Half a Tail as the Felines Eyes Have it   12 comments


Felipe del Bosque Blog Feb 14th 2011

Bosque del Cabo – One of the Best Wildlife Viewing Spots on the Planet

Last week at Bosque we had a wildlife photographer visiting us from San Rafael, California, Suzi Eszterhas. Suzi’s mission was to locate an area on the Osa Peninsula, Costa Rica where she could run a wildlife photography course next year. Most of her clientele are slightly older in years, carry heavy lenses and need easy access to wildlife. Bosque del Cabo was the last stop of her reconnaissance tour.

Other lodges in the area had been highly accommodating, driving Suzi from location to location, sending her out with guides to scout out possible viewing spots and so far she had been very impressed. What happened next though, took her breath away.

Suzi is a well travelled and experienced wildlife photographer. She had spent four year in the Masai Mara reserve in Kenya photographing wildcats. Nothing of that caliber was to be expected on this trip. She has a discerning eye for what suits her course participants. In the duration of one hour’s walk around the grounds of Bosque she was treated to the sight of Scarlet Macaws and Chestnut-mandibled Toucans in feeding areas right in front of the lodge restaurant. Birding locations for tanagers, warblers and honeycreepers were just as accessible, less than two minutes walk from the lodge. Whereas other lodges had tried and failed to find the photogenic Poison Dart Frogs, despite hours of searching, here she had two sat right on the step of her cabin. Monkeys, coatis, agoutis abound everywhere. The night tour revealed the wealth of life to be found once the sun has set. She experienced more in one hour at Bosque del Cabo than in days of seeking at other lodges she had stayed at. If a seasoned wildlife aficionado can be amazed by the luxury of such diversity, imagine how those less travelled might feel; overwhelmed, to say the least.

Breakfast on the Go

There was still more to come; the situation that sealed the deal. On the morning of her second day, Suzi was sitting in the restaurant early in the morning, enjoying a cup of coffee before a 6:30 am walk around the Bosque grounds to experience some of the bird life. The kitchen staff was out back busy preparing breakfast for the hotel guests who would arrive sometime after 7 am. As she sat alone gazing out over the restaurant garden, something caught her eye. Dashing out from cover, emitting a high pitched alarm call was an Agouti, a close relative of the Guinea Pig. Hot in pursuit was a female Puma, also intent on getting an early breakfast. Healthy, lean and lithe, a picture of feline perfection, she only just missed the Agouti which went to ground in the undergrowth.

Having missed its meal, the Puma took a few seconds to compose itself on the steps of Cabina Mangillo. Suzi couldn’t believe her eyes or her luck. As you would expect with any experienced professional wildlife photographer her camera was at her side. She walked out into the garden, towards the cat and started shooting. Unperturbed by her presence, the Puma walked along the cabin paths back to its more usual hunting patch, the natural forest. Every so often, it would stop and glance over its shoulder at the strange two legged stalker making constant clicking noises. The result was an excellent series of photographs chronicling the cat’s brief sojourn into the man made environment placed in the center of its own.

All’s Well that Ends Well

The Puma had made its appearance before most guests had risen from their beds. Over breakfast when Suzi showed the people that which had taken place in the hour after dawn, most visitors cursed their own idle ways, wishing they had come to breakfast just an hour earlier. However, had there been more of a human presence, the cat may have chosen not to enter the artificial feeding grounds and the encounter may never have happened.

The Predators of Bosque

Bosque Del Cabo is renowned for its high biodiversity. Part of the natural ecosystem that surrounds the lodge are the top of the pyramid predators. There are a multitude of different predators present in the rain forests of Bosque, everything from the ants, wasps and spiders that so fascinate me, to the frogs, lizards, snakes and finally the birds and mammals.

People are always drawn to, are thrilled by and are somewhat fearsome of large predatory, carnivorous animals. Nonetheless, the thinly veiled excitement of an encounter is tangibly obvious in those with the good fortune to meet such a creature. Here we have hawks, falcons, kites and eagles ranging in size from small to large. There are Tayras, otters and four species of cat on the grounds, Pumas being the largest, down through, Ocelots, Jaguarundis and the little Margay.

Yaguara Cat Research

Aida Bustamante and Ricardo Moreno are two young cat scientists respectively from Costa Rica and Panama who have been monitoring cat population movements and feeding regimes throughout the south west area of the Osa Peninsula for a period of seven years now.  Their findings have helped bolster our previous knowledge of cat biology and ecology in the area. Much of their work is with remote camera traps and scat analysis.

When they saw the Puma whose image was so wonderfully captured by Suzi, they knew exactly who she was. This particular cat has the end of her tail missing. Aida and Rick have successively monitored her movements over the years. She has a territory of 15 km² that they know of covering the Matapalo area of the Osa Peninsula. They suspect it may be even greater, 20 km². She is also a very successful breeder.

Some years ago she successfully raised a cub, an event which was caught on many photos from the camera traps. Last year she had twins, the last one of which was seen with her regularly until recently, so he may have finally gone off to make a life of his own.

http://www.yaguara.org/

The Pumas of Bosque and Recent Sightings

Over the past week, so many of the guests to Bosque have been fortunate to see Pumas in a variety of settings. There have been sightings on the Pacific Trail, the Titi Trail, the Citrus Garden as well as the events documented above from the Restaurant Garden. From the description it would indicate that people are seeing either one of two cats; the tipless tailed female above or a much larger male.

I cannot state with a certainty, but my feeling is that if the female’s cub has gone, then she may be reproductively receptive to males. This one large tom is maybe being observed in various areas as he seeks her out to court his suit. Unlike Penelope, who for 20 years managed to thwart the attention of  her odious suitors, half tail may not keep her amour waiting too long and with luck by the end of the year we could have yet another cub on the grounds.

Unnecessary Concerns and Safety Measures

There has been some concern voiced for the safety of guests in an area inhabited by Pumas, especially if you are walking the trails alone. For those of us who live here, the concern is negligible, there are no known reported attacks and killing of people by cats of any kind in Central America. Over its 20 years in business, Bosque has had many Puma sightings by its guests and there has been no physical interaction whatsoever.

But the lodge acknowledges that for those people who come from areas where such attacks have occurred; there may be fear or apprehension of going into a Puma’s territory. To that effect the lodge has now provided the reception with written sheets as to what people should do if they meet a Puma on the trail, as well as putting the advice in each of the cabins. In short, don’t run; if you do run make sure it is towards the cat and not away from it.

Pumas of Central America are much smaller than there North American counterparts. Consequently their prey too is much smaller, consisting as it does of monkeys, agoutis, coatis, armadillos and opposums.

Once Seen, Never Forgotten

So many people come searching for these beautiful elusive creatures, that when you do visit Bosque, if you are one of those favored by fortune to see a cat, enjoy the experience, it’s one that will last in your memory forever.

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.

http://www.bosquedelcabo.com

Photo Feature

This week the photographic feature is courtesy of Suzi Eszterhas who photographed this female Puma in the grounds of Bosque del Cabo.  Suzi kindly donated five photographs for this feature for which we are very grateful.

If you wish to see more of Suzi’s wildlife images from around the world or contact her with regards to her photographic workshops then visit the website:

http://www.suzieszterhas.com/

Temperature and Rainfall

Average Daily Temp High 88°F. Average Daily Temp Low 74°F.
Average Daily Rainfall 0.08 ins. Total Weekly Rainfall 0.01 ins
Average Daily Temp High 31 °C. Average Daily Temp Low 23 °C.
Average Daily Rainfall 0.3 mm. Total Weekly Rainfall 2.0 mm

Species List for the Week

Mammals

• Howler Monkey
• Spider Monkey
• Capuchin Monkey
• Agouti
• Red-tailed Squirrel
• Collared Peccary

Birds

• Red-lored Amazon
• Scarlet Macaw
• Great Currasow
• Pale-billed Woodpecker
• Laughing Falcon
• Roadside Hawk
• Rufus Piha
• Chestnut-backed Antbirds
• Black-hooded Antshrike
• Common Paureque
• Crested Owl
• Short-billed Pigeon
• Long-billed Hermit
• Red-capped Manakin
• Fiery-billed Aracari
• Chestnut-mandibled Toucan
• Cherrie’s Tanager
• Grey-headed Tanager
• Masked Tityra
• Bright-rumped Atilla
• Great Kiskadee
• House Wren
• Great Tinamou
• Black Vulture
• Turkey Vulture

Reptiles

• Basilisk
• Four-lined Ameiva
• Central American Whiptail
• Golfo Dulce Anolis
• Clawless Gecko
• Mediterranean House Gecko
• Cat-eyed Snake

Amphibians

• Marine Toad
• Red-eyed Green Tree Frog
• Smokey Jungle Frog
• Milky Frog
• Black and Green Poison Arrow Frog
• Fitzinger’s Rain Frog
• Rough-skinned Dirt Frog
• Stejneger’s Dirt Frog

Butterflies

  • Anartia fatima
  • Anartia jatrophae
  • Anatrytone potosiensis
  • Battus belus
  • Battus polydamus
  • Calycopis isobeon
  • Chlosyne theona
  • Cissia confuse
  • Cithaerias pireta
  • Colobura dirce
  • Dione juno
  • Dryas iulia
  • Emesis lucinda
  • Eueides lybia
  • Eurema albula
  • Eurema daira
  • Glutophrissa drusilla
  • Heliconius erato
  • Heliconius hecale
  • Heliconius ismenius
  • Heliconius sapho
  • Heraclides cresphontes
  • Hermeuptychia hermes
  • Junonia everete
  • Magneuptychia libye
  • Marpesia berania
  • Marpesia chiron
  • Metacharis victrix
  • Morpho helenor
  • Morpho menelaus
  • Nastra julia
  • Pareuptychia ocirrhoe
  • Parides erithalion
  • Philaethria dido
  • Phoebis agarithe
  • Phoebis argante
  • Phoebis sennae
  • Pierella luna
  • Polites vibex
  • Pompeius pompeis
  • Pyrgus oileus
  • Pyrisitia nise
  • Pyrrhogyra crameri
  • Staphylus mazans
  • Staphylus vulgata
  • Temenis laothoe
  • Urbanus simplicius
  • Urbanus tanna

Plants

• Golden Cortez flowering
• Calabash flowering and fruiting
• Monkey Comb Tree flowering and fruiting
• Black Alligator Tree Fruiting
• Garlic Tree Flowering
• Candlestick Plant Flowering.
• Cannonball Tree Flowering
• Heisteria fruiting

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12 responses to “Half a Tail as the Felines Eyes Have it

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  1. Philip, all I can say is amazing! I saw the post on Facebook and was waiting to see more pictures and hear the story. It’s such a great wildlife encounter and is just one more reason why Bosque del Cabo is such a wonderful place.

    I am sure that Suzi will be booking her Costa Rica trip around BDC now. How could she not?…

    I didn’t realize that a tom cat was around as well. That’s great news. Hopefully, there will be some kittens on the horizon.

  2. Thank you for posting these Philip and thank you to Suzi for taking and sharing these wonderful photos.

  3. Great blog today Phillip, good info on the Puma, keep it up!

  4. Fantastic and her face looking at Suzi…….. what a beauty
    I know Pasha wants to see one as we looked when I came down. There is so much to see there and nice to relax in real nature. Unlike our ‘gators here she would not be a threat when encountered. Smaller than our Florida Panther for sure. Good that Bosque understands that some may have an unwarnted fear and puts out a “what if ” guide

  5. WOW!!!!!!!!! AMAZING!!!!!! We hope we are fortunate enough to see this incredible animal on our next visit to BDC. The wildlife just keeps getting better and better!

  6. There is just one word to describe those pictures…AMAZING!
    Peninsula de Osa is an incredible
    place if you want to stay
    in contact with the real nature, We need to support
    the organizations who are trying to keep this wildlife alive every day.

  7. Phil, Great blog! What a fantastic occurence. We love BdC and it just shows what a great place that you all have!
    Your blog and info provided is great. Thanks
    I just hope to see a Puma there someday! Toni and Mark Parr

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