 23, 2010 by felipedelbosque in Philip's Nature Diary

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