Archive for the ‘Bosque del Cabo’ Tag

Sun and Moon, Bananas and Lichen.   2 comments


Philip Davison. Costa Rica. Blog. Nature Diaries

Sunny September

The clement weather conditions are continuing to prevail.  The rain we are receiving is most certainly intense but by no means prolonged.  If there is one day of rain it is being followed by two days of sun.  This time of year there are very few visitors.  September and October are not big holiday periods.  For anyone who does want to visit Costa Rica at this time of year you can certainly avoid the crowds but you also run the risk of being confined to your cabin unless you want to suffer a constant soaking.  For those of us who do live here then the quiet time and unseasonably dry and sunny conditions give us time to go and explore a little more or in my case catch up with the writing.

I’m Lichen That

One night when I was out doing my nightly frog counts I came across one of the Anolis lizards that I see more often up in the canopy, a Lichen Anole, (Anolis pentaprion).  This individual was sleeping but when I turned the lights on to video the creature in its state of slumber the instant change from night to apparent day woke it.  Not only did the lizard stir but the increase in light levels drew in some of the insects including one of the few species of night-flying wasps, Apoica pallida.  It landed near the lizard’s head so presenting itself as an easy meal the advantage of which it was not going to refuse despite having only just being disturbed from its sleep.  With a quick snap of the jaws the wasp was caught, chewed up and down the body and then swallowed.  The Anolis then soporifically walked up the small branch on which it was clinging, climbed atop a leaf into a darker location than it was now finding itself, closed its eyes and went back to sleep.

Anolis lizards are a very diverse genus with many closely related genera belonging to the family: Polychrotidae.  There are well over 200 species of Anolis and each species quite often is divided into a number of subspecies.  Anolis lizards are similar to geckos in that they have an anatomically specialized structure to the toes, (lamellae), that allow then to climb with ease including smooth vertical walls and even panes of glass.  Anolis lizards are generally small and unless you notice some movement as they jump through the vegetation then they can easily be overlooked.  In terms of ecology smaller species inhabit the lower levels of the forest and conversely larger species the higher levels.

Anolis pentaprion

Lichen Anole

Although the family is species rich, it is not always easy to identify the individuals to species level.  One factor that does help is the males have a loose flap of skin under the chin called a dewlap.  Thankfully each species has a different color dewlap, particularly pronounced in this area.  The loose skin is attached to a rod of cartilage fixed at the jaw over which the lizard has muscular control.  The lowering of the cartilage extends the skin revealing the brightly colored flag which is in stark contrast to the more usual body color and it is used to intimidate and scare rival males from the territory or used to court females.  Certainly if you see that bright flash of color appear as if from nowhere then there will be a second individual you may not be so aware of but it will be somewhere close by in the vicinity.  The dewlap of the Lichen Anole is a deep purple edged with magenta and is not as large as in some other species.  Most females do not possess a dewlap and because there is a strong sexual dimorphism can prove a little more difficult to identify.  Here on the Osa Peninsula there are only seven species of Anole and they are all fairly distinct in appearance both male and females.

Many Moons

There are two particular species that seem to have reacted to this year’s slightly abnormal weather conditions.  One is a butterfly and the other is a frog.  They have both been recorded in numbers in excess of those normally found.

The Luna Satyr, (Pierella luna), is a largish brown butterfly that is normally found throughout the year but for the most part as solitary individuals or in small groups.  It is found flying very close to the forest floor in the dark, dank, shady conditions beneath the forest canopy.  You will quite often only notice it when it momentarily passes by your feet, wings beating slowly, as it moves from one side of the path to the other.  It will disappear under the vegetation and when it settles the muted grays and browns of its now still wings blend it immediately into the background.  It prefers the denser aspect of secondary forest as opposed to the more open situation beneath primary forest.  This may have something to do with the distribution of its larval host plant, species in the family: Heliconiaceae, many of which can be found in secondary forest habitat.

This year when walking along trails through secondary forest Luna Satyr could be found in huge numbers much larger than experienced before.  I am not sure what triggered the population explosion but the adults have not been hard to find, sometimes in groups numbering ten or more.  The slightest disturbance caused by your footfall will have them momentarily take to the air before quickly alighting once more on the ground.

Pierella luna

Luna Satyr

A Big Bunch

The Banana Frog, (Dendropsophus ebreccatus), is one of those small tree frogs that you can more or less guarantee you will see if you go to the pond at night.  They are ever present throughout the year.  At the height of the amphibian breeding season which starts when the rains arrive in April, gets into full swing in May and draws to a close by the end of August, the Banana Frog males can be both seen and heard in reasonably large numbers every night.  Those numbers reduce outside of the breeding season to the point where during the dry season it might only be one forlorn male out calling but there will always be one.

The males emerge as the sun slowly sinks beneath the western horizon.  They set up their territories on the Water Lettuce or Water Hyacinth and call vigorously with a protracted “Eeeack”.  The larger egg bearing females emerge a little later, select a male on the quality of his call, makes her way over to the male of choice, they pair up and later she lays a sheet of small jelly coated eggs on the surface of a leaf which the male fertilizes.  The eggs develop here for 7 or 8 days, the tadpoles wriggle free and slip below the surface of the water from where they will emerge about 8 weeks later as small froglets.

Whereas this time of year when all the other frog species have either disappeared from the breeding pond or are present in only small numbers, the Banana Frog has seen a surge in numbers.  There are presently in the region of 20 calling males every evening.  It could well be that they are taking advantage of the lack of competition from other species, although there are not too many other species that do use the Water lettuce, (Pistia stratiote), and Water Hyacinth, (Eichhornia crassipes).  The tadpoles of other frogs do have to compete for space and food once they have entered the water, some of which may be larger and/or more voracious than D. ebreccatus tadpoles.  It may simply be the fact that there is still a lot of rain which is perfect for the eggs but that is the norm every year.  Whatever the reason if you could down to the pond at the minute after sunset you will be greeted by a vociferous chorus of amorous Banana Frogs.

Dendropsophus ebreccatus

Banana Frog

Seeing You Walk for the First Time

Last week I happened across an insect that has proved to be somewhat difficult to identify.  What initially caught my eye were the colors, most strikingly the bright yellow.  The head was small but the body was long and soft.  The wings too were brightly colored but in green.  My first thoughts were that it was some kind of Phasmid or Walking Stick, more precisely a winged walking stick.  It did not seem to be disturbed when I moved it from the bare white stucco wall where its colors were making it rather conspicuous to some nearby vegetation where it was less obvious.  Not moving is part of a Phasmids game plan though.  I took some photos and headed off to my reference library.

Phasmid

Winged Walking Stick

As with most insects that I see for the first time after 16 years of living here I just know the identification is going to be difficult.  Insects are so prohibitively numerous in number of species, especially tropical insects.  The reference material available is limited and by no means exhaustive.  So after some searching I was not really any further forward than still being confident it was a winged phasmid.  Time to scour that great resource the internet.  Scrutinizing photo after photo all I could conclude that it was a winged phasmid but there was nothing I could see that looked remotely like this individual.  So if there are any phasmid experts that may be reading this and could enlighten me as to a genus or species I would love to hear from you.

Phasmid

Winged Walking Stick

Philip Davison is a biologist, writer and photographer based in Costa Rica.

 

Advertisements

Prickly Dance in Color   6 comments


Felipe del Bosque Blog December 16th 2013

Felipe-del-Bosque

Summertime

There is no longer any doubt about the fact that we are in the dry season.  We are now receiving very little rain if any at all.  It won’t be long before the dry conditions stimulate the trees into flowering.  Some of the December blooms are already starting to appear.  The distinctive yellow blossoms of the Ajo Tree, (Caryocar costaricense), are beginning to fall and cover the forest paths in various areas.  Once the Ajo trees are flowering en masse, the scent of  garlic from which they derive their name can be smelled everywhere in the forest.

Towards the end of last week more and more clouds started to gather on the horizon until one morning the sun was blotted out and the rain fell continuously till lunchtime.  The afternoon remained very dark and gloomy.  In total the amount falling didn’t amount to much but it did serve to dampen anyone out walking in it.

Prickly Pig

The female White-lipped Peccary, (Tayassu pecari), still comes around every day in front of the restaurant, generally at breakfast and lunchtimes, to feed on the fallen palm fruits.  The much larger male has wandered further afield and I have been seeing him around the area at the entrance of the Zapatero Trail.

The Titi Trail is still alive with Collared Peccary, (Tayassu tajacu), activity.  There is a large herd that can be easily seen when walking the trail.  They are no longer inclined to move too far from the path when approached.  They don’t seem to mind human presence if they can see you coming.  If they are startled then they grunt, crack their teeth and trot off into the low growing vegetation.

All the usual mammals are around the grounds but this week on the Titi Trail the cameras caught on video a Tome’s Spiny Rat, (Proechimys semispinosus).  The spiny rats are caviomorph rodents in the Family: Echimyidae and are therefore more closely related to the agoutis and pacas than to the mice and rats most visitors are familiar with, (Family: Muridae).

Tome's-Spiny-Rat

The spines that give the rat its name lie flat in amongst the fur.  Tome’s Spiny Rats also have the ability to break the tail should that be the part of the body the predator grabs.  The tail does not regenerate so more often than not spiny rats are seen with short tails or none at all.

Blurring the Lines

While out last week conducting the butterfly counts my attention was captured by some movement in amongst the vegetation of a low growing shrub.  With closer scrutiny I could see a small bird, obviously a female, hopping between the branches and plucking the snow white fruits of one of the Psychotria sp one after the other, mashing them up in her bill and swallowing the pulp.  This was the drab green female Red-capped Manakin, (Ceratopipra mentalis).  Within a few seconds she was joined by a male who ostentatiously overcompensates for his plain partner.  The male is a small jet black bird with a bright red head and fluorescent yellow legs.  It is not easy to ignore his presence.

Red-capped-Manakin         Red-capped-Manakin         Red-capped-Manakin

The manakins in general are fruit-eating birds.  Normally in terms of sexual selection with birds the female with select which male she is going to mate with depending upon the quality and quantity of food a male presents to her during the courtship period so that she can see how good of a provider he is going to be.  Being fruit-eaters if the male were to present fruit to the female she would not be particularly impressed as she is surrounded by the stuff and so it is not so hard to find.

To show off the quality of their genetic viability the male manakins, like a lot of fruit-eating birds around the world, have evolved very flamboyant plumages and very elaborate dances.  They all gather together in a lek.  Each male sets up his own dance platform.  The females sit on the ground and watch the performance.  The dance of the mle Re-capped Manakin takes place on the horizontal branch coming from the side of a trunk.  His like a tiny Michael Jackson on amphetamine sulphate moonwalking at double quick speed.  He moves very quickly backwards along the branch and then stops and throws in a little bit of Flamenco.  He raises his wings which causes a loud repeated clacking sound.  The females watching this display choose the male with the best dance moves.  They give him the nod, he jumps down mates with her and then continues to dance.

Sometimes when you are walking through the forest you will see a male manakin dancing on his own.  There is no lek, there are no females.  It is the young ones practicing their moves because if he doesn’t get the steps right he won’t score with the girls.

Sun Dancers

The clouds of Green Urania moths, (Urania fulgens) that have been prevalent over the past month have now dwindled in number.  You can still see and odd one or two which take to the air when approached, flutter around and then alight once more on a sunlit leaf.

On the sunniest of days the butterflies can be seen flying on whichever trail you are walking.  Most of the butterflies are found at the top of the canopy.  At the forest edge, essentially that area where the canopy descends to the ground, the is the opportunity to see those species that would otherwise only be seen 100 feet above your head.  There are also patches of plants around the gardens that provide an attractive supply of nectar for the butterflies.  It is not uncommon to see many individuals of many species of many families feeding from the bright orange and yellow flowers of the Lantana, (Lantana camara).  Here you will find the gaudy primary colors of the Longwings which are so visibly obvious mixed with the more subtly colored satyrs and the occasional hairstreak.  But the dry season has only just started.  By the time we get to February there will be so many butterflies to dazzle the visitors with not only a visible treat but a stunning wealth of diversity.

Anartia-fatima         Dryas-iulia         Corticea-corticea

Heliconius-erato         Marpesia-berania         Dione-juno

Pareuptychia-ocirrhoe         Marpesia-berania         Vehilius-stictomenes

True Colors

As I mentioned above many of the trees will be starting to flower soon.  Some of them already have.  There are a lot of plants around the grounds that flower year round, for this reason they are used as decorative ornamentals.  Not all of the plants in the grounds are native to Costa Rica, the gardens boast a variety of exotics from all corners of the tropical world.  Within both the native and non-native species there has been a great deal of selective breeding going on to produce hybrids that have more colorful and showy blooms than their natural counterparts.  Some of them have been manipulated to produce strangely shaped vegetative or flowering parts.

The Canna Lily, (Canna spp), is found in the flower beds bordering some of the paths in the tropical garden.  This is one of those ubiquitous hybrids found growing in gardens the length and breadth of  Costa Rica.  Its fancy flower with brown speckled yellow petals provides year round color to any flower border.

Canna-Lily

At the bottom of the tropical garden, in the vicinity of the pond there is currently a riot of red.  The Poro tree, (Erythrina lanceolata), is currently in full bloom.  The very distinctive clusters of shocking red scimitar-shaped flowers are held at the tip of the long slender branches.  Once the blooms have been pollinated then long reddish tinged pendulous pods housing the beans are produced.  The Poro trees are currently bearing both flowers and beans.  If you want to see hummingbirds this would be the place to go as there are a variety of species visiting the flowers.

Poro

Erythrina-lanceolata

Sometimes the fruit of a tree can be just as diagnostic as its flowers.  As many of the trees bloom at the top of the canopy it is not always easy to see the flowers.  There a several nutmeg producing trees in the forests of Bosque del Cabo.  They don’t have the same aroma or flavor of the Indonesian nutmegs, (Myristica fragrans) which we use it our kitchens but they do belong to the same family: Myrisicaceae.  The nutmegs of Bosque all belong to the genus: Virola.  There are lots of Virola species and each has one has a slightly different looking fruit.  The one that has been fruiting recently is Virola sebifera.  This produces clusters of green fruits which when they ripen then split apart to reveal the seed, the nutmeg.  This is surrounded by a bright red membrane called the aril.

Birds have acute color vision and the bright red color of the aril attracts the attention of fruit-eating birds like the Chestnut-mandibled Toucan, (Ramphastos swainsonii).  The aril is very tasty and very nutritious.  Once the toucan has digested the aril it is left with a gut full of big heavy nutmegs which is not conducive to flight so they regurgitate them hence dispersing the seeds.

Virola-sebifera

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

www.bosquedelcabo.com

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 0.03 ins.  Total Weekly Rainfall 0.19 ins

Average Daily Rainfall 0.69 mm.  Total Weekly Rainfall 4.85 mm

Highest Daily Temp 88°F.  Lowest Daily Temp 75°F.

Highest Daily Temp 31.2°C.  Lowest Daily Temp 25.1°C.

Species List for the Week

Mammals

  • Mantled Howler Monkey
  • Spider Monkey
  • White-faced Capuchin Monkeys
  • Greater White-lined Bat
  • Tent-making Bat
  • Nine-banded Armadillo
  • Agouti
  • Tome’s Spiny Rat
  • White-nosed Coati
  • Collared Peccary
  • White-lipped Peccary

Birds

  • Red-lored Amazon
  • Scarlet Macaw
  • Crested Guan
  • Great Curassow
  • Crested Caracara
  • Laughing Falcon
  • Yellow-headed Caracara
  • Pale-billed Woodpecker
  • Northern Barred Woodcreeper
  • Black-hooded Antshrike
  • Chestnut-backed Antbird
  • Rufus Piha
  • Short-billed Pigeon
  • White-tipped Dove
  • Long-billed Hermit
  • Rufus-tailed Hummingbird
  • Stripe-throated Hermit
  • Blue-crowned Manakin
  • Red-capped Manakin
  • Chestnut-mandibled Toucan
  • Grey-headed Tanager
  • Summer Tanager
  • Bright-rumped Atilla
  • Dusky-capped Flycatcher
  • Golden-crowned Spadebill
  • Great Kiskadee
  • Riverside Wren
  • Black-throated Trogon
  • Great Tinamou
  • Black Vulture
  • Turkey Vulture

Reptiles

  • Barred Ameiva
  • Basilisk
  • Cat-eyed Snake
  • Four-lined Ameiva
  • Golfo Dulce Anolis
  • Litter Skink
  • Mediterranean House Gecko
  • Terciopelo

Amphibians

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

Butterflies

  • Adelpha cytherea
  • Anartia fatima
  • Anartia jatrophae
  • Antirrhea philoctetes
  • Archeaoprepona demophon
  • Battus polydamus
  • Corticea corticea
  • Dryas iulia
  • Eurema albula
  • Eueides aliphera
  • Eueides lybia
  • Eurema albula
  • Glutophrissa drusilla
  • Heliconius erato
  • Heliconius hecale
  • Heliconius ismenius
  • Heliconius sapo
  • Heraclides cresphontes
  • Hermeuptychia hermes
  • Morpho helenor
  • Morpho menelaus
  • Pareuptychia ocirrhoe
  • Parides erithalion
  • Philaethria dido
  • Phoebis agarithe
  • Phoebis argante
  • Phoebis sennae
  • Pierella helvina
  • Pierella luna
  • Pyrisitia nise
  • Pyrgus oileus
  • Pyrrhogyra crameri
  • Siproeta stictomenes
  • Urbanus tanna
  • Vehilius stictomenes

Plants

  • Anthurium salvinii Flowering and Fruiting
  • Alpinia purpurata Flowering
  • Allamandra cathartica Flowering
  • Apeiba tibourbou Flowering
  • Aphelandra golfodulcensis Flowering
  • Arachis pintoi Flowering
  • Aristolochia gaudoti Flowering
  • Arundina graminifolia Flowering
  • Attalea rostrata Fruiting
  • Baltimora recta Flowering
  • Brownea macrophylla Flowering
  • Brunfelsia grandiflora Flowering
  • Calathea marantafolia Flowering and Fruiting
  • Cananga odorata Flowering
  • Canna x generalis Flowering
  • Cascabella thevetia Flowering and Fruiting
  • Chrysobalanus icaco Flowering and Fruiting
  • Citrus spp Flowering and Fruiting
  • Clusia rosea Flowering and Fruiting
  • Clusia vallerii Flowering
  • Cocos nucifera Flowering and Fruiting
  • Costus osae Flowering
  • Costus speciosus Flowering
  • Couroupita guianensis Flowering
  • Cresentia alata Flowering and Fruiting
  • Crotolaria retusa Flowering and Fruiting
  • Emilia fosbergii Flowering and Fruiting
  • Etlingera elatior Flowering
  • Ficus citrifolia Fruiting
  • Ficus insipida Fruiting
  • Guatteria amplifolia Flowering
  • Hedychium coronarium Flowering
  • Heliconia chartacea Flowering
  • Heliconius clinophylla Flowering and Fruiting
  • Heliconia latispatha Flowering
  • Heliconia longiflora Flowering
  • Heliconia pogonantha Flowering
  • Heliconia psittacorum Flowering
  • Heliconia rostrata Flowering
  • Hibiscus rosa-sinensis Flowering
  • Hymenaea coubaril Fruiting
  • Ixora coccinea Flowering
  • Lantana camara Flowering and Flowering
  • Mimosa pudica Flowering
  • Morinda citrifolia Flowering and Fruiting
  • Musa acuminata Flowering and Fruiting
  • Pandanus sp Fruiting
  • Pleiostachya pruinosa Flowering
  • Plumeria rubra Flowering
  • Rhynchospora nervosa Flowering
  • Solanum aturense Flowering
  • Stachytarpheta sp Flowering
  • Thunbergia erecta Flowering
  • Tocoyena pittieri Fruiting
  • Virola guatemalensis Fruiting
  • Virola sebifera Fruiting
  • Zingiber spectabile Flowering

 

 

Deadly Nectar   2 comments


Felipe del Bosque Blog August 12th 2013

title copy

Beach Weather

Weatherwise the past week has been one of sunshine and showers.  The week started wet but as we progressed through the days then the sun became more and more of a feature until finally over the weekend the days were warm and cloudless.  We even managed a few nights without rain. The rain that did fall was not too heavy, just enough to keep things moist and help maintain a flow of water in the creek.

Building Blocks

Over recent years there has been a downturn in the fortunes of the White-nosed Coatis, (Nassua narica).  Their numbers fell precipitously and for a period of several years the individuals that were seen appeared to suffering some sort of disease.  Their fur was sparse and mangy-looking and their demeanor seemed lethargic and lacking their normal inquisitive vitality.  Last year the males, which are solitary, (the name of a single male coati is Coati Mundi), were back sniffing around the grounds in search of whatever they could find.  This year the grounds have been home to roaming bands of gregarious females with a plethora of young in attendance.  It would seem that whatever malady had apparently been affecting them seems to have run its course and now people can see them with relative ease on most of the trails.  The Australian Screw Pines, (Pandanus sp), have been fruiting recently and it is not uncommon to see one the male White-nosed Coatis at the top of the plant ripping the exotic pinecone-looking fruit to pieces.

Screw Pine

Another animal whose numbers appear to be on the increase are the Collared Peccaries, (Tayassu tajacu).  They can be seen on any of the trails but the Titi Trail seems to be their preferred habitat.  Everyone walking the Titi Trail will invariably come into contact with the peccaries.  The Bosque Trail Camera Project has given us the opportunity of observe 24 hours/day, 7 days/week the animal movement at least on that one trail.  Each week when the camera memory is downloaded there is an air of anticipation and excitement as to what will have passed by over the previous week.  Inevitably it is the peccaries, coatis and the Agoutis, (Dasyprocta punctata), that take centre stage in regards to numbers and frequency with some lesser players in the weekly cycle of activity who taking up the supporting roles.

Bingo

We did get our first photo of a Puma, (Puma concolor), this week on the Titi Trail.  It will come as no surprise to regular readers of this blog that it looks like the resident and distinctive female “Half Tail” that walked through the cameras field of vision.  Unfortunately she did so in such a fashion that she triggered the camera as she was passing and so we are missing her head.  For reasons as yet unknown, wildcats have a predilection for the scent “Calvin Klein Obsession for Men”.  To that effect the lodge has purchased a bottle of said perfume to spray in front of the cameras with a view of holding the cats attention for long enough that we get some photos with her head on her shoulders.

M2E39L137-136R408B319         M2E39L137-137R408B319         M2E44L157-157R410B311

M2E1L0-0R350B300         M2E34L106-106R398B311         M2E1L0-0R350B300

M2E1L0-0R350B300         M2E45L35-35R350B300         M2E42L155-155R411B309

Yellow Peril

The rain combined with constant warmth has resulted in a lot of the fungi producing fruiting bodies, mushrooms and toadstools.  Some of the fungal fruiting bodies are so obscure that they resemble something more alien in form than most people are used to seeing  Many times people don’t even know it is a fungus they are looking at.  Then, of course, there are the more familiar parasol-shaped mushrooms that occur in all sizes and colors, many of which are diagnostic features in helping identify the specimen to species level.

Leucocoprinus bernbaunii.

Growing saprophytically on the rotting wood of dead trees it is not uncommon to see the bright yellow granular caps of Leucocoprinus birnbaunii.  It is found throughout tropical regions as well as growing in glasshouses in more temperate areas.  It is quite surprising how many fungi know few boundaries and have a global distribution.  Despite its resemblance to a marzipan cake decoration it is inedible and regarded by some authorities as deadly poisonous.  As with many fungi it is always best to look and not touch.

Leucocoprinus bernbaunii

Banana Song

The rains have continued to fall so the frogs have continued to call.  Last week I posted a photo of a Small-headed Frog, (Dendropsophus micracephalus).  Located in the same area amongst the Water Hyacinth and Water Lettuce as well as all around the back of the pond is almost identical looking Banana Frog, (Dendropsophus ebreccatus).  Morphologically the frogs can be distinguished with close scrutiny.  The Small-headed Frog has a line running along the uppersides of the body while the Banana Frog has a small yellow patch under the eye.  But it is when they are calling that the males can be readily discerned.  The Small-headed Frog has a high pitched “eek eek eek eek” call while the male Banana Frog is more of a longer “neeurk”.

Banana Frog

Both species utilize the same areas to lay their eggs on the upper leaf surfaces of plants floating on the water.  They are small flat masses of leaves numbering about 50 eggs.  The eggs develop until about a week, the egg mass liquidizes and the tadpoles wriggle off into the water to complete their developement.

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 

Crabby Behaviour

Sometimes you witness aberrant animal behavior that allow you to identify that something outside of the norm in happening.  I was passing the patch of Lantana camara near the Bosque pond one day and was idly watching the butterflies that had been summoned by the sun.  I noticed a butterfly that was resting on a flowerhead but at a strange angle and with no wing movement.  Most of the other butterflies were warmed by the solar radiation and were flitting from one flower to the next, stopping only briefly to imbibe some of the nectar.  This individual, a White-banded Fatima, (Anartia fatima), was not.  I knew fron experience what was likely to have happened and luckily had the camera with me so took a closer look.

Thomisidae sp

Sure enough my thoughts were confirmed, a beautiful Crab Spider was positioned at the top of the flower head, its chelicerae, (fangs), buried in the body of the butterfly which must have succumbed to the quick acting venom.  Crab-spiders are placed in the arachnid family: Thomisidae and they are ambush predators that also the masters of disguise.  This one had a body colored in a fashion to match exactly the flower in which it was lurking, bright yellow.  Butterfly vision allows them to see color and movement but they don’t readily determine image.  This unfortunate individual would not have know what hit it until too late.

Crab Spider

The Crab Spider unlike its butterfly prey which has large compound eyes has small simple eyes that only produce sharp vision up close but can discern movement from some distance away.  They don’t build webs but use a silken line to secure them to the blooming flower.  Female Crab Spiders can change their color to a certain degree to match them to the flower.  They sit and wait with large strong front legs outstretched until the prey alights then grab it, hold it tight and inject the venom. The liquefied juices of the prey are sucked out of the puncture wounds.  They attain their name of Crab Spider due to their uncanny ability to walk sideways.

Anartia fatima

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 0.38 ins.  Total Weekly Rainfall 2.63 ins

Average Daily Rainfall 10.4 mm.  Total Weekly Rainfall 82.8 mm

Highest Daily Temp 88°F.  Lowest Daily Temp 74°F.

Highest Daily Temp 31.1°C.  Lowest Daily Temp 23.2°C.

Species List for the Week

Mammals

  • Mantled Howler Monkey
  • Spider Monkey
  • Squirrel Monkey
  • White-faced Capuchin Monkey
  • Nine-banded Armadillo
  • Tamandua
  • Common Tent-making Bat
  • Western Red Bat
  • Northern Raccoon
  • White-nosed Coati
  • Agouti
  • Paca
  • Red-tailed Squirrel
  • Underwood’s Pocket Gopher
  • Collared Peccary
  • White-lipped Peccary

Birds

  • Mealy Amazon
  • Orange-chinned Parakeets
  • Red-lored Amazon
  • Scarlet Macaw
  • Gray-necked WoodRail
  • Great Curassow
  • Crested Caracara
  • Yellow-headed Caracara
  • Rufus Piha
  • Black-hooded Antshrike
  • Chestnut-backed Antbird
  • Short-billed Pigeon
  • Red-Capped Manakin
  • Chestnut-mandibled Toucan
  • Bright-rumped Atilla
  • Golden-crowned Spadebill
  • Great Kiskadee
  • Great Tinamou
  • Black-throated Trogon
  • Black Vulture
  • Turkey Vulture

Reptiles

  • Barred Ameiva
  • Cat-eyed Snake
  • Central American Smooth Gecko
  • Central American Whiptail
  • Common Anolis
  • Common Basilisk
  • Clawless Gecko
  • Four-lined Ameiva
  • Green Iguana
  • Golfo Dulce Anolis
  • Litter Skink
  • Mediterranean House Gecko
  • Mussarana
  • Pentaprion Anolis

Amphibians

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

Butterflies

  • Anartia Fatima
  • Anartia jatrophae
  • Colobura dirce
  • Dryas iulia
  • Glutophrissa drusilla
  • Heliconius erato
  • Heliconius hecale
  • Heliconius ismenius
  • Heliconius sapho
  • Hermeuptychia hermes
  • Mesosemia zonalis
  • Morpho cypris
  • Morpho helenor
  • Morpho menelaus
  • Parides erithalion
  • Phiaethria dido
  • Phoebis sennae

Plants

  • Alamandra  cathartica Flowering
  • Alpinia purpurata Flowering
  • Apeiba tibourbou Fruiting
  • Arachis pintoi Flowering
  • Arundina graminifolia Flowering
  • Attalea rostrata Fruiting
  • Bauhinia variegata Flowering
  • Brosimum utile Fruiting
  • Caryocar costaricense Flowering
  • Cascabella thevetia Flowering and Fruiting
  • Citrus spp  Fruiting
  • Clusia rosea Flowering and Fruiting
  • Clusia vallerii 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
  • 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
  • Inga spp Fruiting
  • Ixora coccinea Flowering
  • Lantana camara Flowering and Flowering
  • Lagerstroemia speciosa Fruiting
  • Morinda citrifolia Fruiting
  • Musa acuminate Flowering and Fruiting
  • Nephelium lappaceum Fruiting
  • Pachira quinata Flowering
  • Piper auritum Flowering and Fruiting
  • Piper nigrum Fruiting
  • Piper umbellatum Flowering and Fruiting
  • Pleiostachya pruinosa Flowering
  • Plumeria rubra Flowering
  • Psychotria sp Fruiting
  • Stachytarpheta frantzii Flowering
  • Zammia sp Flowering

 

 

The Trees Have Eyes   2 comments


Felipe del Bosque Blog August 5th 2013

title copy

Don’t Be Fooled

This week has been something of a mixed bag as far as the weather goes.  We are well into the wet season now and as might be expected it has been raining a lot.  The earlier part of the week was quite pleasant with clear skies, bright sunny days and star filled cloudless skies at night.  It seemed as if we had entered that period known locally as the veranillo or little summer.  At this time of year there is a two week period where the rain stops and it dries up.  It is nice time to visit the Pacific coast of Costa Rica as there are not so many visitors as in the main holiday periods, the weather is conducive to exploration and all the vegetation is lush and green.  If this was the veranillo then it was short-lived because the rain came back.  The latter part of the week has experienced the normal weather pattern for this time of year with days overcast and the rain starting early evening then continuing through the night into the early morning.   Those are perfect conditions for wildlife watching and photography, not too hot to go out and no bright contrasting shadows.

Further into the week the rain became more persistent.  Sometimes it rained all day but with no more than a gentle drizzle followed by more heavy precipitation overnight.  Each day is different.  Some days the sun shines, some it doesn’t but whatever the weather, this is a rainforest, everything is adapted to living in constantly rainy conditions and so at least some wildlife of one sort or another should be guaranteed.

The latter part of the week dispelled the notion that we might still be in the veranillo.  There have been some violent thunderstorms producing spectacular light shows in the sky accompanied with a moderate amount of rain.  The good news is that the creeks are running with a substantial flow rate now after a period of being very dry.

Caught In The Act

It has been another eventful week as far as animal sightings go.  On several separate occasions a Puma, (Puma concolor), and Ocelot, (Leopardus pardalis), have been recorded by the trail cameras that have been set up on the Titi Trail.  This is a trail running through secondary growth.  When the ground is wet, which it tends to be for 7 months of the year, you can see quite readily the tracks of any passing animals.  Most tracks are distinctive enough to allow identification of the creature leaving them.

One day tracks from huge male Puma were found on the approach to the suspension bridge.  The cat then appears to have walked over the bridge as the tracks were readily visible in the mud straight off the lodge side of the bridge and were heading in the direction of the restaurant.  The Spider Monkeys, (Ateles geoffroyi), were most certainly aware of the predators presence as they gave off their loud and distinctive alarm call for a long time.  The tracks then left the main trail and headed off through the forest to the lookout point over the Gulf.  Finally they turned and headed down the Creek Trail to the platform of the zip-line and disappeared into the forest.  We know that the female Puma is around so this may have been a transient male searching for a mate.

Puma Print

Bosque has recently started a project whereby the animals can be seen and photographed without anyone needing to be present.  We have set up 2 trail cameras near both the entrance and exit to the Titi Trail.  The cameras have been placed looking down the trail so that if anything is either walking towards or away from the camera we should get a good 30 seconds of footage.  The cameras are motion sensitive and detect infra red.  They use passive infra red LEDs to illuminate the subject without producing any visible light or flash.

Over the past month the cameras have produced some very good photos and video of what is around and also when it is around and what it is doing.  The surprising discovery is just how often the Collared Peccaries, (Tayassu tajacu), are walking the trails.  There seem to be large herds that come back and forth.  It would appear at first that they don’t have a large territory but it may well be there are several distinct herds and unless they are somehow marked in a fashion that would allow their identity to be easy verified then we shall just have to enjoy the sight of them walking by.

One of the cameras has a resident Agouti, (Dasyprocta punctata), that seems to come out and mark the trail every hour so we can expect to get to see an endless number of videos featuring that particular individual.  But he could be living a charmed existence.  We have viewed several videos featuring Ocelots, both day and night, and we know there is a female Puma in the area, she just hasn’t been captured on our cameras yet.  She has, however, featured in a cameo role on a trail camera put up not too far from our own by a young boy from England who was staying at the lodge last weekend.

There have been a number of other animals passing by in greater or lesser numbers: White-nosed Coatis, (Nassua narica), White-lipped Peccary, (Tayassu pecari), Tamanduas, (Tamandua mexicana), Nine-banded Armadillos, (Dasypus novemcinctus), Red-tailed Squirrels, (Sciurus granatensis), Tayras, (Eira barbara), Pacas, (Agouti paca), Common Opossum, (Didelphis marsupialis), Striped Hog-nosed Skunk, (Conepatus semistriatus),  Great  Curassow, (Crax rubra), Great Tinamou, (Tinamus major).  But let’s not forget that this is just the activity on the ground in the vicinity of the cameras, there is also a whole load of other activity going on up and above this level in the trees.

M2E38L130-130R407B315         M2E27L54-54R392B294         M2E28L68-68R393B303

M2E1L0-0R350B300         M2E45L47-47R350B300         M2E45L32-32R350B300

M2E45L32-32R350B300         M2E26L49-49R389B305         M2E1L0-0R350B300

Quadruple Vision

It doesn’t take long once the sun has set to go out and find a great many creatures that have been hiding during the day.  My nightly excursions to the pond this week have been rewarded with sightings of Northern Raccoons, (Procyon lotor), Common Opossums and Nine-banded Armadillos.  While looking at these nocturnal mammals your flashlight may catch the diamond sparkles being reflected from the grass, from the plants, from the tree trunks, everywhere in fact.  Follow the sparkles in and you will be amazed to find it is your light being reflected back at you from the eyes of spiders.  Not only might that revelation be somewhat astounding but also the size of the spiders themselves which may be tiny.  Depending upon the angle at which you catch it, the eyeshine may be silver, blue, green or orange but with the spiders always a sparkle.

Have a care though because not all of the spiders are tiny.  Once the sun sets below the horizon, emerging from safe daytime refuges come the Wandering Spiders, (Cupiennius spp) to set up their positions on the leaf tops or stems.  The Wandering Spiders don’t build webs, they are ambush predators.  They sit and wait.  The legs are covered  in hairs of differing types each of which performs a specific function.  There are tactile hairs which are stiff and are sensitive to touch.  A similar hair, the trichobothrium is super sensitive to the slightest touch as well as eddies in air currents.  There are chemosensory hairs that detect changes is the molecular environment around them.  There are slit-like structures called sensillae near the joints of the legs.  These detect vibration and mechanical movement of the substrate.

Cupiennius_sp

Even though the spider has eight eyes they are not necessarily used for hunting but all that other highly receptive sensory apparatus ensures the spider knows whether there is predator or prey close by.  If it is the latter then it is generally goodbye.  I have seen the Wandering Spiders jump and take moths from the air, I have seen then jump on any small passing invertebrate and I have even seen then eating the Red-eyed Green Tree Frogs, (Agalychnis callidryas), at the pond.

Wandering Spiders are not dangerous, they will not kill you but they will give a nasty little ulcerated bite.  And they can jump so don’t get too close.  But if you leave them alone they won’t bother you.

Small Head and bulging Red Eyes.

The rains always bring out the frogs.  June, July and August is the best time to see frogs at Bosque as it is the main breeding season for many of the species to be found on the grounds.  Year by year there is a flux not only in the species to be found but also in the numbers of those species.  The Red-eyed Green Tree Frogs are present all year, every year but in much greater numbers in the wet season when their distinctive “chuck chuck” calls can be heard everywhere around the pond.  Their egg masses can be seen throughout the year too hanging as they do from the underside of leaves overhanging the water where the diligent female has placed them.

Over the past week there have been male Red-eyed Green Tree Frogs calling from every level of vegetation immediately next to or in the close vicinity of the pond.  The males set up their territories once the sun has set and then call to attract a mate.  The female which is much bigger than the male selects a partner for the evening depending on the quality of his call, the deeper the better.  The frogs pair up and visit the pond about 3 times over the course of the evening.  Each time the female absorbs a lot of water through her skin, fills her bladder and then they amplected couple make their way to a leaf overhanging the water.  The female lays a group of about fifty eggs which the male sitting on her back fertilizes as she expels them.

Agalychnis_callidryas

The eggs hang over the water for about a week until the tadpoles have developed enough to wriggle free and drop into the water where they have to complete the aquatic stage before metamorphose into froglets which leave the water and disappear into the vegetation before emerging some time later as adults.

The Small-headed Frog, (Dendropsophus microcephala), on the other hand may or may not be present each year.  Sometimes there are just one or two calling over the course of a season, last year there were none.  This year on the other hand they have arrived in huge numbers.  I was never sure in the years gone by whether they were being outcompeted by the more commonly seen and heard Banana Frog, (Dendropsophus ebraccatus), which are always here in reasonably large numbers.  This year though they haven’t appeared in such profusion as in years past.  I think it is time to start the frog counts again.

Dendropsophus_microcephalus

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 

Try Again

Several months ago there was a White-necked Jacobin Hummingbird, (Florisuga mellivora), that had nested right by the path on the Zapatero Trail.  The nest contained 2 eggs but one day both the eggs had disappeared and despite the fact the nest was intact the female was nowhere to be seen.  Then, a couple of weeks ago on a different part of the Zapatero Trail, there appeared another nest looking exactly the same and of the same species.  Although the two nest sites seemed somewhat removed, when looking at the map, the trail curves round at 180º so the second nest in actual fact lay very close to but just uphill of the first.  My guess would be that it is the same female.  She might have chosen a different location but not too far away based on the failure of the prior brood.

Florisuga_mellivora

Every day as I walked the Zapatero Trail the female White-necked Jacobin would sit tight until I approached to passing.  She would then take off and wait for me to go further down the trail before returning to the nest.  As the chick grew progressively larger the female would spend less time on the nest.  The chick now filled the nest and one day as I got closer I could see the nest was empty so I hope on this occasion the chick had managed to take to the air and fly off.

Florisuga_mellivora

There is a low success rate for breeding birds.  The forest is full of predators and parasites.  Certainly around the lodge if there is a nest containing either eggs or chicks it doesn’t take long for an individual of the species Tropical Bird-eating Snake, (Pseustes poecilonotus), to pay visit.  These snakes can reach well over 6 feet in length so can eat birds of most sizes here.  Quite often the birds have to raise 2 or 3 clutches a year to have 1 successful set of fledglings.

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 0.67 ins.  Total Weekly Rainfall 4.70 ins

Average Daily Rainfall 16.8 mm.  Total Weekly Rainfall 117.9 mm

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

Highest Daily Temp 28.8°C.  Lowest Daily Temp 23.3°C.

Species List for the Week

Mammals

  • Mantled Howler Monkey
  • Spider Monkey
  • White-faced Capuchin Monkey
  • Nine-banded Armadillo
  • Common Opossum
  • Common Tent-making Bat
  • Western Red Bat
  • Northern Raccoon
  • White-nosed Coati
  • Agouti
  • Red-tailed Squirrel
  • Collared Peccary

Birds

  • Mealy Amazon
  • Orange-chinned Parakeet
  • Red-lored Amazon
  • Scarlet Macaw
  • Great Curassow
  • Laughing Falcon
  • Pale-billed Woodpecker
  • Black-hooded Antshrike
  • Chestnut-backed Antbird
  • Short-billed Pigeon
  • Red-capped Manakin
  • Chestnut-mandibled Toucan
  • Golden-crowned Spadebill
  • Great Tinamou
  • Little Tinamou
  • Black-throated Trogon
  • Black Vulture
  • Turkey Vulture

Reptiles

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

Amphibians

  • Banana Frog
  • Black and Green Poison Arrow Frog
  • Fitzinger’s Rain Frog
  • Golfo Dulce Poison Arrow Frog
  • Marine Toad
  • Milky Frog
  • 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
  • Heliconius erato
  • Heliconius ismenius
  • Heliconius sapho
  • Hermeuptychia hermes
  • Mesosemia zonalis
  • Morpho cypris
  • Morpho menelaus
  • Philaethria dido
  • Phoebis sennae
  • Pierella luna

Plants

  • Alamandra  cathartica Flowering
  • Alpinia purpurata Flowering
  • Apeiba tibourbou Fruiting
  • Arachis pintoi Flowering
  • Arundina graminifolia Flowering
  • Attalea rostrata Fruiting
  • Bauhinia variegata Flowering
  • Cascabella thevetia Flowering and Fruiting
  • Citrus spp  Fruiting
  • Clusia vallerii Fruiting
  • Cocos nucifera Flowering and Fruiting
  • Crestentia alata flowering and Fruiting
  • Costus speciosus Flowering
  • Dypsis lutescens Flowering and Fruiting
  • Etlingera elatior Flowering
  • 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
  • Lagerstroemia speciosa Fruiting
  • Morinda citrifolia Fruiting
  • Musa acuminate Flowering and Fruiting
  • Nephelium lappaceum Fruiting
  • Pachira quinata Flowering
  • Piper auritum Flowering and Fruiting
  • Piper nigrum Fruiting
  • Piper umbellatum Flowering and Fruiting
  • Pleiostachya pruinosa Flowering
  • Plumeria rubra Flowering
  • Stachytarpheta frantzii Flowering
  • Zammia sp Flowering

 

 

Mixed Fruit and Nuts   Leave a comment


Felipe del Bosque Blog January 14th 2013

title copy

A Waterless Place

FDB_4331 copy

This has been another week of bright sunny days and rising temperatures.  There has not been a drop of rain this week.  The level of water at the ponds is dropping.  There are fewer species of amphibian out but now the Savage’s Thin-fingered Frogs have started to congregate around the pond simply because it is a damper than the surrounding areas.

At night the Cat-eyed Snakes can be seen lying around the edge of the pond waiting for the froglets to emerge from the water.  You can sometimes see them with their heads beneath the surface of the water picking off the tadpoles which hang motionless in the nighttime shallows.

Colorful Confetti

The sun continues to bring out the butterflies which are increasing on an almost daily basis both in terms of numbers and individuals.  It doesn’t take much to stroll around the grounds with your camera at the ready to get some nice shots, the earlier the better before they warm up.

Last week I got some nice photos of Chlosyne theona which was out in full sun on the side of a hillock.  This week it was in exactly the same place so I took some more shots.  It wasn’t easy being in full sun with a constant breeze blowing against the butterflies wings.  Not too far away, again settled close to the ground thus requiring some awkward but nonetheless stealthy maneuvering to get close was a Pyrisitia nise.  These small yellow butterflies seemingly never settle so here was an opportunity to snap an image.  The problem was the wings being parallel with the bright sun making it difficult to truly capture the bright lemon yellow coloration.  Not so far away was a White Peacock, (Anartia jatrophae).  It refused to land so that I could get the right angle to photograph the spread of its wings but there will be many other days and more opportunities over the coming months to do so.

Chlosyne theona

Pyrisitia nise

Anartia jatrophae

A Bouquet and a Basket of Fruit

As the conditions become progressively drier, the trees begin to flower.  At this point in time as you walk through the forest there are places along the trails where the ground is covered in a carpet of fallen yellow flowers dropped from the overhanging branches of the Garlic Trees, (Caryocar costaricensis).  This is by no means the only flower to be seen but it stands out because of its bright golden color.  Not so intense in color but noticeable due to it strangely shaped blossoms are the flowers of the Hule or Rubber Tree, (Castilla tunu).  The soft gold velvety male inflorescence is shaped like a folded tortilla filled with the stamens. Currently it is possible to see the fruits lying on the ground too.  These come from the pollinated female flowers and resemble a miniature basket filled with green pairs.  When cut into, the trunk of the tree exudes white liquid latex that is processed to produce rubber.

Castilla tunu male flower

Castilla tunu fruit

A Hint of Spice

One of the distinctive fruits decorating the forest floor at the moment is that from the Fruta Dorada, the Golden Fruit Tree better known as nutmegs.  The nutmeg we use in a culinary situation is an Indonesian species belonging to the same Family Myristicaceae.  There are four species of nutmeg, (Virola spp), to be found within the forests of Bosque del Cabo.  The species that is currently fruiting is V. guatemalensis.

Virola guatemalensis

When the fruit first falls to the ground it is a green to yellow in color hence the golden fruit.  The shell is closed holding the seed hidden within.  But as it dries, it splits revealing a visceral looking membrane that provides a bright flash of red.  Red is a very important color in the forest.  It is the complimentary color to green.  Whereas green is a very cool color, red is a very hot color.  Birds having acute color vision will see fiery red a long way off standing out vividly against the cold verdant background.

Virola guatemalensis

Particularly with the nutmegs they are attracting the attention of Chestnut-mandibled Toucans, (Ramphastos swainsonii).  Toucans are fruit eating birds that gulp the fruits down whole.  The red covering to the seed is called the aril.  It is very tasty and nutritious.  The toucan digests the aril but is now left with a gut full of big heavy seeds which is not conducive to flight, so the bird regurgitates up the seeds thereby distributing them some distance from the parent tree.  In effect the tree attracted the bird in using the color red, gave it a nice tasty reward in the form of the aril to eat the seed which is then transported away and dispersed.

The Indonesian nutmeg, Myristica fragrans, is used in two ways.  The seed is dried and ground to give the familiar spice nutmeg whereas the aril is dried and ground to give the spice mace.  Certain of the South American nutmegs when tapped give a sap which is used in tribal rituals; the least of its effects being that of one of the most powerful hallucinogens that we know of.

Shady Characters

One other plant that has previously found their way into these pages has been in flower again.  One the Titi Trail you will see many corky vines woven within the fabric of the other plants.  This characteristic texture belongs to the Family Aristolochiaceae.  There are 4 species on the Osa Peninsula all belonging to the Genus Aristolochia.  They are unmistakable when in bloom as the flowers come directly from the side of the vine and stand erect like a Dutchman’s pipe which strangely enough is what they are called.

Aristolochia goudoti

The mottled purple blooms give off the scent of rotten meat which consequently attracts the attention of carrion flies.  The flies land expectantly on what they think will provide a good meal for their larvae.  The inner surface of the flower is slick so the inveigled fly slips down into the interior chamber of the bloom.  Backward pointing spines bar its escape so there the insect remains trapped.  Had it already suffered the same indignant experience it would be carrying the pollen from another bloom which is transferred effecting pollination.  The flower then wilts allowing the fly to go free carrying a fresh batch of its own pollen hoping that the fly can be duped yet again.  Following successful pollination then the fruit capsules are formed holding the seeds which are flat and wind dispersed.

Aristolochia goudoti fruit

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

Figs for All

Another tree that can be seen producing fruit, although in this case there is no specific season, is one of the many species of Fig Tree, (Ficus spp).  Figs are an important food source not the least because within any one population of a fig species at least one individual will be fruiting at some point during the year.  They produce such a copious amount of fruit that they feed so many animals in the forest.

Ficus insipida

Tropical rain forests are generally found to be windless places.  For that reason the plants largely have to rely on animal agents for pollination and seed dispersal.  Due to the fact that there is such a high number of tree species within any given area, not only do the trees have to attract an animal to come to them but also then offer the animal a reward to stop it going to any other species of tree.  The figs have taken this to an absolute extreme.

Every species of fig tree has it own individual species of fig wasp, (Family Agaonidae), to pollinate it and there are approximately 800 different species of fig to be found worldwide. The fig is a synconium and inside each fig there are three types of flower; male flowers, female flowers and sterile flowers called gall flowers.  The gall flowers are the reward, which is where the female wasp will lay her eggs.  The first eggs to hatch are the wingless males.  They move around inside the fig looking for the as yet undeveloped females.  They find them and mate with them.  The male then bores a hole out of the fig and dies.

Later the female fig wasp emerges but her emergence coincides with the male flowers coming into season so as she travels around inside the fig she gets coated with pollen.  She makes her way out of the hole the males bored out and then she has to fly off to find a tree where the female flowers are in season.  This is achieved by following a pheromone trail released by the young fig.  The fig has an opening, the ostiole, which is lined with downward pointing scales that allow entry in one direction only, from the outside to the inside.  The female enters and loses her wings as she does so.  The pollen is transferred from her body to the female flowers thereby pollinating the fig.  The gall flowers are short stalked female flowers into which the ovipositor of the female wasp can reach to lay eggs.  Once she has finished transferring the pollen and laying her eggs, the female wasp dies.  Several weeks later the larvae that have developed within the gall flowers will emerge and the cycle will repeat.

The fig and the fig wasp have become mutually dependent on one another for their very existence.  Due to the fact that so many animals rely on the crop of figs that relationship produces it is known as one of the keystone dependencies of the forest.

One the fig has been pollinated it produces tiny seeds which the tree has to get through the guts of the animals eating them very quickly to stop the digestive juices breaking down the seed coat.  To aid in the rapid passage of the seeds through the alimentary canal of the animals eating them, the pulp of the fig contains a laxative.  But it has relied on large mobile animals such as birds, monkeys and bats that will have moved some distance from the parent tree before they defecate and disperse the seeds.

Sometimes the figs produce more fruit that even all the visiting animals can consume.  As you walk through the forest you may find yourself under a rain of falling figs, each one crashing through the underlying foliage before hitting the ground.  This benefits many ground living creatures such as peccaries, agoutis, pacas, opossums and rodents.  As the figs rot the heavy scent of fermenting fruit attracts in butterflies such as blue morphos which imbibe the liquor.  Ultimately the mould spores germinate and within a short space of time the fig will have become a fuzzy white ball of threadlike mould mycelium.

Ficus insipida

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 0.00 ins.  Total Weekly Rainfall 0.00 ins

Average Daily Rainfall 0.00 mm.  Total Weekly Rainfall 0.00 mm

Highest Daily Temp 90°F.  Lowest Daily Temp 74°F.

Highest Daily Temp 32.0°C.  Lowest Daily Temp 23.2°C.

Species List for the Week

Mammals

  • Howler Monkey
  • Spider Monkey
  • White-faced Monkey
  • Kinkajou
  • White-nosed Coati
  • Nine-banded Armadillo
  • Alfaro’s Pygmy Squirrel

Birds

  • Red-lored Amazon
  • Scarlet Macaw
  • Brown Pelican
  • Great Curassow
  • Crested Caracara
  • Mangrove Black Hawk
  • Pale-billed Woodpecker
  • Chestnut-backed Antbird
  • Short-billed Pigeon
  • White-tipped Dove
  • Rufus Piha
  • Blue-crowned Motmot
  • Stripe-throated Hermit
  • Red-capped Manakin
  • Chestnut-mandibled Toucan
  • Bright-rumped Atilla
  • Dusky-capped Flycatcher
  • Great Kiskadee
  • Green Honeycreeper
  • 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
  • Mediterranean House Gecko
  • Tiger Rat Snake

Amphibians

  • Fitzinger’s Rain Frog
  • Marine Toad
  • Masked Smilisca
  • Milky Frog
  • Red-eyed Green Tree Frog
  • Rough-skinned Dirt Frog
  • Savage’s Thin-fingered Frog
  • Stejneger’s Dirt Frog

Butterflies

  • Adelpha heraclera
  • Anartia Fatima
  • Anartia jatrophae
  • Archaeoprepona demophon
  • Battus belus
  • Calycopis isobeon
  • Chlosyne theona
  • Consul fabius
  • Dryas iulia
  • Eueides aliphera
  • Eueides lybia
  • Glutophrissa drusilla
  • Heliconius erato
  • Heliconius hecale
  • Heliconius ismenius
  • Heliconius sapho
  • Heraclides cresphontes
  • Hermeuptychia hermes
  • Morpho helenor
  • Morpho Menelaus
  • Pareuptychia ocirrhoe
  • Parides erithalion
  • Pierella helvina
  • Philaethria dido
  • Phoebis sennae
  • Pyrgus oileus
  • Pyrisitia nise
  • Pyrrhogyra crameri

Plants

  • Alamandra  cathartica Flowering
  • Alpinia purpurata Flowering
  • Apeiba tibourbou Flowering
  • Arachis pintoi Flowering
  • Aristolochia gouldi Flowering and Fruiting
  • 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
  • Stachytarpheta frantzii Flowering
  • Virola guatemalensis Fruiting
  • Zammia sp Flowering

 

 

Eating Thin Wet Snails   2 comments


Felipe del Bosque Blog May 21st  2012

Inevitable Change

The wet season is truly upon us..  We are now seeing the normal pattern of rainfall, which at this time of year can be erratic; sunny for several hours followed by heavy rainfall and then more sun.  Bosque has once again turned green.

Along with all the new fresh growth goes the old growth.  Some of the larger trees that have stood in place for decades and have aged, feel the burden of weight imposed after heavy rainfall and down they go.  It is not a slow process, there will be a crack, snap and bang down goes the tree in a matter of seconds, the critical point having been reached and exceeded.  It doesn’t have to be the whole tree, more often than not it will be a large branch that breaks and falls.

The falling trees and branches at first may seem destructive.  Falling trees knock over other trees which in turn knock down more trees as they fall.  As branches tumble from the canopy they snag and tear down vines which are entwined throughout the vegetation so dislodging yet more of the plant life.  But this is all part of the succession of regeneration that has occurred on an annual basis over millennia.

The falling trees and branches open up gaps in the canopy and spaces on the ground thereby presenting an ideal opportunity for re-growth.  Those pioneering species whose seeds lie dormant within the soil are stimulated by the now increased temperature and light levels afforded by the gaping hole in the forest canopy, they germinate and rapidly grow to fill the light gap.  All of those shade tolerant saplings that grew to a certain size, stopped and then progressed to storing a lot of energy in their roots are now liberated from the confines of darkness.  They had waited in a state of suspended animation for this situation to arise and when it does up they go fuelled by the potential energy saved for this moment.

The fast growing pioneer species will have flowered and fruited several times before the shade tolerant species overshadow them.  It will then be their turn to produce flowers in the canopy, have them pollinated and then produce a wealth of fruit over many years.  But eventually the ultimate fate of death, for whatever reason, will befall them, over they will go and the cycle will be complete.

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

Slim Shady

This week was a good snake week.  The Tropical Bird-eating Snakes, (Pseustes poecilonotus), were out in force.  There were several individuals of varying size around the bar area.  Due to the excited behavior of one particular female Cherrie’s Tanager, (Ramphocelus costaricensis), I am pretty sure she had a nest in the area.  True to their name, the bird-eating snakes show up as if by magic when there is an occupied nest with potential food in the form of eggs or chicks.

One lunch time a young couple who were staying at the lodge found a snake in the same vicinity that the bird-eaters had been skulking, so when I was informed there was a snake close by, that is what I imagined I was going to find.  When I got to the low lying bush in which the snake had been seen to enter, I was pleasantly surprised to find the long, slender, cordlike body of a Brown Vine Snake, (Oxybelis aeneus).

Brown Vine Snake         Brown Vine Snake         Brown Vine Snake

As the name suggests, the vine snakes closely resemble the vegetation in which they can be found winding their way through.  For that reason, despite the fact that they are reasonably common, they are not that easy to find.

The slender body shape and brown coloration allows them to make their way stealthily towards their preferred prey, the various species of anolis lizards.  An unwary lizard will be unaware of the approaching danger until the snake strikes but by that time it is too late.

Brown Vine Snake

The body shape and color as serve to disguise the snake from its predators.  If something does get too close, the Brown Vine Snake opens its mouth wide, exposing a very dark interior and then strikes out repeatedly at its aggressor.  It is however non poisonous and poses little threat to humans.

Towards the end of the week, the new manager of Bosque, Andreas, brought in a snake that he thought might be one of the cat-eyed snake species.  When I had a look, I could see the very blunt nose of a snaileater but I didn’t immediately know which species.  The grey ground color of the body was ringed with bands of black edged in orange.  There was the clue, the diagnostic feature which allowed the snake to be literally identified as an Orange-banded Snail-eater, (Sibon dimidiatus).

Orange-banded Snail-eater         Orange-banded Snail-eater         Orange-banded Snail-eater

This was the first snail-eater I had seen in 12 years at the lodge.  One of the reasons that they may not be encountered too often is the fact that they are nocturnal and arboreal, so unless you are in the tree tops at night, the chances of seeing one are slim.  True to their name, the main item on the diet of these snakes is gastropod mollusks.

Orange-banded Snail-eater

In so many years at Bosque I am still thrilled when a new animal or plant turns up.  Many of the butterflies and snakes I have inventoried at Bosque I have only ever seen once.  I would suggest that there is probably a more thriving population than just one, although it could be with the butterflies they were just passing through, but I doubt it.  Still, the incredible diversity of these forests is brought to bear from this once in a lifetime encounters.

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 0.56 ins.  Total Weekly Rainfall 3.93 ins

Average Daily Rainfall 14.3 mm.  Total Weekly Rainfall 99.8 mm

Species List for the Week

Mammals

  • Howler Monkey
  • Spider Monkey
  • Capuchin Monkey
  • Agouti
  • Alfaro’s Pygmy Squirrel
  • Red-tailed Squirrel
  • White-nosed Coati

 

Birds

 

  • Mealy Amazon
  • Orange-chinned Parakeets
  • Red-lored Amazons
  • Scarlet Macaws
  • Crested Caracara
  • Great Black Hawk
  • Roadside Hawk
  • Chestnut-backed Antbird
  • Black-hooded Antshrike
  • Common Paureque
  • Short-billed Pigeon
  • White-tipped Dove
  • Blue-crowned Motmot
  • Long-billed Hummingbird
  • Rufus-tailed Hummingbird
  • Blue-crowned Manakin
  • Red-capped Manakin
  • Fiery-billed Aracari
  • Chestnut-mandibled Toucan
  • Cherrie’s Tanager
  • Grey-headed Tanager
  • Rufus Piha
  • Buff-rumped Warbler
  • Dusky-capped Flycatcher
  • Golden-crowned Spadebill
  • Great Kiskadee
  • Great Tinamou
  • House Wren
  • Black-throated Trogon
  • Black Vulture
  • Turkey Vulture

 

Reptiles

 

  • Barred Ameiva
  • Boa Constrictor
  • Brown Vine Snake
  • Central American Whiptail
  • Common Basilisk
  • Five-lined Ameiva
  • Golfo Dulce Anolis
  • Northern Cat-eyed Snake
  • Pug-nosed Anole
  • Terciopelo
  • Tropical Bird-eating Snake

 

Amphibians

 

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

 

Butterflies

 

  • Calycopis isobeon
  • Dryas iulia
  • Eueides lybia
  • Glutophrissa drusilla
  • Heliconius erato
  • Heliconius ismenius
  • Heliconius sapho
  • Heraclides cresphontes
  • Marpesia furcula
  • Morpho Menelaus
  • Opsiphanes tamarindi
  • Parides erithalion
  • Philaetria dido
  • Pyrgus oileus
  • Pyrisitia nise
  • Urbanus simplicius
  • Urbanus tanna

 

Plants

 

  • Bamboo Orchid Flowering
  • Lacmellea panamensis Flowering and Fruiting
  • Crestentia alata flowering and fruiting
  • Cannonball Tree Flowering and Fruiting
  • Cashew Flowering and Fruiting
  • Clusia valerii Fruiting
  • Gustavia brachycarpa Flowering
  • Apeiba toubouru Flowering and Fruiting

 

 

It Sounds Like Fishing For Fruit   4 comments


Felipe del Bosque Blog April 23rd  2012

Wet’n Dry

The weather this week has been more or less as the week before.  There has been some rainfall but not a lot and the rain that we have had has been interspersed between days of clear skies and sunny conditions.  In fact the sunny conditions prevailed as the week progressed.

One unusual feature that seems to accompany the start of the rainy season is the water in the creeks, which at this time of year is already at a low level, suddenly drops as the rains begin. This would seem to be counter intuitive; more water falling from the sky you might think would then finds its way into the creeks and consequently the levels rise.  My theory, and I would stand to be corrected on this point by any hydrologist, (I would dearly love to hear from a hydrologist on this point is one is reading), is that the initial rains soak only the top levels of the soil.  If it only rains for a few days followed by dry days then the high temperatures and dry atmosphere might cause increased evaporation at the top soil level resulting in water being drawn up from lower levels by suction and capillary action reducing the amount percolating into the creeks through the springs.  This is just an idea not necessarily a fact, I have to do some more research on this one.  But the fact remains, the rains have started and the creek levels have dropped.

Gone Fishing

One night when I had no takers for the night tour, I decided to go to the pond alone and try to photograph some of the amphibians.  While I was looking for some suitably placed subjects, I noticed a single Cat-eyed Snake, (Leptodeira septentrionalis), sitting on the rocky edging to the pond.  I usually try to get pictures of the head and front end of snakes as being rather linear animals is not easy to get them all in the frame unless you are stood some way back.  This individual was in a semi curled position so I thought I could get some close pictures of all the body.

         Cat-eyed Snake         Cat-eyed Snake

As I set up the camera, the snake slipped over the edge, head down with its tongue constantly flicking in and out, searching the surface of the water.  Lying just beneath the surface were hundreds of Milky Frog tadpoles resulting from the adults that had emerged en masse, paired up and spawned on the first evening of rain a week or so earlier.  The eggs had hatched within two days and now, no more than two weeks later, the tadpoles had started to grown legs.

It was the seething mass of tadpoles that was attracting the attention of the snake.  Cat-eyed Snakes can be seen throughout the year in greater or lesser numbers, (greater during the height of the amphibian breeding season, June – August).  They are specialist feeders on frogs and frog eggs, but tadpoles will make an acceptable substitute when the other options are not readily available, such as now at the back end of the dry season.

Cat-eyed Snake         Red-eyed Green Tree Frog Eggs         Cat-eyed Snake

The snake would approach the water, about 6 inches below the pond edge.  The seething and shimmering mass of tadpoles were lying on the tops of water plant leaves directly below the surface.  It was the movement of the plants that was attracting the snake’s attention.  The fishing could not have been simpler.  Open mouthed the snake simply had to strike out a few millimeters in front of it and a snack would be obtained.

Cat-eyed Snake

Following the consumption of each and every tadpole caught, the snake would withdraw on to the flat rock edge and rest for a couple of minutes before eating again.  There weren’t just tadpoles, it was readily devouring the small froglets that had emerged from the water and were sitting on the Water Lettuce above the surface.

Cat-eyed Snakes are nocturnal snakes with large eyes that have vertical pupils that look just like the eyes of a cat which give the snake its name.  During the height of the amphibian breeding season they can be seen in numbers sometimes in the region of 40 or 50 at the back of the pond, moving over the vegetation but with their heads underneath looking for the eggs of the Red-eyed Green Tree Frogs.  Frogs eggs are a perfect protein packed meal which neither fights back nor runs away.

The Cat-eyed Snakes are venomous but they are rear fanged and the venom has the potency to kill little more than a frog.  They are not inclined to bite so pose no danger to visitors to the lodge.  I sat watching and photographing this individual for about 45 minutes and then left to let it continue its amphibian rich banquet.

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

Batman

While out on a tour through the forest, one of the guests with me noticed what she thought might be a bat hanging from a small fallen branch close to the ground.  Closer inspection through my binoculars revealed that she was in fact correct, it was indeed a solitary bat roosting out in the open a couple of inches from the ground.

Short-tailed Fruit Bat

Costa Rica is a very small country, about the size of West Virginia.  On the mainland United States there are 44 species of bat, which without exception are all insectivorous.  Costa Rica has probably 111 species of bat of which 80 species are estimated to live on the Osa Peninsula.  Here we have insectivorous, nectar feeding, fruit eating, carnivorous, fishing and blood feeding bats.

Short-tailed Fruit Bat

Bats are the second most diverse order of mammals after the rodents, but inversely to rodents, there are more species of bats in the tropics and more species of rodents at higher latitudes.  Costa Rica is only 0.03% of the land surface of the earth but contains 12% the total bat diversity of the earth so it is a very special country as far as bats are concerned.

Short-tailed Fruit Bat

The way the bat we were looking at was hanging made it difficult to identify any further than family.  I could see it was one of the Leaf-nosed Bats, family, Phyllostomidae.  We continued walking but I had the intention of returning after the tour with a camera to try and get some closer photographs.

Short-tailed Fruit Bat

When I returned from the tour, I quickly ate lunch and then headed back out with the camera to get the photos of the bat.  It was still in the same position at the same location, suspended from a small dry twig, on top of a live Leaf-cutter Ant nest surrounded by fallen branches.  I could get a picture from some distance, but to try and identify the bat I needed to get close.

I shot a few exposures from about 6 feet away, then progressively made my around 360° trying to obtain images from all angles.  Then I moved in closer, gently removing some of the branches that were in front of the non moving creature obscuring a clear image.  Eventually I had to lie down on the ant nest to get the profile close up of the head.  This final action drew the wrath of the Leaf-cutter soldiers who commenced carving through my flesh and drawing blood.  Needless to say, I took the photos as quickly as I possibly could.

When I returned to my cabin it was time to identify the bat and that is no easy task.  Several distinguishing features allowed me to get to the family.  The most obvious was the distinct nose leaf that I could clearly see in that profile shot that had been so painfully acquired.  This puts the bat in the family Phyllostomatidae which translates more or less literally from the Greek into “leaf opening”.  I could also see the bat had a small, almost indiscernible tail which put it in the family Carollinae – the Short-tailed Fruit Bats.

Now came the hard part, identifying the species.  One of the photographs I had taken of the ventral side, nicely revealed under the chin a central wart with a series of smaller warts lining the underside of the jaw.  So now I knew I had an individual in the genus Carollia  but that is as far as I could get.  To identify the bat to species would require me blowing on the fur to observe the depth of agouti, (the depth of gray layering in the fur) and I would also need to see the dentition.

All of the bats in the Americas are of the suborder Microchiroptera which literally means “Small Hand Wing”.  The hand of the bat is highly modified with the digits creating a specialized frame supporting an elastic membrane which forms a wing thereby transforming the bat into the only mammal which can truly fly.

As opposed to common folklore which has bats as blind, they are not, they have very good eyesight especially in low light conditions.  As well as having very good eyesight, all of the Microchiroptera use echolocation or SONAR to find their way around at night.  Some bats emit the pulse of sound through the mouth but the Phyllostomatidae emit the sound through the nose.  The specially modified flap of skin that forms the nose leaf is thought to direct the sound.

If the nose of the bat is a highly modified transmitter of sound, the ears are equally highly modified receivers of the reflected sound.  Due to the fact that air does not transmit sound very well the energy that the bat has to put into each pulse of sound to make it effective is the equivalent for the bat of listening to a jet engine, it would deafen itself.  The structure of the ear is such that whenever a pulse is emitted, the muscles in the ear close it for a microsecond and open again to receive the echo.

As may be expected, the Short-tailed Fruit Bats are fruit eaters.  They consume a variety of fruit, the structure of which can be distinguished by echo location.  There are a variety of fruit eating bats in Costa Rica and each species tends to favor a certain type of fruit.  It has been shown the preferred fruit of the Short-tailed Fruit Bats are the low growing Pipers, (related to peppers), many species of which are commonly found throughout the Neotropical forests.

One feature revealed in the photographs that is not commonly considered with the bats is a modification in the placement of the legs which allows them to hand upside down; the legs are back to front. The knees and feet face backwards to that the toes can hook of a twig or projection.  The weight of the body pulls down on a tendon which locks the toes into position so that the bat does not have to expend any muscular energy into holding on, it is gravity that does all the work.  When the bat wants to fly, is simply lets go with its toes, opens its wings and it departs into the night.

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 0.04 ins.  Total Weekly Rainfall 0.27 ins

Average Daily Rainfall 1.00 mm.  Total Weekly Rainfall 6.90 mm

Species List for the Week

Mammals

  • Howler Monkey
  • Spider Monkey
  • Capuchin Monkey
  • Agouti
  • Red-tailed Squirrel

 

Birds

 

  • Red-lored Amazons
  • Scarlet Macaws
  • Great Currasow
  • Crested Caracara
  • Lineated Woodpecker
  • Chestnut-backed Antbird
  • Common Paureque
  • Short-billed Pigeon
  • White-tipped Dove
  • Rufus Piha
  • Blue-crowned Manakin
  • Red-capped Manakin
  • Fiery-billed Aracari
  • Chestnut-mandibled Toucan
  • Cherrie’s Tanager
  • Bright-rumped Atilla
  • Golden-crowned Spadebill
  • Buff-rumped Warbler
  • Great Tinamou
  • Riverside Wren
  • Black-throated Trogon
  • Black Vulture
  • Turkey Vulture

 

Reptiles

 

  • Barred Ameiva
  • Barred Forest Racer
  • Central American Whiptail
  • Common Basilisk
  • Five-lined Ameiva
  • Clawless Gecko
  • Golfo Dulce Anolis
  • Green Iguana
  • Northern Cat-eyed Snake
  • Salmon-bellied Racer
  • Terciopelo

 

Amphibians

 

  • Banana Frog
  • Black and Green Poison Arrow Frog
  • Golfo Dulce Poison Arrow Frog
  • Marine Toad
  • Masked Smilisca
  • Milky Frog
  • Red-eyed Green Tree Frog
  • Smokey Jungle Frog

 

Butterflies

 

  • Arawacus lincoides
  • Archaeoprepona demophon
  • Caligo atreus
  • Calycopis isobeon
  • Dryas iulia
  • Eurema daira
  • Eueides lybia
  • Glutophrissa Drusilla
  • Heliconius cydno
  • Heliconius erato
  • Heliconius ismenius
  • Heliconius sapho
  • Heraclides cresphontes
  • Mechanitis polymnia
  • Metacharis victrix
  • Morpho helenor
  • Morpho Menelaus
  • Philaetria dido

 

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
  • Hog Plum Flowering
  • May Tree Flowering
  • Monkey Comb Tree Flowering and Fruiting
  • Mountain Rose Flowering
  • Passion Vine Flowering and Fruiting
  • Stinky Toe Fruiting

 

%d bloggers like this: