Dance of Death with a Stinking Bride   Leave a comment


Felipe del Bosque Blog Sept 12th 2011

Nice For This Time Of Year

The weather is continuing to favor visitors to the Osa Peninsula.  Those bright, sunny, warm days with a little rain falling overnight have now endured well into the month.  Generally by this point in September we have very heavy rainfall.  Although this time of year, the number of visitors coming to Costa Rica dips, those visiting Osa are certainly not complaining about the weather.

Crawling with Crabs

Earlier in the year we had the mass migration down to the ocean of the Halloween Crabs to reproduce.  Now some 4 months later the grounds of Bosque del Cabo are home to a myriad small crabs that have made their way up from the sea.

At night, once the lights have gone out, the Marine Toads come out of hiding.  Normally they feed on the insects that have been attracted to the artificial illumination.  Now there is a freely available 10 legged food source to supplement the regular six legged sustenance.

Marine Toad

A few weeks ago we had huge flocks of parrots, both Red-lored Amazons and Mealy Amazons arriving in their hundreds at the crack of dawn.  The attraction for the parrots was that the Hog Plum trees had started fruiting.  It was not the soft yellow sour flesh of the ripe fruits the parrots were craving but rather the unripe hard green fruits or more precisely the seeds enclosed within the flesh.  Parrots are seed eaters and do little to propagate the plants on whose seeds they feed.

The larger cousins of the parrots, the Scarlet Macaws are flying in large numbers too.  They circle the grounds of Bosque all day, every day, their presence being announced to the world by the flash of bright red, blue and yellow and if you should miss that, then the persistent screeching and squawking will ensure you will be able to locate them.

Bounteous Harvest

It is not just the Hog Plums that have been fruiting, earlier this year we had a bumper harvest of fruit from the mango orchard too.  That supplied a daily viewing of the Spider and White-faced Monkeys taking advantage of the profuse food supply.  There was a prolific supply of the rich, oily nutritious fruit from the Garlic Tree in January.  Towards the end of the dry season, many of the different species of Virola Trees produced a huge number of their golden fruits which continued until about a month ago.  The figs produce fruit all year round, at least a few different individuals within a population are in fruit at some point during the year.

The Last Waltz

On one recent night tour, not far from the restaurant, we were privileged to see a deadly dance of wits performed by a male Bark Scorpion, (Centruroides bicolor), and his potentially final date.  When a male scorpion locates a female, the first thing he needs to ensure is that he doesn’t end up becoming her next meal.  He has to tentatively dance his way into a position whereby he can clasp her pincers in his.  This is bound to incur a reaction, normally that of the female swinging her sting forward in an attempt to assassinate her suitor.  He then acts swiftly to sting his mate first, not lethally but with only a light anaesthetizing injection of venom.  Whilst she is in a soporific state, the male deposits a sperm package on the substrate, which he then maneuvers the female over so that she can accept it.  Once the deed is done, the male releases his grip and heads for cover before the female regains her hunting instinct once again.

Bark Scorpion

After the tour, I went back to see if the deadly dance was still in progress but alas the participants had already parted company and gone their respective way, so no photograph.

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

The Stinking Bride

The conditions of warm days and wet nights have also caused the fungi to producing fruiting bodies in larger numbers than normal here.  We generally find fungal fruiting bodies; mushrooms and toadstools, all year round in a wet forest, not just a onetime massive fruiting extravaganza as is found in temperate forests come the fall.

In front of one of the cabins over the course of several days, the Bridal Veil Stinkhorn, (Dictyophora indusiata) produced a succession of strange shaped mushrooms.  As with much of the other fauna and flora of the tropics, the name literally describes what you are looking at.  The Stinkhorn part stands for itself and the strange net like structure gives the bridal veil part of the common name.

Bridal Veil Stinkhorn

We regularly see a closely related species, the Swiss Cheese Stinkhorn, (Staheliomyces cinctus) in the forest.  The Bridal Veil Stinkhorn is found in tropical forests wherever they occur on all continents.  Stinkhorns are named after their phallic shape and the fact that the spores are contained within a grey mucous which smells like carrion.  Flies arrive looking for a place to deposit their eggs and having been deceived, leave but carrying with them the fungal spores which are now stuck to their feet.  It is a very efficient means of spore dispersal as the entire spore mass will have been diseminated within just a few hours.

Swiss Cheese Stinkhorn

Another fungal fruiting body familiar to many people visiting Bosque and walking the trails, is the Orange Cup Fungus, (Cookeina speciosa). The distinctive bright orange bowl shaped caps from which it gets its name are normally found on the ground sprouting from rotten wood.  There are two species though, the other one, (Cookeina tricholoma) is a little more hirsute and is found growing from dead wood once more but this time above the ground on as yet unfallen dead trees.Orange Cup Fungus

Hirsute Orange Cup Fungus

On the Titi Trail, that herculean mushroom, Macrocybe titans, produced its awesome fruiting body, a white cap that can measure over a foot across.  They are normally only found growing on the waste tips of the Leaf-cutter Ant nests and this is exactly where this one was found.

Titanic Fungus

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 88°F.  Average Daily Temp Low 74°F.

Average Daily Rainfall 0.52 ins.  Total Weekly Rainfall 3.61 ins

Average Daily Temp High 30.8°C.  Average Daily Temp Low 22.8°C.

Average Daily Rainfall 13.1mm.  Total Weekly Rainfall 91.7 mm

Species List for the Week

Mammals

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

Birds

  • Red-lored Amazon
  • Scarlet Macaw
  • Great Currasow
  • Crested Caracara
  • Roadside Hawk
  • Yellow-headed Caracara
  • Lineated Woodpecker
  • Pale-billed Woodpecker
  • Chestnut-backed Antbird
  • Black-hooded Antshrike
  • Common Pauraque
  • Ruddy Quail-Dove
  • Short-billed Pigeon
  • Long-billed Hermit
  • Purple-crowned Fairy
  • Rufous-tailed Hummingbird
  • Stripe-throated Hummingbird
  • Violet-crowned Woodnymph
  • Red-capped Manakin
  • Long-tailed Woodcreeper
  • Chestnut-mandibled Toucans
  • Golden-crowned Spadebill
  • Cherrie’s Tanager
  • Golden-hooded Tanager
  • Tropical Gnatcatcher
  • Bright-rumped Atilla
  • Southern Beardless Tyrannulet
  • Streaked Flycatcher
  • House  Wren
  • Riverside Wren
  • Prothonotary Warbler
  • Tennessee Warbler
  • Great Tinamou
  • Black-throated Trogon
  • Black Vulture
  • Turkey Vulture

Reptiles

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

Amphibians

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

Butterflies

  • Anartia fatima
  • Anartia jatrophae
  • Glutophrissa drusilla
  • Heliconius erato
  • Heliconius ismenius
  • Heliconius sapho
  • Heraclides cresphontes
  • Hermeuptychia hermes
  • Morpho Menelaus
  • Morys valerius
  • Opsiphanes tamarindi
  • Pierella luna
  • Pyrgus oileus
  • Urbanus proteus
  • Urbanus simplicius

 Plants

  • Bamboo Orchid Flowering
  • Black Alligator Tree Fruiting
  • Calabash flowering and fruiting
  • Cannonball Tree Flowering
  • Clusia Vine Fruiting
  • Dinner on a Plate Fruiting
  • Monkey Comb Tree Flowering
  • Candlestick Plant Flowering
  • Figs Fruiting
  • Golden Trumpet Vine Flowering
  • Hog Plum Fruiting
  • Jacaranda Flowers and Fruit
  • Ox Eye Vine Flowers
  • Protium Fruits
  • Santa Maria Flowering and Fruiting
  • Water Hyacinth Flowering
  • Yayito Fruiting
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