Archive for the ‘Golfo Dulce Anolis’ Tag

Nuts For Giant Green Flags   1 comment

Philip Davison Nature Diaries. Bosque del Cabo Rain Forest Lodge.

Being Yellow and Burning Nuts

Walking along the trails through the forest can sometimes be a visual feast in terms of animal sightings but at other times you may encounter very little at all.  The air is very still and so there is quite often no sound of rustling leaves as when blown in a breeze.  The temperatures are high, not as high as at the top of the canopy, but high enough to make someone more familiar with cooler climes to break into a sweat at the slightest exertion.  The stifling silence maybe permeated by the white noise of calling insects.

At the moment there are many trees in bloom.  The Nance trees, (Byrsonima crassifolia), are currently covered in bright yellow flowers which change to orange after they have been pollinated.  The Nance flowers attract a lot of bees, particularly species of stingless bees native to the area.  Several months from now the trees will bear huge numbers of the small yellow-skinned fruits that are consumed not only by a large number of animals but people too.  The taste is unique and the fruits can be eaten raw or prepared as a dessert or as a refreshing drink.

Nance. Malpighiaceae. Bosque del Cabo. Osa Peninsula. Costa Rica.

Nance, (Byrsonima crassifolia)

One tree that has been flowering for the past month or so and is now producing fruit is the Cashew, (Anacardium occidentale).  It has distinctive large red pear-like fruits beneath which the nut is suspended.  The fruity looking object is the swollen meristem of the actual fruit which is the nut itself.  It is known as the Cashew Apple or Maranon.  This you can eat without concern.  As with the Nance, the flavor is unique.  It can linger for some time at the back of the mouth before fading away.  The nuts are to be treated with a great deal more caution.  Cashew belongs to the same family of plants as poison ivy, Anacardiaceae.  The skin of the nut contains the volatile oil Cardol, which can cause severe blistering when in contact with the skin and more dangerously a burning of the eyes.  Cashew nuts must be roasted or blanched to eliminate the oils.  Even then the utmost caution has to be exercised as the oils can seriously damage the respiratory system, many people who work in the Cashew industry suffer very severe respiratory problems.

Cashew. Anacardiaceae. Philip Davison.

Cashew, (Anacardium occidentale)

While I was looking at the unripe green cashews I noticed another species of Leaf-legged Bug, (Family: Coreidae), that I had not seen before.  A search through the literature would only provide me with the Genus: Acanthocephala.  I have photographed several species in this genus but cannot get them any more specific than that.  This one was feeding on the unripe cashew apple by sticking the dagger-like mouthparts into the flesh and sucking up the juice.

Leaf-legged Bug. Hemiptera. Heteroptera. Coreidae. Bosque del Cabo.

Leaf-legged Bug, (Acanthocephala sp)

Seen As Green With Orange Flags

From here and there bird calls drawn your attention to the distance.  You become attuned to the slight rustles down by your feet.  Further investigation reveals a lizard, one of the whiptails perhaps, scurrying off through dry leaf litter.  Beside you there is a faint buzzing sound, a high-pitched hum.  It is a hummingbird, its wings a blur, coming to scrutinize a piece of red clothing you are wearing.  As far as the bird is concerned this could be a fresh bloom brimming with nectar but no such luck and off it goes.

As I was walking through the forest a quick flash of bright orange caught my eye near the ground.  A male Golfo Dulce Anolis Lizard, (Anolis osae), was displaying to a female.  He catches her attention and tries to gain her favor by flying a bright fiery orange flag, a dewlap, which is a loose piece of skin beneath his chin.  It is supported by a thin rod of cartilage which is attached to the front of the jaw and over which he has muscular control.  The more splendid the dewlap, the better his genetic make-up and the more desirable he will be to father her offspring.  The female is a similar size but lacks the dewlap and has a series of dark diamonds down her back.

Golfo Dulce Anolis. Reptilia. Squamata. Sauria. Polychrotidae.

Golfo Dulce Anolis, (Anolis osae). Male.

Golfo Dulce Anolis. Bosque del Cabo

Golfo Dulce Anolis, (Anolis osae). Female.

While I was lying on the ground photographing the lizards I saw a tiny metallic green fleck moving around.  The movement was jerky as the fleck hopped from one dead twiglet to another.  There was no mistaking that form of movement, it was a jumping spider.  Many of the jumping spiders are minute.  Unless you were looking for them or are familiar with their body movements then it is so easy to miss them.  That would be a shame as they are fascinating little creatures.

Jumping Spider. Araneae.

Unidentified Jumping Spider, (Salticidae). Anterior Eyes.

Normally jumping spiders are inclined to turn and look at you.  This one seemed to be distracted by something else and continually kept its gaze in the opposite direction to me so I could only really photograph its back.  For a fleeting moment it turned to look at me and I managed to get a shot of the huge anterior eyes that the spider relies upon for seeing the prey item that it will actively hunt down.

Salticidae. Osa Peninsula. Philip Davison

Unidentified Jumping Spider, (Salticidae). Dorsal View.

Pussyfooting Around

Mammals, despite their sometimes large size, are notoriously difficult to find.  Monkeys, when active, can make a large amount of noise as they crash through the trees.  They can also be quite vocal.  Coatis and agoutis on the forest floor can be detected b their movement.  Coatis tend to huff and puff a lot as the females with juveniles constantly sniff out any consumable morsel lying in their path.  Agoutis and squirrels can be heard gnawing their way through the shells of various fruit and nuts that form the bulk of their diet.

Cats on the other hand are largely silent.  They are masters of stealth.  Over the past week I have captured videos of an Ocelot walking the Titi Trail.  One of the guests at the lodge crossed the path of a Puma on three different occasions over the last few days.  On one instance the Puma was lying across the trail in front of her and had no desire to move.  She slowly backed away while always facing the cat and finally headed off in a different direction.  The cat could have cared less.  The next day she came across the cat walking down the trail in front of her.  A few days ago the Spider Monkeys were shrieking their cat-specific alarm call and sure enough one the guests staying in the Tropical Garden was lucky enough to see the Puma walking through the forest behind his cabin.

Deceptive Green Stripes and Giant False Bats

The forests, fields, hedgerows and gardens are normally filled with butterflies this time of year and that has been the case.  One distinctive Lepidopteran that has been around in very large numbers over the past month is the Green Urania, (Urania fulgens).  Its striking soot black wings striped with bright metallic green bands make it look so much like one of the swallowtail butterflies that people are surprised when they cannot find it in the butterfly guide books.  It is, in fact, a migratory day-flying moth.

When walking down the forest trails at this time of year people are also fooled by yet another moth.  This moth is so large that it is when it is spooked and takes to the air, its huge wingspan and flapping flight lead people that they are looking at a bat.  This is the largest species of Lepidopteran on the planet, the White Witch Moth, (Thysania agrippina).  If you have the good fortune to see it land you will notice that it orientates itself with the wings up and down.  The light grey ground color of the wings now display in this vertically inclined position darker wavy, zig-zag markings, which if the moth has landed on a pale barked tree, render it almost impossible to see as they resemble crevices in the bark.  Despite they are reasonably common moths throughout Central and South America, very little is known of their life history.

White Witch Moth. Erebidae

White Witch Moth, (Thysania agrippina)

Philip Davison Is a Biologist, Writer and Photographer Based in Costa Rica


Grumpy and Toxic if Touched   Leave a comment

Philip Davison Nature Diaries. Bosque del Cabo Rain Forest Lodge.

Last week continued to be hot and sunny.  There was not a drop of rain.  The trails through the forest are now becoming heavily cracked.  The lawns around the lodge are definitely more brown than green.  The forest however remains vibrant, there is no sign of drought stress.  The huge volume of water that fell as rain last November has ensured that the creek is still running quite well, more so than would be expected for this time of year.  The dry season is typically when a lot of leaf fall occurs.  That is the case at the moment.  The trails are cleared and a few days later there is a layer dry, brittle brown leaf covering the path once more.  Some of the trees that have been in bloom over recent weeks are coming to the end of the flowering period.

Felipe del Bosque. Philip Davison.

The Forest Floor is Rapidly Drying and Cracking Up.

Brushing Toxic Hair

Although I spend my days monitoring butterfly populations and see plenty of the adults flying around, it is only very occasionally that I see the larvae or caterpillars.  It may well be that because I am not actively searching for them that I am not seeing them.  There are over 7,000 named species of butterfly in the Neotropics and that number is dwarfed by the number of moth species.  Many butterflies and even more moths have unknown life histories.  Quite often we don’t know what the larval form looks like or what host plant they feed on.

Unidentified Moth Caterpillar.

Unidentified Moth Caterpillar

Caterpillars are the feeding and growing period of the butterfly or moth life cycle.  Feed and grow they do and at an amazing rate.  Caterpillars are quite often restricted to feeding on a single species of plant, sometimes on a few species within one genus or sometimes several species in the same family.  Each species does not have a large variety of choices.  After hatching from the egg, the caterpillar can increase in size by over a hundred times before it pupates.

Being a large, constantly and rapidly growing creature, the caterpillar has to remain unseen by predators or if seen, then has to have a secondary range of defenses such as irritating spines or hairs or to feed on plants poisonous to other creatures, store the toxins within its own tissues and warn off potential predators with bright warning, (aposomatic), coloration.

Over recent weeks I have stumbled across several caterpillars as I was out walking around the forests of the Osa Peninsula.  I was not looking for them, they just happened to catch my eye.  Any caterpillar sporting a battery of spines or hairs is one that you should avoid handling.  The spines and hairs may exude toxin secretions that can cause intense irritation.

Saddleback Moth Caterpillar. Osa Peninsula. Costa Rica.

Saddleback Moth, (Acharia hyperoche), Caterpillar.

The caterpillar of the Saddleback Moth, (Acharia hyperoche), usually hides on the underside of the palm leaves on which it is feeding.  It has green coloration that helps it blend in with its background.  The saddle marking may help to break up its outline.  If the ruse does not work and it is spotted by a keen-eyed predator, then it has a second line of defense.  The body anterior, posterior, laterally and dorsally has fleshy protuberances that carry batteries of sharp urticating spines.  The slightest brush against this living, toxic slug-like creature will result in a red itchy rash and a certain degree of pain.  Many other species of moth in the same family, Limacodidae, are protected in the same fashion.

Limacodidae. Philip Davison. Bosque del Cabo Rainforest Lodge.

Unidentified Limacodidae species.

Another group of species which belong to the Silkmoth family, Saturniidae, more particularly of the subfamily, Hemileucinae and the genus Automeris also have caterpillars which protect themselves in a similar fashion.  The body is green and quite literally covered in urticating bristles.  The adult Automeris moths are very distinctive too.  The dorsal surface of the forewings are colored and patterned to resemble dead leaves.  Should anything disturb these particular leaves though they are in for a shock.  The forewings swing forward which reveals two large eye-spots on the dorsal surface of the hindwings.  As far as the predator is concerned it could well be looking at a much larger predator staring back at it from the ground.

Automeris sp.

Automeris sp. Caterpillar

Saturniidae. Hemileucinae.

Automeris sp. Adult.

Sometimes it may prove prudent to let a potential predator know that you are likely to cause them harm when touched.  Some of the Dagger Moths, (Acronicta spp), caterpillars are covered in long lemon yellow hairs with contrasting black tufts.  If touched these hairs can break and become embedded in the skin.  The longer black hairs are attached to a gland than secretes a toxin that will leave a nasty little rash on human skin.

Acronicta sp.

Dagger Moth sp. Caterpillar.

As well as the finding  of caterpillars is difficult, then locating the chrysalis’s is equally, if not more, challenging.  Admittedly I don’t go looking for them and so if I do discover one then it is entirely by chance.  The one species that I find more than others is the Narrow-banded Owl-butterfly, (Opsiphanes tamarindi).  That may be due to the fact that the larvae feed on Heliconia, Maranta and Bananas of which there are many plants around the bar and restaurant areas of Bosque del Cabo.  A chrysalis has little by way to defend itself and so crypsis might be the best option.  Green coloration is a good way of camouflaging yourself against a background of green vegetation.  This one I noticed hanging from the underside of a leaf beside the bar.

Narrow-banded Owl-butterfly. Nymphalidae. Morphinae.

Narrow-banded Owl-butterfly, (Opsiphanes tamarindi). Chrysalis.

Grumpy Big Head

There are six species of Anolis lizards living on the Osa Peninsula.  On the grounds of Bosque del Cabo Rainforest lodge I have encountered five of those species and the remaining one as an ,isolated population several miles away.

When I was out walking the Titi Trail this week I saw a the Big-headed Anole, (Anolis capito), lying languidly on the root of a large fig tree.  As I slowly approached with the camera in hand, it opened one of its eyes and looked at me with a doleful expression as if to say don’t even think of bothering me.  But I did take some photographs and each time the flash went off the lizard moved, almost imperceptibly, further around the root in a direction away from me.

Big-headed Anole. Polychrotinae. Igunaidae.

Big-headed Anole, (Anolis capito).

The Big-headed Anole is one of the larger anolis lizards in this area.  It attains a length of 9 inches including the tail.  It’s body color is a mottling of greens, greys and browns.  It can be found on the trunks of trees where it normally perches head down waiting for food items, arthropods or small lizards, to pass by.

Slender Anole.

Slender Anole, (Anolis limifrons).

Two of the more commonly seen anolis lizards are the Slender Anole, (Anolis limifrons), and the Golfo Dulce Anole, (Anolis osae).  Both of these species can be commonly found around human habitation.  The Slender Anole as the name suggests is a small slim species, mottled brown in color and with a white underbelly.  The Golfo Dulce Anolis is slightly more robust and uniform brown in color, (at least the males), with a distinctive white stripe along the body behind the shoulder.  Both of these species live close to the ground, again facing head down but usually at the end of large leaves.

Golfo Dulce Anolis. Polychrotinae. Iguanidae.

Golfo Dulce Anole, (Anolis osae)

Green Canopy Anole. Osa Peninsula. Costa Rica.

Green Canopy Anole, (Anolis biporcatus)

The last two species in this immediate area is the Green Canopy Anole, (Anolis biporcatus), and the Lichen Anole, (Anolis pentaprion).  They both tend to live higher up in the canopy.  I see the Canopy Anole more often at night where I find it lying asleep on the tops of leaves.  It’s bright lime green coloration stands out quite nicely in the beam of a flashlight.  The Lichen Anole I have found at the top of the canopy.  It is grey in color with pale spots.  Both of these two anoles I only find very occasionally whereas the other three can be found without much effort.

Lichen Anole. Polychrotinae. Iguanidae.

Lichen Anole, (Anolis pentaprion)

Philip Davison is a Biologist, Writer and Photographer Based in Costa Rica



To be Blunt – Seeking Supper   3 comments

Philip Davison. Costa Rica. Blog. Nature Diaries

Monday 25th January 2016

A Sinister New World Emerges

Once the sun sinks low on the horizon and the light levels fall to dusk then the daytime animals return to the safety of their nightly abodes.  There is not much twilight this close to the equator, the sun seems to fall from the sky and before you know it darkness has descended and the world around you takes on a very different atmosphere.  The calls of birds ceased some hours ago.  Those cicadas whose constant high pitched hiss has permeated throughout the hot sunlit day have now gone quiet.  Even the sundown cicadas, the white noise of which replaces their daytime cousins, have called to a crescendo the fortississimo now having fallen silent too.  The blackness that was the green lawn starts to flicker here and there with small green flashes of light as the male fireflies emerge, the twinkling stimulating a response from the females which live higher in the vegetation.  In the background a Spectacled Owl, (Pulsatrix perspicillatus), calls sounding for all the world like a distant muffled laugh.  Not too far away a ground roosting night hawk, the Common Paureque, (Nyctidromus albicollis), calls with a series of plaintive whistles.  The night shift has begun.

All the Better to See You

From somewhere hidden for the day deep in the depths of the undergrowth nocturnal snakes emerge.  There is one with a body long and pencil thin that supports a head seemingly too large and out of scale with the other dimensions.  It has large eyes, very large eyes, all the better for seeing its prey.  The snout is short and the eyes are directed forwards giving it some perspective.  The long slender body is triangular in section which reinforces the skeletal strength of what is little more than a muscular tube.  This is the Brown Blunt-headed Snake, (Imantodes cenchoa).

Brown Blunt-headed Snake. Imantodes cenchoa.

The slightness of the serpent allows it to move unnoticed through the branches and leaves which make no movement in its passing.  Like an angel of death it seeks a victim.  The tongue flicks in and out constantly sampling the air until it picks up on an odor measured in quantities at the molecular level.  The scent plume leads the snake to its source and consequently its prey, a sleeping lizard.

Lying in Peril

This lizard is a Golfo Dulce Anolis, (Anolis polylepis).  It has been active during the day waiting head down on a leaf in low lying vegetation for hapless insects to wander by.  It jumps from its ambush position, grabs the meal and consumes it in quick time.  Bouts of feeding maybe punctuated with territorial disputes of chasing interloping males from its territory or perhaps courting a passing female.  With the day’s activities at an end it retires to what would normally be the relative safety of a leaf tip to sleep for the night.  Any predator approaching on the leaf would cause vibration which becomes amplified along the length of the leaf thereby warning the sleeping lizard which awakens to the imminent danger.  It jumps off and disappears into the leaf litter below.

Golfo Dulce Anolis Lizard. Anolis polylepis.

Tonight however the lizards sleeping position is not so safe as doom is approaching from a different direction.  The Brown Blunt-headed Snake is not on the same leaf.  Its search has led it to a position on a plant in close proximity.  That long strong sinuous body reaches out across the gap.  It has already identified where its meal lies.  The lizard is oblivious to its presence.  The snake’s body draws into a series of s-shaped loops and then with lightning speed and precision the strike is made.  The lizard knew nothing of its final moment on earth, dispatched and eaten like the insects that met their fate in a similar way earlier in the day.

Upping the Ante

Not all lizards sleep at night though.  There are nocturnal lizards, the most common and noteworthy of which are geckoes.  Around the Osa Peninsula there is a very common gecko that can be found in all buildings and on the trunks of garden trees.  It is a visitor that became naturalized, the Mediterranean House Gecko, (Hemidactylus frenatus), hitching a ride from Southern Europe courtesy of human transport and wherever conditions were suitable then there it settled, not just here but in tropical conditions everywhere.  They are familiar to most people as those small creatures hanging around by house lights to catch the insects attracted in by the incandescent glow.

Asleep or not the gecko is still a meal that does not escape the attention of the Brown Blunt-headed Snake.  With a similar stealthy approach it closes in on a gecko which remains perched head down on a tree trunk waiting for insects to land.  But this hunter is about to become the hunted, the difference being this one is wide awake and alert to the danger

The snake slithers into position, the tongue confirms the gecko’s presence, the eyes focus forward and the scene is set.  The snake strikes out, the jaws agape but the gecko’s reaction is rapid and it moves just in time.  The snake does not miss its target but rather than hitting the body the jaws close and the teeth sink into the tail.  Here the gecko has another defense, the tail breaks and the snake is left with little more than a wriggling piece of tail section, not much of a meal but better than nothing.

Mediterranean House Gecko. Hemidactylus frenatus.

Meanwhile the gecko has scuttled off post haste up the tree trunk, the missing tail section being little more than a minor inconvenience.  The most important thing is that it is still alive.  That missing part of the tail will regenerate over the coming months and apart from the fact that it will be of a slightly duller color than the original there will be nothing else to show for the encounter.

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

Flagging Deadly Bands   Leave a comment

Felipe del Bosque Blog November 19th 2012

Coming to the End

The rainy season is not quite over.  This week has started overcast with some rain, occasionally heavy rain.  At the start of the week we had one night with a precipitation of nearly 4.5 inches, (110mm).  That was followed two nights later with over 2 inches.  But these rainy periods continue to be interspersed with sunny days.  There is still ample opportunity to get out and explore.

All Present and Correct

The mammal sightings are as normal with the monkeys, coatis and Agoutis being found within a short walk of the restaurant.  Red-tailed Squirrels, (Sciurus granatensis), are not too shy to bring palm nuts and sit on the rails around the dining area while gnawing into their meal while we eat ours..  At night the Nine-banded Armadillos, (Dasypus novemcinctus), come out and can be heard noisily snuffling around on the ground for grubs search for grubs to dig up.

The new driver for the lodge who recently moved down to the Osa Peninsula from San Jose was lucky enough to see a Puma, (Puma concolor), crossing the road in the early evening near the entrance to the Titi Trail.  The next day near the main area of the lodge, the Spider Monkeys, (Ateles geoffroyi), started to bark out the unmistakable alarm call which warns of a Puma present in the vicinity.

A few more birds have been seen this week.  I had a Broad-winged Hawk, (Buteo platypterus), perch on a branch outside my cabin for a short while.  The Roadside Hawks, (Buteo magnirostris), Yellow-headed Caracaras, (Milvago chimachina), and Crested Caracaras, (Caracara cheriway), can be seen in front of the restaurant generally all day every day.  One day two Crested Caracaras were involved in a serious tug of war over the head and bill of a decapitated Chestnut-mandibled Toucan, (Ramphastos swainsoni).

Underneath the forest canopy the curassows and tinamous have been seen and heard this week.  There has been a group of several female Great Curassows, (Crax rubra), walking through the forest transected by the Zapatero Trail.

Along with the migrants seen in the grounds, there are several tyrant flycatcher species.  Great Kiskadees, (Pitangus sulphuratus), Tropical Kingbirds, (Tyrannus melancholicus), and Dusky-capped Flycatchers, (Myiarchus tuberculifer), can generally be found in the area of the pond.  Although it is not seen so often, the Bright-rumped Atilla, (Atilla spadiceus), can be heard everywhere, especially just after sunrise.

Slow Build Up

The number of butterfly species is gradually increasing.  The owl butterflies and blue morphos are a common site in the open areas.  Some of the satyrs such as Pierella luna and Taygetis andromeda can be seen flying close to the forest floor.  There are more species of longwings to be found at the lantana, the numbers increasing as does the temperature.

Deadly Bands

I had a Boa, (Boa constrictor), brought to me by one of the workers at the beginning of the week.  I took it and let it loose in the roof of my cabin to hopefully deal with some nesting rodents.  It stayed for several days but then disappeared, probably back into the forest.  One night as I made my way over to take some guests out on the night tour I had a beautifully marked Central American Coral Snake, (Micrurus nigrocinctus), cross the path in front of me.  Unfortunately the camera was not to hand so I didn’t get any photos.  Not so long ago the workers brought me a very large Coral Snake, (Micrurus alleni).  Superficially they look like the Central American Coral Snake except that the black band on the top of the head extends like an arrow pointing down the neck.

Both of these are deadly venomous species with 50% of bites resulting in death.  They are elapids and as such belong in the same family as cobras and kraits.  Whereas species in the latter two groups are inclined to bite, the Coral Snakes generally do not.  In fact it is very hard to get them to bite but I would not suggest you find out how far they can be pushed.

The venom is a neurotoxin which affects the heart and lungs, stopping them from working, which is a terminal situation.  The bites can be treated and the success rate is very high.  Despite its venomous bite, rather than risk injury in a confrontation with a potential predator, the coral snake exhibits aposomatic coloration.  The very bright bands of black, yellow and red are a very visible signal advertising that the snake should be left alone.

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.

 Photo Feature

 Mini Flags

There are several species of small lizard commonly found around the grounds of Bosque del Cabo.  Some of them live on the ground, the ameivas and some of the live in the trees, the anoles.  This something of a generalization but for the most part it holds true.  There are some larger lizards to be seen too.

Anolis polylepis

Of the small ground dwelling ameivas there are 3 species that can regularly be seen during the course of a walk through along any of the trails; the Four-lined Ameiva, the Barred Ameiva and the Central American Whiptail.  It is not difficult to spot them as they quite often just lie in the middle of the paths soaking up the sun.  If they are disturbed they run into the dead leaf litter where they sound like a herd of foraging pigs.

Golfo Dulce Anolis

A little more subtle are the anoles which live on the tree trunks or low lying vegetation.  They are colored to match their surroundings but their short runs and hops reveal their presence.  There are 7 species of anole inhabiting the Osa Peninsula and 5 of those species are found at Bosque.

By far the commonest species and the reptile most likely to be encountered by all of the guests is the Golfo Dulce Anole, (Norops polylepis).  It is overall mottled brown but with a distinctive bright white stripe along the flanks.  The males have a loose flap of skin beneath the throat known as the dewlap.  This has a small piece of cartilage attached over which the anole has muscular control.  The dewlap will be extended if the male sees another male in his territory or is courting a female.  Each different species of anole has a different colored dewlap and in the case of the Golfo Dulce Anole it is a bright flame orange.  The female is the same size and has the same overall brown coloration but has a distinctive checkerboard pattern or a pale single stripe down her back.

The Golfo Dulce Anolis is a sit and wait predator of the forests lowest vegetative layers.  They sit atop a leaf maintaining a watchful eye on the area around them.  Should a suitably sized food item pass by, the jump down and grab it before returning to their vantage point.  The males are pugnacious too, and spend up to half their day in territorial disputes with their neighbors.

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 1.04 ins.  Total Weekly Rainfall 7.29ins

Average Daily Rainfall 1.04 mm.  Total Weekly Rainfall 7.29 mm

Highest Daily Temp 86°F.  Lowest Daily Temp 74°F.

Highest Daily Temp 30.0°C.  Lowest Daily Temp 23.2°C.

Species List for the Week


  • Howler Monkey
  • Spider Monkey
  • White-faced Monkey
  • Nine-banded Armadillo
  • White-nosed Coati
  • Agouti
  • Red-tailed Squirrel
  • Vesper Rat


  • Mealy Amazon
  • Red-lored Amazon
  • Scarlet Macaw
  • Great Curassow
  • Broad-winged Hawk
  • Crested Caracara
  • Roadside Hawk
  • Yellow-headed Caracara
  • Pale-billed Woodpecker
  • Red-crowned Woodpecker
  • Streak-headed Woodcreeper
  • Dusky-capped Flycatcher
  • Chestnut-backed Antbird
  • Black-hooded Antshrike
  • Rufus Piha
  • Short-billed Pigeon
  • White-tipped Dove
  • Long-billed Hermit
  • Purple-crowned Fairy
  • Stripe-throated Hermit
  • Red-capped Manakin
  • Chestnut-mandibled Toucan
  • Buff-rumped Warbler
  • Cherrie’s Tanager
  • Summer Tanager
  • Bright-rumped Atilla
  • Great Kiskadee
  • Tropical Kingbird
  • Great Tinamou
  • Masked Tityra
  • House Wren
  • Black-throated Trogon
  • Black Vulture
  • Turkey Vulture


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


  • 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
  • Rough-skinned Dirt Frog
  • Savage’s Thin-fingered Jungle Frog
  • Stejneger’s Dirt Frog


  • Anartia Fatima
  • Anartia jatrophae
  • Caligo eurilochus
  • Dryas iulia
  • Eurema albula
  • Glutophrissa Drusilla
  • Heliconius erato
  • Heliconius hecale
  • Heliconius ismenius
  • Heliconius sapho
  • Hermeuptychia hermes
  • Heraclides cresphontes
  • Metacharis victrix
  • Morpho helenor
  • Morpho Menelaus
  • Parides erithalion
  • Philaethria dido
  • Pierella luna
  • Pyrgus oileus
  • Pyrrhogyra crameri
  • Taygetis Andromeda
  • Urbanus simplicius


  • Alamandra  cathartica Flowering
  • Alpinia purpurata Flowering
  • Apeiba tibourbou Flowering
  • Arachis pintoi Flowering
  • Arundina graminifolia Flowering
  • Bauhinia variegata Flowering
  • Cascabella thevetia Flowering and Fruiting
  • Citrus spp  Fruiting
  • Clusia rosea Flowering andFruiting
  • Clusia vallerii Flowering and 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 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 andFlowering
  • Lagerstroemia speciosa Fruiting
  • Morinda citrifolia Fruiting
  • Musa acuminate Flowering andFruiting
  • 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
  • Thunbergia grandiflora Flowering
  • Virola sebifera Fruiting
  • Zammia sp Flowering



Bosque del Cabo November 2010 Nature Review   2 comments

Felipe del Bosque Blog Nov 2010 Review

I start my year, not as most people do on the first of January, but rather as the wet season ends and the dry season begins which is when I return to Bosque del Cabo.  During the height of the rains, I leave Costa Rica and spend some time in Nicaragua.  This affords me the opportunity to catch up on my writing, photographic processing and the data analysis of my projects.

When I do return, I endeavor to produce a weekly blog which serves as a weekly summary of my daily nature diaries.  As I am based at Bosque, it allows potential visitors to the lodge a glimpse of what is happening around the grounds in advance of their stay.  It may even sway people’s decision as what time of year to visit depending upon their interests.  For those people who have visited, it gives them the opportunity to stay in touch with the constantly changing nature of the lodge.

This coming season I will be starting my twelfth year at Bosque.  This past year, I finished collecting data and now I want to start publishing the results and conclusions.  The main aim of the work was to monitor the climate over a period of time and compare those figures against any changes in numbers of both individuals and species of butterflies and amphibians, the local populations of which were monitored over the same period of time.

To support the work I have been giving guided tours at Bosque del Cabo.  Having been a biologist since the age of 3 and with a lifelong interest in tropical rainforests, I can generally wax lyrical about most aspects of tropical biology.  But when you work in the forest, the amazing amount of fauna and flora that you experience really brings home the numbers.  Identification of the mammals, birds, reptiles and amphibians poses few problems but once you start looking at the smaller stuff, and regular readers of this blog will already know that is where I am generally looking, sometimes it is hard to get beyond family level.

Some years ago, I decided not only to help visitors understand the complexity of rainforest ecology through guided tours but also to write the information down.  At this moment in time, I have several prepublications almost ready.  To illustrate the books I bought a camera and started taking pictures.  As my interest is in the small things I concentrated on macro photography.  I had no previous experience and basically worked it out as I went along.  So, in essentially the review is a photographic record of some plant and animal life that may or may not have been covered in my blogs over the past year.  I hope you enjoy them; you can always leave a comment to let me know.

Scorpions you may find at any time of the year.  This one I found not too far from my cabin.  As scorpions are nocturnal and it was daytime, this individual was fairly inactive and consequently didn’t move while I was setting up the lighting to take its picture.  I like taking close up pictures of scorpions because a lot of body detail is revealed, details that you miss, especially with scorpions when your thoughts may be more concerned with the eradication of the creature.

Bark Scorpion (Centruroides limbatus)

I only ever encounter two species of scorpion at Bosque, both Bark Scorpions of the genus Centruroides.  This is Centruroides limbatus.  There are only 17 species of scorpion native to Costa Rica and none of them are particularly dangerous although they can deliver a very painful sting.

Bark Scorpion (Centruroides limbatus)





Spiders, as with scorpions, if you overcome your prejudices, make fascinating subjects to photograph.  Not only the interesting details of their life history, but their morphology and the use of silk.  Even if you can’t face getting too close to spider, many of them use silk to create ingenious food traps, so the webs can be photographed as stand alone features.

Silver-orb Spider (Argiope argentatum)

Butterflies abound at Bosque, especially if you visit in the dry season months of February and March.  In November the numbers of species and individuals will be low.  The longwings are long lived in butterfly terms and may survive for about 6 months.  At the end of that period though, they will be looking at little worse for wear as does this Postman, (Heliconius erato).  The colors of this butterfly are bright and attractive, which serve as a warning to stay away.  This is known as aposematic coloration.  Why would you best leave this butterfly alone?  It is packed with cyanide, so its consumption would not be so beneficial to you, nor to the butterfly if it was being eaten, so best for both parties to have that information broadcast.

Postman (Heliconius erato)

Even though I have spent my life studying butterflies, the numbers of species, the degree of mimicry and the lack of adequate reference material make them hard to identify.  Skippers are a particular problem.  They are small, fast flying, shades of brown and don’t like flash photography.  To capture their image requires a great deal of stealth and patience backed up with a lot luck as well as having your equipment set to the right settings before you embark on attempt.

Unidentified Skipper

The Automeris moth featured here was dead when I found it but nonetheless provided an opportunity to display the aposematic shock colors.  The bright eyes on the upper side of the hindwings are normally hidden beneath the dull colored upperwing.  Should a potential predator get too close, the bright eye coloration is revealed and hopefully allows the moth a few extra seconds to make good its escape.

Automeris moth sp

The larvae pose even worse identification problems than the winged adults.  The number of butterflies in dwarfed by the number of moths, most of whose life histories have not been documented and so the caterpillars remain a mystery.

Unidentified Moth Caterpillar

Fungi, despite their ubiquitous presence throughout the forest, once again may not prove to be the easiest things to identify down to species level.  But take a close look at the subtle color and texture of the fungal flesh and that in itself is worth a photograph.

Unidentified Fungus

One fungus found growing on dead wood in the forests of Bosque as well as all around the world, is the Jews Ear, (Auricularia auricular-judae).  Its jelly-like fruiting body is shaped uncannily like an ear.  Jews Ear derives from the fact that it is commonly found growing on elder trees, that which supposedly Judas Iscariot hung himself.

Jews Ear Fungus (Auricularia auricula-judae)

Lizards will be found at every level of the forest from the tops of the trees to burrowing in the ground.  This is one of the most commonly encountered forest lizards, the Golfo Dulce Anolis Lizard, (Norops polylepis).  The males have a bright orange flap of skin under the chin, the dewlap, which they can extend.  It acts as a flag to either intimidate or scare rival males out of his territory or on occasion to court the females.

Golfo Dulce Anolis Lizard (Norops polylepis)

Pumas have been the big talking point at Bosque this year.  Unfortunately whenever I crossed paths with one of the cats, I never had my camera with me.  But only many separate occasions while out walking, I would see fresh tracks. This time I did have my camera.  In the following months we had so many guests staying at Bosque who did see the cats and did have their cameras.  Even if I did, I am sure it would be set up to take photos of something much smaller.

Puma print

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 84°F.  Average Daily Temp Low 73°F.

Average Daily Rainfall 1.04 ins.  Total Monthly Rainfall 31.18 ins

Average Daily Temp High 28.7°C.  Average Daily Temp Low 22.6°C.

Average Daily Rainfall 25.7 mm.  Total Monthly Rainfall 770.2 mm


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