A Handful of Blue-nosed Dwarves   1 comment


Felipe del Bosque Blog January 21st 2013

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A Waterless Place

We have had another glorious week of cloudless blue skies and sunny days.  For three consecutive evenings though the stars disappeared as a black mantle of storm clouds rolled in after sunset.  Although the rain they delivered didn’t actually amount to much, it was enough to dampen the ground to sticky, wash off the rapidly accumulating dust on the leaves and inspire a few amphibians to re-emerge.

The male amphibians are never shy of responding to a cue, however transient, when it comes to having an opportunity to reproduce.  Even on the driest of nights at the height of the waterless season there will always be one or two singular and disparate males of different species calling forlornly for a mate.  The brief rain brings hope anew and more potential amorés join in the chorus serenading to little more than the still damp air.  Their calls pervade the darkness adding to the ceaseless love songs of the katydids and crickets only to drift away and be lost on the light zephyr that whispers through the leaves.

But one night enough rain fell to tempt out at least one or two female Red-eyed Green Tree Frogs, (Agalychnis callidryas), that had been tucked away deep within the depths of the vegetation away from the drying air.  They responded favorably to those males plying their suit and the next day several egg masses could be seen hanging from the underside of the leaves overhanging the pond.  Alas the sole male Banana Frog, (Dendropsophus ebreccatus), that had been enticed into trying his luck, sitting out on top of a leaf, his presence dangerously exposed to the attention of frog-eating bats and snakes,  remained alone, his calls unanswered at least for the time being.

Unexpected Guests

Snakes are one of those creatures that are actively sought or avoided by most people, there doesn’t seem to be any middle ground.  Two nice species turned up this week and in places far removed from the forest where one might be expecting to find them.  The first was a Tiger Rat Snake, (Spilotes pullatus), that had taken a brief residence in my bathroom.  One morning while I was sitting on the toilet I could hear a rattling sound above my head.  Lying across a beam not an arm’s length above my head was the snake, its body a beautiful deep glossy black interspersed with bands of yellow which are particularly pronounced on the head.  My presence had been noticed and in a nervous response so typical of many snakes it started to vibrate its tail which is what alerted me to its presence.  We had a wildlife photography group staying so I finished my business and returned with a bag to keep it safe until the photographers could take pictures of it.

The group was in luck, at least as far as the serpents go, as later that morning I found a very rarely seen snake on the steps inside the restaurant.  Lying on a stair against the wall was a Dwarf Boa, (Ungaliophis panamensis).  The Dwarf Boas normally live at the top of the trees tucked in between the leaves of bromeliads where they feed on small lizards and frogs.  Again it was temporarily bagged until the photographers managed to take pictures of a snake they would not normally have much chance of seeing.

Dwarf Boa

On one of the night tours I noticed some leaves that have been stripped to the midrib.  They did not bear the telltale signs of Leaf-cutter Ant defoliation, with the typical scalloped edges produced by the ants cutting the leaf in a semi circle around themselves.  After a short time spent searching the culprits were found; the slug-like caterpillars of a moth.  The larvae resembled those of the Saddleback Moth, (Archaria hyperoche), of the Family Limacodidae in form but not in color. They were squat and fat colored in a dichromatic blue-green.  The front and back were armed with protuberances covered with batteries of urticating hairs. Just like the Saddleback Moth the Blue-nosed Caterpillars, (Acharia ophelians) are noted for their eye-catching caterpillars not the adult.  In both species the imago moths are small insignificant dull colored moths.

Blue-nosed Caterpillar

Seen to be Green

Two other animals that turned up this week had their camouflage fail them, at least as far as this potential predator was concerned.  One was the green colored bean-shaped preying mantis, Choeradodis rhombicollis.  It wasn’t too hard to see as it was on a white wall in the restaurant where its cryptic coloration and form which would normally blend it in perfectly with the background vegetation, in this instance had it stand out in stark contrast to its surroundings.

Hooded Mantis

On the underside of one of the palms by the swimming pool I noticed two objects suspended and hanging down like small green pods.  Closer examination revealed a couple of chrysalises.  It was impossible for me to tell what species of butterfly or moth would eventually emerge from within as many tropical Lepidoptera do not have their full life histories recorded.  I could have taken them and waited for the winged adult to emerge thereby confirming its identity but instead I just took the photo and left them in place.  The immobile and sedentary chrysalis is an easy target for potential predators such as birds, lizards and wasps that they rely on their cryptic coloration to remain unseen.  I doubt if any of the visitors by the pool noticed them but I did.  Not long after I checked and found that they were both empty, the adult butterfly or moth having emerged and hopefully flown off.

Unidentified Chrysalis

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

A Bird in the Bush

There has been a male Great Curassow, (Crax rubra), and his harem of females hanging around the restaurant area for a few weeks now.  The curassows are large turkey-sized birds which, in spite of the fact that they are normally seen walking on the ground, can fly, albeit never much further than into the branches of trees above them to take refuge or roost for the night.  The male sports a handsome black plumage with a white belly and distinctive bright yellow expanded area to the top of his bill.  The females are the same size but with a soft brown body, dark head and a banded brown tail.  Both the sexes are adorned with a crest of curly feathers which can be raised or lowered at will.  They forage on the ground for the fruit and vegetables that constitute the main bulk of their diet.  This time of year as you walk through the forest an eerie basso profundo call can be heard emanating from deep with the shadows of the trees that you would sometimes swear you could feel passing through your body rather than your ears.  There is no reason to fear, it is the mating call of the male curassow with his characteristic uuooo,  uuooo.

Great Curassow

Crax rubra

Another elegant bird that has been making an appearance all around the grounds has been the Mangrove Black Hawk, (Buteogallus subtilis).  These raptors can quite often be seen down on the beaches feeding on crabs.  In the forest and the gardens they take a lot of lizards and snakes as prey.  The overall plumage is black with a dull yellow bill and legs.  The tail has one wide white band which traversing it.  This individual does not seem overly concerned by the proximity of people and will let you approach to directly underneath where he is perched.

Mangrove Black Hawk

At the moment some of the palms are fruiting which has encouraged the daily visit from a group of White-faced Capuchin Monkeys, (Cebus capucinus), eager for an easy feed.  Monkeys tend to be wasteful feeders and drop a lot of half eaten fruits to the ground.  They don’t go to waste though as there are creatures that cannot climb trees such as Agoutis, (Dasyprocta punctata), that sit and wait for food to fall from the sky.  Other animals which could fly up into the tree but don’t as they may be intimidated by the presence of the monkeys also wait on the ground for the food to come to them.  The most obvious of these are the Black Vultures, (Coragyps atratus), and the Turkey Vulture, (Cathartes aura).  Vultures are more commonly associated with carrion but they are also opportunists who will feed on fallen fruit.

Under the tree, strutting around like a self important sergeant major waiting to inspect the troop’s turnout is another carrion-eater, the Crested Caracara, (Caracara cherriway).  These birds are normally found in the more open areas rather than forested areas but over recent years have established themselves on the grounds of Bosque del Cabo.  Just like the vultures they are not averse to taking some of the fruit that will have become available at the base of the palm trees following the monkey’s banquet.

Crested Caracara

Text and Photographs are taken from the forthcoming book:

The Natural History of Bosque del Cabo by Philip Davison

Temperature and Rainfall

Average Daily Rainfall 0.09 ins.  Total Weekly Rainfall 0.56 ins

Average Daily Rainfall 2.40 mm.  Total Weekly Rainfall 14.20 mm

Highest Daily Temp 89°F.  Lowest Daily Temp 73°F.

Highest Daily Temp 31.8°C.  Lowest Daily Temp 23.5°C.

Species List for the Week

Mammals

  • Central American Squirrel Monkey
  • Mantled Howler Monkey
  • Spider Monkey
  • White-faced Monkey
  • Kinkajou
  • White-nosed Coati
  • Agouti
  • Alfaro’s Pygmy Squirrel
  • Red-tailed Squirrel

Birds

  • Mealy Amazon
  • Red-lored Amazon
  • Scarlet Macaw
  • Great Curassow
  • Grey-necked Woodrail
  • Crested Caracara
  • Laughing Falcon
  • Mangrove Black Hawk
  • Crested Owl
  • Spectacled Owl
  • Golden-naped Woodpecker
  • Pale-billed Woodpecker
  • Long-tailed Woodcreeper
  • Plain Xenops
  • Black-hooded Antshrike
  • Chestnut-backed Antbird
  • Short-billed Pigeon
  • White-tipped Dove
  • Rufus Piha
  • Blue-crowned Motmot
  • Long-billed Hermit
  • Stripe-throated Hermit
  • Red-capped Manakin
  • Chestnut-mandibled Toucan
  • Bananaquit
  • Cherrie’s Tanager
  • Summer Tanager
  • Bright-rumped Atilla
  • Dusky-capped Flycatcher
  • Great Kiskadee
  • House Wren
  • Great Tinamou
  • Black Vulture
  • Turkey Vulture

Reptiles

  • Barred Ameiva
  • Basilisk
  • Cat-eyed Snake
  • Central American Smooth Gecko
  • Central American Whiptail
  • Common Anole
  • Dwarf Boa
  • Four-lined Ameiva
  • Golfo Dulce Anolis
  • Litter Skink
  • Litter Snake
  • Mediterranean House Gecko
  • Tiger Rat Snake

Amphibians

  • Black and Green Poison Arrow Frog
  • Fitzinger’s Rain Frog
  • Marine Toad
  • Masked Smilisca
  • Milky Frog
  • Red-eyed Green Tree Frog
  • Savage’s Thin-fingered Frog
  • Stejneger’s Dirt Frog

Butterflies

  • Anartia Fatima
  • Anartia jatrophae
  • Arawacus lincoides
  • Archaeoprepona demophon
  • Battus polydamus
  • Chlosyne theona
  • Dione juno
  • Dryas iulia
  • Eurema albula
  • Heliconius cydno
  • Heliconius erato
  • Heliconius hecale
  • Heliconius ismenius
  • Heliconius sapho
  • Heraclides cresphontes
  • Hermeuptychia hermes
  • Magneuptychia libye
  • Marpesia berania
  • Mesosemia zonalis
  • Morpho helenor
  • Morpho Menelaus
  • Parides erithalion
  • Pierella luna
  • Pierella argante
  • Phoebis sennae
  • Philaethria dido
  • Pyrgus oileus
  • Pyrisitia nise

Plants

  • Alamandra  cathartica Flowering
  • Alpinia purpurata Flowering
  • Apeiba tibourbou Flowering and Fruiting
  • Arachis pintoi Flowering
  • Arundina graminifolia Flowering
  • Attalea rostrata Fruiting
  • Bauhinia variegata Flowering
  • Cascabella thevetia Flowering and Fruiting
  • Citrus spp  Fruiting
  • Clusia rosea Flowering and Fruiting
  • Clusia vallerii Flowering and Fruiting
  • Cocos nucifera Flowering and Fruiting
  • Crestentia alata flowering and Fruiting
  • Costus speciosus Flowering
  • Couroupita guianensis Flowering and Fruiting
  • Dypsis lutescens Flowering and Fruiting
  • Etlingera elatior Flowering
  • Ficus citrifolia Fruiting
  • Ficus insipida Fruiting
  • Jacaranda mimosifolia Flowering
  • Heliconia chartacea Flowering
  • Heliconia latispatha Flowering
  • Heliconia pogonantha Flowering
  • Heliconia psittacorum Flowering
  • Heliconia rostrata Flowering
  • Hibiscus rosa-sinensis Flowering
  • Hymenaea coubaril Fruiting
  • Hymenocallis littoralis Flowering
  • Ixora coccinea Flowering
  • Lantana camara Flowering and Flowering
  • Lagerstroemia speciosa Fruiting
  • Morinda citrifolia Fruiting
  • Musa acuminate Flowering and Fruiting
  • Nephelium lappaceum Fruiting
  • Piper auritum Flowering and Fruiting
  • Piper nigrum Fruiting
  • Piper umbellatum Flowering and Fruiting
  • Pleiostachya pruinosa Flowering
  • Plumeria rubra Flowering
  • Psychotria sp Fruiting
  • Spondias mombin Flowering
  • Stachytarpheta frantzii Flowering
  • Virola guatemalena Fruiting
  • Virola sebifera Fruiting
  • Zammia sp Flowering

 

 

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One response to “A Handful of Blue-nosed Dwarves

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  1. Enjoyed reading the blog Philip. Great photos, couple birds I was unfamiliar with until now.

    Like

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