Palmed Off WithTwo Hole Cats   Leave a comment


Felipe del Bosque Blog August 26th 2013

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Light and Dark and Wet and Dry

Once again this week follows on from last week with the same kind of weather prevailing, dry, bright and sunny with interspersed thunderstorms and showers.  Towards the middle of the week the showers became more persistent and finally as the weekend approached the rain became almost incessant.  But as it seemed that the sun would disappear, hidden behind a heavily laden grey sky, it all changed again and the mornings at least had some bright hours in which to enjoy the grounds.

Double Top

One question that has been asked and begs an answer is how did researchers discover that the perfume “Calvin Klein Obsession for Men” is attractive to big cats.  I can only surmise that perhaps a zookeeper or some such person working with large cats was attracting the attention of his feline interns to the exclusion of others in his position and upon intensive investigation, (or not), the reason might finally have been isolated as his cologne.

Last week’s photo of the male Puma, (Puma concolor), on the Titi Trail had him stopped and sniffing the air in the exact locality as I had sprayed the perfume on a tree root some days before.  When sorting through the videos there was quite an amusing occurrence.  Moments after I had set the camera for the week, sprayed the perfume on the selected root in front of the camera and left, a whole troupe of female White-nosed Coatis, (Nasua narica), came running from the forest.  Coatis don’t have particularly good senses of sight or hearing but that nose is hard to beat when it comes to locating things by sense of smell.  Whatever they found attractive about it had them rolling round like a cat with catnip.  They came running from all directions.  They were scratching the root.  They were tumbling over each other.  But probably much to their chagrin there was nothing there, it was simply a scent.

White-nosed Coatis

This week there were two separate cat camera captures.  We got a glimpse of the male Puma crossing the path in front of the camera.  We also got a nice picture and video of an Ocelot, (Leopardis pardalis) at the far end of the Titi Trail.  The Ocelot is more of an active hunt and pounce predator.  It generally starts to roam the forest floor sometime in the late afternoon when the light levels start to dip.  It will take most mammals smaller than itself including opossums, armadillos, rodents and even a young peccary should the opportunity present itself.  Pumas on the other hand will feed on all the above but will also take much larger prey.  There may well be a good reason why we have cats hanging around in the vicinity of “Peccary Alley”.  Also as we have seen with the camera captures there are great deal more mammals and ground living birds on these trails day and night.

Puma         Agouti         Ocelot

Paca         Collared Peccary         Nine-banded Armadillo

There were no Tamandua, (Tamandua mexicana), sightings on the trail this week.  I doubt if they made a meal for a cat, for despite their small size those claws that are usually reserved for ripping through wood to get to termites can equally rip through flesh.  There was however a glut of Collared Peccary, (Tayassu tajacu), and Agouti, (Dasyprocta punctata), sightings which is what we have come to expect, Pacas, (Agouti paca), Nine-banded Armadillos, (Dasypus novencinctus), Common Opossums, (Didelphis marsupialis), Tayras, (Eira barbara), White-nosed Coatis, (Nasua narica), and Great Curassows, (Crax rubra), were also recorded.  This week we did have footage of some of the Agoutis and peccaries with very small young accompanying them.

The Hole Truth

Holes on the forest floor seem to fascinate people.  Most people imagine, and in fact are prompted to ask, that the holes belong to snakes.  Very rarely will you find a snake in a hole, under logs, under leaves, under rocks perhaps, but in holes – almost never.  The size of the whole is normally an indication of its occupant.  Most of the holes around the grounds of Bosque, whether they be in banks at the side of the road or in the lawn or on the forest trails will be made by land crabs, more specifically Halloween Crabs, (Gecarcinus quadratus).

The entrances and exits from Leaf-cutter Ant, (Atta sp), nests usually do have at least some ant activity going on in or around the hole. If not there may be other signals such as discarded leaf or granules of waste from the nest.  Apart from that there is very little else that burrows into the soils of a rainforest floor, they tend to be shallow, saturated with water in the wet season and burrows flood when it rains.

Having said that there are on occasion some much larger holes to be seen than could possibly be made by crabs or ants.  There may be times when a White-nosed Coati may have dug a crab up from the ground and eaten it but the left over remains of the shell will be a clue as to this scenario having been enacted.  There is, however, one animal adapted to digging which has both muscular legs and sharp claws.  They can disappear from sight in a blink of the eye so adept  are they at doing this and they are the armadillos.  The species found on the grounds of Bosque is the Nine-banded Armadillo, (Dasypus novemcintus).

Nine-banded Armadillo

Armadillos are strange but endearing creatures, (depending upon where you live.  Not everyone is happy with their proclivity to burrow, especially if they do so under buildings).  The Nine-banded Armadillo in Costa Rica is reported to only has eight bands to its leathery armored back but this one does seem to have the allotted nine.  They are insect eaters with an inordinately fondness for ants and termites.  They can be seen quite often around the Bosque grounds with the nose buried in the earth sniffing out a meal.  The armadillo has the ability to hold its breath for 6 minutes which is very useful when a large percentage of your time is with your nose stuck in soil.  Due to its insect diet the Nine-banded Armadillo has a reduced number of teeth which are small and peg-like.

Dasypus novemcinctus

The female Nine-banded Armadillo has the ability to delay implantation of the fertilized egg into the uterine wall and so depending whether conditions are suitable or not it can it can forestall pregnancy taking place immediately.  The egg also divides into 4 so the Nine-banded Armadillo will always give birth to identical quads.  Apart from humans the armadillos are the only other creatures that carry leprosy.  Before a mass panic breaks out, I don’t know of any cases where leprosy was transferred by armadillos to humans though.  Also these days leprosy is very hard to catch and very easy to cure.

Rough Luck

There are many amphibians to be found not too far from the Bosque restaurant once the sun starts to set and the light levels dim.  You can locate them largely by listening and homing in to the calls of the males.  Most of the calls will be from male frogs congregating around the pond trying to attract a female.  But there are other frogs that can be heard calling from areas away from the pond.  Out in the forest by the running water of the creek you will find some of the Glass Frogs, their translucent skins giving them the unusual but apt name.  Other calls come from the forest floor or around the gardens.  Follow the sound and seeking its source will probably bring you standing before one of the rain frogs, more than likely Fitzinger’s Rain Frog, (Craugastor fitzingeri).

There are several other species of rain frog in the area.  They are normally only noticed as tiny individuals leaping out from under your foot fall on the forest trails.  One such rain frog is the Rough-skinned Dirt Frog, (Craugastor rugosus).  I have only witnessed it calling on one occasion.  The male is very small and as the common name suggests the body is covered in small tubercles  which gives it a very warty appearance.   The female is enormous in comparison and conversely very smooth skinned.  It would be hard to believe they belong to the same species given the acute differences between the sexes.

Rough-skinned Dirt Frog

Rain frogs are terrestrial reproducers.  The male and female pair up and lay approximately 10 – 30 large yolk-filled eggs amongst the leaf litter on the forest floor.  Here the larvae develop within the egg over a period of 4 – 6 weeks.  Eventually what emerges is a tiny copy of the adult.  So they have completely done away with the necessity of returning to water to reproduce.

So when you are out on the trails keep one eye on the ground because there is often as not as much going on there as up in the tops of the trees.

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

Palmed Off

Around the grounds and gardens of Bosque del Cabo as well as in the forest there are many species of palm to be found.  A number of the garden palms are non-native ornamental decorative feature palms.  Despite their non-indigenous status they do fruit regularly thereby providing both food and shelter for many species of animal life.

Most people are familiar with palms, (Family: Arecaceae), if not from direct experience then certainly due to the fact that they grace the images of many tropical locations. Unlike trees which branch and have small leaves, the palms have large leaves that can be simple or compound but mostly in that typical feather-shape that emanates from a central position.  Palms are utilized all over the world by people for food and various utilitarian purposes.

One of the palms native to Costa Rica found growing throughout the gardens and grounds of Bosque is the Royal Palm, (Attalea rostrata).  It is the only species of Attalea found in Costa Rica although it does range from Mexico to Panama.  It is a robust looking palm that produces large clusters of palm nuts suspended on a pendulous stalk.  These are eagerly sought after by Spider Monkeys, (Ateles geoffroyi), Capuchin Monkeys, (Cebus capucinus), White-nosed Coatis and when they fall to the ground, Agoutis and even the Turkey Vultures and Black Vultures.

Costa Rican Royal Palm

Another native palm is the Bamboo Palm, (Chamaedorea costaricana).  The stems are long and covered with leaf scars so at a casual glance they appear to belong to a species of bamboo.  The genus contains 95 species making it the most species rich genus of palms in the tropics.  This palm as the last is found throughout Central America from Mexico to Panama.

Costa Rican Bamboo Palm

Coconut Palms, (Cocos nucifera), is native to Costa Rica but its origins are elsewhere.  The Coconut was thought to have evolved somewhere in the region between the Philippines and Northern Australia.  The nut is the fruit and it has the ability to float on water so over an extended period of time it was the ocean currents that distributed the Coconuts around the world.  As the Coconuts get washed ashore that is where they germinate so it is not uncommon to see tropical coastlines lined with Coconuts.  Coconuts flower and fruit year round.  All around the world the Coconut is used for a vast variety of purposes from ropes, mats, construction, oils and of course Coconut milk and flesh for drinking and eating.

Coconut Palm

The low growing palm with the beautiful spread of matt blue leaves is the Bismarck Palm, (Bismarckia nobilis).  It is one of the non-native palms in the gardens and has its origins in Madagascar.

Bismarck Palm

Another Madagascan palm in the grounds is the Traveler’s Palm, (Ravenala madagascariensis).  The huge fan-like spread of its leaves make an unmistakable impression on most people.  There is a story that they only grow with the fan aligned north to south to catch the maximum amount of sunlight but as can be seen from several individual plants placed around the grounds that is patentently not the case.

Travelers Palm

In front of the Bosque restaurant is a goliath of a palm, the Talipot Palm, (Corypha umbraculifera).  It is a native of Southern and Eastern India as well as Sri Lanka.  It is the sheer awesome size of this palm that immediately impresses visitors to the lodge.  Little wonder as these rank as some of the largest palms on the planet.

Talipot Palm

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 0.45 ins.  Total Weekly Rainfall 3.15 ins

Average Daily Rainfall 11.8 mm.  Total Weekly Rainfall 82.3 mm

Highest Daily Temp 84°F.  Lowest Daily Temp 74°F.

Highest Daily Temp 29.0°C.  Lowest Daily Temp 23.1°C.

Species List for the Week

Mammals

  • Mantled Howler Monkey
  • Spider Monkey
  • Squirrel Monkey
  • White-faced Capuchin Monkey
  • Common Opossum
  • Nine-banded Armadillo
  • Western Red Bat
  • Agouti
  • Alfaro’s Pygmy Squirrel
  • Paca
  • Underwood’s Pocket Gopher
  • Kinkajou
  • Northern Raccoon
  • White-nosed Coati
  • Ocelot
  • Puma
  • Collared Peccary
  • White-lipped Peccary

Birds

  • Crimson-fronted Parakeets
  • Mealy Amazon
  • Orange-chinned Parakeets
  • Red-lored Amazon
  • Scarlet Macaw
  • Grey-necked WoodRail
  • Great Curassow
  • Crested Caracara
  • Laughing Falcon
  • Pale-billed Woodpecker
  • Lineated Woodpecker
  • Black-hooded Antshrike
  • Chestnut-backed Antbird
  • Short-billed Pigeon
  • White-tipped Dove
  • Stripe-throated Hermit
  • Red-Capped Manakin
  • Crested Owl
  • Chestnut-mandibled Toucan
  • Golden-crowned Spadebill
  • Great Kiskadee
  • Great Tinamou
  • Black Vulture
  • Turkey Vulture

Reptiles

  • Barred Ameiva
  • Basilisk
  • Boa Constrictor
  • Brown Blunt-headed Snake
  • Cat-eyed Snake
  • Central American Coral Snake
  • Central America Smooth Gecko
  • Central American Whiptail
  • Clawless Gecko
  • Common Anolis
  • Four-lined Ameiva
  • Golfo Dulce Anolis
  • Pug-nosed Anolis
  • Terciopelo

Amphibians

  • Banana Frog
  • Black and Green Poison Arrow Frog
  • Golfo Dulce Poison Arrow Frog
  • Fitzinger’s Rain Frog
  • Gladiator Frog
  • Marine Toad
  • Masked Smilisca
  • Parachuting Red-eyed Green Tree Frog
  • Red-eyed Green Tree Frog
  • Rough-skinned Dirt Frog
  • Savage’s Thin-fingered Frog
  • Small-headed Frog
  • Tink Frog

Butterflies

  • Anartia Fatima
  • Anartia jatrophae
  • Colobura dirce
  • Dryas iulia
  • Eueides aliphera
  • Eueides lybia
  • Glutophrissa drusilla
  • Heliconius erato
  • Heliconius hecale
  • Hermeuptychia hermes
  • Morpho cypris
  • Morpho helenor
  • Morpho menelaus
  • Napaea eucharila
  • Pareuptychia ocirrhoe
  • Parides erithalion
  • Phoebis sennae
  • Pyrgus oileus

Plants

  • Alamandra  cathartica Flowering
  • Alpinia purpurata Flowering
  • Apeiba tibourbou Flowering
  • Arachis pintoi Flowering
  • Cascabella thevetia Flowering and Fruiting
  • Citrus spp  Fruiting
  • Clusia rosea Flowering
  • Cocos nucifera Flowering and Fruiting
  • Costus speciosus Flowering
  • Dypsis lutescens Flowering and Fruiting
  • Fius citrifolia Fruiting
  • Ficus insipida Fruiting
  • 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
  • Musa acuminata Flowering and Fruiting
  • Plumeria rubra Flowering
  • Zammia sp Flowering

 

 

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