Something Fishy Down the Pit   2 comments


Felipe del Bosque Blog April 2nd  2012

Baked Earth

The temperatures continue to remain high but there have been a few days where the sky has been overcast and seemed to be promising a drop of rain.  But the clouds cleared, the sun shone and not a drop of rain was seen.  Following several more days of frequent heavy cloud cover moving over the peninsula, the clouds started to produce distant flashes of lightning and the remote rumble of thunder.  Then one night down it came, a rare but heavy downpour at 6 pm.  The rain lasted for 15 minutes but it was enough to clean the dust from the leaves.  Now there is a more imminent threat of rain with clouds gathering, shedding a sprinkling of rain before dispersing again.

Cat Nap

There was an amazing Puma, (Puma concolor), sighting a few weeks ago.  One young woman on the deck of her cabin watched transfixed as a female Puma walked by.  Meanwhile a couple who had just arrived, but had not yet been shown to their room, were sitting eating lunch.  They saw what they thought to be a large dog on the lawn.  They got up to take a closer look and were astonished to find a large male Puma lying in the sun in front of the restaurant.  A few minutes later one of the Bosque maids watched the two Pumas disappear down the slope under the cabins leading to the sea.

Up, Down and All Around

The Tent-making Bats, (Uroderma bilobatum), have continued to use the roosts under the palm leaves near the restaurant and the Guapinol is still flowering so the crown of the tree at night is surrounded by a myriad of Jamaican Fruit-eating Bats, (Artibeus jamaicensis).  On one tour, I casually glanced into the furled leaf of a heliconia and found 2 Spix’s Disc-winged Bats, (Thyroptera tricolor), roosting head up, the suckers on their wings adhering to the shiny upper side of the leaf.

The Nine-banded Armadillos, (Dasypus novemcinctus), and opossums have been active at night, the Common Opossum, (Delphis marsupialis), and Central American Wooly Opossum, (Caluromys derbianus), regularly being spotted.  At the moment the mango trees are starting to produce fruit, so over the coming months the orchard will be full of every sort of animal life gorging on the available food supply.

Damp Anticipation

The amphibians might have been indicating a shower or two as the Poison-arrow Frogs which have scarcely been seen over recent months suddenly emerged and started calling at various points around the lodge.  Over several nights the Red-eyed Green Tree Frogs, (Agalychnis callydryas), made an appearance, at first one then three.  They weren’t calling, just sitting silently but the Milky Frogs which could not be seen have been calling back and forth from various plants in front of the restaurant.

It is not just the amphibians that are responding to the environment cues, one night in a seamlessly co-ordinated and synchronized action, out came the Halloween Crabs, (Gecarcinus quadratus).  One 15 minute burst of heavy rain stimulated the crabs to emerge in numbers reaching into the thousands.  The following day there were crabs everywhere.  Wherever you walked, even if you couldn’t see them, you could certainly hear them; the sound was like rain on dry leaf.

Craters of Death

At night, the hordes of Leaf-cutter Ants, (Atta cephalotes), emerge after sheltering from the baking hot sun and commence their nocturnal lucubration.  During the day over recent weeks we have been able to watch the streams of Army Ants moving with deliberation and purpose across the trails.  The ants at this time of the year have a hazard they must negotiate.  On the dry and dusty pathways through the forest you will see time little craters that resemble a mini artillery range.  These pits spell doom for any ant unfortunate enough to stumble into one.  They are the lair of insect larvae, the Ant Lions, the adults of which are related to the Lacewings.

Ant-lions belong the insect order Neuroptera or Nerve winged insects, (so called because of the pattern of venation in the translucent wings of the adults) and of the family Mermeleontidae.  The adults are singularly unspectacular and the insect is more familiar because of the structures of the larvae.

Ant Lion Pit

This time of year wherever you find dry, fine grained soil sheltered from the rain, there will be collections of small craters in the ground.  Should you choose to stand, wait and watch you may glimpse an unsuspecting and unfortunate ant stumble into one of these funnel shaped depressions.  Its fate is sealed.  The friable nature of the cater sides causes the ant the slip down towards the centre with every effort it makes to climb out.  But if you watch, something more insidious is going on.  The concealed architect of the death trap starts to flick more sand at the victim with its front legs.  This drags the ant down to its doom. Lying erect at the epicenter of the trap is a pair of mandibles set like a spring loaded man trap.  When the ant makes contact, the Ant Lions jaws snap shut crushing the ill fated insect. The tips of the mandibles pierce the body and suck out the juices.  Here is life and death being enacted on a miniature scale in front of your eyes.

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

 Fast but no Fish

One day while sitting quietly in the office my work was interrupted by a commotion on the path in front of me.  While changing a gas bottle, one of the kitchen staff disturbed a snake which had been resting under the cylinder.  Once exposed, the startled snake tried to make a dash to cover which meant going between the legs of the equally startled cook.  As he jumped around screaming in the manner of a demented Irish jig, the snake twisted and turned trying to avoid his feet and get into the undergrowth.  I got up to investigate what might be causing so much panic only to find it was a harmless Salmon-bellied Racer, (Mastigodryas melanolomus).

Salmon-bellied Racer

The Salmon-bellied Racer is a diurnal and rapidly agile snake.  Its speed and large eyes are adaptations allowing it to locate and capture fast moving prey, the bulk of which are lizards such as Anolis lizards and Whiptails.

Salmon-bellied Racer

It is a distinctive snake with pale lines running the length of the chocolate brown body.  The name derives from the rich pink colored belly which can be seen in the photographs I managed to take once all the excitement had died down.

Text and Photographs are taken from the forthcoming book:

The Natural History of Bosque del Cabo by Philip Davison

Temperature and Rainfall

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Species List for the Week

Mammals

  • Howler Monkey
  • Spider Monkey
  • Capuchin Monkey
  • Jamaican Fruit-eating Bat
  • Spix’s Disc-winged Bat
  • Tent-making Bat
  • Common Opossum
  • Nine-banded Armadillo
  • Three-toed Sloth
  • Agouti
  • Puma
  • White-nosed Coati
  • Collared Peccary

 

Birds

 

  • Red-lored Amazons
  • Scarlet Macaws
  • Grey-necked Woodrail
  • Crested Caracara
  • Mangrove Black Hawk
  • Roadside Hawk
  • Yellow-headed Caracara
  • Great Currasow
  • Lineated Woodpecker
  • Black-hooded Antshrike
  • Chestnut-backed Antbird
  • Common Paureque
  • Short-billed Pigeon
  • White-tipped Dove
  • Tawny-winged Woodcreeper
  • Blue-crowned Motmot
  • Long-billed Hermit
  • Strip-throated Hermit
  • White-necked Jacobin
  • Blue-crowned Manakin
  • Red-capped Manakin
  • Fiery-billed Aracari
  • Chestnut-mandibled Toucan
  • Cherrie’s Tanager
  • Golden-hooded Tanager
  • Grey-headed Tanager
  • Summer Tanager
  • White-shouldered Tanager
  • Bright-rumped Atilla
  • Dusky-capped Flycatcher
  • Golden-crowned Spadebill
  • Great Kiskadee
  • Buff-rumped Warbler
  • Great Tinamou
  • Little Tinamou
  • House Wren
  • Masked Tityra
  • Black-throated Trogon
  • Black Vulture
  • Turkey Vulture

 

Reptiles

 

  • Barred Ameiva
  • Barred Forest Racer
  • Boa Constrictor
  • Central American Whiptail
  • Common Basilisk
  • Five-lined Ameiva
  • Clawless Gecko
  • Golfo Dulce Anolis
  • Limifrons Anolis
  • Northern Cat-eyed Snake
  • Pug-nosed Anole
  • Salmon-bellied Racer

 

Amphibians

 

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

 

Butterflies

 

  • Agraulis vanillae
  • Anartia Fatima
  • Archaeoprepona demophon
  • Caligo atreus
  • Caligo eurilochus
  • Calycopis isobeon
  • Dryas iulia
  • Eueides lybia
  • Glutophrissa drusilla
  • Heliconius erato
  • Heliconius hecale
  • Heliconius ismenius
  • Heliconius sapho
  • Hermeuptychia hermes
  • Marpesia furcula
  • Mechanitis polymnia
  • Metacharis victrix
  • Morpho helenor
  • Morpho Menelaus
  • Pareuptychia ocirrhoe
  • Philaetria dido
  • Pierella luna
  • Pyrisitia nise

 

Plants

 

  • Bamboo Orchid Flowering
  • Black Alligator Tree Flowering and Fruiting
  • Calabash flowering and fruiting
  • Cannonball Tree Flowering and Fruiting
  • Cashew Flowering and Fruiting
  • Clusia rosea Flowering and Fruiting
  • Jacaranda Flowering
  • Milky Tree Fruiting
  • Monkey Comb Tree Fruiting
  • Mountain Rose Flowering
  • Nutmeg Fruiting
  • Passion Vine Flowering and Fruiting
  • Stinky Toe Flowering and Fruiting

 

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2 responses to “Something Fishy Down the Pit

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  1. “demented Irish jig” 🙂 Not that I would’ve done differently. Pretty sure that solves the mystery snake I had on my porch at Miramar, looks identical to the (much better) pics you have posted. Am hopeful the Disc-winged Bats ‘stick’ around for another 7-8 weeks, would love to see them.

    Like

  2. Love the snake pictures Philip. Glad to hear that the puma sightings are still occurring. I would like to reserve one for our upcoming trip in May please.

    Like

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