Not Mush Room in a Rotting Forest   Leave a comment


Felipe del Bosque Blog September 2nd 2013

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Light and Dark and Wet and Dry

The week started sunny with showers.  The showers tended to be convection storms brought about by the hot days resulting in a heavy downpour late in the afternoon or early evening.  These storms continued throughout the week which gave ample opportunity during the morning and afternoon times for wildlife viewing and photography.

A.W.O.L

There were no cats walking the trails this week, at least none that walked through the trail cameras.  The usual daily fayre of Collared Peccaries, (Tayassu tajacu), White-nosed Coatis, (Nasua narica), Nine-banded Armadillos, (Dasypus novemcinctus), and Agoutis, (Dasyprocta punctata), made their appearances.  Strangely no Pacas, (Agouti paca), this week but we did have a Tamandua, (Tamandua mexicana), and a Stripe Hog-nosed Skunk, (Conepatus semistriatus), show up.

Nine-banded Armadillo         M2E30L77-77R395B297         Agouti

There was an Ocelot spotted on the Creek Trail and two Pumas have been seen sitting beneath the water tank in the open garden area by the Titi Trail.  Otherwise it was business as normal, monkeys, toucans macaws and parrots everywhere.

Activity around the pond is still reasonably high.  There was a medium sized Terciopelo, (Bothrops asper), which had envenomated and killed a fully grown male Savage’s Thin-fingered Frog one night.  It took about 35 minutes for it to fully consume its meal.

Sunrise/Sunset

Currently there is a Grey-necked WoodRail, (Aramides cajanea), building her nest under a bush very close to my cabin.  I am not sure if it was a female and as they appear to be monogamous, both sexes taking turns at incubation and raising the chicks then it could have been one of either sex.  At the start of the week I would be awoken over several mornings by something pulling at the fallen, dying and dead vegetation on the ground.  I watched as she carried the material to a dark sheltered area under the bush.  Whenever I made an appearance she would make herself scarce.  Towards the end of the week she must have thought better of her selected nesting site as she disappeared and did not seem to have finished constructing the nest.

A group of Great Curassows, (Crax rubra), have take up residence by my cabin too.  At dusk as the sun sets several males and a harem of females make their final foraging rounds for the evening.  They then take to the air with heavy and labored wing beats alighting on branches to roost in the trees for night.

At the same time as the curassows make their final rounds, the plaintive call of the Great Tinamou, (Tinamus major), drifts from the forest and hangs in the early evening air like taps played by a lonesome bugler.  A male Howler Monkey, (Allouata palliata), calls, his deep guttural howls signaling the end of the day shift and the commencement of the nocturnal night life.  Even before he has finished the first of the male frogs begin to call.  Each species has its own unique song, a serenade to attract a female partner to his whereabouts.  Not always melodious to our ears, all those various tinks, toks, eeks and chirps are music to a female of the same species heavy with eggs.  She will select her partner on the quality of his call, makes her way to wherever he may have positioned himself and a night or two of spawning commences.

A pair of Scarlet Macaws, (Ara macao) fly overhead, their screeches announcing their end of day as they return to the roosting sites after a day of feeding on Tropical Almonds down on the Golfo Dulce beaches.  The Red-lored Amazons, (Amazona autumnalis), are loath to leave their feeding sites.  At this moment lots of unripe Hog Plums, green and hard are providing a veritable feast. But go they must and they depart in flocks of high pitched squawking faintly visible shapes silhouetted against the rapidly darkening sky.

Come the morning and the whole process repeats itself more or less in reverse.  The frogs calls have all but stopped.  If the morning is damp and wet, the rain persisting however so lightly and the moisture hanging as mist so reducing the trees to vaguely discernible dark and looming shapes, then the Tink Frog, (Diasporus diastema), males may persevere.  Sometime before it starts to get light reveille begins, the male Howler Monkeys take up where they left off the night before only this time announcing to any other Howler Monkey troops in the area as to which location they are starting the day.  One of the earliest birds to start up the avian cacophony is the Bright-rumped Atilla, (Atilla spadiceus).  These will soon be joined by the parrots and macaws.  Just as the sun is raising its head above the horizon a multitude of birds join the chorus: Chestnut-backed Antbirds, (Myrmeciza exul), Black-hooded Antshrikes, (Thamnophilus bridgesi), and Short-billed Pigeons, (Patagioenus nigrirostris), numbering amongst them.

Rarely Marked in Metal

Last week we had a group of guys down looking for wildlife in general but for snakes in particular.  Snake hunting in these forests is not always a pastime that offers up great rewards.  I know from experience that you can turn over every rock and log in the forest and finish the day wholly unsatisfied with your finds.  As it turned out they did not go away without getting a few more species for their lists.  But Bosque being the amazing biodiverse repository of life that it is also provided a great many other opportunities for other forms of life so the cameras did not have to leave with empty memory cards by any means.

One lunch time in the restaurant a small and seemingly insignificant butterfly flew down and settled on some plants in the sun by the reception.  To most people this event would cause little if any distraction.  I knew I was seeing something that I had not seen before in 13 years of monitoring butterfly populations in the area.

Napaea eucharila

It was a Metalmark, (Family: Riodinidae), so distinctively marked with concentric semi-circles of black dots and dashes with an obvious red band running around the trailing edge of the upper hindwing.  I did not have my camera so I asked the snake guys who were having lunch to take some shots so as that I could make an identification if I did not get to my cabin and back with my camera before the butterfly left.  They duly obliged.  Thanks to Richard Cazares for the image.

It did not take long to identify the species as Napaea eucharila.  Sometimes when you think you have something so unique that it would pose no identification problems you will find the species you have resembles so many others.  This was not the case with this particular individual.

Most Napaea species are found in South America.  Napaea eucharila is found uncommonly and very locally in primary and secondary forest on both the Atlantic and Pacific slopes of Costa Rica.  The caterpillars eat bromeliad and orchid leaves.  Preserved in Central American amber have been found preserved species of butterfly that remarkably resemble Napaea yet they date back to 25 million years ago.

There is one butterfly that has been recorded very rarely in Costa Rica, (the Atlantic slope), and only once on the Osa Penisula that I have seen on several occasions.  With the number of species of butterflies, (lots), compared to the number of people recording them, (few), then it comes as no surprise that several may have slipped through the recorders net.  Some time ago I found a dead specimen on one of the trails and kept a wing that was in good condition to photograph at a later date.  I had put the wing to one side and subsequently forgot about it until I saw the butterfly above.  The butterfly for which I have the wing is Baeotus baeotus.  I have only seen it now a number of times but always at the tops of the trees, another reason as to why it may have been overlooked.

Baeotus baeotus_FDB_6283 copy

Baeotus baeotus_FDB_6284 copy

Rough Luck

The warm damp conditions prevalent in the tropics are conducive to the fungi producing fruiting bodies all year round.  A common observation of the first time visitor is “where are all  the fungi?”  Unlike higher latitudes where there tends to be an explosion of color, form and variety of fungi in the autumn here the familiar shapes of mushrooms and toadstools are produced 12 months of the year.  It is a case of little and often rather than all at once. Not all fungal fruiting bodies have shapes that are familiar, some of them are very obscure and almost alien in form.

Nonetheless it is the wet season and we have the opportunity of seeing various mushrooms around the grounds.  This one with the more usual domed cap appeared one morning at the base of one of the Hobo trees.  Many trees have a relationship with a very specific species of fungi.  The trees roots and the fungal threads are intimately intertwined in what is known as a mycorrhiza.  The tree roots are not as efficient of extracting certain minerals from the ground.  The fungi are and they help pass these nutrients into the tree roots.  The fungi are non-photosythesizers and so in return the tree roots pass sugars produced in their leaves to the fungal hyphae.

As with many other forms of life in the tropics, fungi identification is not as easy as you would wish.  There is not a great deal of reference material to help you identify which species you are looking at.  With this species all I can say is that it is one of the typical gill mushrooms of the Order: Agaricales.

Agaricales sp

Two years ago a huge Milky Tree, (Brosimum utile), fell across the path between the restaurant and the tropical garden.  Over the past 24 months the tree has been decomposed by termites, bacteria, larvae of wood-boring beetles and most noticeably by fungi.  Throughout the year a whole variety of different species manifest themselves as exotic-looking mushrooms and toadstools emerging as if by magic from the structure of the tree.  Little remains of the solid structure of the trunk now, you can grab a handful of soft squishy mulch.  Before too long there will be nothing left to look at.  The tree will have been turned to nutrients which momentarily enter the soil before being cycled back up and re-constituted as the structure of yet another plant or animal.  At the moment there are several different species fruiting profusely on the well rotted trunk.  One species growing and fruiting in profusion at the present time is a pale bracket-type of fungus which may be Hexagonia tenuis.  It is a common and widespread fungus being found in the tropics of both Central America and Africa.

Log

Agaricales_sp_FDB_6211 copy

Hexagonia tenuis

On another rotting tree trunk there was a multitude of white fungal brackets of the decomposer Polyporus tenuiculus growing.  Around them were hundreds of fungus gnats which lay there eggs in the fruiting bodies.  The larvae hatch and eat the mushrooms.  One reason why you should always collect your mushrooms from the wild when they are fresh and then cook them as soon as possible.

Polyporus tenuiculus

Not too far away there were two more fungal growths that at first people would hesitate to call mushrooms.  One has a long spindly woody looking stem that looks more like a stick pushed into the soil rather than anything else.  On top the fruiting cap itself appears to be a small carved wooden button.  This is the oddly named Humphreya coffeatum.  They can be found growing on tree roots and buried wood.  This was rather a small individual, the cap can become much larger as they mature.

Humphreya coffeatum

Growing more closely to the ground in clusters that resemble a gelatinous loosely packed cauliflower head was a clustered fungi that I have known as the Cauliflower Fungus in other parts of the world.  As to whether it is the same species or not I cannot tell.  Nor can I find any reference to it despite the fact it seems to prosper quite well in this area.  Another small plate-like bracket fungus was also growing out from some dead wood on the ground.  It is probably a very young specimen of Hexagonia papyracea

Sparassis sp

Hexagonia papyracea

Philip is a biologist, writer and photographer at Bosque del Cabo Rainforest lodge on the Osa Peninsula, Costa Rica.

www.bosquedelcabo.com

Photo Feature

Colorful Little Shiny Spines

The gardens and forests of Bosque del Cabo provide a happy hunting ground for naturalists who may or may not have a specialist interest in any group of plants or animals.  Over the past few weeks I have featured some of the common species of spider to be found at the lodge.  The spiders range in size from miniscule to huge and they can be found everywhere without too much effort.

Of the big spiders, the tarantulas would rank as the largest you might see.  But we don’t see tarantulas that often, occasionally in holes in the banks by the road.  Next in size would be the nocturnal wandering spiders which are normally found on the top of leaves or the wolf spiders which are found on the ground.  The two common orb-weavers, the Golden-orb Spider and the Silver-orb Spider are of a large enough size to be obvious where they exist which is everywhere around the grounds.  Then there is a plethora of smaller spiders which may evade initial detection but once you start to look you will find them.

The Spiny-bodied Spiders might be small but what they lack in size they most certainly make up for in intricate design.  Take a hand lens or frame the spider full in your camera and you will see an amazing amount of detail.  With the naked eye they stand out due to the arrow-shaped body being colored bright yellow contrasting with a black background.  This combination is highly visible.  As you might expect the spider may not be attracting attention to itself inviting predators to prey upon it.  This is warning coloration also known as aposomatic coloration.  Any bird naive enough to ignore those colors and try to eat what would otherwise appear to be a tasty morsel, will come to grief as the spines on the spiders body lodge it in the bird’s bill.  Despite its best efforts the extract it, the bird initially cannot.  As it remains stuck the spider is issuing from its body a noxious, foul tasting secretion.  The bird when it finally does rid itself of the vilest tasting food it has tried will then forever associate black and yellow with the woeful experience and will never consume anything sporting those colors again.

Micrathena breviceps

Spiny-bodied Spider         Micrathena breviceps         Micrathena sagittata

Arrow-bodied Spider

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 0.36 ins.  Total Weekly Rainfall 2.52 ins

Average Daily Rainfall 9.1 mm.  Total Weekly Rainfall 64.0 mm

Highest Daily Temp 86°F.  Lowest Daily Temp 73°F.

Highest Daily Temp 29.8°C.  Lowest Daily Temp 23.1°C.

Species List for the Week

Mammals

  • Mantled Howler Monkey
  • Spider Monkey
  • White-faced Capuchin Monkey
  • Nine-banded Armadillo
  • Tamandua
  • Three-toed Sloth
  • Common Tent-making Bat
  • Western Red Bat
  • Agouti
  • Alfaro’s Pygmy Squirrel
  • Red-tailed Squirrel
  • Underwood’s Pocket Gopher
  • White-nosed Coati
  • Striped Hog-nosed Skunk
  • Ocelot
  • Collared Peccary
  • Humpback Whales

Birds

  • Crimson-fronted Parakeets
  • Mealy Amazon
  • Red-lored Amazon
  • Scarlet Macaw
  • Grey-necked WoodRail
  • Great Curassow
  • Laughing Falcon
  • Roadside Hawk
  • Lineated Woodpecker
  • Pale-billed Woodpecker
  • Streak-headed Woodcreeper
  • Wedge-billed Woodcreeper
  • Black-hooded Antshrike
  • Chestnut-backed Antbird
  • Short-billed Pigeon
  • White-tipped Dove
  • Long-billed Hermit
  • Stripe-throated Hermit
  • Blue-crowned Manakin
  • Red-Capped Manakin
  • Spectacled Owl
  • Chestnut-mandibled Toucan
  • Fiery-billed Aracari
  • Buff-rumped Warbler
  • Bright-rumped Atilla
  • Golden-crowned Spadebill
  • Great Kiskadee
  • Great Tinamou
  • Black Vulture
  • Turkey Vulture

Reptiles

  • Basilisk
  • Barred Ameiva
  • Boa Constrictor
  • Cat-eyed Snake
  • Central America Smooth Gecko
  • Central American Whiptail
  • Clawless Gecko
  • Common Anolis
  • Four-lined Ameiva
  • Golfo Dulce Anolis
  • Litter Skink
  • Litter Snake
  • Mediterranean House Gecko
  • Terciopelo

Amphibians

  • Banana Frog
  • Black and Green Poison Arrow Frog
  • Fitzinger’s Rain Frog
  • Gladiator Frog
  • Golfo Dulce Poison Arrow Frog
  • Marine Toad
  • Milky Frog
  • Parachuting Red-eyed Green Tree Frog
  • Red-eyed Green Tree Frog
  • Savage’s Thin-fingered Frog
  • Tink Frog

Butterflies

  • Anartia Fatima
  • Anartia jatrophae
  • Archaeoprepona demophon
  • Calycopis isobeon
  • Caligo atreus
  • Caligo eurilochus
  • Citheria pireta
  • Colobura dirce
  • Dione juno
  • Dryas iulia
  • Eueides lybia
  • Eueides procula
  • Glutophrissa drusilla
  • Heliconius erato
  • Heliconius hecale
  • Heliconius sapo
  • Hermeuptychia hermes
  • Metacharis victix
  • Morpho menelaus
  • Phoebis argante
  • Phoebis sennae
  • Pierella helvina
  • Pierella luna
  • Pyrgus oileus
  • Urbanus simplicius

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
  • Cresentia alata Flowering and Fruitin
  • Dypsis lutescens Flowering and Fruiting
  • Fius citrifolia Fruiting
  • Ficus insipida Fruiting
  • Guaterria amplifolia 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
  • Heisteria acuminata Flowering
  • Ixora coccinea Flowering
  • Lantana camara Flowering and Flowering
  • Musa acuminata Flowering and Fruiting
  • Plumeria rubra Flowering
  • Psychotria sp Fruiting
  • Spondias mombin Fruiting
  • Symphonia globulifera Fruiting
  • Zammia sp Flowering

 

 

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