Bosque del Cabo November 2010 Nature Review   2 comments


Felipe del Bosque Blog Nov 2010 Review

I start my year, not as most people do on the first of January, but rather as the wet season ends and the dry season begins which is when I return to Bosque del Cabo.  During the height of the rains, I leave Costa Rica and spend some time in Nicaragua.  This affords me the opportunity to catch up on my writing, photographic processing and the data analysis of my projects.

When I do return, I endeavor to produce a weekly blog which serves as a weekly summary of my daily nature diaries.  As I am based at Bosque, it allows potential visitors to the lodge a glimpse of what is happening around the grounds in advance of their stay.  It may even sway people’s decision as what time of year to visit depending upon their interests.  For those people who have visited, it gives them the opportunity to stay in touch with the constantly changing nature of the lodge.

This coming season I will be starting my twelfth year at Bosque.  This past year, I finished collecting data and now I want to start publishing the results and conclusions.  The main aim of the work was to monitor the climate over a period of time and compare those figures against any changes in numbers of both individuals and species of butterflies and amphibians, the local populations of which were monitored over the same period of time.

To support the work I have been giving guided tours at Bosque del Cabo.  Having been a biologist since the age of 3 and with a lifelong interest in tropical rainforests, I can generally wax lyrical about most aspects of tropical biology.  But when you work in the forest, the amazing amount of fauna and flora that you experience really brings home the numbers.  Identification of the mammals, birds, reptiles and amphibians poses few problems but once you start looking at the smaller stuff, and regular readers of this blog will already know that is where I am generally looking, sometimes it is hard to get beyond family level.

Some years ago, I decided not only to help visitors understand the complexity of rainforest ecology through guided tours but also to write the information down.  At this moment in time, I have several prepublications almost ready.  To illustrate the books I bought a camera and started taking pictures.  As my interest is in the small things I concentrated on macro photography.  I had no previous experience and basically worked it out as I went along.  So, in essentially the review is a photographic record of some plant and animal life that may or may not have been covered in my blogs over the past year.  I hope you enjoy them; you can always leave a comment to let me know.

Scorpions you may find at any time of the year.  This one I found not too far from my cabin.  As scorpions are nocturnal and it was daytime, this individual was fairly inactive and consequently didn’t move while I was setting up the lighting to take its picture.  I like taking close up pictures of scorpions because a lot of body detail is revealed, details that you miss, especially with scorpions when your thoughts may be more concerned with the eradication of the creature.

Bark Scorpion (Centruroides limbatus)

I only ever encounter two species of scorpion at Bosque, both Bark Scorpions of the genus Centruroides.  This is Centruroides limbatus.  There are only 17 species of scorpion native to Costa Rica and none of them are particularly dangerous although they can deliver a very painful sting.

Bark Scorpion (Centruroides limbatus)

 

 

 

 

Spiders, as with scorpions, if you overcome your prejudices, make fascinating subjects to photograph.  Not only the interesting details of their life history, but their morphology and the use of silk.  Even if you can’t face getting too close to spider, many of them use silk to create ingenious food traps, so the webs can be photographed as stand alone features.

Silver-orb Spider (Argiope argentatum)

Butterflies abound at Bosque, especially if you visit in the dry season months of February and March.  In November the numbers of species and individuals will be low.  The longwings are long lived in butterfly terms and may survive for about 6 months.  At the end of that period though, they will be looking at little worse for wear as does this Postman, (Heliconius erato).  The colors of this butterfly are bright and attractive, which serve as a warning to stay away.  This is known as aposematic coloration.  Why would you best leave this butterfly alone?  It is packed with cyanide, so its consumption would not be so beneficial to you, nor to the butterfly if it was being eaten, so best for both parties to have that information broadcast.

Postman (Heliconius erato)

Even though I have spent my life studying butterflies, the numbers of species, the degree of mimicry and the lack of adequate reference material make them hard to identify.  Skippers are a particular problem.  They are small, fast flying, shades of brown and don’t like flash photography.  To capture their image requires a great deal of stealth and patience backed up with a lot luck as well as having your equipment set to the right settings before you embark on attempt.

Unidentified Skipper

The Automeris moth featured here was dead when I found it but nonetheless provided an opportunity to display the aposematic shock colors.  The bright eyes on the upper side of the hindwings are normally hidden beneath the dull colored upperwing.  Should a potential predator get too close, the bright eye coloration is revealed and hopefully allows the moth a few extra seconds to make good its escape.

Automeris moth sp

The larvae pose even worse identification problems than the winged adults.  The number of butterflies in dwarfed by the number of moths, most of whose life histories have not been documented and so the caterpillars remain a mystery.

Unidentified Moth Caterpillar

Fungi, despite their ubiquitous presence throughout the forest, once again may not prove to be the easiest things to identify down to species level.  But take a close look at the subtle color and texture of the fungal flesh and that in itself is worth a photograph.

Unidentified Fungus

One fungus found growing on dead wood in the forests of Bosque as well as all around the world, is the Jews Ear, (Auricularia auricular-judae).  Its jelly-like fruiting body is shaped uncannily like an ear.  Jews Ear derives from the fact that it is commonly found growing on elder trees, that which supposedly Judas Iscariot hung himself.

Jews Ear Fungus (Auricularia auricula-judae)

Lizards will be found at every level of the forest from the tops of the trees to burrowing in the ground.  This is one of the most commonly encountered forest lizards, the Golfo Dulce Anolis Lizard, (Norops polylepis).  The males have a bright orange flap of skin under the chin, the dewlap, which they can extend.  It acts as a flag to either intimidate or scare rival males out of his territory or on occasion to court the females.

Golfo Dulce Anolis Lizard (Norops polylepis)

Pumas have been the big talking point at Bosque this year.  Unfortunately whenever I crossed paths with one of the cats, I never had my camera with me.  But only many separate occasions while out walking, I would see fresh tracks. This time I did have my camera.  In the following months we had so many guests staying at Bosque who did see the cats and did have their cameras.  Even if I did, I am sure it would be set up to take photos of something much smaller.

Puma print

Text and Photographs are taken from the forthcoming books:

The Natural History of Bosque del Cabo by Philip Davison

The Small World of Bosque del Cabo

The Colors of Bosque del Cabo

A Children’s Guide to Bosque del Cabo Rainforest Lodge

Temperature and Rainfall

Average M Temp High 84°F.  Average Daily Temp Low 73°F.

Average Daily Rainfall 1.04 ins.  Total Monthly Rainfall 31.18 ins

Average Daily Temp High 28.7°C.  Average Daily Temp Low 22.6°C.

Average Daily Rainfall 25.7 mm.  Total Monthly Rainfall 770.2 mm

 

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2 responses to “Bosque del Cabo November 2010 Nature Review

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  1. I love every post/blog etc And your fotos are always breathtaking. Enjoy your respite. Looking forward to your next posting

  2. I too love reading your posts Philip. It keeps me up to date on action around the lodge. Plus, the photos are great especially the macro photos. The detail on your scorpion pictures is fantastic. I certainly wouldn’t be able to see that myself since I probably wouldn’t have the nerve to get my face that close to one.

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