Hot Spring is in the Air   Leave a comment

Felipe del Bosque Blog Jan 9th 2011

Average Daily Temp High 83°F.  Average Daily Temp Low 72°F.

Average Daily Rainfall 0.28 ins.  Total Weekly Rainfall 1.97 ins

Average Daily Temp High 28.9 °C.  Average Daily Temp Low 22.0 °C.

Average Daily Rainfall 7.10 mm.  Total Weekly Rainfall 50.0 mm

The weather at Bosque has remained hot and sunny over the past week confirming the final transition into the dry season.  There have been several heavy overnight rainstorms which always help in keeping things on the slightly damp side, rather than bone dry.  Significantly the amphibian life responds accordingly with slightly higher numbers of individuals on the evening following a deluge.  It is only the numbers of individuals though; the species numbers tend to remain constantly low this time of year.

Last week while walking along the Zapatero Trail, as the path crosses one of the bridges over the creek, a bird flew into the tree that at first sight I thought was a Bare-throated Tiger Heron, (Tigrisoma mexicanum).  When I trained my binoculars on it I wasn’t so sure.  Trying in to take in all the salient diagnostic features until I returned to my cabin, I attempted to imprint the image on my mind.  When I did get back I found I had, after all, been looking at a Tiger Heron, but a juvenile, my indecision being due to it having a totally different appearance to the adult.

The Crested Owls,(Lophostrix cristata) have been calling every night for about two weeks now, but one night while walking up the Bosque driveway in the low light levels of early evening, I could hear the sound of another species of owl which can be occasionally seen around the grounds, the Spectacled Owl, (Pulsatrix perspicillata).

The Common Paureque, (Nyctidromus albicollis), has started appearing in the areas where they usually nest during February and March.  It is not alone in exhibiting breeding behavior, pairs of Scarlet Macaws and Great Kiskadees have both been seen nesting over the past week.

Courtship behavior has not just been confined to the birds either at this time of year.  Some of the male lizards have now started to exhibit breeding coloration.  Male Barred Ameivas, (Ameiva leptophrys), now sport bright coppery red throats while males of the closely related Central American Whiptails, (Ameiva festiva), have their electric blue tails on display for the females.

The Cicada noise is now starting to rise to that deafening crescendo during the day as more and more adults emerge.  The daytime clamor is replaced at 5:20 pm by the Sundown Cicadas which call until the sun sets and darkness finally brings sorely needed relief to your fatigued ears.

The butterfly numbers have started to increase exponentially.  Every day brings greater numbers and more new species.  It had started off as a very slow butterfly season but the warm, dry conditions has witnessed them dancing around the flowering blooms of the garden plants in search of nectar and pollen.

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

As there have been many butterflies to photograph this week, I thought I might put a couple in by way of juxtaposition.

I really like the Satyrinae, the browns.  For the most part they go unseen, or if you do notice one you probably will not pay it much heed.  They tend to be small and fly close to the ground compounding their elusive nature.  But once you get near and take a close look, those muted earthy browns and tans take on a very sensual velvety texture, not unlike a rich multilayered chocolate cake.

Cissia confusa

In contrast, the flame orange of this bright and gaudily colored Biblidinae, almost burns into your retinas.  This is one of the dagger wings, so called because of the two tails coming from the hind wing.  Marpesia petreus is not a rare butterfly but nor is it commonly seen, we have four or five more frequently observed species of dagger wings.  I found this one sucking up moisture from a puddle filling a tire rut on the Teak Trail.

Marpesia petreus

By way of another juxtaposition, here is a beetle, a Long Horn Beetle, Cerambycidae.  The hard angular form of the heavily armoured beetle contrasts with the smooth soft form of the butterflies.  Costa Rica has in the region of 47,000 species of beetle and of those approximately 2,200 are Long Horn Beetles.  There is not a great deal of reference material to help identify such a diverse group of animals so I am tentatively going to say that this one is Eburia pedestris, but I will be quite happy to accept any views contradicting me and suggesting a possible different name.  The long horn prefix refers to the conspicuously long antennae reminiscent of a Texan Long Horn Cow.  In the adult stage they are feeders upon plant material, sap, nectar and pollen.

Erubia pedestris

Erubia pedestris

Long Horned Beetle

Cat-eyed Snakes, (Leptodeira septentrionalis), are reasonably easy to find around the gardens of Bosque del Cabo, especially after sunset in the wet season.  This particular individual was a juvenile wearing the distinctive white collar which will disappear as it matures.  The Cat-eyed Snakes are specialized feeders on frogs and frog eggs so are normally encountered near water at night.

Leptodeira septentrionalis - juvenile

Juvenile Cat-eyed Snake

Another creature that is not going to solicit much attention is one of the Clawless Geckoes, (Sphaerodactylus graptolaemus).  They are everywhere but I would challenge you to find someone who could say they had seen one during their stay at Bosque.

At night, the Mediterranean House Gecko, (Hemidactylus frenatus), can be heard if not seen, its distinctive high pitched “Chuck, chuck, chuck, chuck”, coming from high in the roof.  The Central American Smooth Gecko, (Thecadactylus rapicauda), looks like a large rubber toy stuck to the wall.

The Clawless Geckoes are tiny and make no audible sound.  They inhabit damp shady places where they hunt small insect prey during the day.  The feature that identifies the Sphaerodactylids is the small spike jutting up above the eye.

Sphaerodactylus graptolaemus

Clawless Gecko

Once again, a revision of your focus from far to close should have you able to spot some of the smaller denizens of Bosque del Cabo.

Text and Photographs are taken from the forthcoming book:

The Natural History of Bosque del Cabo by Philip Davison

Species List for the Week


Howler Monkey

Spider Monkey

Capuchin Monkey


Alfaro’s Pygmy Squirrel

Nine-banded Armadillo

Virginia Opossum

White-nosed Coati


Central American Squirrel Monkey


Red-lored Amazon

Scarlet Macaw

Great Currasow

Crested Caracara

Laughing Falcon

Yellow-headed Caracara

Crested Owl

Spectacled Owl

Long-billed Hummingbird

Stripe-throated Hummingbird

Red-capped Manakin

Black-hooded Antshrike

Chestnut-backed Antbird

Rufus Piha

Common Paureque

Chestnut-mandibled Toucan

Great Tinamou

Bright-rumped Atilla

Great Kiskadee

Riverside Wren

Brown Pelican

Magnificent Frigatebird

Bare-throated Tiger Heron

Black Vulture

Turkey Vulture


Cat-eyed Snake

Clawless Gecko

Mediterranean House Gecko

Common Basilisk

Golfo Dulce Anolis

Pug-nosed Anolis

Barred Ameiva

Central America Whiptail

Four-lined Ameiva


Black and Green Poison Arrow Frog

Marine Toad

Masked Smilisca

Red-eyed Green Treefrog

Milky Frog

Fitzinger’s Rain Frog

Rough-skinned Dirt Frog


Anartia fatima

Anthoptus epictetus

Archaeoprepona demophon

Cissia confuse

Dione juno

Dryas iulia

Eueides aliphera

Eueides lybia

Eurema albula

Glutophrissa drusilla

Heliconius erato

Heliconius hecale

Heliconius ismenius

Heliconius sapho

Hermeuptychia hermes

Junonia everete

Magneuptychia libye

Marpesia petreus

Morpho helenor

Morpho menelaus

Panoquina hacebolus

Pareuptychia ocirrhoe

Parides erithalion

Phoebis agarithe

Phoebis sennae

Pierella luna

Pyrgus oileus

Pyrisitia nise

Pyrrhogyra crameri

Siproeta stelenes

Staphylus mazans


Yellow-trumpet Vine flowering

Calabash flowering and fruiting

Monkey Comb Tree flowering and fruiting

Cannonball Tree Flowering

Rosa de Monte flowering

Heisteria fruiting


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