Bosque del Cabo March 2011 Nature Review   Leave a comment


Felipe del Bosque Blog March 2011 Review

March continues as February left off with very low rainfall, if any at all and with high temperatures.  This distinct dry period results in the classification of the forests of Bosque as tropical season forest rather than strictly tropical wet forest.  Even though the temperatures may occasionally hit the 100’s Fahrenheit they never get to be those blistering Mediterranean temperatures.

The forest floor has started to crack with a network of daily ever widening fissures.  The vegetation is starting to take on the tired look of yellows and browns with the edges of leaves starting to look disheveled.  Even though the air feels dry, the relative humidity will still remain at 60 – 70%.

Those trees that started flowering in December will by now be producing fruit.  Not far from the Bosque restaurant are some spectacular Guanacaste trees, (Enterolobium cyclocarpum).  This is the national tree of Costa Rica.  The fruits have the distinct look of a hard crusty ear.  It takes up to a year for the fruit to be produced after flowering has ceased.  The Latin name roughly equates to circular fruit shaped like the small intestine.  The seeds will remain dormant within the tough outer coating until such time as it is breached and they can germinate.

Enterolobium cyclocarpum

Not too far from the Guanacaste trees is a large spreading but low crowned Cashew tree, (Anacardium occidentale).  In March the tree was heavy with fruit but you would be ill-advised to just help yourself.  The shell of the nut contains a cocktail of chemicals which if handled can prove to be a very unpleasant experience; anacardic acids similar to those found in Poison Ivy and equally as effective as a nasty skin irritant as well as phenolic resins which too produce profound allergenic reactions.  It is best just to leave the nuts on the tree and eat your cashews from packets.

Anacardium occidentale

Reptiles and amphibians featured prominently this March.  Not too far into a Primary Forest Tour with a group of clients I noticed a Glass Frog, (Espadarana prosoblepon), tucked up on the top of a leaf.  I guessed it wouldn’t become active again until the sun had set so providing me with the opportunity to return in the afternoon and get some pictures.  Most of the amphibian life we have at Bosque can be seen with little effort around the pond or on the forest floor.  The Glass Frogs prefer running water and you need to spend more time around the creek that runs through Bosque in order to find them.  This one, for whatever reason was away from any source of water.  It was still there when I returned later in the day, so I got the shots I wanted.  They are called Glass Frogs because of the transparent nature of their skin which allows you to see the bones and viscera within.

Espadarana prosoblepon      Espadarana prosoblepon      Espadarana prosoblepon

Espadarana prosoblepon

I found two the larger species of Anolis lizard not far from my cabin, the Lichen Anole, (Norops pentaprion) and the Pug-nosed Anole, (Norops capito).  The short stubby nose of the Pug-nosed Anole gives it the name.  Both species are frequently seen on forest walks.

Norops pentaprion

Norops capito

The high air temperatures contributed to an early hatch of Green Iguanas, (Iguana iguana).  Several nests had hatched at once within the vicinity of the restaurant so you didn’t have to go too far to find them.  The large adults are rarely seen as they spend most of their time at the tops of the trees.

Iguana iguana

The Parrot Snake, (Ahaetulla leptophis), is a lithe and graceful hunter of lizard, frogs and frog’s eggs.  It is a diurnal snake and is often found around water.  It has those two huge, beautiful, forward facing eyes that may allow for some depth perception when visibly hunting its prey. This individual was found around the lodge swimming pool.  Amongst the branches of a bush they are hard to spot, and even more difficult to focus upon once that fluid, serpentine body starts to glide through the vegetation.

Ahaetulla leptophis      Ahaetulla leptophis      Ahaetulla leptophis

Ahaetulla leptophis

The Litter Snake, (Rhadinea decorata), on the other hand is a terrestrial snake that spends a lot of time burrowing under leaf litter on the forest floor.  The shape of the head, with the slightly upturned snout facilitates an easier subsurface passage as it hunts for litter organisms on which to feed.

Rhadinea decorata      Rhadinea decorata      Rhadinea decorata

Rhadinea decorata

Every building at Bosque is probably going to provide a home for at least one of the largest geckoes we have here, the Central American Smooth Gecko, (Thecadactyla rapicauda).  People are quite often alarmed to find one behind a painting or mask decorating a cabin wall.  They are totally harmless and should even be welcomed as a roommate as they are voracious insect feeders.

Thecadactylis rapicauda

To bring the March review to a close, here is the usual collection of arthropods.  Of the many species of Longwing butterflies that can be found on the grounds of Bosque, most of them are flying over the full 12 month period, obviously not the same individuals but the species.  One species though is on the wing for only a short period maybe with 2 separate generations, Laparus doris.  For whatever reason, this was doris’s year.  The time period had not changed from normal but the number of individuals was greatly increased.  This one species has 3 different color forms, red, blue and green, all of which can often be seen flying together.

Laparus doris

My research at Bosque involves the daily monitoring of butterflies and amphibians.  You would have thought that opportunities to record new species would only occur very rarely after an 11 year study period.  But the butterflies do turn up new species, sometimes in numbers of 2 or 3 a week.  This Burning Firetip, (Yangura cosyra), was a new species record for the lodge back in March.

Yangura cosyra

In the evening, just as the last dying rays of the sun disappear and the sky darkens, small green eyes seem to emerge and take flight.  All is not what it seems, these are the bioluminescent spots on the thorax of the Fire beetles.  They have the ability to brighten and darken the spots at will.  When flying, the abdomen lights up with a bright orange bioluminescence.

Fire Beetle

There are beetles though that, once again, defy identification, despite their bizarre and one would think very distinctive body form.

Unidentified Beetle

Unidentified Beetle

Normally nesting in round paper nests, these Paper Wasps took up residence in a rotting tree stump instead.  Every time I went to get a photo, within a 2 or 3 minute period, groups of wasps would take to the air, closely investigating what they perceived as a potential threat to the nest.

Polybia sp

Katydids are always worth a photo whenever you find them.  This one was more of a broad leaf mimic.

Leaf-mimicking Katydid

Land crabs, (Gecarcinus quadratus), emerged in large numbers during the month of March.  Although they live some distance from water on the forest floor, they still breathe using gills.  This limits their behavior to inhabiting deep burrows during the day and emerging at night when the temperatures have decreased and the humidity rises.

Gecarcinus quadratus

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 94°F.  Average Daily Temp Low 74°F.

Average Daily Rainfall 0.04 ins.  Total Monthly Rainfall 1.28 ins

Average Daily Temp High 34.3°C.  Average Daily Temp Low 23.0°C.

Average Daily Rainfall 1.0 mm.  Total Monthly Rainfall 32.5 mm

 

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