Sticking With The Rain   1 comment


Felipe del Bosque Blog Sept 5th 2011

I have taken a few weeks off from the blog due to the number of different project I am trying to get written up before I go away for a month in October.  If anyone reading these blogs is not already aware my main reason for being in Costa Rica, it is to carry out research into climate change and its affect on the fauna and flora of a tropical rain forest.  I am not affiliated to any academic body or institution, my work is all my own.  I do not receive funding to help with studies, so in order to maintain a base from which I can work, for the past 11 years I have been doing guided tours for Bosque del Cabo Rain Forest Lodge.

Over the past eleven years I have accumulated vast data sets based on continual monitoring of butterfly and amphibian populations as well as measuring just about every climatic variable you could think of.  It is now time to stop the data collection and start the process of analysis.  Next year I hope to have all that work completed in order to publish the results and conclusions.

As I am not beholden to anyone for the results of my work, the intention is to release it on a dedicated website so that it has a wider general audience.  As I have been using standardized techniques, then my findings hopefully will become comparable with and complement anyone doing similar studies anywhere around the world.

As if all of that is not enough, I have been writing several books to act as souvenir guides to Bosque.  Due to not having the luxury of much time to myself, it has taken many years to take the photographs and write the text but with a little determination these too should be completed within the coming year.

And on top of all that I try without exception to get a weekly blog out so that anyone interested can tap into the amazing location that is Bosque del Cabo, keep in touch with the comings and goings of the plants and animal life here, maybe plan a trip based around the weather reports and species lists or just join us vicariously as I regale with tales from Bosque del Cabo and its incredible natural history.

A Little Summer Rain

The first two weeks of July would have had the visitors to Bosque thinking that this was October.  The rain was very heavy and incessant.  We had nearly 24 inches of rain for the first 14 days.   But then things changed.  For the next two weeks, the rains more or less stopped and the visitors were treated to long days of bright, sunny, dry weather.  Whatever precipitation did occur was experienced at night.  This was a situation that suited most of our guests.

This time of year we experience what is known as a “Veranillo” or little summer.  We are right in the middle of the wet season but conditions dry up for two weeks.  It always occurs sometime around the end of July/beginning of August, you can never be sure exactly which two weeks it is going to be.

Those conditions continued through August we have had sunny days with rain at night, but some of those nights have provided visitors the opportunity to experience just what the rain part of rain forest means.  One night we had over 7 inches of rain.  That substantial weight of water being delivered to the top of the trees in a short space of time saw a lot of trees fall.  The following morning, all of the trails at Bosque were blocked along their path by not only large fallen trees but also by a great many trees crowns that could not support the burden of water.  That provided enough extra work to keep our trail maintenance team busy for a while.

Crawling with Cats

Some weeks ago, I was returning from the Primary Forest tour with a couple of visitors and on the final stretch of the trail across the suspension bridge, below us a Jaguarundi was standing in a forest clearing.  Whether it saw us or not it did not seem to be unduly concerned.  It moved off in that typical fluid feline motion over a large buttressed root and without even casting a glance our way disappeared behind the tree and that was the sighting over.

Jaguarundi’s are small sleek cats somewhat larger than a large house cat.  They come in several color forms, the one we get at Bosque being the very dark grey, almost black.  About a month after our sighting another couple saw one crossing the path by the Titi Trail and just the other day a visiting biologist saw one in the same area.

This maybe the Chinese year of the cat, but here at Bosque it most certainly has been the year of the Puma.  The number of times people have seen Pumas this year is incredible.  Now, into September, this situation continued unabated. We have been having, on occasion, multiple Puma sightings on one day.  Most, as with earlier this year, if not on the Titi Trail, have occurred in that vicinity.  The last encounter, just a few days ago, happened when a couple of guests found themselves walking along the trail with a Puma nonchalantly ambling along in front of them.

Good for Some

The Milky Tree that fell last month has now started showing signs of drying out.  All the milky resinous sap that initially leaked out has gone, mostly taken by bees of various species for nest construction.  Now we have the first level of obvious decomposers moving in, the beetles.  Rather than the adults, it is the larvae that feed on the dead wood, hastening its decomposition.  At the minute though lots of species of beetle are pairing up on the face of the now exposed heartwood which is where they will lay their eggs.

The Long-billed Hermit, (Phaethornis longirostris), that had started to construct her nest by the kitchen entrance last week has completed her task and is now incubating eggs.  She is completely unperturbed by the constant comings and goings of the lodge staff in the area, and the traffic is constant all day long.  It could well be that is why she opted to build the nest in that particular location.  The human non-predators may well be seen as keeping any potential predators of her, the eggs or her chicks at bay.  Having said that though, many of the birds’ nests that are built in or around the restaurant area, sooner or later attract the attention of the Tropical Bird-eating Snakes, and they too have little regard for the big pink monkeys wandering around the concrete and stucco jungle.

Not So Good For Others

Following the heavy rainfall and the subsequent fall into bright sunny weather for the past two months has seen the area subject to but a few severe overnight convection storms.   About one month ago, there was an instance where we suffered over 7 inches of rain falling overnight.  For many trees, that burden of weight was simply too much.  The following day, it did not matter which trail you walked, the way was blocked with large fallen trunks.  It took the trail maintenance team several days to finally cut their way through them all and clear the paths.

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

Prayer Sticks

I think most people are familiar with the Phasmids and Mantids, but rather under different names, Walking Sticks and Praying Mantises.  They have a basic body form that would be instantly recognizable, but only if you could see them.  And that is the problem, they have evolved to blend in perfectly with the background vegetation, firstly to avoid predation and secondly, most certainly in the case of the mantises, to stop their potential prey from seeing them.  Over the course of the year I will find at least one or two species serendipitously.  If I spend a little more time closely examining the vegetation I can generally find one or two species more.

Unidentified Phasmid

Phasmids, or Walking Sticks are vegetarian, many species being host plant specific.  Their body form typically resembles a dead twig, long and thin with spindly legs, and many a time you may find yourself looking directly at the animal but unable to see it.  Some have wings, particularly the females.  Should a potential predator get too close, the Walking Stick has several other methods of completing the deception of crypsis; swaying like a twig in the breeze, remaining motionless, flying off or falling to the ground, flashing brightly colored wings, rattling the wings and some release a noxious chemical spray.

Unidentified Phasmid

Mantids on the other hand are strictly carnivorous.  Instantly recognizable by the prey catching front legs held distinctively in the position of someone at prayer.  The mantids can sometimes be a match for the phasmids when it comes to disguise not only bearing the colors of vegetation but also have the morphological appearance of anything from sticks to leaves to bean pods to flower heads.  It would take a sharp-eyed potential prey item to see its nemesis sitting in wait amongst the vegetation.

Unidentified Mantid

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 89°F.  Average Daily Temp Low 74°F.

Average Daily Rainfall 0.64 ins.  Total Weekly Rainfall 4.51 ins

Average Daily Temp High 31.0°C.  Average Daily Temp Low 24.1°C.

Average Daily Rainfall 15.2 mm.  Total Weekly Rainfall 106.7 mm

Species List for the Week

Mammals

  • Howler Monkey
  • Spider Monkey
  • Squirrel Monkey
  • White-faced Monkey
  • White-nosed Coati
  • Agouti
  • Red-tailed Squirrel
  • Nine-banded Armadillo

Birds

  • Red-lored Amazon
  • Scarlet Macaw
  • Crested Caracara
  • Laughing Falcon
  • Roadside Hawk
  • Yellow-headed Caracara
  • Great Currasow
  • Black-hooded Antbirds
  • Chestnut-backed Antbird
  • Golden-crowned Spadebill
  • Short-billed Pigeon
  • White-tipped Dove
  • Chestnut-mandibled Toucan
  • Pale-billed Woodpecker
  • Bright-rumped Atilla
  • Great Tinamou
  • Riverside Wren
  • Black-throated Trogon
  • Black Vulture
  • Turkey Vulture

Reptiles

  • Barred Ameiva
  • Four-lined Ameiva
  • Golfo Dulce Anolis
  • Clawless Gecko
  • Mediterranean House Gecko
  • Cat-eyed Snake
  • Boa Constrictor
  • Terciopelo

Amphibians

  • Marine Toad
  • Parachuting Red-eyed Green Tree Frog
  • Red-eyed Green Tree Frog
  • Banana Frog
  • Smokey Jungle Frog
  • Black and Green Poison Arrow Frog
  • Fitzinger’s Rain Frog
  • Stejneger’s Dirt Frog
  • Tink Frog

Butterflies

  • Anartia Fatima
  • Caligo eurilochus
  • Chloreuptychia arnica
  • Cissia confusa
  • Dione juno
  • Dryas iulia
  • Glutophrissa drusilla
  • Heliconius erato
  • Heliconius ismenius
  • Heliconius sapho
  • Heraclides cresphontes
  • Hermeuptychia hermes
  • Morpho helenor
  • Morpho Menelaus
  • Panoquina panoquinoides
  • Parides erithalion
  • Pierella luna
  • Pyrgus oileus
  • Urbanus tanna

 Plants

  • Black Alligator Tree Fruiting
  • Calabash flowering and fruiting
  • Clusia Vine Fruiting
  • Dinner on a Plate Fruiting
  • Monkey Comb Tree Flowering and Fruiting
  • Candlestick Plant Flowering and Flowering.
  • Figs Fruiting
  • Lechoso Fruiting
  • May Tree Fruiting
  • Manglillo Fruiting
  • Nutmeg Fruiting
  • Santa Maria Flowering and Fruiting
  • Yayito Fruiting
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One response to “Sticking With The Rain

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  1. I did miss the blog posts Philip but I certainly understand how busy you are. I, like many other I am sure, am looking forward to your book once it is finished. It’s nice to get some information on these remarkable insects and get caught up on some of the goings on around the lodge. I would love to be able to photograph a walking stick up close some day.

    Like

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