Bosque del Cabo December 2010 Nature Review   Leave a comment

Felipe del Bosque Blog Dec 2010 Review

December is that time of the year when the rain become less frequent, the sun shines more often and visitors start to arrive in numbers.  It also marks a transitional period for plant and animal activity and behavior.

As the weather changes and both the air and ground start to become drier, it marks the start of the flowering season for many of the trees.  The forests of Bosque are broadleaved evergreen forests.  In deciduous forests, as temperatures rise and day length increases, just before the trees leaf up again, the forest floor will be carpeted with a beautiful variety of spring flowering plants.  They are low growing and delicate.  The air will be filled with the various scents of many floral perfumes.

The tropical wet forests of Bosque are quite different.  As the trees are perpetually in leaf, little sunlight consequently hits the forest floor.  Those vegetative layers that lie beneath the canopy are scantily clad and flowers are not a common sight.  The spring flowers of a rainforest are the trees themselves along with the heavy load of epiphytic growth that they support in their upper branches.  Here you will find ferns, orchids, vines and surprisingly enough, cacti.

Tropical rainforest flowers tend to be large and strikingly bold in color, reds, oranges and yellows bringing the canopy into a fiery blaze whose glory can only be seen from above.  These colors attract birds and butterflies which the plants use as couriers, ferrying the pollen from the blossoms of one tree to another.  The tropics have another pollinator, one not found in temperate forests, nectar-feeding bats.  They prefer to feed on the nectar of pallidly colored and nauseatingly odiferous flowers.

Migrant birds are still found all around the grounds, particularly the Summer Tanager which can be seen and heard anywhere around the restaurant.  It doesn’t take too much effort to find some of the different warbler species that spend the majority of the dry season around the grounds.

Apart from the migrants, a myriad of other bird species can be observed on the grounds and in a variety of habitats in the localities surrounding Bosque.

Mammal activity varies little over the course of the year.  All 4 species of monkey will be seen on any of the trails, you choose one, walk, and you are bound to find something.  Peccaries, squirrels, armadillos, agoutis and coatis can usually be found on a morning’s walk.  With a little foreknowledge some of the bats species can be located and observed in their daytime roosts.

Amphibian activity has declined by now, but with a little patience, most of those species present in abundance in the wet season can still be found in the dry season.  Reptiles too, especially lizards will start to basking more frequently on the trails, feeding up in readiness for the breeding season.  It is now that the Central American Whiptails will start to develop the bright blue tails.

If you do come before the Christmas crowds start to arrive, or even if you do come over the holiday period, you will be guaranteed the grounds of Bosque del Cabo will provide you with some of the best wildlife experiences Costa Rica has to offer.  Here is a photographic log of some of the fauna and flora seen last December.

What can I say, more scorpion photos.  This is the other commonly found scorpion in the forests of Bosque, Centruroides bicolor.  They grow to about 5 or 6 inches from chelicerae to sting and they do pack a painful sting.  I have, in fact, been stung on several occasions by this species and survived.  The initial pain is intense but fades very quickly.

Here are two totally terrestrial frogs, Craugastor fitzingeri and Craugastor rugosus, both of which are found on the ground on the Bosque trail system.  These are two species of Rain Frog that have done away with the necessity to return to water to reproduce, rather laying but a few large yolk filled eggs in the leaf litter on the forest floor.  The complete development takes place within the egg and after several months a fully formed but copy of the adult emerges.

Craugastor rugosus

Butterfly numbers in December remain low but as with everything else, if you take the time, you will find them.  Skippers continue to provide a perennial problem in terms of identification but it is still fun to try and sneak up on them.  Some of my favorite butterflies are the Satyrs or browns.  One of the commonest butterflies on the grounds of Bosque is a small and almost imperceptible little satyr, Hermeuptychia hermes.  It is present 12 months of the year but is very small and flies no more than an inch or so above the ground, so its presence is probably missed by most people.  One of my favorite butterflies is the forest dwelling Pareuptychia ocirrhoe.  In the gloomy understory, a stroboscopic flicker of white reveals its whereabouts before it lands and the light and dark stripes on the underwing surfaces blend its form into the background and so it disappears from in front of your eyes.

Unidentified Skipper

Hermeuptychia hermes

Pareuptychia ocirrhoe

Green orchids, blue peas, purple passion vine and maroon Dutch pipes are just some of the less garish poster colors that subtly deck some of the December blooms.  Most of Costa Rica’s orchid species are epiphytic, growing high up in the canopy on the trunks and branches of trees.  This green bloomed species I found nearer the ground.  It flowered twice during the course of the year, December and again in September.  The peas were in flower most of the year in the open areas and roadsides.  There are several species of Passion Vine growing naturally at Bosque; the red bloomed Passiflora vitifolia, the square stemmed Passiflora quadrangularis and this, Passiflora ambigua.  When I came across the blooms they were spent and lying on the ground, but still had color and form interesting enough to photograph.

Green Orchid

Pea Plant

Passiflora ambigua

Dutchman's Pipe

Insects can be found all year round and in whichever location you care to concentrate.  Nobody really knows the numbers of insect species living in any given area.  I enjoy finding individuals of species that I have never seen before, and that occurs frequently, even with orders such as butterflies that I have studied more intensively.  This cockroach ranks amongst many similar species that I seen at Bosque as does the katydid but both elude identification.

Tropical Cockroach

Tropical Katydid

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 72°F.

Average Daily Rainfall 0.63 ins.  Total Monthly Rainfall 19.48 ins

Average Daily Temp High 28.5°C.  Average Daily Temp Low 22.0°C.

Average Daily Rainfall 15.95 mm.  Total Monthly Rainfall 494.33 mm


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