Poison Hidden From Owl Eyes   Leave a comment

Felipe del Bosque Blog Dec 5th 2011

Almost But Not Quite

The wet season just will not go away.  We keep having meteorologically false promises when the rain abates; the sun comes out for a day and then back comes the rain.  That has been the story of this week.  But at least the rain has been reduced to light showers rather than the heavy downpours of late.  As I write, the sun has been out all day, a continuation of yesterday but with a brief shower last evening.

As You Were

It has been a bit of a slow week in terms of animal sightings but we have had some good ones.  The first Puma sighting of the season was recorded late Saturday afternoon not too far from the restaurant area by the cabin occupied the girls working on the sustainability certification.  Two nights earlier the night watchman while doing his rounds saw a Margay, (Leopardus wiedii), up in a tree.

A palm and a fig tree in front of the restaurant are providing a nonstop source of subject material for our visitors to the lodge.  We have had and currently have groups of wildlife photographers staying with us.  Their work has been made very easy for them by the continual to and fro of Chestnut-mandibled Toucans, Great Kiskadees and a wealth of other bird life.

The monkeys too are performing well.  Troops of Spider and White-faced Monkeys, many of the females carrying young on their backs, have been making their daily arrival for a feed.  The Spider Monkeys prefer the figs while the White-faced Monkeys have a definite preference for the coconuts.  If you have ever tried to open a coconut, you will appreciate that it is no easy task, certainly not for us.  For a White-faced Monkey, it is normally a case of biting through the husk, ripping the husk off and biting through the shell to get to the milk inside, which they scoop out with their cupped hands until the vessel is completely drained.

The White-faced Monkeys also provided another diversion for the photographers.  The toucans come to feed but that is not without a certain danger.  The monkeys have learned how to catch the toucans as they land and quickly dispatch them.  As the photographic group was having breakfast one morning they were treated to the sight of two toucans reaching an untimely end.  One stunned individual hit the ground but the monkeys followed it straight down and it wasn’t long before the alpha male was feeding on toucan flesh.  The carcass stripped of its best meat was then passed around the remaining members of the troupe to clean off the bones.

At least once a year I get to see a Swainson’s Thrush, (Catharus ustulatus), and I did just that earlier this week as I was walking through the forest from my cabin.  The bird was at about head height and I knew what I was looking at as soon as I lay eyes on it.  I may see another one at some point but this individual filled the normal annual quota.

One of the photographic groups enlisted my services to take them on a private tour to the Pacific waterfall in search of a small amphibian endemic to this area; the Golfo Dulce Poison Arrow Frog (Phyllobates vittatus).  They had been to Bosque on previous occasions and had photographed the Black and Green Poison Arrow Frog which can found more commonly on the forest floor but I knew where to find the object of their desires even if it does require the turning of many rocks and logs to locate them.  On the walk down the Pacific Trail, I happened to mention looking into the rolled leaves of the Heliconias, Marantas and Bananas in the hope of seeing Spix’s Disc-winged Bats, (Thyroptera tricolor).  The first group of Marantas that we passed, I looked down an as yet unfurled leaf and sure enough there were the bats and they got their pictures.

Walking down the beach we found a lot of the Sally Lightfoot Crabs on the rocks, parting and running before us in droves.  There was any number of Hermit Crabs at the back of the beach.  Those quick growing, colonizing trees that line the upper shore line, Balsa Trees, were in flower.  We stopped to have a look in one of the caves for the White-lined Sac-winged Bats, (Saccopteryx bilineata), that sometimes inhabit them, one male and a harem of females generally hanging head down from the walls, but on this occasion we had no luck.

We finally made it to the creek and the search began.  The initial turning of rocks and logs in likely looking spots produced nothing but it didn’t take long before one hopped from its hiding place under a dead leaf.  Taking the pictures was not as easy as finding the subject.  Every time one of the photographers set up and framed the frog, off it hopped.  But with patience and endeavor the required images were captured and everyone returned tired but happy from the experience.

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.


 Photo Feature

Owl Eyes

An unusual insect turned up in my cabin this week.  I have seen several over the years but had not managed to photograph one.  This insect looks every bit like a damselfly except for the long, clubbed antennae.  The very distinctive feature though are the huge hemispherical eyes after which it is named, the Owl Fly.  The owl flies belong to the family Ascalaphidae of the order Neuroptera which includes the Lacewings and Antlions.

Owl Fly

As well as superficially resembling dragonflies and damselflies, the owl flies also hunt like their odonate lookalikes.  Those large compound eyes quickly observe any movement and if it happens to be a prey item of the right size, the fly seizes it out of the air.

Owl Fly

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 83°F.  Average Daily Temp Low 72°F.

Average Daily Rainfall 0.46 ins.  Total Weekly Rainfall 3.23 ins

Average Daily Temp High 27.9°C.  Average Daily Temp Low 22.2°C.

Average Daily Rainfall 11.72 mm.  Total Weekly Rainfall 82.04 mm

Species List for the Week


  • Howler Monkey
  • Spider Monkey
  • White-faced Monkey
  • White-nosed Coati
  • Agouti
  • Red-tailed Squirrel
  • Spix’s Disc-winged Bats


  • Orange-chinned Parakeets
  • Red-lored Amazon
  • Scarlet-fronted Parakeets
  • Gray-necked Woodrail
  • Pale-billed Woodpecker
  • Great Currasow
  • Crested Caracara
  • Roadside Hawk
  • Laughing Falcon
  • White Hawk
  • Yellow-headed Caracara
  • Black-hooded Antshrike
  • Chestnut-backed Antbird
  • Common Paureque
  • Wedge-billed Woodcreeper
  • Plain Xenops
  • Short-billed Pigeon
  • Long-billed Hermit
  • Stripe-throated Hermit
  • Spectacled Owl
  • Chestnut-mandibled Toucan
  • Blue-crowned Manakin
  • Swainson’s Thrush
  • Cherrie’s Tanager
  • Gray-headed Tanager
  • Summer Tanager
  • White-shouldered Tanager
  • Bright-rumped Atilla
  • Dusky-capped Flycatcher
  • Great Kiskadee
  • Great Tinamou
  • Black-throated Trogon
  • Riverside Wren
  • Black Vulture
  • Turkey Vulture


  • Cat-eyed Snake
  • Common Basilisk
  • Clawless Gecko
  • Golfo Dulce Anolis


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


  • Anartia Fatima
  • Heliconius sapho
  • Hermeuptychia hermes
  • Morpho Menelaus
  • Pyrgus oileus


  • Aphelandra golfodulcensis Flowering
  • Bamboo Orchid Flowering
  • Black Alligator Tree Fruiting
  • Calabash flowering and fruiting
  • Cannonball Tree Flowering and Fruiting
  • Clusia rosea Flowering
  • Golden Trumpet Vine Flowering
  • Heisteria fruiting
  • Inga Flowering
  • Monkey Comb Tree Flowering
  • Figs Fruiting
  • Mountain Rose Flowering
  • Ox Eye Vine Fruit
  • Stinky Toe Fruiting


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