Archive for the ‘Collared Peccary’ Tag

Feeling the Heat   2 comments


Philip Davison. Costa Rica. Blog. Nature Diaries

Monday 22nd February

Into the Oven

The temperatures have continued to remain around 40ºC (104ºF) mark for several months now.  Coupled with this has been the sharp decline in rainfall from mid December as the dry season progresses.  January experienced little more than one and a half inches of rainfall.  It is now that the forest floor begins to take on a dry and dusty appearance and despite being only two months into the dry season small cracks have begun to appear underfoot.  Not many people complain of the blue cloudless skies though which give day long bright and sunny conditions.

Hanging Around

Two animals have been seen in the area over the last week that are not frequently seen.  The Brown-throated Three-toed Sloth, (Bradypus variegatus), is a reasonably common rain forest mammal.  It would not be unusual to see one in the area given their relatively high density of numbers.  The problem is that they live at the tops of the trees, don’t move too far or too fast and have a fur that is tinged green with algal growth ensuring that it does not stand out but rather blends in.  That is a situation that lends itself very nicely to an animal that cannot move too fast in an effort to escape predation.

Three-toed Sloth

There is a second species of sloth that inhabits the area though; Hoffman’s Two-toed Sloth, (Choloepus hoffmani).  They don’t occur in the same high numbers as the Three-toed Sloth and also prefer to forage at night which makes them less likely to be seen by the casual observer.  But one was located one afternoon high in the canopy by Matthias Klum, a world renowned Swedish wildlife documentary maker who works for National Geographic while walking the Zapatero Trail while on a recent trip to Bosque del Cabo.

Up in the canopy the Two-toed Sloth can easily be distinguished from its Three-toed cousin by the color of the fur.  The former is very pale blond while the latter is a mid grey.  Closer examination with the aid of binoculars will reveal the Hoffman’s has a longer face and lacks the markings which appear to give the Three-toed a permanent benign smile.

Brown-throated Two-toed Sloth

Both species consume leaf although the Two-toed has a much wider range of tree species from which it will feed.  Also the Two-toed will supplement its diet with insects, chicks and eggs.

Hogging the Limelight

The area around Cabo Matapalo is home to several herds of Collared Peccary, (Tayassu tajacu).  Although only distantly related to pigs they do look for all intents and purposes like small wild boar.  Many of the visitors from the Southern United States are more familiar with them as Javelinas.

Collared Peccary

Just as with the sloths there is a second species of peccary that can be seen but only very occasionally.  The White-lipped Peccary, (Tayassu pecari), is much larger than its collared cousin and prefers more pristine conditions.  They tend to stay within the confines of Corcovado National Park but once in a while a migration will occur and a group will make their way along the Pacific coastline.  Last week there was a small herd of about 16 individuals that passed by and stayed at Bosque del Cabo for the duration of a few days.

White-lipped Peccary

Both species of peccary are essentially herbivores and will take fallen fruits, dig up tubers and browse on leaves.  The Collared Peccaries exist in smaller herds, which in this area number around 25, while the White-lipped Peccaries can be found in herds of 300.  The Collared Peccary as the name suggests has a white ring around the body in the area of the shoulders.  The White-lipped Peccary as the name equally suggests has the fur around the mouth area colored white.  The White-lipped Peccary is also much larger and with long shaggy hair.

The presence of the White-lipped Peccary is hard to mistake.  As they move through the undergrowth they continually huff and puff while at the same time clack their teeth.  They also have a very powerful odor that is not pleasant to the nose of human observers.  The herd passing through Bosque arrived overnight and then several days later disappeared as quickly as they had come.

Taking over the Airwaves

From January through to March the daily soaring temperatures and bright sunlight stimulate a constant high pitched white noise.  This is cicada season.  The cicadas in this area have a two year life cycle but that is staggered so that there is an annual emergence of cicada adults at this time of year.

Cicadas live most of their life in the nymphal stage below the ground where they feed by tapping into the vascular system of the roots and imbibing the sap.  They progressively grow through a series of moults until after two years they are ready to emerge.  The final nymphal stage emerges from the ground one night and climbs the nearest available tree or sapling.  Within several hours the exoskeleton splits down the back and the new adult pulls itself out of the old skin.  This is the winged, reproductive dispersal stage in the insects’ life history.

Cicada Nymph Exoskeleton

The newly emerged and fully winged adults fly to the top of the trees.  The next morning as the sun rises and the temperatures climb then the calling begins.  The males have two sound producing organs on the underside of the abdomen called tympani.  Each one is like a tightly drawn drum skin.  The increasing temperature throughout the morning enable the cicadas to vibrate the muscles connected to the tympani more rapidly which in turn vibrate the drum skins more rapidly resulting in a the volume and pitch of the sound they create to increase.  Conversely should the clouds traverse the sky and obscure the sun then the temperatures drop and the pitch lowers and the sound softens.  If the clouds persist then the calling may cease completely.  Once they clear and the sun shines afresh the sound will rapidly rise to a crescendo one more time.

Cicada sp

The female is attracted to the sound of the calling male and lands beside him.  She does not call except by way of an almost inaudible clicking sound.  They pair up and mate.  The female lays her eggs in the bark of a tree.  When the eggs hatch and the larvae emerge they fall to the ground where they quickly burrow beneath the surface to tap into the tree roots and feed on the plant sap.  There they will spend the next two years before emerging and starting a new generation of cicadas.

From the Same Old Record to A New Record

After sixteen years of monitoring butterfly populations at Bosque del Cabo it is always a thrill when a new species not recorded for the lodge turns up.  Recently I had the good fortune to have a new species to add to the list.  It was encountered during the course of my weekly butterfly count.

Banner Metalmark

It was spotted flying close the forest edge quite low down.  I saw it alight under a leaf about 8 feet off the ground.  Unfortunately the angle at which the leaf was suspended and the proximity of the other leaves meant that the butterfly was not presented in the best way to photograph.  I did manage to get enough information to make an identification though.  It turned out to be one of the metalmarks, Family: Riodinidae, this individual being of the species Thisbe lycorias.  It is by no means a rare butterfly and in fact is widespread throughout the country.  But nonetheless it was not a species I had seen before.

Banner Metalmark

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

Cat Scratch Fever   Leave a comment


Felipe del Bosque Blog August 17th 2013

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Interrupted Halcion Days

This week has followed more or less the same pattern as last week with the area experiencing warm, dry and bright days with a small amount of rain falling over night.  It is just enough to keep  the area damp with a humid atmosphere.  Towards the end of the week more and more began to fall until eventually the days turned grey and the rain persisted for more or less 24 hour periods.  Then just as we thought we might have seen the last of the sun until November, out it came once more.

That is the problem with predicting the weather here.  The national forecast can give you the weather for a wide area but locally the difference between conditions at Bosque del Cabo and only a few miles in either direction can be that of a hot bright sunny day versus an overcast chilly deluge.

Jackpot

Changing the memory cards in the cameras on the Titi Trail is always a prelude to excited anticipation.  Every Saturday the cards are removed, brought back to the lodge, inserted into the laptop and then meticulously scrutinized for whatever was taking place on the trail over the last seven days.  Any humans are immediately eliminated.  Dates and times are recorded for each species so we can build up a data base of activity.

After six weeks we know we are going to get a lot of the same animals stealing the majority of the show.  Camera #1 is place in an area where there is more dense growth around and above the camera.  Here we get a lot of videos featuring Agoutis,(Dasyprocta agouti), during the day and their cousins the Pacas, (Agouti paca), at night.  This is also the area where we find Tamanduas, (Tamandua mexicana), Nine-banded Armadillos, (Dasypus novemcinctus), Common Opossums, (Didelphis marsupialis), Red-tailed Squirrels, (Sciurus granatensis), as well as some Collared Peccaries, (Tayassu tajacu) and the occasional White-lipped Peccary, (Tayassu pecari).

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Red-tailed Squirrel         Paca         Collared Peccary

Camera #2 is much closer to the end of the trail. The path is much clearer and the trees above are more open crowned so it tends to be a lot lighter.  Once again we have Agoutis active during the day and Pacas at night.  But this area really does seem to be alive with White-collared Peccaries 24/7.  Peccaries of all ages, in large or small groups or even alone walk every which way on this trail.  If our guest walk this trail they can see for themselves the ground criss-crossed with hoof prints.  However this last week some of our guests saw prints that were not only distinct but huge too.  A big cat had walked this way.  He had left his mark in terms of pugmarks around various parts of the property.

So the memory cards were duly brought back and the video viewing began.  Each video is of 30 seconds duration and if when it commences you can see any of the above animals you can move on.  Sometimes the camera will have been triggered by movement of something not in shot.  If after the time is up and nothing has been seen then the video is deleted.  This week there were 600 videos to sit through.  Another Agouti, another peccary, some more visitors, all very nice but where is the special guest star?

Camera #1 had 300 videos, there was a great deal of animal life but no cat.  Camera #2 had another 300 videos to sift through.  Up to  #272 there were endless videos of some Agoutis but mostly peccaries, a great many of which were of excellent quality. Then came video #273 and BINGO, we hit the jackpot.  A fabulous video of that huge male Puma, (Puma concolor).

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You can see he looking for something.  The resident Bosque female, “Half Tail” is commonly found on that trail.  But he is also in “Peccary Alley” and there is nothing Pumas like to eat more than  tasty little peccaries.  The Spider Monkeys in the trees above are fully aware of his presence, they are giving the incessant and frantic high pitched bark that constitutes the alarm call reserved for large cats.  If ever you hear that sound coming from somewhere in the forest then you know full well what is walking on the forest floor.

The fun did not stop there.  The handsome predator goes walking past camera but the next photo shows him in full flight running back from whence he came.  The chance of snatching a single peccary that may have strayed too far from the herd might be worth the risk of a feline hunter of this size venturing into “Peccary Alley” but it is however a risk.  There are sizeable numbers of peccaries in this area.  They are not going to tolerant of something posing a threat to them or their offspring.  A defensively agitated peccary would be a fearsome adversary at the best of times but multiply that number into 10 or 20 plus and you have a potential life threatening situation on your hands, (paws).

The photo was that of the rear end of the Puma fleeing for its life.  The next video showed why.  Irate peccaries numbering in groups of 3 or 4, one group after another, all charging along the trail, the hair on their bodies bristling, the scent gland exposed, grunting and huffing, but more particular the clacking of the teeth.  The action was fast and furious.  The Puma had no chance, it was so outnumbered.  Once the excitement had died down and the peccaries were satisfied the predator had been shown the true order of world they returned to “Peccary Alley”.  The next few videos show the self-congratulatory individuals of the repulsive warrior force rubbing against one another sharing in an exchange of glandular secretion to bond the herd.

Slow to Show

One group of creatures very noticeable by their absence in these tropical forests are the mollusks. It has  been suggested that the soils in the area have low levels of calcium and therefore lacking in shell building material.  There are no shortage of marine mollusks but then there is no shortage of calcium in the sea.  The land crabs are crustaceans and so have an exoskeleton composed of calcified chitin, a protein, the calcium initially coming from the crabs formative time in the ocean and the subsequent visits to the ocean on the annual reproductive migration.  Many of the snails to be found in these forests are carnivorous, (feeding on other snails), but tend to be small with translucent thin shells.

Tropical Land Snail

This particular mollusk had a very thick large shell.  On thirteen years of walking through the forests of Bosque del Cabo I very rarely see mollusk and this particular species I have only seen live on 2 or 3 occasions. Identifying the species has proved somewhat difficult by I will keep searching.

Black and Yellow Peril

Scattered throughout the gardens of Bosque are several specimens of a plant native to Central America but more familiar to those guests who have visited Hawaii where it is not in fact native and that in fact is Frangipani, (Plumeria rubra).

This week it was noticed that the Frangipani was host to a plague of very large caterpillars munching their way through the leaves.  The caterpillars were so distinct, not only due to their large size, but also the eye-catching velvety black and yellow banding and the vivid red heads.  They were without doubt moth caterpillars whose identities are not always easy to arrive at given the number of species. These ones posed no such problem though, they are the larval stage of the aptly named Frangipani Moth, (Pseudosphinx triota).

Frangipani Sphynx Moth

The caterpillars are so spectacularly large and so brightly colored it would seen as if they were just a meal waiting to be consumed by any bird or lizard.  They also have the habit of lifting the front end of the body and waving the head violently from side to side which is not the  exactly behavior of an animal trying to remain hidden from view.  In point of fact black and yellow is the most visible color combination that exists and animals bearing this most acutely bicolored attire want you to be aware of and shun their presence.  Think of it, bees, wasps, hornets all sport these colors as do many poisonous butterflies, spiders and snakes as well as some species of poison dart frog.  This is aposomatic coloration otherwise known as warning coloration.

Psuedosphynx triota

The caterpillars of The Frangipani Moth before consuming the Plumeria leaves bite through the base of the leaf stalk.  A white milky latex leaks out thereby stemming the flow into the leaf.  But  some of the latex the caterpillar imbibes.  It contains alkaloids which then render the caterpillar distasteful, and cyanogenic glycocides, (cyanide), which render it downright poisonous, to any unsuspecting and naive predator.  Better take notice of that warning coloration.

Banana vs Small-heads

Over the past few blogs I have posted information and photos separately of two small yellow frogs found by the pond this time of year.  Below I have posted two photographs to show the two species in juxtaposition.  The top photo is the Banana Frog, (Dendropsophus ebreccatus), and the bottom photo is the Small-headed Frog, (Dendropsophus microcephalus).  These two individuals were photographed on the same evening very close to each other.  The Banana Frog is handsomely marked with large blotches of yellow and tan.  The Small-headed Frog is more uniformly colored with stripes down the length of the body.  However the two species are not always so distinctly marked which causes the confusion in identity.

Banana Frog

Small-headed Frog

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

Legging It

The past few weeks have been good for spiders which may or may not be good news depending how you feel about these creatures.  Arachnids in general seem to have a polarizing effect on peoples behavior.  In these forests there are a great many spider species and they are not that easy to identify sometimes. There are 2 commonly seen species of bark scorpion and a night it doesn’t take much searching before you will find tailless whip scorpions.

I always find that spiders make a good subject for photography as they are generally stationary, either on the vegetation like the wandering spiders, disguised amongst the flower heads such as the crab spiders or suspended in a web such as the orb spiders.  Macro photography and orb spiders pose a little bit of a problem as the spider is not compact, having eight spread legs and any slight zephyr of wind will move the web in an out of focus including, of course, the spider itself.

I you choose to look it won’t take too long before you start to notice that Bosque is not short of spiders of any sort.  The Golden Orb Spiders, (Nephila clavipes), are perhaps the most noticeable as they make very large webs of bright yellow silk and in areas very close to or in the restaurant and around the cabins.  The spider itself is impressively large.

Golden-orb Spider

You will notice the large and seemingly complex web is made from two types of silk.  The orb is made from a sticky silk.  Outside the forest the silk is much brighter yellow in color.  This attracts in bees so 60% of her diet outside of the forest is bee.  Inside the forest the web is made from a much paler silk which largely remains invisible to a lot of insects.  The orb is being held in place by a non sticky silk which has a tensile quality half that of the finest steel.

Normally with orb spiders when something lands in the web they approach it, wrap it in silk and then deliver the lethal bite.  With the Golden Orb Spiders she approaches the stuck prey, bites first then wraps in silk.  So if she gets something such as a large aggressive ant or wasp trapped in the web she will not take it on in fear of being stung or bitten before she can deliver her kiss of death.

Close inspection may reveal other spiders living in her web.  The female sits in the centre and normally sitting in attendance above her is a small brown spider which is the male.  The male remains small but the female grows huge.  At the periphery of the orb there are tiny little spiders living a precarious existence.  These are kleptoparasites and they live by stealing her silken wrapped food parcels of predigesting prey left dangling from various locations in the web.  The female will tolerate kleptoparasites to a certain degree, they are adapted to living in her web and avoiding her, but once they become too numerous she will depart and build a new web elsewhere.

The female Golden Orb Spider can grow very large and may appear to be very intimidating but in fact she is totally harmless.  If you should be walking the trails and didn’t see the web, go crashing through it and end up with the spider climbing up your arm, it will not harm you, all you need do is pick it up and place it back on a leaf.

Another commonly seen spider that superficially resembles the Golden Orb Spider is the Silver Orb Spider, (Argiope argentatum).  The web is not as complex and is made of the more typical white colored silk familiar to most people.  They are reasonably large spiders and quite often have a telltale feature to the webs in the form of a large white cross.  This is known as a stabilimentum and can be visible for some distance from the web.

Silver-orb Spider

Much smaller in size and quite pretty as far as spiders go is the Orchid Spider, (Leucauge venusta).  They are Long-jawed Orb Weavers, Family: Tetragnathidae, but the spider is tiny and consequently the webs tend to small to, inserted as they are between the leaves of one plant as opposed to the two species above which can have their webs extended between two different plants.  Orchid spiders typically construct two types of web, the more commonly seen orb and another web which is produced as sheets of horizontally placed silken lines.  It was in just such a horizontal web that this Orchid Spider was photographed.

Orchard Spider

Studies of the Orchard Spider has shown that as the females mature they build their web in vertically higher strata of the vegetation.  The lower webs catch more insects but smaller in size than the higher webs which capture fewer insects but larger in size.

Although it spins a network of silk, the Lynx Spider, Family: Oxyopidae, are active daytime hunters.  They have excellent eyesight and use vision as the means by which to detect prey upon which the jump and dispatch before consuming.  This one was found in the Tropical Garden finishing sucking the juices out of its victim, one of the bee species. The opisthosoma, (body), is quite elongated and the legs are long and held in a basket-like grasping fashion.

Lynx Spider

Just walk around the grounds, keep your eyes open and re-adjust your point of focus and a whole different world, an amazing small world, will be revealed.

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 0.69 ins.  Total Weekly Rainfall 4.82 ins

Average Daily Rainfall 17.5 mm.  Total Weekly Rainfall 122.4 mm

Highest Daily Temp 87°F.  Lowest Daily Temp 74°F.

Highest Daily Temp 30.8°C.  Lowest Daily Temp 23.5°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
  • Common Opossum
  • Kinkajou
  • White-nosed Coati
  • Agouti
  • Paca
  • Alfaro’s Pygmy Squirrel
  • 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
  • Rufus Piha
  • Black-hooded Antshrike
  • Chestnut-backed Antbird
  • Short-billed Pigeon
  • Red-Capped Manakin
  • Chestnut-mandibled Toucan
  • Grey-headed Tanager
  • 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 Coral Snake
  • Central American Smooth Gecko
  • Common Anolis
  • Common Basilisk
  • Clawless Gecko
  • Four-lined Ameiva
  • Golfo Dulce Anolis
  • Litter Snake
  • Mediterranean House Gecko
  • Pug-nosed Anole
  • Salmon-bellied Racer
  • Terciopelo
  • Tropical Bird-eating Snake

Amphibians

  • Banana Frog
  • Black and Green Poison Arrow Frog
  • Golfo Dulce Poison Arrow Frog
  • Fitzinger’s Rain Frog
  • Masked Smilisca
  • 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

Butterflies

  • Anartia Fatima
  • Anartia jatrophae
  • Colobura dirce
  • Consul fabius
  • Dryas iulia
  • Eueides aliphera
  • Eueides lybia
  • Glutophrissa drusilla
  • Heliconius erato
  • Heliconius hecale
  • Heliconius ismenius
  • Heliconius sapho
  • Hermeuptychia hermes
  • Mesosemia zonalis
  • Morpho cypris
  • Morpho helenor
  • Morpho menelaus
  • Phoebis sennae
  • Pyrgus oileus
  • Siproeta stelenes

Plants

  • Alamandra  cathartica Flowering
  • Alpinia purpurata Flowering
  • Apeiba tibourbou Flowring
  • Arachis pintoi Flowering
  • Arundina graminifolia Flowering
  • Attalea rostrata Fruiting
  • Bauhinia variegata Flowering
  • Cascabella thevetia Flowering and Fruiting
  • Citrus spp  Fruiting
  • Clusia rosea Flowering
  • 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 citrifolia Fruiting
  • Ficus insipida Fruiting
  • Heliconia chartacea Flowering
  • Heliconia latispatha Flowering
  • Heliconia pogonantha Flowering
  • Heliconia psittacorum Flowering
  • Heliconia rostrata Flowering
  • Hibiscus rosa-sinensis Flowering
  • Hymenaea coubaril Fruiting
  • Hymenocallis littoralis Flowering
  • Ixora coccinea Flowering
  • Lantana camara Flowering and Flowering
  • 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

 

 

A New Year’s Heat Wave   Leave a comment


Felipe del Bosque Blog January 7th 2013

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A New Year

The dry season is upon us now.  We have had very little rain over recent weeks and that we have had has amounted to little more than an occasional short light shower with intermittent heavier showers later in the evening..  The temperatures are rising and the sun is shining all day long from dawn to dusk.  The skies are blue with rarely a cloud to be seen.

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This change in the weather stimulates a change in both plant and animal behavior.  Over the next few weeks it will be possible to see a number of trees starting to flower.  Already the Monkey Comb Tree, (Apeiba tibourbou), has been flowering and the early fruits that have fallen prematurely can be seen lying on the forest floor like small lime green sea urchins.  Later they will fall as larger brown spiny balls.

The Ajo Tree or Garlic Tree, (Caryocar costaricense), is producing its first flush of bright yellow flowers.  They don’t smell as good as they look, unless of course you have a liking for Italian food.  They give off the odor of garlic, albeit not as strong.  There is very little wind present in the forest and so the trees rely on animal agents for pollination and seed dispersal.  Bats are very important pollinators and seed dispersers which is why the plants reliant on these animal agents give off strange musky smells.  That includes the Garlic Tree which uses the scent of garlic to attract in nectar feeding bats which become covered in pollen that they then transport to the flowers of other Ajo trees affecting pollination.

Ajo Flower

Another tree with a showy display of flowers has been in bloom over the past week, the Jacaranda, (Jacaranda mimosifolia).  Its crown has been adorned with a spectacular display of small purple trumpet shaped flowers but the spectacle is short lived and now it has shed most of the flowers which lie covering the ground as a lilac carpet.  Jacaranda is not a native to Costa Rica, it is originally from Argentina.  It is however now found growing all over the world where conditions are suitable because of the colorful soft pastel lilac display set off against the green of the canopy.

Jacaranda

Sounds of the Summer

Now is the time of the mass cicada hatchings.  For 2 years the nymphal cicadas have bided their time burrowing in a mole-like fashion beneath the soil, tapping into the vascular system of plant roots and feeding on the copious sap.  They have grown in size, periodically shedding the exoskeleton before emerging and climbing up the vegetation to start the final few weeks of their lives.  To do this a profound change in the insect has to occur.

The last nymphal stage climbs up the trunk of a tree or a shrub, never very far, at the most about 6 feet or so.  You can quite often see the eerie looking hollow shells, which resemble some imaginary mediaeval beast, suspended in terminal animation, sometimes in collective groups beneath the leaves of plants,.  Down the back you will find a split in the skin where on some previous evening the adult will have swollen in size splitting the exoskeleton and then extricating itself by pulling out backwards only to emerge as a completely different looking creature.

Cicada Exoskeleton

The newly freed adult has wings that need to be pumped with fluid which flows through the veins until the clear cellophane-like material has been expanded and stretched tight.  It is now ready for flight and when ready it takes to the air making its way into the leafy canopy above.  This is the reproductive, dispersal and final stage in the life of the cicada.

Cicada

The males have two sound producing organs on the abdomen each of which is called a tymbal.  They act like the skin of a drum but instead of drumsticks beating on them it is muscular action that vibrates the membranes which results in the production of sound.  The brighter the sun and the hotter the daytime temperatures the more vigorously the cicadas call and with a greater intensity.

As we move into the mid period of the dry season, ever more cicadas emerge.  At the zenith of their activity, the sound becomes intense.  The cacophony rises and falls with each passing cloud, reaching a crescendo under a clear sky.  Later in the day as the light levels falter and dim, the cicadas reciprocate with a drop in noise levels.  Eventually they stop.  This though is only a momentary blessed relief on the ears as once the sun starts to dip below the horizon a new cicada, the Sundown Cicada, starts up to serenade the last flickering rays of sunlight filtering through the forest.  Its calling is no less intense than its daytime cousins.  But once the sun takes a final bow and darkness descends, it is as if someone has hit a switch and they all stop at one and the same instant.  Now out come the crickets and katydids to carry on the insect orchestra nocturne.

The function of the calls is to attract a mate.  When a female arrives and selects her chosen suitor, they pair up, the female subsequently lays her eggs in the bark or leaf tissue where they develop and hatch.  The larvae fall to the ground and begin the life cycle anew by tapping into the tree roots once again.

Cicadas belong to the insect Order Hemiptera, Suborder Homoptera Family Cicadidae.  In the adult stage they feed on plant sap as do the nymphs.  When walking through the forest, apart from the sound, you may well find yourself being hit by one of these insect missiles as the cicadas gyroscope doesn’t seem to function too well.  One other phenomenon witnessed by people this time of the year is what seems like a constant shower of rain despite cloudless skies.  When the cicada taps into the vascular system of the plant to feed on the sap which is under high pressure, the liquid is forced through the cicada’s alimentary canal and ejected from the rear end.  The insect will have extracted the proteinaceous element of the sap and eliminates the sugary fluid which the origin of the “rain”.

Sun Worshipers

I like this time of year when we experience the transition from wet to dry as it brings out more butterflies.  With every passing day, so long as the sun continues to shine, the butterflies increase in numbers of both individuals and species.  Many of them are freshly occluded and so their colors are vivid and intense.  There is a patch of Lantana camara not far from the restaurant which is more often than not covered in briefly alighting butterflies of many shapes and color, all taking a quick sip of nectar before moving off to the next bloom.  The yellow and orange blooms must be continually producing nectar as the butterflies flit around, one after the other visiting the same flower head.

Chlosyne theona

Fruit Salad

As the trees come into fruit it increases the incidence of monkey sightings around the producing trees.  Near the entrance to the Bosque restaurant some of the Royal Palms, (Attalea rostrata), are heavy with palm nuts.  Currently on a daily basis the White-faced Capuchin Monkeys, (Cebus capucinus), take time to visit and feed.  They will also feed on coconuts, (Cocos nucifera), many palms of which can be found fruiting year round near the Royal Palms.

It is not only the monkeys but the Red-tailed Squirrels, (Sciurus granatensis), too that enjoy both the coconuts and palm nuts.  They tend to keep a low profile when the monkeys are around but it is not too hard to find them if you look.

The bird life is as rich and varied as ever.  Reptile sightings are good but as might be expected the amphibian numbers are low.  The Black and Green Poison Dart Frogs, (Dendrobates auratus), can still be seen on the forest trails but no longer in profusion as when it was wetter.  Some of the larger frogs such as Savage’s Thin-fingered Frog, (Leptodactylus savegei), and the Marine Toad, (Rhinella marina), have started to congregate around the pond as the forest dries up.

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

Smelling You Out

Over the last week many visitors who have walked the Titi Trail have come across herds of Collared Peccary, (Tayassu tajacu).  There are many stories concerning the ferocity of these distant relatives of the pigs but they are completely without foundation, at least at Bosque.  They don’t have very efficient eyes or ears but they do have an excellent sense of smell.  Although they may have some difficulty seeing or hearing you they will have no problem determining that you are there if you are stood upwind of them.  If you are downwind they will largely be oblivious to your presence.

Collared Peccary

As it happened, one day I was out on the Titi Trail on my own looking to take photographs of whatever may present itself and relying on serendipity to provide the subject material over the course of the morning.  I am always looking for small things, most of my work is macro photography and you will rarely see photographs of mammals and birds illustrating my text.  I could hear ahead of me the sound of grunting and snuffling and it wasn’t too long before a sizeable herd of Collared Peccaries came towards me through the forest.  I stood where I was on the path and readied the camera on the tripod.  I did not move but waited until one or two of the peccaries crossed the path in front of me wholly oblivious to my presence.  I pressed the shutter, off went the flash and the startled animals leapt into the brush at the side of the path.  They weren’t quite sure as to what had happened and as curiosity got the better of them they tentatively returned, looking towards what had moments ago surprised them.  I still wasn’t moving.  Their noses lifted in the air to catch my scent but I was downwind.  Off went the flashes again which this time was too much so they scampered back the direction from which they had initially came to rejoin the rest of the herd.

Tayassu tayacu

Collared Peccaries can be found from the Southern United States down through Central American and throughout tropical South America.  They feed largely on fallen fruits and seeds as well as low growing plants.  They will also eat a small amount of animal life such as grubs, lizards and snakes.  They are usually found in herds and at Bosque have been seen in the vicinity of the Titi Trail numbering more than 20 in a group.

One the back down the road on the approach to the restaurant sitting under a palm feeding on the fallen palm nuts was an Agouti, (Dasyprocta punctata).  Agoutis are not an uncommon sight around the restaurant area on the lawns in front of the cabins.  They are caviomorph rodents related to capybaras, coypus and cavies or Guinea Pigs.  Agoutis are commonly seen around the grounds in the open areas feeding on large fallen fruits.  They are present in the forest too but not as obvious as they skulk around in the undergrowth.

Agouti

There has been a single bat roosting in the thatch of the Bosque restaurant for the past few weeks.  As the sun sets it can be seen cleaning itself and stretching its wings in preparation for its venture into the night air.  At same time as the guests to the hotel are dining in the evening the bat heads off in search of a meal too.

Unidentified Bat

It is very hard to identify bats.  First there are a lot of them, approximately 80 species on the Osa Peninsula. Without having them in hand it is difficult to scrutinize those diagnostic features vital to species identification.  Finally they tend to roost in inaccessible places so the best you are likely to see of bats is there silhouettes in flight against a darkening sky.  This one although tucked up in the thatch and therefore difficult to photograph was at least at a level where I could get a picture of some of the face.  That narrows down some of the options.  So we can see it doesn’t have a leaf nose, the ears are smaller and rounded and the fur is orangey brown.   That eliminates it from several families but I still wouldn’t like to say for sure exactly what it is.

Text and Photographs are taken from the forthcoming book:

The Natural History of Bosque del Cabo by Philip Davison

Temperature and Rainfall

Average Daily Rainfall 0.09 ins.  Total Weekly Rainfall 0.56 ins

Average Daily Rainfall 2.40 mm.  Total Weekly Rainfall 14.20 mm

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

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

Species List for the Week

Mammals

  • Howler Monkey
  • Spider Monkey
  • Squirrel Monkey
  • White-faced Monkey
  • White-nosed Coati
  • Alfaro’s Pygmy Squirrel

Birds

  • Mealy Amazon
  • Orange-chinned Parakeets
  • Red-lored Amazon
  • Scarlet Macaw
  • Broad-winged Hawk
  • Crested Caracara
  • Mangrove Black Hawk
  • Roadside Hawk
  • Golden-naped Woodpecker
  • Lineated Woodpecker
  • Pale-billed Woodpecker
  • Red-crowned Woodpecker
  • Long-tailed Woodcreeper
  • Tawny-winged Woodcreeper
  • Chestnut-backed Antbird
  • Short-billed Pigeon
  • White-tipped Dove
  • Rufus Piha
  • Long-billed Hermit
  • Rufus-tailed Hummingbird
  • Red-capped Manakin
  • Chestnut-mandibled Toucan
  • Bright-rumped Atilla
  • Dusky-capped Flycatcher
  • Great Kiskadee
  • Golden-crowned Spadebill
  • Riverside Wren
  • Tennessee Warbler
  • Great Tinamou
  • Black-throated Trogon
  • Masked Tityra
  • Black Vulture
  • Turkey Vulture

Reptiles

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

Amphibians

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

Butterflies

  • Adelpha cytherea
  • Adelpha heraclera
  • Anartia Fatima
  • Anartia jatrophae
  • Chlosyne theona
  • Dryas iulia
  • Eueides aliphera
  • Eueides lybia
  • Heliconius cydno
  • Heliconius erato
  • Heliconius hecale
  • Heliconius ismenius
  • Heliconius sapho
  • Heraclides cresphontes
  • Hermeuptychia hermes
  • Mesosemia zonalis
  • Morpho helenor
  • Morpho Menelaus
  • Pareuptychia ocirrhoe
  • Parides erithalion
  • Pierella helvina
  • Phoebis sennae
  • Pompeius pompeius
  • Pyrgus oileus
  • Pyrrhogyra crameri
  • Urbanus simplicius

Plants

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

 

 

Resisting Venomous Skeletons   4 comments


Felipe del Bosque Blog August 6th 2012

Sun Shade

This week started cloudy and overcast but soon gave way to glorious sunshine which in turn gave rise to more rain.  The rain has been quite light though, we have not experienced the storms that occurred last week.  Having said that, there has been thunder rumbling around for a while, but as is so often the case it doesn’t amount to anything.

Stripped to the Bone

On one of the primary forest tours last week as the group I had out with me came towards the end of the trail I could hear the soft trilling call of a male Golfo Dulce Poison Arrow Frog, (Phyllobates vittatus).  We were approaching the creek which at this point is crossed by a small wooden foot bridge.  I stopped to listen and ascertained that the frog was calling from just the other side of the bridge in the creek bed.  Sometimes the frogs call from under the leaf litter and other times they appear to be master ventriloquists, their calls seemingly coming from a location while the frog appears to be in another.  On this occasion this one was not too hard to find and photograph.

After securing the images, we scrambled back on to the bridge and one of the group, Ian Linnett, who was visiting Bosque with his wife, and their 2 sons, asked me the identity of a skeleton that was lying in the stream bed but back around the bend behind us that I had missed.  I jumped down into the creek again and found a perfectly clean, polished white skull somewhat removed from the rest of the intact skeleton.  The shape of the cranium and the dentition were diagnostic of a cat.  It was not a big cat and looking at all the bones together I concluded it was a Jaguarundi, (Hepailurus yagouarundi), skeleton.  That same evening there was a tremendous downpour and so the next day when I walked the trail the skeleton that 24 hours earlier had been complete was now broken up and the bones littered the banks.  When something the size of a medium sized mammal dies in the forest it can be reduced to cleanly picked bone in as shorter time as 36 hours.

I brought the skull back to add to the Bosque bone collection in the lodge’s museum.  There is a small collection of bones that visitors have found on walks over the years.  When I placed the new skull amongst them it occurred to me that it might be an entertaining idea by way of a change to photograph some of the specimens we have as most of the time I take pictures of living not dead things.

Mug Shots for the Boneyard

I started with a skull most people would instantly recognize as they are so similar the human skulls, that of a primate; the Spider Monkey, (Ateles geoffroyi).  The first and most notable feature is the large forward facing eye sockets.  For arboreal monkeys, (all of Costa Rica’s monkey species are arboreal), it would be of great benefit while moving through the trees tops to be able to gauge depth and distance.  Forward facing eyes with overlapping binocular vision, such as we as primates have, allow for that perspective.   This is especially true of the Spider Monkeys which are natural born acrobats spending their lives swinging from branch to branch and free falling from upper to lower levels of the canopy.

Spider Monkey         Spider Monkey         Ateles geoffroyi

All of the 4 monkey species found in Costa Rica also live in the grounds of Bosque del Cabo.  They all live in different parts of the forest and they all feed on different types of food.  Howler Monkeys, (Alouatta palliata), and Spider Monkeys both inhabit the higher regions of the canopy but Howler Monkeys are essentially leaf-eaters while the diet of Spider Monkeys consists largely of fruit.  White-faced Capuchin Monkeys tend to stay in the mid levels of the forest.  They have a very mixed diet; flowers, fruit and young leaves.  But 65% of the Capuchin diet is insects, frogs and lizards.  However, the Capuchins will take bigger prey and have regularly been seen on the grounds of Bosque catching and eating the Chestnut-mandibled Toucans, (Ramphastos swainsoni).  The smallest of the monkey species at Bosque is also the most carnivorous; the Squirrel Monkey, (Saimiri oerstedii).  Squirrel Monkeys prefer the denser cover of secondary forest rather than primary forest, they tend to stay low down near forest edges and 90% of their diet is insects, frogs and lizards, all that small stuff they find by gleaning as they move through the forest.

Ateles geoffroyi

Although the dentition of most primates is rather unspecialized when compared to other mammals, there is still a variation dependent on dietary requirements.  Howler Monkeys have small incisors but high crested molars designed for shearing leaf material and males have larger canines than females.  Spider Monkeys on the other hand have large incisors with small molars to deal with a fruit diet.  Capuchins have large incisors as well as large, thickly enameled premolars and premolars to enable the cracking of nut shells.  Squirrel Monkeys sharply crested premolars and molars to slice open insect exoskeletons.

Next is the Jaguarundi skull.  It has a short snout typical of cats which rely more on sound and vision to locate prey rather than scent.  They have reasonably large eye sockets placed more on the side of the head.  But look at those teeth; they leave no doubt as to their carnivorous nature.  The upper and lower canines are lethal stabbing weapons designed to hold the prey.  Typical of carnivores are the carnassials, the rearmost premolar of the upper jaw and forward most molar of the lower jaw which fit together like the blades of a pair of pinking scissors, designed to shear through flesh.

Jaguarundi         Jaguarundi         Hepailurus yagouarundi

You can also see the large zygomatic arch through which the large temporal muscle passes.  Running along the top of the skull is the sagittal crest, a bony ridge to which the temporal muscle is attached in carnivores, (and some other mammals), allowing greater muscular strength in delivering a very strong bite.

Hepailurus yagouarundi

Whereas cats have short snouts, the dogs have long snouts which house an amazing olfactory sensory apparatus that give them abilities way beyond our comprehension.  Although not dogs, the Procyonids or Raccoon family have that same ability.  The White-nosed Coati, (Nasua narica), familiar to most visitors to Bosque as they can be quite easily observed walking nonchalantly around the grounds, has an acute sense of smell that more than compensates the creature for its apparently hopeless sense of sight and hearing.  Anyone who has ignored the lodge advice or inadvertently left food in the cabin will have probably been paid a visit by a coati.  As with the Jaguarundi skull, the dentition points to a more carnivorous diet but coatis are not fussy eaters; they will take anything from fruit, grubs, crabs, reptiles, amphibians, rodents and chocolate bars.

White-nosed Coati         White-nosed Coati         Nasua narica

Nasua narica

Finally the largest skull in the collection belongs to a distantly related member of the pig family, the Collared Peccary, (Tayassu tajacu).  The peccary has that long skull which like the coati houses wonderful olfactory sense organs.  The lower jaw is long and narrow, typical of animals that crush or grind food in their molars rather than the short curved lower jaw of carnivores which exerts more pressure at the front of the mouth where the incisors and canines are housed.  Peccaries eat a lot of vegetative material including large nuts which are crushed directly in the molars.  But the most noticeable feature are the large and fearsome looking canines.  Peccaries eat very little by way of meat so they are not used in the same fashion as a dog or cat.  These ferocious tusks grow continuously until the animal is about 5 years old.  The upper and lower canines rub against one another thus sharpening the edges but also they interlock resulting in reduced sideways motion of the jaw and action required more by grinding animals than crushers.

Collared Peccary         Collared Peccary         Tayassu tajuca

Tayassu tajuca

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

 Bite Me, Eat You

One night last week I went out early in the evening to get photographs of the male frogs as they emerge from their daytime cover, set up their territories and start to call for females, at least that was the initial plan.  On my way over to the pond, a large dark shape moving in front and away from me on the lawn caught my attention.  It was a large snake of about 6 feet in length and of substantial girth.  Although there are many snakes that live here it is not always easy to find them but there are some creatures that are experts at doing just that.  They have to be as snakes form the main basis of their diet.  This was one of those creatures, a snake eating snake, the Mussurana, (Clelia clelia).

Mussurana         Mussurana         Clelia clelia

I had found them around the pond in the past.  There are a lot of frogs that breed around the pond and consequently there are a lot of snakes which specialize in eating frogs and frog’s eggs.  At night it is common to see large numbers of Cat-eyed Snakes, (Leptodeira septentrionalis), and during the day their diurnal counterpart, the Parrot Snakes, (Leptophis ahaetulla).  On the odd occasion I will find a Terciopelo, (Bothrops asper), by the pond as they too are not averse to eating some of the large frogs such as the Smoky Jungle Frog, (Leptodactylus savegei).  It is hardly surprising then that all this serpentine activity might attract a Mussurana on the hunt.

Clelia clelia

The Mussurana is a robust and fearsome predator.  The body is solid, muscular and strong.  It can attain a length just somewhat short of 9 feet.  The coloration is a beautiful blue grey with a uniformly cream belly.  They tend to be nocturnal but if observed during the day the highly polished scales resembles cabochons of opalescent moonstones set by a master jeweller into its long sinuous body.  With each twist and turn of the coils the fabulous blue iridescence gives the impression of a scintillating yet cold azure flame enveloping the entire length of its body.

But what is beauty to us spells death for its legless cousins.  The Mussurana actively seeks out other snakes and when it finds what it is looking for; it strikes and holds the prey in its powerful jaws.  Those muscular coils are wrapped around the unfortunate victim is less than a blink of the eye.  The constricting force they apply begins to asphyxiate the immobilized prey.  All the while, the Mussarana is chewing into body of its captive, the jaws house rear fangs that inject venom that will quickly dispatch the quarry.The Mussurana is a robust and fearsome predator.  The body is a solid, muscular and strong.  It can attain a length just somewhat short of 9 feet.  The coloration is a beautiful blue grey with a uniformly cream belly.  They tend to be nocturnal but if observed during the day the highly polished scales give a fabulous blue iridescence that flickers like a cold azure flame enveloping its body scintillating with each twist and turn of the coils.  But what is beauty to us spells death for its legless cousins.  The Mussurana actively seeks out other snakes and when it finds what it is looking for; it strikes and holds the prey in its powerful jaws.  Those muscular coils are wrapped around the unfortunate victim is less than a blink of the eye.  The constricting force they apply begins to asphyxiate the immobilized prey.  All the while, the Mussarana is chewing into body of its captive, the jaws house rear fangs that inject venom that will quickly dispatch the quarry.

The Mussurana is held in high regard in Latin America due to its predilection for feeding on highly venomous pit vipers such as the Terciopelo.  For most predators trying to feed on another predator that is potentially more dangerous than yourself is a hazardous existence but the Mussurana has evolved immunity to the venom of pit vipers.  It has not, on the other hand, developed immunity to the venom of coral snakes.

The individual that I now had in front of me tried to make a rapid escape but it was too late, I had already seen it.  I bent down and picked it up.  It offered no resistance at all.  Some species of snake are renowned for their irascible natures, here the Tropical Bird-eating Snake, (Pseustes poecilinotus), which will lash out at the slightest provocation.  Other species have individuals that are miserable and others that are placid, the Boa, (Boa constrictor), for example.  The Mussurana is noted for its disinclination to bite.  They do however sometimes display the strange behavioral trait of swinging violently round and hitting you with their heads, a tendency I have observed in some other snakes too.  Just by way of interest, I have handled many Terciopelos here and despite their reputation as an aggressive serpent, I have never experienced one that ever acted in an aggressive manner.

One final point of interest is that the young Mussuranas are a blood red in color and only later develop the blue grey of the adults.  I find the large ones every now and then but have never come across one of the small ones.

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 0.19 ins.  Total Weekly Rainfall 1.30 ins

Average Daily Rainfall 4.7 mm.  Total Weekly Rainfall 33.0 mm

Highest Daily Temp 89°F.  Lowest Daily Temp 75°F.

Highest Daily Temp 31.7°C.  Lowest Daily Temp 24.0°C.

Species List for the Week

Mammals

  • Central American Squirrel Monkey
  • Howler Monkey
  • Spider Monkey
  • White-faced Monkey
  • White-nosed Coati
  • Agouti
  • Red-tailed Squirrel

Birds

  • Mealy Amazon
  • Red-lored Amazon
  • Scarlet Macaws
  • Great Curassow
  • Crested Caracara
  • Laughing Falcon
  • Roadside Hawk
  • Wedge-billed Woodcreeper
  • Rufus Piha
  • Pale-billed Woodpecker
  • Chestnut-backed Antbird
  • Black-hooded Antshrike
  • Short-billed Pigeon
  • White-tipped Dove
  • Blue-crowned Motmot
  • Long-billed Hermit
  • Red-capped Manakin
  • Chestnut-mandibled Toucan
  • Grey-headed Tanager
  • Bright-rumped Atilla
  • Great Kiskadee
  • Great Tinamou
  • Black-throated Trogon
  • Black Vulture
  • Turkey Vulture

Reptiles

  • Barred Ameiva
  • Cat-eyed Snake
  • Central American Whiptail
  • Clawless Gecko
  • Common Basilisk
  • Four-lined Ameiva
  • Golfo Dulce Anolis
  • Litter Skink
  • Mussurana

 Amphibians

  • Banana Frog
  • Black and Green Poison Arrow Frog
  • Fitzinger’s Rain Frog
  • Gladiator Frog
  • Golfo Dulce Poison Arrow Frog
  • Marine Toad
  • Olive Tree Frog
  • Red-eyed Green Tree Frog
  • Smoky Jungle Frog
  • Tink Frog

Butterflies

  • Anartia fatima
  • Anartia jatrophae
  • Archeaoprepona demophon
  • Caligo eurilochus
  • Dryas iulia
  • Glutophrissa drusilla
  • Heliconius erato
  • Heliconius hecale
  • Heliconius ismenius
  • Heliconius sapho
  • Hermeuptychia hermes
  • Junonia evarete
  • Morpho helenor
  • Morpho menelaus
  • Metacharis victrix
  • Opsiphanes tamarindi
  • Pareuptychia ocirrhoe
  • Philaethria dido
  • Phoebis argante
  • Pierella luna
  • Pyrrhogyra crameri
  • Saliana longirostris
  • Siproeta stelenes
  • Urbanus tanna

 Plants

  • Alamandra  cathartica Flowering
  • Alpinia purpurata Flowering
  • Apeiba tibourbou Flowering
  • Arachis pintoi Flowering
  • Arundina graminifolia Flowering
  • Aspidosperma spruceanum Fruiting
  • Astrocaryum standelyarum Fruiting
  • Asterogyne martiana Flowering
  • Atrocarpus heterophyllus Fruiting
  • Averrhoa carambola Fruiting
  • Cascabella thevetia Flowering
  • Chamaedorea costaricana Fruiting
  • Cocos nucifera Flowering andFruiting
  • 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
  • Gustavia brachycarpa Fruiting
  • Heisteria accuminata 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
  • Lacistema aggregatum Fruiting
  • Lacmellea panamensis Fruiting
  • Lantana camara Flowering andFlowering
  • Lagerstroemia speciosaFruiting
  • Mangifera indica Fruiting
  • Miconia argentia Fruiting
  • Morinda citrifolia Fruiting
  • Musa acuminate Flowering andFruiting
  • Naucleopsis ulei Fruiting
  • Nephelium lappaceum Fruiting
  • Pandanus tectonus Fruiting
  • Piper auritum Flowering and Fruiting
  • Piper nigrum Fruiting
  • Piper umbellatum Flowering and Fruiting
  • Pleiostachya pruinosa Flowering
  • Plumeria rubra Flowering
  • Psidium guajava Fruiting
  • Stachytarpheta frantzii Flowering
  • Terminalia catappa Flowering
  • Thunbergia grandiflora Flowering
  • Virola guatemalensis Fruiting
  • Virola koschnyi Fruiting
  • Zammia sp Flowering

Bosque del Cabo January 2011 Nature Review   5 comments


Felipe del Bosque Blog January 2011 Review

 

January is the time when we see blue skies almost every day at Bosque del Cabo.  There is still a little rain but for the most part the days are clear and bright.  The forest floors are starting to dry out significantly and small cracks appear as the relatively thin soils lose their moisture content.  The vegetation however continues to retain its post wet season verdant coloration.  Now a lot of the plants are in bloom.  Flying into Puerto Jimenez from San Jose, as you cross over the Osa Peninsula, you will see the multifarious colors of blooms that cannot be seen from the forest floor, at least not until they fall to the ground, at which point they will have faded to a shade less vibrant than in the canopy.

Water Hyacinth Blooming at Pond

This is a good time of the year to see the orchids bloom, but as most of Costa Rica’s orchids are epiphytes growing on the uppermost part of a tree trunks and branches then that is where you will have to be to see them.

The air will be pervaded by various strange odors, some of which you would not always attribute to flowering plants. The January forest air normally hangs heavy with the scent of garlic.  The bright yellow flowers of the Garlic Tree, (Caryocar costaricensis),  are the source of that scent.  Bats are very important pollinators and seed dispersers in a tropical rainforest and rather than being attracted to sweet smells, they prefer those musky smells that are prevalent now, one of which is that garlicky odor that attracts the nectar feeding bats.

The year started for me in a somewhat exciting manner.  On the night of the first, when I returned to my cabin, I found a Bark Scorpion on the wall, low to the ground.  I illuminated the scorpion with the black light and set the camera to a 30 second exposure @ f/16.  The creature did not move at all and so I managed to obtain a nice image of the fluorescence from the exoskeleton that scorpions are famed for when exposed to ultraviolet light.

Centruroides bicolor

As ever beetles are there if you look.  Here is another couple of Longhorn species that I managed to get close up to.  The Hooded Mantis, (Choeradodis sp), makes an excellent photographic subject.  Mantis’s have a habit of turning the head to look at you and the structure of the eye gives the impression, a false one, that the eye has a pupil.  It is similar to the concept of the eyes of a portrait that follow round a room.  Photographed from beneath the insect, the eponymously expanded thorax adds extra character to the picture.

Longhorn Beetle     Longhorn Beetle     Longhorn Beetle

Hooded Mantis

If you take a short walk down to the pond you will see several species of dragonfly.  Each individual has its own perch and if disturbed and then left for a short period of time, it will return.  Just like butterflies, dragonflies are very sensitive to movement, so if you want your photograph, sit still, have the camera set and when it re-alights, just hit the shutter button.

The butterflies have now started to appear in larger numbers.  Only a few yards further down the path from the pond is a patch of Lantana camara, a native bush with orange/yellow flowers that certain species of butterfly such as the longwings find irresistible.  Unlike the dragonflies, which when perched, tend to stay in that position for a while, the butterflies are continually moving.  The best policy here is to choose a blossom and then keep and eye on any approaching individual which may then visit several blooms on the same flower head.  You will need a faster shutter speed and maybe some flash to freeze the motion.  If you are lucky the individual will settle for a second or two but don’t count on it being any more than that.

Adelpha cytherea     Marpesia petreus     Dione juno

Anartia fatima     Lantana camara     Dione juno

The adult butterflies may be easy to locate but in my experience, the larval form, the caterpillars are not.  Many caterpillars are beautifully and subtly colored.  As so many of the caterpillars I do find are those of moths, they remain just that, unidentified moth caterpillars.  There are some though that do stand out quite markedly.  The green caterpillar is that of a very indistinct little brown moth, the Saddleback Moth, (Sibine stimulea).  The caterpillar is found on the undersides of some broad leaved shrubs such as the Calathea.  It is armed with an array of urticating spines, bristles and hairs that cause a severe rash even with the slightest touch.  But even that heavy duty defense can be breached as has been the case with the example of an individual covered in the cocoons of a parasitoid wasp, the larvae of which had been consuming the now deceased caterpillars living flesh before pupating.

Unidentified Moth Caterpillar     Saddleback Moth Caterpillar     Parasitised Saddleback Moth Caterpillar

Saddleback Moth Caterpillar

The forest floor was still damp enough for some of the rainfrogs to be found.  The rain frogs are generally colored in muted tones that blend into the background of the soil and leaf litter hues.  One frog commonly seen on the forest floor of Bosque is the Black and Green Poison Arrow Frog.  Its bright neon green stripes contrast with the black markings rendering it as almost glowing against the dull backdrop of dead leaves.  The very visible coloration is not there to invite potential predators to an easy meal but rather to warn them of the toxic and potentially deadly skin secretion exuded by the amphibian in times of distress.  Frogs make superb photographic subjects if you take your time and move slowly in their vicinity.

Craugastor stejnegerianus     Craugastor rugosus     Dendrobated auratus

Snakes on the other hand require a great deal of patience and luck to photograph.  In the spirit of self preservation snakes don’t want to be where you are, they will make every effort to go move in exactly the opposite direction from your lens.  They move so fluidly and gracefully, not to mention rapidly for an animal with no legs.  The young Northern Cat-eyed Snake, (Leptodeira septentrionalis) featured here eventually settled, snakes exhaust easily and it was only 8 inches long.  The Tropical Bird-eating Snake, (Pseustes poecilinotus), was a different proposition.  They are fast and agile as well as irritably belligerent.  Not everyone is comfortable handling snakes, particularly of an unfamiliar species, but knowing your subject helps with the chances of a good photo.  Again my advice would be slow and fluid movements and get ready to move out of the way should the snake take offence to your close proximity.

Leptodeira septentrionalis     Pseustes poecilinotus     Pseustes poecilinotus

These little Clawless Geckoes abound in the buildings of Bosque but are so small that they are going to be overlooked by most people.  This species is Sphaerodactylus graptolaemus, the name being longer than the creature.  The spine over the eye is one of its distinguishing features.

Sphaerodactylus graptolaemus     Sphaerodactylus graptolaemus     Norops pentaprion

Whereas the Clawless Gecko is hard to find due to its size, the Lichen Anole, (Norops pentaprion), is not so easily spotted because it blends in so well with the color of the tree bark.  It is one of several different Anole species to be found on the grounds of Bosque.  This is one of the larger, more solidly bodied anoles.  It is less inclined to run and will stay put until the last minute before heading up and around the opposite side of the tree to yourself.  When you go around to find it, more often than not, it will have miraculously disappeared.

The grounds of Bosque are a bird lover’s delight.  All manner of avian fauna can be found here.  For those with a particular liking for raptors, there are Peregrine Falcons, Bat Falcons, Barred Forest Falcons, Laughing Falcons, Solitary Eagles, Ornate Hawk Eagles, Black and white Hawk Eagles, Roadside Hawks, White Hawks, Mangrove Black Hawks, Great Black Hawks, Broad-winged Hawks, Yellow-headed Caracaras, Crested Caracaras, Swallow-tailed Kites and Double-toothed Kites, just to name a few.  I don’t normally have the camera set for bird or mammal photos and so these are the exception rather than the rule.

Crested Caracara

Mangrove Black Hawk

Once again, Pumas have been the talking point of Bosque this year.  In January, before the ground started drying, it was still possible to see pug marks in the damp earth.  Never very far from the cat tracks you could find without too much endeavor, at least one or two individuals of the Pumas diet, in this case a Collared Peccary, (Tayassu tajacu).  Collared Peccaries can sometimes be found in herds of up to 20 individuals on the Titi Trail.  The reputation of their dangerous nature is saved for the larger White-lipped Peccary which is very rarely seen on the grounds of Bosque.  The collared cousins do not pose a danger and will move off huffing and puffing if disturbed.

Puma Pug Mark on Titi Trail

Collared Peccary on Titi Trail

Text and Photographs are taken from the forthcoming books:

The Natural History of Bosque del Cabo by Philip Davison

The Small World of Bosque del Cabo

The Colors of Bosque del Cabo

A Children’s Guide to Bosque del Cabo Rainforest Lodge

Temperature and Rainfall

Average M Temp High 86°F.  Average Daily Temp Low 72°F.

Average Daily Rainfall 0.20 ins.  Total Monthly Rainfall 6.22 ins

Average Daily Temp High 30.0°C.  Average Daily Temp Low 22.3°C.

Average Daily Rainfall 5.1 mm.  Total Monthly Rainfall 158.0 mm

 

A Poisonous Tropical Tiger   1 comment


Felipe del Bosque Blog July 3rd 2011

 

No Change

The wet season continues with overcast days and nightly rain.  The rain hasn’t been too heavy this week and towards the end of the week we had some nice sunny days with the rain falling at night.  The temperatures continue as expected for this time of year, reaching a maximum in the day of the lower nineties and at night consistently dropping to the lower seventies.

A Walk in the Woods

While I was walking on the Titi Trail last week, at one point I had a Collared Peccary, (Tayassu tajacu), standing right on the path in front of me.  It simply looked at me and then walked into the forest, but only just off the trail.  As I continued on my way, the peccary walked without too much concern slightly in front and to my right.  When I first arrived at Bosque 11 years ago, this situation would never have happened.  As soon as the peccaries caught drift of your presence they would scatter with great speed, teeth clacking and grunting, in the opposite direction.  Now they seemingly couldn’t care less about your being there.

There are two species of peccary on the Osa Peninsula, the Collared Peccary, which we find on the grounds of Bosque del Cabo and the White-lipped Peccary, which inhabits the forests of the the National Park, Corcovado.  Only once in 11 years have I seen the White-lipped Peccaries at Bosque.  That was a herd that had migrated east along the coast from the park and passed by my cabin while doing so.

The Collared Peccary is normally found on the Titi Trail in numbers of 7 or 8, but occasionally as many as 20 have been seen together.  They are generalist feeders, taking lots of fruit and seeds but they will feed on animals as well, grubbing up arthropods from the ground and even rodents and birds.  In the damper areas of Bosque, grows a plant that we are familiar with as a common house plant, Dumb Cane, (Dieffenbachia sp).  These are deadly poisonous plants, the leaves of which contain crystals of Calcium Oxalate, which doesn’t do your kidneys any good.  Collared Peccaries are particularly fond of Dumb Cane and eat large quantities without suffering any ill effects, the digestive systems obviously having evolved to safely metabolize the Calcium Oxalate.

Not that much further along the trail, I could hear the soft whistles of a group of ground living birds, the Great Curassow, (Crax rubra).  It was a group of turkey sized females sporting plumage of mottled creams and browns.  Just like the peccary, they were in no particular hurry.

That has not been the case at night though when I leave the office late.  For the past week, as soon as I step down from the office steps, some startled creature has gone crashing underneath the deck.  I had an inkling of what it might be; we only have one nocturnal animal that will make that kind of noise, somewhat like a tank crashing through the undergrowth, a Nine-banded Armadillo, (Dasypus novemcinctus).  Sure enough, one night, just after the crashing, I could see the armadillo on the other side of the deck where it emerged.  Armadillos have a short term memory of little more than a nanosecond and recommence their noisy activities regardless of whether or not the potential danger has passed.

Cracks are Forming

The Milky Tree that fell last month has now started showing signs of drying out.  All the milky resinous sap that initially leaked out has gone, mostly taken by bees of various species for nest construction.  Now we have the first level of obvious decomposers moving in, the beetles.  Rather than the adults, it is the larvae that feed on the dead wood, hastening its decomposition.  At the minute though lots of species of beetle are pairing up on the face of the now exposed heartwood which is where they will lay their eggs.

Broad-nosed Weevil          Weevils

In the Comfort Zone

The Long-billed Hermit, (Phaethornis longirostris), that had started to construct her nest by the kitchen entrance last week has completed her task and is now incubating eggs.  She is completely unperturbed by the constant comings and goings of the lodge staff in the area, and the traffic is constant all day long.  It could well be that is why she opted to build the nest in that particular location.  The human non-predators may well be seen as keeping any potential predators of her, the eggs or her chicks at bay.  Having said that though, many of the birds’ nests that are built in or around the restaurant area, sooner or later attract the attention of the Tropical Bird-eating Snakes, and they too have little regard for the big pink monkeys wandering around the concrete and stucco jungle.

Long-billed Hermit

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

Flying Tigers

One night when I went back to my cabin I was greeted by an unexpected by pleasant surprise.  Two brilliantly colored Tropical Tiger Moths, (Belemnia inaurata), were resting on the screen of my door.  The next day those colors, that the night before had been so bright, now became even more scintillatingly beautiful.  So I had to get a photograph.

Nature tends to produce bright colors for a reason, generally that of communication, either within the species or between species.  Most species of butterfly and moth that exhibit bright and flashy colors are suggesting that you give them a wide berth.  These colors are warning colors and in the case of butterflies or moths you are normally being warned that the insect is packed with poisons.  Some of the brightly colored butterflies we found around the grounds of Bosque, the Heliconiids, contain cyanide.  The Tropical Tiger Moth in the larval stage feeds on plants containing pyrrolizidines, (which damage the liver), and cardenolides, (which cause heart failure).  These are stored in the body and passed through to the adult stage where they serve to make the moth unpalatable.  If a bird or a lizard ignore the warning coloration and feed on the moth, they are rewarded, not with a tasty treat but rather with a foul tasting shock that will have them think twice before taking something sporting those colors again in the future.

Tropical Tiger Moth

Text and Photographs are taken from the forthcoming book:

The Natural History of Bosque del Cabo by Philip Davison

Temperature and Rainfall

Average Daily Temp High 89°F.  Average Daily Temp Low 73°F.

Average Daily Rainfall 0.53 ins.  Total Weekly Rainfall 3.71 ins

Average Daily Temp High 31.1°C.  Average Daily Temp Low 22.7°C.

Average Daily Rainfall 13.3 mm.  Total Weekly Rainfall 93.0 mm

Species List for the Week

Mammals

  • Howler Monkey
  • Spider Monkey
  • Capuchin Monkey
  • Virginia Opossum
  • Nine-banded Armadillo
  • Agouti
  • Red-tailed Squirrel
  • Collared Peccary

Birds

  • Red-lored Amazons
  • Scarlet Macaw
  • Long-billed Hermit
  • Rufus-tailed Hummingbird
  • Stripe-throated Hermit
  • Great Currasow
  • Crested Caracara
  • Laughing Falcon
  • Black-hooded Antshrike
  • Chestnut-backed Antbird
  • Common Paureque
  • Rufus Piha
  • Short-billed Pigeon
  • White-tipped Dove
  • Red-capped Manakin
  • Chestnut-mandibled Toucan
  • Cherrie’s Tanager
  • Great Tinamou
  • Riverside Wren
  • King Vulture
  • Black Vulture
  • Turkey Vulture

Reptiles

  • Barred Ameiva
  • Four-lined Ameiva
  • Golfo Dulce Anolis
  • Clawless Gecko
  • Mediterranean House Gecko
  • Cat-eyed Snake
  • Litter Snake
  • Tropical Bird-eating Snake

Amphibians

  • Marine Toad
  • Red-eyed Green Tree Frog
  • Banana Frog
  • Smokey Jungle Frog
  • Black and Green Poison Arrow Frog
  • Fitzinger’s Rain Frog
  • Stejneger’s Dirt Frog
  • Tink Frog

Butterflies

  • Anartia Fatima
  • Astraptes fulgerator
  • Battus belus
  • Callimormus radiola
  • Cithaerias pireta
  • Colobura dirce
  • Euphyes vestries
  • Eurema albula
  • Eurybia lycisca
  • Glutophrissa drusilla
  • Heliconius erato
  • Heliconius hecale
  • Heliconius ismenius
  • Heliconius sapho
  • Heraclides cresphontes
  • Hermeuptychia hermes
  • Laparus doris
  • Marpesia berania
  • Morpho menelaus
  • Pareuptychia ocirrhoe
  • Phoebis argante
  • Phoebis sennae
  • Pierella luna
  • Pyrgus oileus
  • Saliana esperi
  • Siproeta stelenes
  • Urbanus tanna

 

Plants

  • Black Alligator Tree Flowering and Fruiting
  • Calabash flowering and fruiting
  • Cedrillo Fruiting
  • Clusia Vine Fruiting
  • Dinner on a Plate Fruiting
  • Monkey Comb Tree Flowering and Fruiting
  • Candlestick Plant Flowering and Flowering.
  • Figs Fruiting
  • Lechoso Fruiting
  • May Tree Fruiting
  • Manglillo Fruiting
  • Nutmeg Fruiting
  • Santa Maria Flowering and Fruiting
  • Yayito Fruiting

WEIRD PLANTS: BALANOPHORACEAE   Leave a comment


There is a small photographic group staying at the moment and they echoed the sentiments of the group that was leaving as they arrived, namely, in the one afternoon and morning that they had been on the Osa Peninsula, they were stupefied by the sheer number of animals they were seeing.  I gave them some advice as to where they should go to photograph the various subjects they were after, left them to it and off I went to walk my transect.

Add a little sunlight to warm the air and out will come the butterflies.  They are inactive during periods of inclement weather but today they appeared almost spontaneously with the sun.  It was nice to see three species of Sulfur; medium sizes yellow butterflies that grace the open garden areas.

Butterfly, Cloudless Sulphur, Phoebis sennae, Costa Rica, Veridion Adventures, Nature Pholotgraphy, Travel

Cloudless Sulphur, (Phoebis sennae)

On the forest trail, I knew there was an Agouti, (Dasyprocta punctata), and White-nosed Coati, (Nasua narica), nearby because of the fresh tracks on the ground.    For the same reason, I knew there was a herd of Collared Peccary, (Tayassu tajacu), not too far ahead.  As I walked up a muddy incline, listening to the soft trilling call of a Black-throated Trogon, (Trogon rufus), my attention became redirected to a clacking sound that I know very well.  Up on top of the ridge were the peccaries, the males snapping their teeth together in a signal of alarm.  Peccaries, like the coatis, have exceptionally bad sight and hearing but an excellent sense of smell.  If you are downwind of them they quite often have no idea that you are there.  If you are upwind of them they will pick up your scent immediately.  And so it was with this herd of about ten or twelve, they knew I was there, but also probably had no real fear as they have not been hunted on the grounds for the past ten years.  As I continued to walk up the hill they just walked off into the forest to continue about their business.

Collared Peccary, Tayassu tajacu, Costa Rica, Veridion Adventures, Nature Photography, Travel

Collared Peccary, (Tayassu tajacu)

There were two other noteworthy sightings today, one a new species of butterfly and the other an occasionally seen species of damselfly.  The butterfly was one of the Firetip Skippers, Myscelus assaricus, the forewing divided between orange and black in color with a broad white band.  The most eye-catching feature though is the fast “buzzy” flight so typical of some of the skippers.  That now makes three new species of butterfly in one week.  The damselfly was the Helicopter Damselfly, one of the largest damselflies on the planet.  There are several species but this was the impressively large Megaloprepus coerulatus.  Helicopter Damselflies are named after their flight pattern, the four transparent wings tipped, in this species, with opaque white and a dark blue/black band, appear to move in the fashion of a helicopters rotors.  They are specialized feeders on spiders.  They can be seen hovering vertically up and down or horizontally in and out searching spider webs for their occupants.  When they find one, they grab it, reverse away from the web nip off the head and legs and then consume the soft body parts.

Damselfly, Helicopter Damselfly, Megaloprepus caerulatus, Costa Rica, Veridion Adventures, Nature Photography, Travel

Helicopter Damselfly, (Megaloprepus caerulatus)

Weird Plants: Balanophoraceae

When people think of a flowering plant, it brings to mind something with roots, a stem, green leaves and when in season, flowers and fruit. Flowering plants evolved 100 million year ago and from that time to this have evolved into thousands of forms, the nearest estimate being in the region of 250,000 species.  There are as many as 90,000 species of flowering plants in the Neotropics of which 9,000 species occur in Costa Rica.  Flowering plants have flowers; sometimes they are large, showy and colorful, yet other times totally inconspicuous.  In shape they make exhibit what we imagine as a typical flower but others may be a bizarre as visual copies of the sex organs of a female bee.  Some flowers have a delicious perfume while others may emit the somewhat less attractive odor of rotting flesh.  But whatever their size, shape, color or scent, flowers are a plants way of manipulating, amongst other things, insects, birds and bats to do their bidding in terms of bringing about pollination.

Balanophoraceae, Helosis cayennensis, Costa Rica, Veridion Adventures, Nature Photography, Travel

Helosis cayennensis

Now that is a typical flowering plant, but as with everything else, there are going to be some atypical forms.  I will quite often have people come and ask me to identify some of the plants and animals they have been photographing during the course of the day.  One puzzling sight is a weird little mushroom they may have found growing at the base of a tree.  The plant in question is not a fungus, although it takes a lot of convincing of that fact before people will believe it, but rather a strange looking flowering plant, Helosis cayennensis, belonging to the family Balanophoraceae.  Arising from subterranean tubers, Helosis cayennensis is a root parasite of other flowering plants.  They lack chlorophyll and have a uniform tan color.  It is not uncommon to see them but they only occur sporadically at the bases of trees.

Take a look at the photographs and try to decide if having seen this, you would have identified it as a flowering plant.

http://www.veridionadventures.co.uk

 

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