Streaking For The First Time   8 comments


Felipe del Bosque Blog Feb 28th 2011

Soaring Temperatures and Cloudless Skies

We are now in the middle of the dry season and it is certainly beginning to show.  The temperatures continue to top the 100° F mark and rainfall has been reduced to negligible.  The vegetation around the gardens has started to display signs of that dry season tiredness, yellowing and browning of the leaves which now hang limply rather than the verdant and erect as in the wet season.  The forest vegetation is still hanging on to its lush aspect, but the forest trails have become very dry and cracked.

Puma Sightings Galore

The visitors to Bosque del Cabo do not seem particularly perturbed by the hot, dry and sunny weather, that is why most of them are here to escape the cold.  In fact last week saw the hotel more or less filled with families from the North East U.S. where school winter break allowed them to head to the summer weather of Costa Rica.

It has been another good week for Puma sightings.  One family last week was walking the Titi Trail and was stopped in their tracks by the sight of a Puma on the ground stalking a herd of Peccary.  The Puma saw them, got up walked off into the woods, only to be encountered some way down the trail languishing along a tree branch.  As they approached, it jumped down and nonchalantly walked ahead of them as they videoed it.

Several days later, two groups of early rising wildlife spotters had been out on a pre-breakfast amble around the Titi Trail.  As they headed back towards the restaurant, their attention was caught by a dreadful commotion coming from a troupe of Spider Monkeys, not noted for their peaceful disposition at the best of times.  The cause of the ruckus was a male Puma lolling languidly over a tree branch about 30 feet up.  Out came the cameras and the guests returned with beaming smiles.  On relating the tale to the other guests breaking their fast, the hotel emptied, even of those newly arrived.  The Puma was still there and so just about everyone at the lodge had excellent photographs to remind of their stay at one of Costa Rica’s premier wildlife spots.

Life Outside of Cats

Besides the cat sightings that have been dominating the news at Bosque for the past few weeks, there are quite a few other things happening.  One of the principal food items of an adult Puma is the Collared Peccary.  We have Peccary in abundance on the grounds of Bosque.  In years past, anyone seeing the peccaries on the trails would be rewarded by the briefest of glimpses as the disappeared in short order.  Like much of the wildlife here, they are now accustomed to a large volume of human traffic on the trails for ten months of the year and over a period of 6 or 7 years, that they are not intimidated by your presence.  I walked past a group on the driveway last week.  They stepped off to one side, grunted their indignation and carried on regardless.  Having hopeless eyes and ears, they generally are not too aware of your being there if you remain downwind of them.  If you are upwind, they will pick up your scent very quickly.

As ever, all four species of monkey continue to entertain the visitors on just about any of the trails.  Although monkeys do not have a breeding season as such, many of the females are currently carrying young on their backs.

Agoutis abound in the grounds around the cabins.  Some of the females have young too which hide in holes too small for the adults to enter.  When the females approach, out come the young to suckle, ready to bolt into cover should danger threaten.

I have had good views of Nine-banded Armadillos, Vesper Rats and Virginia Opossums this week.  I stood watching a Tome’s Spiny Rat one night by the restaurant.  Despite the name, they are not rats as we know rats, they are more closely related to the Agoutis and Guinea Pigs, caviomorph rodents.  As their name suggests, spiny rats have small spines lying flat amongst the pelage.  Another strange trait that they possess is the ability to lose their tail if grabbed by a predator and the one I was looking at did indeed have no tail.

Several other mammals, common enough but not always seen, have been observed with babies.  There was a female sloth with young one on back, low down in the vegetation, close to the Titi Trail.  Some of our guests in Casa Blanca had the good fortune to witness a female Tamandua with a young one piggy-backing a ride near their house.

Surprises After all This Time

The bird watchers visiting Bosque are still being rewarded with high diversity as well as interesting behavior patterns.  One family out with me this week had a really nice view of a White Hawk that had been following a Capuchin Monkey troupe through the forest.  The hawk poses no threat to the monkeys but benefits from their passage through the trees as they flush out insect prey that the hawk swoops down and snatches from the air.

The Red-capped Manakins are performing well this time of year.  On several trails, Titi, Zapatero and Creek, I have seen the males lekking and carrying out their distinctive song and dance routines in an effort to attract potential mates.

Scarlet Macaws and Black-throated Trogons both have nests containing chicks very near the Bosque restaurant.

One noteworthy sighting occurred when I had a family out on the Primary Forest Tour.  Not far into the tour, on the forest floor, a weird activity was taking place.  Only about 3 feet in front of us amongst the leaf litter was a small plump bird throwing leaves in the air and over its back.  I did not recognize the species; it looked like a cross between an antbird and a woodcreeper.  When I returned to my cabin I identified the bird as a Scaly-throated Leaftosser, (Sclerurus guatemalensis), the clue to its behavior being in the name.  It is in fact related to the woodcreepers.  In 11 years of walking the trails at Bosque del Cabo, this was the first time I had seen this particular species.

Continuing Clouds of Color

The butterfly numbers continue unabated.  Swirling clouds of White-banded Peacocks and all manner of Heliconiids  are now being joined by swelling numbers of the Sharp-edged Longwing.

A New Costa Rican Record

The family that photographed the Puma in the tree was out on the Zapatero Trail with me last week and noticed a butterfly walking along a tree root.  It was not a butterfly that you could readily miss given the dazzling contrasting colors of metallic green and red.  Just as with the leaftosser a few days earlier, it was not a butterfly that I could instantly identify, except down to family level, one of the Lycaenids, a hairstreak.  I have currently inventoried over 360 species of butterfly on the grounds of Bosque del Cabo and this would be a new species record for the lodge.  Unfortunately I was not carrying my camera but thankfully the family that was with me did, so I begged their indulgence in capturing the image of the exquisite little creature in front of us; that request being duly obliged.  Back in my cabin, leafing through books, followed by an internet search revealed the individuals possible identity as the Candid Hairstreak, Evenus candidus.  As far as I can ascertain this butterfly has never previously been described from Costa Rica.  Its recorded distribution is from Panama to Amazonia, so not just a first for me but also a new record for Bosque and a first for Costa Rica.

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

As with last week’s photo feature I have to thank some our guests for kindly donating the images.  Steve Groserlose and Jael Polnac with their children, Henry, Gray and Annabel, were fortunate enough to photograph the Puma in the tree and the Hairstreak butterfly on the Zapatero Trail and I would like to extend my gratitude to them for allowing me to use the images.

Candid Hairstreak – Evenus candidus

My contribution this week is a spider that I saw while walking on my own.  The usual frustrating situation of not being able to make a positive identification plagued me once again but only serves to illustrate the enormously varied biodiversity that exists here at Bosque, within one week I have seen three new species from three different taxa.

If you do feel you have the answer as to the identity of this spider please feel free to let me know.  If you do have any comments regarding this post or on the subject of tropical fauna and flora, I always enjoy reading them.

Text and Photographs are taken from the forthcoming book:

The Natural History of Bosque del Cabo by Philip Davison

Temperature and Rainfall

Average Daily Temp High 96°F.  Average Daily Temp Low 73°F.

Average Daily Rainfall 0.00 ins.  Total Weekly Rainfall 0.00 ins

Average Daily Temp High 35.5 °C.  Average Daily Temp Low 23.0 °C.

Average Daily Rainfall 0.0 mm.  Total Weekly Rainfall 0.0 mm

Species List for the Week

Mammals

  • Howler Monkey
  • Spider Monkey
  • Capuchin Monkey
  • Central American Squirrel Monkey
  • Nine-banded Armadillo
  • Three-toed Sloth
  • Vesper Rat
  • Tome’s Spiny Rat
  • Agouti
  • Virginia Opossum
  • White-nosed Coati
  • Alfaro’s Pygmy Squirrel
  • Red-tailed Squirrel
  • Collared Peccary
  • Puma

Birds

  • Red-lored Amazon
  • Scarlet Macaw
  • Great Currasow
  • Lineated Woodpecker
  • Pale-billed Woodpecker
  • Crested Caracara
  • Laughing Falcon
  • Roadside Hawk
  • White Hawk
  • Rufus Piha
  • Chestnut-backed Antbirds
  • Black-hooded Antshrike
  • Common Paureque
  • Crested Owl
  • Short-billed Pigeon
  • White-tipped Dove
  • Blue-crowned Manakin
  • Red-capped Manakin
  • Fiery-billed Aracari
  • Chestnut-mandibled Toucan
  • Cherrie’s Tanager
  • Summer Tanager
  • Bright-rumped Atilla
  • Scaly-throated Leaftosser
  • Masked Tityra
  • Great Tinamou
  • Magnificent Frigatebirds
  • Black Vulture
  • Turkey Vulture

Reptiles

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

Amphibians

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

Butterflies

  • Adelpha cytherea
  • Agraulis vanillae
  • Anartia Fatima
  • Anartia jatrophae
  • Anthanassa ardys
  • Battus polydamus
  • Cogia calchas
  • Colobura dirce
  • Corticea corticea
  • Dione juno
  • Dryas iulia
  • Eueides lybia
  • Eumaeus toxea
  • Eurema albula
  • Eurema daira
  • Glutophrissa Drusilla
  • Heliconius cydno
  • Heliconius erato
  • Heliconius hecale
  • Heliconius ismenius
  • Heliconius sapho
  • Heraclides cresphontes
  • Hermeuptychia hermes
  • Junonia everete
  • Magneuptychia libye
  • Marpesia berania
  • Mechanitis polymnia
  • Mesosemia zonalis
  • Metacharis victirix
  • Morpho helenor
  • Morpho Menelaus
  • Paiwarria antinous
  • Panoquina ocula
  • Pareuptychia ocirrhoe
  • Parides erithalion
  • Perophthalma lassus
  • Philaethria dido
  • Phoebis agarithe
  • Phoebis argante
  • Phoebis sennae
  • Pierella helvina
  • Pierella luna
  • Polites vibex
  • Pompeius pompeius
  • Pyrgus oileus
  • Pyrisitia nise
  • Pyrrhogyra crameri
  • Quadrus cerialis
  • Siproeta stelenes
  • Temenis laothoe
  • Urbanus simplicius
  • Urbanus tanna

Plants

  • Calabash flowering and fruiting
  • Monkey Comb Tree flowering and fruiting
  • Black Alligator Tree Fruiting
  • Garlic Tree Fruiting
  • Candlestick Plant Flowering.
  • Cannonball Tree Flowering
  • Heisteria fruiting
  • Passion Vine Flowering
  • Rubber Tree Flowering and Fruiting
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8 responses to “Streaking For The First Time

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  1. Wonderful commentary and photos. Almost hate reading cause it just makes me want to be there.

  2. Excelent report!, thanks for the butterfly picture & thanks to the puma too!

  3. Phil , your knowledge is amazing, and how lucky we CR lovers (BdC) are for you to share it w/us

  4. Thanks for your comments. It is always nice to know that people appreciate my work. Hopefully it will continue for some time to come.

  5. Another fascinated post Philip. There seems to be a ton of incredible wildlife action at BdC these days. We are itching to return there as soon as we can.

  6. Hi,
    Your picture of Evenus candidus female is great, congratulations. Beyond the quality itself, it is unsual to locate a female of this quite rare species, in addition to from Costa Rica. I’m wondering if you would agree to let me use it in a paper which I’m working on dedicated to the genus Evenus. This article sould probably be published in the second half 2011 in the bulletin of our association (see website url above). The original langage will be the French but an English version would be available in pdf format. Of course, if you were OK, I would be happy to send you an exemplar of the bulletin.
    Looking forward to hearing from you soon.
    Kind regards
    Louis

    • Hi Louis
      I’m happy to read that you liked the photo. It is the one and only individual of Evanus candidus I have seen after having lived in Costa Rica for 11 years. Please feel free to use the photograph. I would be really grateful to receive a pdf English version of your paper. Lycaenids are a particular favourite of mine but I rarely seen more than a few species during the course of the year.
      Cheers,
      Philip

  7. Hi Philip,

    Thank you so much to allow me using your picture in my next paper. Please let me know which data I should add to the picture for the publication (location, date, name and surname of the photographer). Once again congratulations for the picture, you are lucky man to meet such a rarity!
    All the best
    Louis

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