Archive for the ‘Green Iguana’ Tag

Pluvial Songs   6 comments


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

After four months of continual sun and no rain the weather briefly changed.  Over the course of the last week the clouds had been gathering, a portent of what was about to happen.  There were several nights with a brief light drizzle, not enough to dampen the ground but just enough to wash the layer of dirt covering the plant leaves.  Then one night the sky grew dark and a heavy shower dropped enough water to soften the hard, dry ground.  Finally, one afternoon a really heavy deluge poured out of the heavens, two and a half inches is as many hours.  Immediately the Fitzinger’s Rain Frogs, (Craugastor fitzingeri), started calling.  This was to herald a sudden coming to life of several amphibian species.

Fitzinger's Rain Frog. Felipe del Bosque. Osa Peninsula. Costa Rica.

Fitzinger’s Rain Frog, (Craugastor fitzingeri)

Over the next few hours the calls of the Milky Frog, (Trachycephalus venulosus), began increasing in number and intensity.  The sun was setting, the daily environmental trigger that stimulates the frogs into emerging from their daytime hiding places, but over the dry season only one or two individuals of few species.  Now, however, a greater number of participants was joining the choral gathering.

Milky Frog. Philip Davison.

Milky Frog, (Trachycephalus venulosus)

The Banana Frogs, (Dendropsophus ebreccatus), which for the past four months had been restricted to a solo, forlorn crooner was now accompanied by many more to form a backing group.  The loud nasally calls of the Masked Smiliscas, (Smilisca phaeota), entered to swell the ever-increasing cacophony.  All semblance of rhythm, cadence and orchestration disappeared as more and more frogs entered into what was becoming a free for all, each male trying to drown out his neighbor.  Up in the tree tops the Red-eyed Green Tree Frogs, (Agalychnis callydryas), were chirping from all quarters.  Down on the ground boomed the loud whooping of Savage’s Thin-fingered Frogs, (Leptodactylus savagei).  The sound of a mini jackhammer that is the mating call of the Marine Toad, (Chaunus marinus) along with the chucking calls of the rain frogs completed the din.

As the evening progressed, it was however, the calls of the Milky Frogs that became so intense that they could be heard from some distance away.  The ruckus continued well into the night.  The next morning the surface of the pond was covered in a gelatinous film containing the eggs of the milky frogs.  These are some of the fastest developing amphibian eggs I have ever encountered.  Within 24 hours the tadpoles have hatched and entered the water where they can be observed as wriggling black swarms just beneath the surface.  After several weeks they will be seen everywhere as tiny, newly emerged froglets sitting on the vegetation surrounding the pond.

Sadly for the amphibians, that one wet night was all they got.  The next day it was back to normal dry season conditions.  It won’t be long before the rains truly arrive though.  One other creature to be seen around the pond at night, sleeping on top of the vegetation are the juvenile Green Iguanas,  (Iguana iguana), newly hatched.  Their comatose, lime-green bodies can be found at the ends of the long branches but a lingering flashlight beam will soon stir them into a state of semi-consciousness ready to jump off and run away at the slightest disturbance.  If you are lucky you will also catch sight of the newly emerged Common Basilisks, (Basiliscus basiliscus).  They are harder to see as they sleep vertically and are more muted in coloration.  The hind legs sticking out sideways from the stems where they sleep is quite often a giveaway as to their presence.

Green Iguana. Sauria. Felipe del Bosque.

Green Iguana, (Iguana iguana)

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

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A Great Week For Wildlife on the Osa   11 comments


Philip Davison. Costa Rica. Blog. Nature Diaries

FLIGHT NOT AFFECTED BY RAIN

The last week has seen some very violent overnight rain storms in the area resulting in 21 inches of rain.  Many of the forest trees continue to fruit which provides a steady supply of food for the fruit-eating animals.  At the moment the nutmeg trees are raining down their distinct yellow fruits which give them the name “Fruta Dorada” or the “Golden Fruit” tree. Black-mandibled Toucans in particular are partial to this feast.  The mangoes have not yet been exhausted with the orchard providing readily accessible viewing of monkeys and coatis.  At night these are replaced y the Common Opossums and a large variety of moths which can be found feeding on the fallen rotting fruit.

An Outbreak of Moths

The migratory day-flying Green Urania moths are still present around the grounds in large numbers.  Their food plant, the Omphalea Vine will tolerate about 3 generations of the moth caterpillars feeding on its leaves before enough toxins have built up forcing the 4th generation adults to migrate to pastures new.

Urania fulgens

Green Urania, (Urania fulgens)

The Frangipani also hosts a regular outbreak of moth caterpillars – those of the Frangipani Hawk Moth.  Their distinctive black and yellow banded bodies stand out against the green leaves.  It does not take long before the caterpillars convert leaf tissue into caterpillar tissue and they can be seen growing larger and larger on a daily basis until one night overnight the huge grubs disappear to pupate and later emerge as the adult moths and the cycle will be repeated.  Unlike the Green Uranias that are obliged to travel some distance in search of non toxic host plants, the Frangipani Hawk Moth caterpillars sequester the alkaloid toxins of their larval food plant which they use as chemical defenses.  The Frangipani itself has the remarkable ability to grow new leaves almost at the same rapid rate at which the caterpillars consume them.

Plumeria rubra

Frangipani, (Plumeria rubra)

Pseudosphinx triota

Frangipani Hawkmoth Caterpillar, (Pseudosphinx triota)

Green Iguanas

This is the time of year when the Green Iguanas hatch from eggs that have been buried in the soil by the adult females.  When the juvenile iguanas first emerge they have bright lime green coloration.  The can be seen during the day sitting on rocks or vegetation sunning themselves.  At night they sleep on higher up in the vegetation, quite often towards the end of the leaves or on leaves that have long stalks.  Should a predator approach the sleeping lizard then movement of the leaf will alert the sleeping lizard which awakens, jumps down and runs away.  This individual was just basking by the pond but kept a wary eye on me as I lowered myself to the ground to get the photograph.  After the flash had fired once or twice it turned its back and slowly made its way to what it thought was a more comfortable distance.

Iguana iguana

Green Iguana juvenile, (Iguana iguana)

Iguana iguana

Juvenile Green Iguana Close Up

It is not often that the large Green Iguanas are seen around the grounds.  They spend a large part of their lives at the tops of the tree canopies.  Every so often one will make its way to the ground.  Unlike the juveniles the adults tend to be a darker mossy green in color.  Also, whereas the juveniles have a more insectivorous diet, the adults take a lot more vegetation.

Green Iguana

Green Iguana Adult, (Iguana iguana)

Flying Dragons

Larger animals are more noticeable but there are many smaller creatures, which once you look more closely at your surroundings also come into focus.  While taking its photo just behind the iguana at the pond dragonflies were alighting and then taking flight.  Their constant coming and going with a period of hovering over the water surface drew my attention away from the iguana which had now scuttled off.  I sat watching their behavior and noticing the water hyacinth leaves that certain individuals would favor.  I pointed the lens and focused in on the landing platform and waited.  It wasn’t long before landing pads owner would return from his brief search and settle.  Click and there’s the shot.  Sometimes with insect photography patience is a definite virtue.  Observe, plan and wait is a good maxim for getting the shot you want.

This particular species of dragonfly, Micrathyria ocellata is found throughout Central and
South America.  It inhabits ponds and ditches where the males are extremely territorial, constantly harassing and chasing other males continually throughout the day.

Micrathyria ocellata

Micrathyria ocellata

Grab The Moment

Whereas above I espoused the virtues of patience for insects sometimes an opportunity comes along and you have to take the shot in the moment.  Thankfully I normally use very few different settings on the camera when I know what my subject is going to be so there will not be a lot of changing aperture or f-stop or ISO.  If something lands in front of me and the subject will be there only fleetingly then I am ready.  There is no time for composition so I just have to take what I can get.  Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t.

This paper wasp landed beside me while I was photographing butterflies.  The wasps are notoriously flighty and don’t tend to stay still for more than a few seconds.  This one was momentarily preoccupied with repositioning in its mandibles a grub it had caught.  That was all the time I needed and this time I captured the image.   Many previous occasions I have not.

The wasps are not always that easy to identify.  This one appears to be one of the drumming wasps, (Synoeca sp).  They are fiercely defensive of the nest and have a barbed sting that remains embedded in the body of any creature attempting to attack the nest.  For this reason they give ample warning of their intention to defend.  The nests are papery structures that can be found attached to tree trunks.  When under threat the wasps collectively hold the skin of the nest and violently vibrate their wings.  This produces the drumming sound that should not be ignored and if it is the consequences will be severely painful.

Synoeca sp

Drumming Wasp, (Synoeca sp)

Pretty Plain Skipper

And finally one of the butterflies.  For many people the appeal of butterflies are the bright poster colors, the fact they can be found visiting amongst the flowers in the garden flitting from bloom to bloom and don’t bite or sting.  There are many thousands of butterfly species in the Neotropics and many of them fit that description.  But there are probably as many small, insignificant and overlooked butterflies that lack bright cheerful colors.  The skippers are a large family of butterflies that are not easy to identify simply because they do not exhibit those obvious vivid patterns.

Urbanus simplicius

Plain Longtail Skipper, (Urbanus simplicius)

The spreadwing skippers come in many shapes and sizes.  The Plain Longtail, (Urbanus simplicius), is as its name describes.  It has little by way of markings and the hindwing is drawn out into two long tail-like extensions.  Paradoxically these features in themselves make it easier to identify.  Butterflies are my favorite creatures and I can see an innate beauty in all of them sometimes because that beauty is more subtle and not so garish.

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

Galling Tales From Under a Tent   Leave a comment


Felipe del Bosque Blog February 20th 2012

Baked Earth

The weather conditions, as would be expected at this time of year, continue to be hot and dry.  There have been some nights with cloud and one brief sprinkling of rain but it would be a surprise if we ended up with any measurable precipitation.  The days are clear and sunny with the temperatures constantly in the upper 90’s.

The trails through the forests are now rock hard and starting to crack up as they lose moisture at deeper levels.

Return to Camp

The Puma sightings continue all around the grounds of Bosque.  Last week a group of four friends videoed the resident half-tailed female as she walked nonchalantly past their house.  Several days later another couple found a male Puma lying asleep on the Titi Trail.  It proved too much of a perfect subject and they obtained a really nice picture.  One of our staff was busy washing her hands early one morning when she saw a male Puma walk in front of her.  She followed it shoeless and hands covered in soap along a forest trail before it left the path and headed into the forest.  Two more guests were out on an early morning walk before leaving the lodge when they saw a Puma heading down on the trail towards the suspension bridge.

Over recent weeks, the Tent-making Bats, (Uroderma bilobatum), have been finding their way back under the leaves of some of the palms near the restaurant.  The bats used the leaves every night for the first eight years of my residence here but for the next four years used the same roosts less and less, eventually stopping altogether, only making occasional returns.

Tent-making Bats

One night while out on a Sunset Tour, we had a Kinkajou, (Poto flavus), walk across the path in front of us, go to the edge of the pond and start to drink.  It is very rare to see a Kinkajou on the ground but the exceedingly dry conditions must have forced this one from the trees to get a drink.  Kinkajous are nocturnal arboreal feeders on flowers but they may also take nectar, insects and lizards.  They have a very low muscle mass and so sometimes may seem emaciated.  As this one leant forward to drink, the specialized limbs which can rotate 180° could clearly be seen with rear toes facing backwards to hold the pond edge.

Kinkajou

New Nests

The bird nesting season is well under way.  For several weeks now three pairs of Great Kiskadees have made nests around the restaurant garden area.  One of them is very obvious in the fork of a large Guanacaste tree.  In the forest there are several Scarlet Macaw, (Ara macaw), and Chestnut-mandibled Toucan, (Ramphastos swainsoni), nests.  The toucans and macaws are both cavity nesters that utilize holes in trees well above ground level but you can see them coming and going, disappearing inside the tree before emerging sometime later.  There is also a nest of a Purple-crowned Fairy Hummingbird, (Heliothryx barotti), sitting precariously on top of a leaf belonging to one of the broader leafed plants not too far from the restaurant.  At the moment it contains one jelly bean sized white egg.

There was a new first for me this week with the spotting of a Hook-billed Kite, (Chondrohierax uncinatus), during the course of a morning Primary Forest Tour on the Zapatero Trail.  I saw the bird fly through the trees and land on a branch some distance away.  These kites are normally found in forests near water feeding on lizards and snails.  We don’t have a high abundance of snails at Bosque but we certainly have many lizards.

One Year On

One of the Green Iguanas, (Iguana iguana), hatched last year has taken to sleeping nightly in some of the bushes by the pond.  It still sports the bright green coloration of a juvenile but is now twice the hatchling length.  We see the newly hatched iguanas around May and June but don’t often see the adults which tend to frequent the higher levels of trees.  The adults can reach 5 or 6 feet in length, are darker in color and the diet changes from insectivorous to more herbivorous with age.

Green Iguana

I have seen a few young Central American Smooth Geckoes, (Thecadactylus rapicauda), on the walls of several Bosque buildings.  Last week I also found the egg of a Mediterranean House Gecko, (Hemidactylus frenatus), in a tiny cavity low down in a Star Fruit Tree.

One night a young Boa Constrictor, (Boa constrictor), turned up, crossing the floor of the bar as the guests were eating in the restaurant.  Down by the pond the Cat-eyed Snakes, (Leptodeira septentrionalis), are still out but only two or three a night rather than the large numbers we find during the wet season when their main food source, frogs and frog eggs are available in abundance.

Boa constrictor

Cat-eyed Snake

This week on the Zapatero Trail we found a large Tropical Bird-eating Snake, (Pseustes poecilinotus), lying across the path.  As we approached it gave a display that nicely illustrates its other names; the Hissing or Puffing Snake.  It spreads its neck laterally giving itself a larger profile while at the same time expelling air through its glottis making a deep and intimidating hissing sound.  It is, in fact, a totally harmless but is inclined to bite and repeatedly so.

Tropical Bird-eating Snake

Wet Behind The Ears

Something stimulated the Smokey Jungle Frogs, (Leptodactylus savegei), into breeding action this week.  Two males could be heard calling in different locations.  The following evening, two females had joined the company of one of the males at the pond.

Smokey Jungle Frog

For several weeks a single male Banana Frog, (Dendropsophus ebreccatus), would emerge from the shade when the sun set and sit on top of the Water Hyacinth calling forlornly for a mate.  None came and one night the male disappeared.  The hungry Cat-eyed Snakes probably found him while patrolling the pond for froglets emerging from the water and he most likely ended up in one of their stomachs.

Banana Frog

Soft and Blurry

At the moment as you wander through primary forest, secondary forest, the gardens and the driveway, you will be surrounded by swirling masses of brightly colored wings as we reach the zenith of annual butterfly activity.

The most obvious of the butterflies are the Heliconiids or longwings.  They tend to be decked in bright gaudy colors and so are the most noticeable.  Many species can be found around the Lantana bush, a little way beyond the pond.  On the forest floor you will see some of the Satyrs or browns.  The commonest is Pierella luna, a medium sized and subtly marked butterfly that always remains close to the forest floor.  As soon as it settles, the color of the wings blend in with the background dead leaf litter and it disappears from view.  At the moment there is another brown butterfly to be seen on the Zapatero Trail, Antirrhea philoctetes.  It is not actually one of the Satyrs although it is similarly colored; it is one of the Morphinae which are well known for the spectacularly impressive Blue Morphos.

Pierella luna

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

 Galling Problem

One of the unusual things people sometimes see on the underside of leaves is small pointed fleshy projections.  These are galls and they are the result of a tiny wasp laying eggs in the plant tissue.  The wasp belongs to the Hymenopteran family Cynipidae.  There are many species of gall wasp and each one causes a different looking gall to be formed.  Even within one species of wasp, depending upon where the egg was laid, different parts of the plant can produce a different gall.  Even within the life history of the gall wasp, different generations at different times of the year can produce different looking galls.

Plant Gall

Gall wasps are so small that they are barely visible to the naked eye, you really need a hand lens to see them and in fact you are far more likely to see the galls and not the wasps.  The mechanism involved with the production of a gall is not fully understood.  The wasp lays an egg in the plant tissue; it is then possible that the wasp larva uses its saliva to cause a reaction in the undifferentiated plant cells resulting in a mass of tissue being deposited around the larva in the form of a cyst.

Plant Gall

The larva develops within the cyst to eventually emerge as a new adult.  The gall may not only house the gall wasp but a host of other small insects too including parasitic wasps of a different family and larvae of parasitic flies.

A Dose of Shingles

The forest is home to a myriad species of vines and their woody forms, lianas.  Vines and lianas have a different early life history to most plants.  When a seed germinates the young plant generally grows towards the light.  If a vine or liana was to grow towards the light, they would end up in a temporary sunfleck on the forest floor, have nowhere to go and so wither and die.  Vine and lianas initially grow towards darkness, a situation known as skototropism and it normally results in the vine growing towards the base of a tree.  When it makes contact there is a hormonal change that takes place and the vine now starts growing up towards the light.  So it has to find the platform before it can climb it.

Shingle Leaves

Many vines as they make their way up from the forest floor into the canopy they change their leaf form.  While growing along the forest floor, the stem may be leafless or have very small leaves.  At it starts to climb the tree the leaves remain small and overlap like a series of shingles.  This helps keep a constant humid microclimate close to the leaves.  The small overlapping leaves are probably all that a developing plant can support.

Philodendron sp

As the vine grows up the side of a tree, the shape of the leaf now changes.  It now becomes long stalked and has a large light gathering leaf surface.  Strangely enough it is not increased light levels that cause the leaf to change shape as the change will occur in the open where light is hitting the full length of the tree but rather the developmental age of the plant stem.

If you look carefully at lower levels of the tree trunks you will see the small overlapping shingle leaves tightly hugging the trunk.  Turn your gaze up and you will see the large leaves that you are probably more familiar with.

Text and Photographs are taken from the forthcoming book:

The Natural History of Bosque del Cabo by Philip Davison

Temperature and Rainfall

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Average Daily Rainfall 0.00 mm.  Total Weekly Rainfall 0.00 mm

Species List for the Week

Mammals

  • Howler Monkey
  • Spider Monkey
  • Tent-making Bats
  • Agouti
  • Red-tailed Squirrel

Birds

  • Red-lored Amazon
  • Scarlet Macaws
  • White-crowned Parrot
  • Hook-billed Kite
  • Mangrove Black Hawk
  • Roadside Hawk
  • Lineated Woodpecker
  • Blue-crowned Motmot
  • Black-hooded Antshrike
  • Chestnut-backed Antbird
  • Common Paureque
  • Short-billed Pigeon
  • White-tipped Dove
  • Blue-crowned Manakin
  • Red-capped Manakin
  • Chestnut-mandibled Toucan
  • Summer Tanager
  • Rufus Piha
  • Bright-rumped Atilla
  • Dusky Flycatcher
  • Great Kiskadee
  • Great Tinamou
  • House Wren
  • Black-throated Trogon
  • Black Vulture
  • Turkey Vulture

Reptiles

  • Barred Ameiva
  • Central American Whiptail
  • Five-lined Ameiva
  • Cat-eyed Snake
  • Clawless Gecko
  • Golfo Dulce Anolis
  • Tropical Bird-eating Snake

Amphibians

  • Banana Frog
  • Marine Toad
  • Red-eyed Green Tree Frog
  • Smokey Jungle Frog
  • Stejneger’s Dirt Frog

Butterflies

  • Agraulis vanillae
  • Anartia fatima
  • Anartia jatrophae
  • Antirrhea philoctetes
  • Autochton neis
  • Dryas iulia
  • Eueides lybia
  • Eurema daira
  • Glutophrissa drusilla
  • Heliconius erato
  • Heliconius hecale
  • Heliconius ismenius
  • Heliconius sapho
  • Heraclides cresphontes
  • Hermeuptychia hermes
  • Magneuptychia libye
  • Morpho helenor
  • Morpho Menelaus
  • Opsiphanes tamarindi
  • Parides erithalion
  • Philaetria dido
  • Pierella luna
  • Phoebis argante
  • Phoebis sennae
  • Pyrisitia nise
  • Pyrrhogyra crameri
  • Pyrrhogyra otolais
  • Quadrus cerialis
  • Urbanus simplicius
  • Urbanus tanna

Plants

  • Aphelandra golfodulcensis Flowering
  • Bamboo Orchid Flowering
  • Black Alligator Tree Flowering and Fruiting
  • Calabash flowering and fruiting
  • Cannonball Tree Flowering and Fruiting
  • Clusia rosea Flowering
  • Garlic Tree Flowering
  • Milky Tree Fruiting
  • Monkey Comb Tree Flowering and Fruiting
  • Mountain Rose Flowering
  • Ox Eye Vine Fruit
  • Passion Vine Flowering and Fruiting
  • Stinky Toe Fruiting

 

Beetles Lighting Up The Sky To The Sweet Smell Of Cheese   4 comments


Felipe del Bosque Blog April 3nd 2011


Belly Up

The big news this week is that there have been no Puma sightings.  I do not know if this is simply as a result of the cats moving around the territory or the fact that over the past seven days no-one has been in the right place at the right time.

One person who found himself in that particular situation though, was a guest at Bosque, who while traversing a creek on the Zapatero Trail happened upon a Neotropical River Otter lying on its back in one of the small pools, while feeding on something it had caught, probably a crayfish.

On one of my nightly frog counts at the pond, I heard a rustling in the vegetation and out came a Tamandua, which proceeded to step down into the water before turning round and stepping out again before wandering off into the undergrowth.

Visitors, as usual have been seeing large numbers of all four species of monkey, agoutis are all around the grounds and most people do manage to see at least one White-nosed Coati.  There have been several sightings, again on the Zapatero Trail, of Alfaro’s Pygmy Squirrel, which looks like a small dark brown Chipmunk.

Patiently Waiting for Water

The little amount of rain that we have experienced this week would not seem to be affecting the frog numbers to any great extent.  The rainy season normally begins towards the end of April and the frog numbers have begun to swell in possible anticipation of increased precipitation.

The Smoky Jungle Frogs are now present around the pond in numbers far in excess of anything I have ever recorded in all my previous years here.  This could be because the population has flourished over recent years and with the conditions having been so dry over the past four months, this is the dampest spot they have to retire to.

The Red-eyed Green Tree Frogs are here every night but once more the numbers have started to build and there have been a few cases of egg-laying having taken place already.

A new noise has started to fill the evening air, or at least a call that has been missing for as long as the rain, Fitzinger’s Rain Frog is calling once more, encouraged by the few brief showers to find a mate.

At various points around the immediate hotel grounds, nests of iguanas have produced newly hatched juveniles.  During the day they can be found lying out over the low vegetation sunning themselves and at night they don’t seem to have moved as they can be found lying in exactly the same positions but sleeping with eyes closed.

Green Iguana

Leafing Through the Undergrowth

I found one interesting insect this week, or should I say it found me.  One day, sitting on the screen of my cabin was a katydid.  Generally I have lots of katydids in and around my cabin but this one was of particular interest due to its strong resemblance to a leaf.  Throughout the katydid family there can be found an increasing propensity to have evolved a body form that closely resembles the vegetation that they inhabit.  Some of the Leaf-mimicking Katydids have to be seen to be believed, but there is the rub, it is almost impossible to see them because the camouflage has been so well perfected.

This one resembled a green leaf, venation included, but being out in the open led to its discovery.

Perfumes For All Occasions

For the most part, the orchids to be found around the gardens and forests of Bosque bloom in December to January but at the moment in several locations around the lodge there is a very distinct orchid in flower.

Most of Costa Rica’s orchids, 88%, are epiphytic, that is, they can be found growing on the sides of other plants.  Orchids are the second most numerously named group of flowering plants on the planet.  They have a huge and varied number of ways in which they get themselves pollinated, some very weird and wonderful.

The orchids flowering at the moment are Lady of the Night, (Brassavola nodosa).  They have a relatively simple means of getting themselves pollinated.  The flower is a long tube shaped white structure that at night gives off a delicate sweet perfume that attracts in hawk moths.  The hawk moths hover in front of the bloom, they have a long proboscis which fits down into the flower from which the suck the nectar at night.  The plant then attaches the pollinaria to the moth which is then transferred to another plant when the hawk moth goes in search of more nectar.

Lady of the Night

The photograph of the orchid flower was taken on the side of a tree that also bears night flowering blooms, but conversely having a completely different scent, Calabash, (Cresentia alata).

Calabash is a bat pollinated tree and as you would expect with a bat pollinated tree the blooms appear at night.  The flowers can be found on the trunk and branches of the tree, a situation known as cauliflory.  This allows the bats to land in front of the flower without being impeded by the tree’s foliage.  Nectar feeding bats prefer musky smells rather than sweet smells, so unlike the heavenly scented orchid growing from its trunk, the Calabash gives off the distinct and heady aroma of sweaty cheese.

Calabash

Nectar feeding bats have a good sense of smell, good eyesight and a reduced sense of echolocation; they find the flowers through sight and smell.  They have a long muzzle and long sticky tongue.  They land in front, stick their head and shoulders inside the flower, lap the nectar from the base and while they are doing that, the head and shoulders become dusted with pollen.  When the bat flies off to the next flower, it transfers the pollen and pollinates the plant.

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

During the course of the year we have various species of organisms that create their own light which produce an almost magical feel to both the forest and gardens.  For those souls brave enough to venture into the woods at night, if they dare turn off their flashlights and wait a while until their eyes readjust to the darkness, a new faint and ghostly glimmer can be seen emanating from the forest floor.  Stooping down to see what it might be that emits such a hauntingly pale emission you will be amazed to find yourself looking at a piece of rotting wood.  Ramified throughout the dead twig or branch are the hyphae of a bioluminescent fungi, of which there are several species.  The glow they give off is almost imperceptible unless viewed with peripheral vision.  The fruiting bodies, mushrooms and toadstools which are more obvious at certain times of the year, have an eerie quality that take you straight into story books full of faerie folk from the shadow world.

When the conditions are wetter, we get the nightly display from the Fireflies.  Fireflies are not actually flies at all, but rather beetles.  Earlier in the evening just as the sun takes its final bow below the horizon and darkness descends over the lodge, small flashes of light, barely discernable in the half light, begin to flicker from the across the lawns.  At first there are just one or two, here and there, but as the day finally turns to night, more and now everywhere.  This heralds the emergence of the male Fireflies from down amongst the grass stalks where they have been hiding all day.

Each species gives off a different set of flashed signals, a coded message recognized by the females which live higher up in the vegetation and they respond with a different flashed code.  The males fly up to the top of the trees where the fireflies pair up and mate.

There are about 2000 species of firefly around the world, some of which are much larger than others.  There are females of a very large species, which use deception to get themselves a meal.  They copy the flashed signal of a smaller species female, the male flies in expecting to find a receptive female sitting waiting for him, but the reality is he is only going to find the large carnivorous jaws of a larger female waiting to consume him.

Fire Beetles.

The Fire Beetles are click beetles of the family Elateridae.  They have two bright bioluminescent spots on the dorsal surface of the pronotum behind the head.  At night these two spots glow like bright green headlamps.  The beetle has the ability to dim down or brighten the light at will.  If you touch one of the Fire Beetles, you will be astounded to see the lights blaze bright green.  When the beetle takes off and flies, one of the ventral abdominal segments glows with a bright orange bioluminescence which somewhat resembles a flying cigarette butt.

Fire Beetle

The term click beetle refers to the beetle’s ability to snap or click its body which will right the beetle if it is upside down and may also serve to bounce it some distance from a potential predator.

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 93°F.  Average Daily Temp Low 77°F.

Average Daily Rainfall 0.02 ins.  Total Weekly Rainfall 0.13 ins

Average Daily Temp High 33.9 °C.  Average Daily Temp Low 24.5 °C.

Average Daily Rainfall 0.5 mm.  Total Weekly Rainfall 0.33 mm

Species List for the Week

Mammals

  • Howler Monkey
  • Spider Monkey
  • White-faced Monkey
  • Central American Squirrel Monkey
  • Alfaro’s Pygmy Squirrel
  • Agouti
  • Kinkajou
  • White-nosed Coati
  • Neotropical River Otter
  • Collared Peccaries

Birds

  • Red-lored Amazon
  • Scarlet Macaws
  • Grey-necked Woodrail
  • Great Currasow
  • Pale-billed Woodpecker
  • Laughing Falcon
  • Chestnut-backed Antbirds
  • Black-hooded Antshrike
  • Common Paureque
  • Rufus Piha
  • Short-billed Pigeon
  • Mangrove Cuckoo
  • Blue-crowned Manakin
  • Red-capped Manakin
  • Chestnut-mandibled Toucan
  • Cherrie’s Tanager
  • Summer Tanager
  • Bright-rumped Atilla
  • Dusky-capped Flycatcher
  • Great Kiskadee
  • Streaked Flycatcher
  • Black-crowned Tityra
  • Great Tinamou
  • House Wren
  • Riverside Wren
  • Black-throated Trogon
  • Black Vulture
  • Turkey Vulture

Reptiles

  • Basilisk
  • Barred Ameiva
  • Four-lined Ameiva
  • Central American Whiptail
  • Green Iguana
  • Golfo Dulce Anolis
  • Pug-nosed Anole
  • Central American Smooth Gecko
  • Clawless Gecko
  • Mediterranean House Gecko
  • Barred Forest Racer
  • Cat-eyed Snake
  • Salmon-bellied Racer
  • Tropical Bird-eating Snake

Amphibians

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

Butterflies

  • Adelpha boeotia
  • Adelpha iphiclus
  • Anartia Fatima
  • Anartia jatrophae
  • Anatrytone potosiensis
  • Anthoptus Epictetus
  • Arawacus lincoides
  • Astraptes fulgerator
  • Battus polydamus
  • Callimormus saturnus
  • Calycopis isobeon
  • Colobura dirce
  • Consul fabius
  • Decinea percosius
  • Detritivora gynaea
  • Dione juno
  • Dryas iulia
  • Emesis Lucinda
  • Esthemopsis colaxes
  • Eueides aliphera
  • Eueides lybia
  • Eurema albula
  • Eurema daira
  • Euselasia mystica
  • Glutophrissa Drusilla
  • Hamadryas laodamia
  • Heliconius cydno
  • Heliconius erato
  • Heliconius hecale
  • Heliconius ismenius
  • Heliconius sapho
  • Heraclides cresphontes
  • Hermeuptychia hermes
  • Hyalyris excelsa
  • Junonia everete
  • Laparus doris
  • Magneuptychia libye
  • Marpesia berania
  • Marpesia Chiron
  • Mechanitis lysimnia
  • Mechanitis polymnia
  • Melinaea scylax
  • Mesosemia zonalis
  • Metacharis victrix
  • Morpho helenor
  • Morpho Menelaus
  • Pareuptychia ocirrhoe
  • Parides erithalion
  • Perophthalma lassus
  • Philaethria dido
  • Phoebis agarithe
  • Phoebis argante
  • Phoebis sennae
  • Pierella helvina
  • Pierella luna
  • Pompeius pompeius
  • Pyrgus oileus
  • Pyrisitia nise
  • Pyrrhogyra crameri
  • Siproeta stelenes
  • Strymon yojoa
  • Trigridia acesta
  • Urbanus dorantes
  • Urbanus simplicius
  • Urbanus tanna

Plants

  • Almendra Fruiting
  • Balsa Fruiting
  • Cashew Flowering and Fruiting
  • Calabash flowering and fruiting
  • Clusia valeroi Fruiting
  • Monkey Comb Tree fruiting
  • Garlic Tree Fruiting
  • Candlestick Plant Flowering.
  • Cannonball Tree Fruiting
  • Figs Fruiting
  • Inga Fruiting
  • Jacaranda Flowering
  • Lady of the Night Orchid Flowering
  • May Tree Flowering
  • Manglillo Fruiting
  • Passion Vine Flowering and Fruiting
  • Pochote Tree Flowering and Fruiting
  • Psychotria Fruiting
  • Rubber Tree Flowering
  • Santa Maria Flowering
  • Stinky Toe Flowering and Fruiting
  • Guanacaste Tree Fruiting
  • Astrocaryum Palm Fruiting
  • Schelea Palm Fruiting
  • Ylang ylang Flowering
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