Archive for the ‘Micrathyria ocellata’ Tag

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.

Here We Go Again   4 comments


Felipe del Bosque Blog November 12th 2012

Sun Shade

I made an earlier than normal return to Bosque this year.  The wet season had seen its share of rain but now the heavy showers are interspersed with long periods of blue sky and bright sun.  Mammal, bird, reptile, amphibian and butterfly sightings are good.

I keep a daily nature diary of animals and plants, (flowering and fruiting), that I have seen at the lodge.  At the end of the week the lists are added to the bottom of this blog which allows people to see what is going on in advance of their visit to Bosque or to keep in touch when they have left.  Anyone reading but not visiting can gauge the amount of activity taking place in the natural world down on the tip of the Osa Peninsula, Costa Rica.

This year I have decided to add something extra, something a little different.  Birders have their “Big Year” so I thought it might be nice to have a big year but not limiting myself to the avifauna, but rather everything.  It won’t take much more effort over and above what I already record and catalogue.  It is not competitive either, just a bit of fun.  It will enable me to post a weekly update of cumulative numbers across the board of species inventories.  The readers will then be able to see at a glance the amount of fauna and flora that can be experienced and over what period of time at Bosque.

The records will be confined to the 800 acres that constitute the grounds of Bosque del Cabo and will be based on casual observations.  Hopefully I should get some photos to post too.

Doing the Rounds

Around the grounds there are the usual mammal sightings with Agoutis, (Dasyprocta punctata), White-nosed Coatis, (Nasua narica), and Red-tailed Squirrels, (Sciurus granatensis), in the gardened areas in front of the restaurant.  Spider Monkeys, (Ateles geoffroyi), Howler Monkeys, (Allouata palliata), and White-faced Monkeys, (Cebus capucinus), can be seen just about everywhere around the grounds.  The White-faced Monkeys have been up to their usual nasty tricks.  One couple out in the garden was trying to photograph a Chestnut-mandibled Toucan, (Ramphastos swainsoni), when a White-faced Monkey grabbed and dispatched the unfortunate bird.  It wasn’t the photograph they were looking for but it makes for a talking point back home.

One night, just before dinner, a Kinkajou, (Poto flavus), came into the bar, which was full of guests at the time, and made its way up one of the support poles into the roof and disappeared from view.  Kinkajous are not uncommon around the grounds of Bosque and can quite often be heard up in the tree tops at night but this was the first sighting in the bar.

Summer Calling

The Scarlet Macaws can be seen in the morning flying east to the Golfo Dulce beaches where they take up their daily occupancy of the almond trees, the nuts forming a staple part of their diet.  Later in the afternoon they can be flying this time west returning to roost for the evening.  Their strict adherence to a timetable allows guests to position their cameras to frame the sea and the sky then just wait for the macaws to fly by and fill the foreground space between.

I thought I might make it back before the migrant birds returned but they got here before me.  The very distinctive call of the Summer Tanger, (Pingara rubra) can be heard from the vegetation all around the lodge and will continue to be so for the next few months.  The Dusky-capped Flycatcher, (Myriarchus tubiculifer), is another bird with a soft yet unmistakable call which is being heard all around the restaurant area and mango orchard at the minute.

Prior to their visit, bird calls are something that a visitor to the tropics should acquaint themselves with as not only will they allow you to hear what is around, but also where it is which is essential if you want to spot them.  Looking for birds within the depth of the forest is a somewhat difficult task due to the obstructive presence of so much vegetation.  The open areas, gardens and forest edges are your best bet for seeing much of the bird life.

At the moment within the darker confines of the forest beneath the canopy the Red-capped Manakin, (Pipra mentalis), and the Blue-crowned Manakin, (Pipra coronata), are calling as well as the Rufus Piha the call of which sounds like someone giving a wolf whistle.

In front of the restaurant the Roadside Hawk ,(Buteo magnirostris), Crested Caracaras, (Caracara cheriway), and Yellow-headed Caracaras, (Milvago chimachima), are a daily sight along with the ever present Black Vultures and Turkey Vultures.

Spotted Frogs

Agalychnis callidryas

Despite the fact that it is still wet, the Tink Frogs, (Diasporus diastema), have now all but stopped calling.  Down by the pond the Red-eyed Green Tree Frogs, (Agalychnis callidryas), are still present along with the Marine Toads, (Rhinella marinus) and Savage’s Thin-fingered Frog, (Leptodactylus savegei).  There are one or two Banana Frogs, (Dendropsophus ebrecattus), sitting on the Water Hyacinths, (Eichhornia crassipes), and the occasional call of a Parachuting Red-eyed Green Tree Frog, (Agalychnis spurelli), can be heard.  The Gladiator Frogs, (Hypsoboas rosenbergi), that were out in profusion a few months ago have disappeared.  There have been one or two Masked Smiliscas, (Smilisca phaeota), calling too and as the sun sets you can hear the distinctive “Chuck” of Fitzinger’s Rain Frog, (Craugastor fitzingeri).

Leptodactylus savagei

The Red-eyed Green Tree Frogs are still spawning and their eggs can be found in distinctive gelatinous clusters hanging beneath the leaves overhanging the pond which make an easily available food source for the Cat-eyed Snakes, (Leptodeira septentrionalis).  Once the sun sets out come the snakes.  They make their way over the surface of the pond and over the vegetation behind, tongues flicking in and out in search of that protein packed jelly.  One night I found a Terciopelo sitting above head height on a leaf behind the pond.  The occasional sleeping Basilisk, (Basaliscus basaliscus), may also be encountered but they are easily disturbed.  You make get a shot but it doesn’t take much to cause them to fall to the ground and run for cover.  While out at night you cannot fail to see, especially if looking for eyeshine, the tell tale diamond sparkle coming from the eyes of Wandering Spiders, (Cupiennius sp) sitting on top of the leaves.  One night I had fun taking some pictures of a tiny katydid down by the Bosque pond.  I have no idea what species it is but it was quite photogenic.

Agalychnis callidryas eggs

Fitzinger's Rain Frog

Smilisca phaeota

Wandering Spider

Unidentified Katydid

Only When The Sun Shines

As the weather is reasonably dry and bright, at least on some days, the butterflies take to the wing.  There are neither a huge number of species nor many individuals of each species to be seen this time of year. If you do go for a walk on a sunny day you should get to see some of the more brightly colored species around the grounds, particularly at the Lantana bush where several species of Longwings will be flitting from flower to flower in search of nectar. The earlier you go the better it is to get the photographs before they are fully warmed up and less likely to settle for any great period of time.

Dryas iulia         Heliconius ismenius         Heliconius erato

The same applies to the pond and the dragonflies.  There are very few species around at the moment.  But if you watch them, observing where they land, then you can set up your camera and wait.  With a little patience you should get a fairly good chance of a close-up shot.

Micrathyria ocellata         Micrathyria ocellata        

Fruitless Search

The end of the wet season is not the best time to find either flowers or fruit.  The rain will have ensured that the forests have a deep verdant green aspect to them.  But as we move into that transitional period from wet to dry, many of the plants are stimulated into bearing flowers.  By the time we get into December and January there will be a greater, sometimes subtle and at other times garish, display of color throughout the forest.  For now though you just have to enjoy the deep greens.  If you thought green was green you were very much mistaken.  Find a vantage point and look out over the forest.  You will see emerald, jade, olives, lime, bottle green, sea greens, pea green in fact green in every shade and hue you could imagine.

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

 A Small Problem

One of the most compelling sites of the rainforest is ubiquitous presence of the industrious Leaf-cutter Ants, (Atta sp) which seemingly never rest.  When they are not active their trails can be seen as clear cut paths that run through lawns and across the forest floor.  When they are active, the trails resemble rivers of green moving leaf fragments, which the majority of the workers heading back towards the nest are carrying in their mandibles above their bodies.

Atta cephalotes         Atta cephalotes         Atta cephalotes

Once the leaf is taken into the nest it is dropped and then the work of another caste begins.  It chops the leaf into smaller fragments.  Descending down into the depths of the nest the workers get smaller and smaller progressively cutting the leaf into ever finer fragments which by the time they reach the nest gardens are processed into a grey chewed up mulch.  The ants defecate on this which adds amino acids and enzymes.  This is now the compost on which they grow a very specific fungus that ultimately provides food and sustenance for all the ants in the colony, (upto 8 million of which exist in a mature colony).

Atta cephalotes

This last week there has been a tremendous amount of leaf-cutter activity on all of the Bosque trails and also by my cabin.  Here was a perfect opportunity to try and get some pictures.  This is never an easy task.   You have to get the camera in a position where you can see the ants passing through a plane of view.  Due to the close proximity of the lens to the subject when an ant does pass by it does so very quickly so the shutter speed has to be high.  The distance from the lens means you have a shallow field of view, so to increase your chances of getting one or two in the right plane; you have to close the aperture right down.  A fast shutter speed and a minute aperture allow very little natural light to enter so you have to provide a lot of light by way of flash.  I use 5 separate flash units.  Even then, the chances of getting one at the right exposure filing the frame are slim, most of the ants are entering or exiting the frame or are too far away or are too close.  But due to the number of them all moving in the same direction, then you should get one or two keepers, it depends on how much time and patience you have.

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 0.23 ins.  Total Weekly Rainfall 1.63 ins

Average Daily Rainfall 5.9 mm.  Total Weekly Rainfall 41.4 mm

Highest Daily Temp 91°F.  Lowest Daily Temp 75°F.

Highest Daily Temp 32.5°C.  Lowest Daily Temp 23.9°C.

Species List for the Week

Mammals

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

Birds

  • Mealy Amazon
  • Red-lored Amazon
  • Scarlet Macaws
  • Great Curassow
  • Crested Caracara
  • Laughing Falcon
  • Roadside Hawk
  • Yellow-headed Caracara
  • Pale-billed Woodpecker
  • Belted Kingfisher
  • Dusky-capped Flycatcher
  • Chestnut-backed Antbird
  • Black-hooded Antshrike
  • Rufus Piha
  • Short-billed Pigeon
  • White-tipped Dove
  • Rufus-tailed Hummingbird
  • Stripe-throated Hermit
  • Blue-crowned Manakin
  • Red-capped Manakin
  • Chestnut-mandibled Toucan
  • Grey-headed Tanager
  • Summer Tanager
  • Tawney-winged Woodcreeper
  • Golden-crowned Spadebill
  • Great Kiskadee
  • Black Vulture
  • Turkey Vulture

Reptiles

  • Cat-eyed Snake
  • Clawless Gecko
  • Common Basilisk
  • Four-lined Ameiva
  • Golfo Dulce Anolis
  • Green Iguana
  • Litter Skink
  • Terciopelo

 Amphibians

  • Banana Frog
  • Black and Green Poison Arrow Frog
  • Fitzinger’s Rain Frog
  • Marine Toad
  • Masked Smilisca
  • Parachuting Red-eyed Green Tree Frog
  • Red-eyed Green Tree Frog
  • Smoky Jungle Frog
  • Stejneger’s Dirt Frog

Butterflies

  • Anartia Fatima
  • Anartia jatrophae
  • Dryas iulia
  • Eurybia lycisca
  • Glutophrissa Drusilla
  • Heliconius erato
  • Heliconius hecale
  • Heliconius ismenius
  • Heliconius sapho
  • Hermeuptychia hermes
  • Heraclides cresphontes
  • Magneuptychia libye
  • Morpho helenor
  • Morpho Menelaus
  • Opsiphanes tamarindi
  • Pareuptychia ocirrhoe
  • Philaethria dido
  • Pierella helvina
  • Pierella luna
  • Pyrgus oileus
  • Pyrrhogyra crameri
  • Taygetis Andromeda
  • Urbanus simplicius

 Plants

  • Alamandra  cathartica Flowering
  • Alpinia purpurata Flowering
  • Apeiba tibourbou Flowering
  • Arachis pintoi Flowering
  • Arundina graminifolia Flowering
  • Bauhinia variegata Flowering
  • Cananga odorata Flowering and Fruiting
  • Cascabella thevetia Flowering
  • 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 Fruiting
  • Dypsis lutescens Flowering and Fruiting
  • Etlingera elatior Flowering
  • Ficus insipida 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
  • Lantana camara Flowering andFlowering
  • Lagerstroemia speciosa Fruiting
  • Morinda citrifolia Fruiting
  • Musa acuminate Flowering andFruiting
  • Naucleopsis ulei 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
  • Thunbergia grandiflora Flowering
  • Virola guatemalena Fruiting
  • Virola sebifera Fruiting
  • Zammia sp Flowering

GRASSHOPPERS: JUMP TO IT   Leave a comment


It has been another grey, overcast and showery day today so the sightings were few and far between, more as a result of my not getting out rather than the wildlife staying away.

Apart from the obvious mammals, birds and butterflies, of which I maintain daily recorded observations, there are several other things that I take note of.  I always pass by the pond two or three times a day to see what species of dragonfly may be hawking or breeding.  At the moment there are three regular resident species, Micrathyria ocellata, Libellula herculea and Orthemis ferruginea.  It is mostly the males that inhabit the area by the pond.  Each individual is competing to set up the most advantageous perch to catch the sun, watch for prey and keep a look out for any female who may venture into the area.  They are constantly busy; chasing away other males, hovering over the water before momentarily settling only to take off again and repeat the performance, those large eyes always in search of a meal.

Dragonfly, Micrathyria ocellata, Costa Rica, Veridion Adventures, Nature Photography, Travel

Rayadora, (Micrathryria ocellata)

Dragonfly, Roseate Skimmer, Orthemis ferruginea, Costa Rica, Veridion Adventures, Nature Photography, Travel

Roseate Skimmer, (Orthemis ferruginea)

I also like to keep a diary of the flowering and fruiting of the various plants.  Some of them are very distinctive and pose no problems, others, despite having flowers or fruit that you would think unmistakable, don’t seem to appear in any of the guides to the flora of the area.  Today I have been photographing two fruits that I found that need further investigation before I can name them.  At the moment, we have the Hog Plums, (Spondias mombin), continuing to produce copious amounts of fruit as they have done for several months now.  The Cannonball Tree, (Couroupita guianensis), is still flowering prolifically and has started to produce the distinctive “cannonball” fruits.  Figs, well figs just don’t seem to stop fruiting.  We also have a wonderful floral display being provided by the Golden Trumpet Vine, (Allamandra cathartica), with its vibrant yellow blossoms intertwined throughout the vegetation.

Apocyanaceae, Golden Trumpet Vine, Allamandra cathartica, Costa Rica, Veridion Adventures, Nature Photography, Travel

Golden Trumpet Vine, (Allamandra cathartica)

So, even though at first it might have seemed as if there was a little less variety than normal, once again, you just have to re-adjust your point of reference and you will see far more than you could wish for.

Grasshoppers: Jump To It

There are many other insects that I only ever see sporadically.  This would include the praying mantises, walking sticks, grasshoppers and katydids. I do have a particular liking for these creatures, they all seem to have character, but unfortunately I don’t see them as often as I would like.  But today I had several grasshoppers sitting perfectly placed at head height on some of the low shrubs and posing, (unintentionally), for photographs.

Grasshoppers and Katydids belong to the insect order Orthoptera which means straight wings.  Grasshoppers can easily be distinguished from katydids by their short antennae whereas the latter have long filamentous whip-like antennae. Characteristic of both though are the huge rear legs which can propel them long distances when disturbed.  Another feature of the Orthoptera is the ability of most males to “sing”.  The sound is produced either by the rubbing together of the rear legs against the wings or the front and hind wings, a process which is known as stridulation.  The sound can sometimes be melodic but other times can contribute to a constant hiss, an insect white noise, particularly in the evening.  If they are producing sound then they should be able to hear.  To this effect grasshoppers have hearing organs on the abdomen, katydids have hearing organs on the front legs.  For the most part, orthopterans are herbivorous but there are some carnivorous katydids. They are a very mixed and diverse group of arthropods.  If they stay around long enough without jumping or flying away, they are always worth a second look.

Grasshopper, Acrididae sp, Costa Rica, Veridion Adventures, Nature Photography, Travel

Grasshopper, (Acrididae sp)

Monkey Grasshopper, Homeomastax dentata, Costa Rica, Veridion Adventures, Nature Photography, Travel

Monkey Grasshopper, (Homeomastax dentata)

Katydid, Orthoptera, Leaf-mimicking Katydid, Mimeta sp, Costa Rica, Veridion Adventures, Nature Photography, Travel

Leaf-mimicking Katydid, (Mimeta sp)

Grasshopper, Orthoptera, Acrididae sp, Costa Rica, Veridion Adventures, Nature Photography, Travel

Grasshopper, (Acrididae sp)

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