Archive for the ‘Osa Peninsula’ Tag

Something Fishy Down the Pit   2 comments


Felipe del Bosque Blog April 2nd  2012

Baked Earth

The temperatures continue to remain high but there have been a few days where the sky has been overcast and seemed to be promising a drop of rain.  But the clouds cleared, the sun shone and not a drop of rain was seen.  Following several more days of frequent heavy cloud cover moving over the peninsula, the clouds started to produce distant flashes of lightning and the remote rumble of thunder.  Then one night down it came, a rare but heavy downpour at 6 pm.  The rain lasted for 15 minutes but it was enough to clean the dust from the leaves.  Now there is a more imminent threat of rain with clouds gathering, shedding a sprinkling of rain before dispersing again.

Cat Nap

There was an amazing Puma, (Puma concolor), sighting a few weeks ago.  One young woman on the deck of her cabin watched transfixed as a female Puma walked by.  Meanwhile a couple who had just arrived, but had not yet been shown to their room, were sitting eating lunch.  They saw what they thought to be a large dog on the lawn.  They got up to take a closer look and were astonished to find a large male Puma lying in the sun in front of the restaurant.  A few minutes later one of the Bosque maids watched the two Pumas disappear down the slope under the cabins leading to the sea.

Up, Down and All Around

The Tent-making Bats, (Uroderma bilobatum), have continued to use the roosts under the palm leaves near the restaurant and the Guapinol is still flowering so the crown of the tree at night is surrounded by a myriad of Jamaican Fruit-eating Bats, (Artibeus jamaicensis).  On one tour, I casually glanced into the furled leaf of a heliconia and found 2 Spix’s Disc-winged Bats, (Thyroptera tricolor), roosting head up, the suckers on their wings adhering to the shiny upper side of the leaf.

The Nine-banded Armadillos, (Dasypus novemcinctus), and opossums have been active at night, the Common Opossum, (Delphis marsupialis), and Central American Wooly Opossum, (Caluromys derbianus), regularly being spotted.  At the moment the mango trees are starting to produce fruit, so over the coming months the orchard will be full of every sort of animal life gorging on the available food supply.

Damp Anticipation

The amphibians might have been indicating a shower or two as the Poison-arrow Frogs which have scarcely been seen over recent months suddenly emerged and started calling at various points around the lodge.  Over several nights the Red-eyed Green Tree Frogs, (Agalychnis callydryas), made an appearance, at first one then three.  They weren’t calling, just sitting silently but the Milky Frogs which could not be seen have been calling back and forth from various plants in front of the restaurant.

It is not just the amphibians that are responding to the environment cues, one night in a seamlessly co-ordinated and synchronized action, out came the Halloween Crabs, (Gecarcinus quadratus).  One 15 minute burst of heavy rain stimulated the crabs to emerge in numbers reaching into the thousands.  The following day there were crabs everywhere.  Wherever you walked, even if you couldn’t see them, you could certainly hear them; the sound was like rain on dry leaf.

Craters of Death

At night, the hordes of Leaf-cutter Ants, (Atta cephalotes), emerge after sheltering from the baking hot sun and commence their nocturnal lucubration.  During the day over recent weeks we have been able to watch the streams of Army Ants moving with deliberation and purpose across the trails.  The ants at this time of the year have a hazard they must negotiate.  On the dry and dusty pathways through the forest you will see time little craters that resemble a mini artillery range.  These pits spell doom for any ant unfortunate enough to stumble into one.  They are the lair of insect larvae, the Ant Lions, the adults of which are related to the Lacewings.

Ant-lions belong the insect order Neuroptera or Nerve winged insects, (so called because of the pattern of venation in the translucent wings of the adults) and of the family Mermeleontidae.  The adults are singularly unspectacular and the insect is more familiar because of the structures of the larvae.

Ant Lion Pit

This time of year wherever you find dry, fine grained soil sheltered from the rain, there will be collections of small craters in the ground.  Should you choose to stand, wait and watch you may glimpse an unsuspecting and unfortunate ant stumble into one of these funnel shaped depressions.  Its fate is sealed.  The friable nature of the cater sides causes the ant the slip down towards the centre with every effort it makes to climb out.  But if you watch, something more insidious is going on.  The concealed architect of the death trap starts to flick more sand at the victim with its front legs.  This drags the ant down to its doom. Lying erect at the epicenter of the trap is a pair of mandibles set like a spring loaded man trap.  When the ant makes contact, the Ant Lions jaws snap shut crushing the ill fated insect. The tips of the mandibles pierce the body and suck out the juices.  Here is life and death being enacted on a miniature scale in front of your eyes.

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

 Fast but no Fish

One day while sitting quietly in the office my work was interrupted by a commotion on the path in front of me.  While changing a gas bottle, one of the kitchen staff disturbed a snake which had been resting under the cylinder.  Once exposed, the startled snake tried to make a dash to cover which meant going between the legs of the equally startled cook.  As he jumped around screaming in the manner of a demented Irish jig, the snake twisted and turned trying to avoid his feet and get into the undergrowth.  I got up to investigate what might be causing so much panic only to find it was a harmless Salmon-bellied Racer, (Mastigodryas melanolomus).

Salmon-bellied Racer

The Salmon-bellied Racer is a diurnal and rapidly agile snake.  Its speed and large eyes are adaptations allowing it to locate and capture fast moving prey, the bulk of which are lizards such as Anolis lizards and Whiptails.

Salmon-bellied Racer

It is a distinctive snake with pale lines running the length of the chocolate brown body.  The name derives from the rich pink colored belly which can be seen in the photographs I managed to take once all the excitement had died down.

Text and Photographs are taken from the forthcoming book:

The Natural History of Bosque del Cabo by Philip Davison

Temperature and Rainfall

Average Daily Rainfall 0.00 ins.  Total Weekly Rainfall 0.00 ins

Average Daily Rainfall 0.00 mm.  Total Weekly Rainfall 0.00 mm

Species List for the Week

Mammals

  • Howler Monkey
  • Spider Monkey
  • Capuchin Monkey
  • Jamaican Fruit-eating Bat
  • Spix’s Disc-winged Bat
  • Tent-making Bat
  • Common Opossum
  • Nine-banded Armadillo
  • Three-toed Sloth
  • Agouti
  • Puma
  • White-nosed Coati
  • Collared Peccary

 

Birds

 

  • Red-lored Amazons
  • Scarlet Macaws
  • Grey-necked Woodrail
  • Crested Caracara
  • Mangrove Black Hawk
  • Roadside Hawk
  • Yellow-headed Caracara
  • Great Currasow
  • Lineated Woodpecker
  • Black-hooded Antshrike
  • Chestnut-backed Antbird
  • Common Paureque
  • Short-billed Pigeon
  • White-tipped Dove
  • Tawny-winged Woodcreeper
  • Blue-crowned Motmot
  • Long-billed Hermit
  • Strip-throated Hermit
  • White-necked Jacobin
  • Blue-crowned Manakin
  • Red-capped Manakin
  • Fiery-billed Aracari
  • Chestnut-mandibled Toucan
  • Cherrie’s Tanager
  • Golden-hooded Tanager
  • Grey-headed Tanager
  • Summer Tanager
  • White-shouldered Tanager
  • Bright-rumped Atilla
  • Dusky-capped Flycatcher
  • Golden-crowned Spadebill
  • Great Kiskadee
  • Buff-rumped Warbler
  • Great Tinamou
  • Little Tinamou
  • House Wren
  • Masked Tityra
  • Black-throated Trogon
  • Black Vulture
  • Turkey Vulture

 

Reptiles

 

  • Barred Ameiva
  • Barred Forest Racer
  • Boa Constrictor
  • Central American Whiptail
  • Common Basilisk
  • Five-lined Ameiva
  • Clawless Gecko
  • Golfo Dulce Anolis
  • Limifrons Anolis
  • Northern Cat-eyed Snake
  • Pug-nosed Anole
  • Salmon-bellied Racer

 

Amphibians

 

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

 

Butterflies

 

  • Agraulis vanillae
  • Anartia Fatima
  • Archaeoprepona demophon
  • Caligo atreus
  • Caligo eurilochus
  • Calycopis isobeon
  • Dryas iulia
  • Eueides lybia
  • Glutophrissa drusilla
  • Heliconius erato
  • Heliconius hecale
  • Heliconius ismenius
  • Heliconius sapho
  • Hermeuptychia hermes
  • Marpesia furcula
  • Mechanitis polymnia
  • Metacharis victrix
  • Morpho helenor
  • Morpho Menelaus
  • Pareuptychia ocirrhoe
  • Philaetria dido
  • Pierella luna
  • Pyrisitia nise

 

Plants

 

  • Bamboo Orchid Flowering
  • Black Alligator Tree Flowering and Fruiting
  • Calabash flowering and fruiting
  • Cannonball Tree Flowering and Fruiting
  • Cashew Flowering and Fruiting
  • Clusia rosea Flowering and Fruiting
  • Jacaranda Flowering
  • Milky Tree Fruiting
  • Monkey Comb Tree Fruiting
  • Mountain Rose Flowering
  • Nutmeg Fruiting
  • Passion Vine Flowering and Fruiting
  • Stinky Toe Flowering and Fruiting

 

Every Picture Tells a Story   2 comments


Felipe del Bosque Blog January 16th 2012

A Very Special Year

Last year was a remarkable wildlife year at Bosque del Cabo.  Costa Rica is renowned for its biodiversity.  It is a small country covering less than .02% of the planets land surface but plays host to 5% of the planets fauna and flora.  In a country the size of the state of West Virginia or Nova Scotia it has 2600 species of tree in comparison with less than 700 to be found throughout the whole of the North American continent, (the U.S. and Canada combined).  Costa Rica is 66% the size of Scotland and yet more species of ant may be found on one tree trunk than inhabit the total land comprising the U.K.  There are 44 species of bat in the U.S and 18 species in the U.K.  Costa Rica is home to 111 species of bat, 12% of the world’s bat diversity.

It is, therefore no surprise that anyone visiting Bosque will be immediately awestruck by the sheer number of plants and animals, many of which are so easy to observe within a short walking distance from the cabins.  You can witness all four species of Costa Rican monkeys; Spider, Howler, Capuchin and Squirrel in front of the restaurant.  White-nosed Coatis, Agoutis and Red-tailed Squirrels inhabit the same area as do Chestnut-mandibled Toucans and Scarlet Macaws.

At night, a walk around the grounds of Bosque will reward the visitor with a wealth of sightings, from frogs, toads, spiders, bats, the occasional owl or Kinkajou.  Invertebrate life proliferates both night and day if you just re-adjust your focus and field of vision.  Choose any shrub, bush or tree; take a close look and with patience a completely new world will open up to you.

For those who have an appreciation of natural beauty, the grounds are awash with the myriad kaleidoscopic colors of hundreds of species of butterfly.  Hummingbirds can be seen quickly flitting from flower, their scintillating radiant iridescence catching the eye before disappearing in the blink of an eye. Moth, those more subtly colored relatives of the sometimes garish butterflies can be found taking nectar for night scented blossoms.

But despite this luxury of life’s most wonderful expression of form and color, people still harbor a desire to see some of the world’s enigmatic top predators, the cats.  For so many people visiting Bosque del Cabo this year, those desires were realized but sometimes under unforeseen circumstances.  This blog is to tell the stories behind some of the photographs taken by those fortunate to have a camera in hand when the opportunity presented itself.

CAUGHT IN A TRAP

Over many years at Bosque, Pumas have been seen on occasion by visitors to the lodge.  Each event was momentous for the lucky observer.  It was not something that happened with same kind of regularity as monkey sightings or even armadillos, sloths or anteaters, but we were aware of their presence.  During the rainy season, particularly on the Titi Trail, which runs more through advanced secondary forest, when the trail is wet and the ground is soft, it is possible to see what has been around before you from the tracks and prints they leave behind.  So it was when a young Costa Rican biologist Aida Bustamante Ho came to Bosque requesting permission to place some remote camera traps around the grounds in order to monitor the movements of various cat species, she asked me where I thought might be a good location.  As I had been conducting my research by walking the trails for many years I was acutely aware of what was around and where.  I suggested to Aida that the back end of the Titi Trail before it exits onto the main drive might produce fruitful results based on my observations.  Subsequently that has been the case.  Out of all the camera traps the Yaguara project have placed all over the Osa Peninsula, the Titi Trail camera has proved to be the most productive.  You can read about the fascinating research of these three young local biologists at:

www.yaguara.com

                 

                 

                 

NO COMPETITION

One afternoon last February, (2011), a professional wildlife photographer, Suzi Eszterhas, turned up at the lodge on a mission to scout out a good place to bring a photographic group.  There were two basic requirements; lots of wildlife and easy access.  Suzi informed me that she had been to other lodges and had been impressed so the competition would be stiff.  I promised to take her out and show her around after lunch with the intention of locating the best areas for wildlife photography.  In front of the restaurant we had identified Scarlet Macaw sites, toucan feeding areas, the usual plethora of monkeys and other mammals as well as Poison Arrow Frogs.  The deal was almost sealed within the hour.

        

Next morning, Suzi awoke early to watch birds.  She was sitting in the restaurant having a pre walk coffee, camera by her side and staring over the lawn when out from the forest edge ran an Agouti.  It pelted at high speed across the open area trying to make it to cover.  In hot pursuit was a female Puma, lean and sleek, it running at high speed to catch its selected prey.  She wasn’t quick enough, the Agouti went to ground.

        

Suzi had spent 4 years photographing wildcats in the Masai Mara reserve, Africa.  This was too good an opportunity to miss.  The female Puma having missed her intended meal stopped to take a breath on the steps of Cabina Manglillo.  Suzi, with camera in hand, left her coffee and walked across the lawn.  She snapped one delightful image after another as the cat walked nonchalantly through the grounds before retreating back into the forest.

We know the identity of this particular female as she has the very distinctive tip of her tail missing.  She has been resident here for many years and has raised several sets of cubs on the grounds of Bosque del Cabo, more of which to follow.  To see some more of Suzi’s work look here:

www.suzieszterhas.com

ALL GROWN UP

The female Puma last year had two cubs and all three were seen together on various occasions at different locations around the property.  The cubs were both male and it wasn’t long before they started to outsize their mother.

        

Last March we had a family visiting us from Texas, who early one morning before breakfast, went for a walk on the Titi Trail.  As they were returning, on the way down the hill, they noticed above them a large male Puma, one of the now almost fully grown cubs, languidly draped over a branch 30 feet above their heads.  The mother, Jael Polnac, fired off several excellent pictures of the indolent young cat.

        

Jael’s arrival back at the lodge and subsequent showing of the photos to the breakfasting diners, resulted in a rapid mass exodus in the direction of the tree with guests all eager to capture similar images.  They weren’t disappointed.  The young male was in no hurry to go anywhere and obliged by remaining in the same spot until lunchtime providing many guests with the opportunity to immortalize him, in at least their photo albums for posterity.  Welcome to Bosque del Cabo – the Wildcat Capital of Costa Rica.

REPEAT PERFORMANCE

Not long after the above event, one of Bosque’s regular visitors over many years, Deliah James, was in the same area and once again, there was the cub in the same spot.  Deliah captured some great shots of the now large handsome male.  He was showing off a fine set of teeth.

                 

WHAT A RUSH

Some of our visitors, who after breakfast had been walking the Titi Trail taking in the diverse flora and fauna, emerged onto the driveway and started back towards the lodge. They were stopped in their tracks by a female Puma running at speed towards them.  The Puma had no interest in them but in a reverse of form from chasing prey, she herself was being chased, by a group of serious unhappy White-collared Peccaries, which are not too dissimilar in appearance to small wild boar.

        

As they stood in disbelief, fumbling for a camera, the Puma jumped up into a tree to escape its disgruntled adversaries.  The peccary, their intentions of doing the cat harm, foiled by their inability to climb, surrounded the base of the Puma’s tree of refuge and waited, impatiently snorting and grunting.  After a short period of time the peccaries’’ limited patience gave out and off they trotted into the forest content enough that they had seen the predators threat diffused.

When the cat deemed it safe enough to descend, it jumped down from the tree and made a hasty retreat into the safety of cover.  Meanwhile the astonished group of visitor had captured the event on camera.  They returned to the lodge with a tale to tell that is probably being repeated to this day back home.

BRIEF ENCOUNTER

Some months later, one visitor was walking in that same area, the exit of the Titi Trail onto the driveway, when a male Puma leisurely stepped out of the forest on one side of the road, crossed and disappeared into the opposite side.

        

On many occasions, our staff as they are leaving the grounds of Bosque at night to return to Puerto Jimenez has seen Pumas crossing this way.

LEFT BEHIND BUT NOT ALONE

At the beginning of December, the internationally renowned wildlife photographer, Roy Toft had a photographic workshop at Bosque.  On the final day, Roy left with the group to go and photograph subjects at the Golfo Dulce beaches.  One of the participants had previously hurt his back and did not relish the thought of a steep walk down, so decided to stay behind, relax and process some of his images.

        

Sometime around midmorning a ruckus broke out amongst the Spider Monkeys in the tree above his cabin, Sol.  He grabbed his camera to take photographs of what he was sure would prove to be an ensuing monkey fight.  It wasn’t aggressive interaction between the monkeys that was causing them scream and screech, but rather something moving on the ground about below them.

        

Astounded, amazed and fortuitous, the infirm photographer had a Puma walk in front of him about 4 feet below the front of his cabin deck.  He managed to take images that would be the envy of his colleagues who had endured the long beach walk.

To see some of the images captured on Roy’s photo safari as well as his other trips look at:

www.toftphotography.com

SAY CHEESE

Christmas Eve 2011 provided an early present for two visitors to Bosque, Keita and Kazuko Iida.  Once again, they were walking the Titi Trail going up an incline, when a female Puma appeared at the crest of the rise.  Not wanting to miss the opportunity to capture the image, he pointed the camera and click.  But the camera did not have the correct settings.  The moment was the important issue and at least they had something.  However, the moment was not over, as a male Puma consort appeared by her side.  Click, click, click, more photos.  The cats were not moving so a few re-adjustments to settings and a fantastic picture was taken, only of the male, the female had gone.  Now that moment will live on for a long time.

                 

EPILOGUE

I mentioned at the start that these were to be the remarkable stories behind some of the fabulous photographs that have been taken over the past 12 months, unofficially ‘THE YEAR OF THE PUMA” at Bosque.  There were many other visitors who would witness the cats at close quarters but did not have a camera or were too excited by the experience to even think of taking pictures.  I, myself have seen Pumas close up on several occasions last year.  Despite the fact that I have live here for 12 years, the thrill of being so near to a large top of the pyramid predator still caused that frisson to run up your back.

We can’t ever make any guarantees, but one thing is certain, if you aren’t here you won’t see them.  Even if you are not one of the lucky ones, Bosque del Cabo is still one of the prime wildlife locations in the whole of Costa Rica.  Whatever is your interest, mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians, invertebrates or plants, you will be surrounded by a luxury of biodiversity.

DON’T TAKE MY WORD FOR IT, COME AND SEE FOR YOURSELF.

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

Honey Dripping Death Dealers   1 comment


Felipe del Bosque Blog Dec 19th 2011

Relapse

Week after week I report that the rainy season is almost at an end but there doesn’t seem to be an end in sight.  This week has seen more or less constant rain.  It is not as heavy as during the really wet months but none the less it is incessant.

Long, Slow Colors

During those few moments when the sun has managed to break through, we have had some butterflies coming to the Lantana bushes to feed.  The most frequent visitors have been the Heliconiids or longwings.  Three species in particular are the most prevalent: Heliconius eratoHeliconius ismenius and Heliconius sapho.

Heliconius erato

The longwings belong in the subfamily Heliconiinae of the family Nymphalidae.  Nearly all of the heliconiids are resident in the neotropics.  The larvae feed on plants of the Passion Flower family and so they are commonly known as Passion Flower Butterflies.

Heliconius ismenius

Along with feeding on nectar as most other butterflies do, the longwings also feed on pollen.  It is thought that the nitrogenous rich pollen somehow allows the butterflies to manufacture their own noxious tasting defenses protecting them against predators.  The pollen is also required by the females to aid in egg production.

Heliconius sapho

There are many species of longwing and sometimes it is difficult to tell one species from another because they frequently exhibit Mullerian mimicry whereby two poisonous species of butterfly are so closely patterned and colored that it is hard to tell them apart.

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

Little Balls of Fluff

One morning as I was walking through the mango orchard I saw some strange looking creatures under a leaf.  I had seen them on some different plants earlier in the year but never managed to take a photograph.  On this occasion I returned with the camera and took some pictures.

Mealy Bug

I had noticed that the weird insect was being constantly tended by ants.  On closer inspection I thought the insects maybe some sort of aphid or mealy bug.  When I finally downloaded the photograph and I could see the detail more closely I was fairly sure I had been looking at mealy bugs.

Mealy Bug

Mealy bugs belong to either of the families Pseudococcidae or Eriococcidae.  The males are small and winged whereas the females are wingless sap feeders.  They tend to be plant host specific.  They can become a serious plant pest if they reach infestation proportions.  In large numbers they can drain a plant of its sap as well as being vectors for the transmission of plant pathogens.

Like several other families in the suborder Homoptera, they produce wax and this is what I had been seeing.  The sedentary females were not only covered in flakes of wax but the long filamentous threads were also wax secretions from glands on various parts of the body.

The ant association is also typical behavior.  Many aphids and mealy bugs produce “honeydew’, which is a carbohydrate rich overflow from the alimentary canal due to the quantity of sap they ingest.  The ants gather this “honeydew” and will sometimes farm aphids, protecting them from predation in order to obtain the continuous sweet reward.

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 81°F.  Average Daily Temp Low 72°F.

Average Daily Rainfall 0.83 ins.  Total Weekly Rainfall 5.79 ins

Average Daily Temp High 25.0°C.  Average Daily Temp Low 22.3°C.

Average Daily Rainfall 21.44 mm.  Total Weekly Rainfall 150.07 mm

Species List for the Week

Mammals

  • Howler Monkey
  • Spider Monkey
  • White-faced Monkey
  • Striped Hog-nosed Skunk
  • Agouti
  • Red-tailed Squirrel
  • Alfaro’s Pygmy Squirrel

Birds

  • Orange-chinned Parakeets
  • Mealy Amazon
  • Red-lored Amazon
  • Scarlet Macaw
  • Lineated Woodpecker
  • Pale-billed Woodpecker
  • Roadside Hawk
  • White Hawk
  • Black-hooded Antshrike
  • Chestnut-backed Antbird
  • Common Paureque
  • Wedge-billed Woodcreeper
  • Short-billed Pigeon
  • Long-billed Hermit
  • Rufus Piha
  • Spectacled Owl
  • Chestnut-mandibled Toucan
  • Blue-crowned Manakin
  • Grey-headed Tanager
  • Summer Tanager
  • Bright-rumped Atilla
  • Dusky-capped Flycatcher
  • Great Kiskadee
  • Tropical Kingbird
  • Great Tinamou
  • Black-throated Trogon
  • House Wren
  • Riverside Wren
  • Black Vulture
  • Turkey Vulture

Reptiles

  • Brown Vine Snake
  • Canopy Anolis
  • Cat-eyed Snake
  • Common Basilisk
  • Clawless Gecko
  • Golfo Dulce Anolis
  • Pug-nosed Anolis

Amphibians

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

Butterflies

  • Anartia Fatima
  • Caligo atreus
  • Heliconius erato
  • Heliconius ismenius
  • Heliconius sapho
  • Morpho helenor
  • Morpho Menelaus
  • Pierella luna

 Plants

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

 

Poison Hidden From Owl Eyes   Leave a comment


Felipe del Bosque Blog Dec 5th 2011

Almost But Not Quite

The wet season just will not go away.  We keep having meteorologically false promises when the rain abates; the sun comes out for a day and then back comes the rain.  That has been the story of this week.  But at least the rain has been reduced to light showers rather than the heavy downpours of late.  As I write, the sun has been out all day, a continuation of yesterday but with a brief shower last evening.

As You Were

It has been a bit of a slow week in terms of animal sightings but we have had some good ones.  The first Puma sighting of the season was recorded late Saturday afternoon not too far from the restaurant area by the cabin occupied the girls working on the sustainability certification.  Two nights earlier the night watchman while doing his rounds saw a Margay, (Leopardus wiedii), up in a tree.

A palm and a fig tree in front of the restaurant are providing a nonstop source of subject material for our visitors to the lodge.  We have had and currently have groups of wildlife photographers staying with us.  Their work has been made very easy for them by the continual to and fro of Chestnut-mandibled Toucans, Great Kiskadees and a wealth of other bird life.

The monkeys too are performing well.  Troops of Spider and White-faced Monkeys, many of the females carrying young on their backs, have been making their daily arrival for a feed.  The Spider Monkeys prefer the figs while the White-faced Monkeys have a definite preference for the coconuts.  If you have ever tried to open a coconut, you will appreciate that it is no easy task, certainly not for us.  For a White-faced Monkey, it is normally a case of biting through the husk, ripping the husk off and biting through the shell to get to the milk inside, which they scoop out with their cupped hands until the vessel is completely drained.

The White-faced Monkeys also provided another diversion for the photographers.  The toucans come to feed but that is not without a certain danger.  The monkeys have learned how to catch the toucans as they land and quickly dispatch them.  As the photographic group was having breakfast one morning they were treated to the sight of two toucans reaching an untimely end.  One stunned individual hit the ground but the monkeys followed it straight down and it wasn’t long before the alpha male was feeding on toucan flesh.  The carcass stripped of its best meat was then passed around the remaining members of the troupe to clean off the bones.

At least once a year I get to see a Swainson’s Thrush, (Catharus ustulatus), and I did just that earlier this week as I was walking through the forest from my cabin.  The bird was at about head height and I knew what I was looking at as soon as I lay eyes on it.  I may see another one at some point but this individual filled the normal annual quota.

One of the photographic groups enlisted my services to take them on a private tour to the Pacific waterfall in search of a small amphibian endemic to this area; the Golfo Dulce Poison Arrow Frog (Phyllobates vittatus).  They had been to Bosque on previous occasions and had photographed the Black and Green Poison Arrow Frog which can found more commonly on the forest floor but I knew where to find the object of their desires even if it does require the turning of many rocks and logs to locate them.  On the walk down the Pacific Trail, I happened to mention looking into the rolled leaves of the Heliconias, Marantas and Bananas in the hope of seeing Spix’s Disc-winged Bats, (Thyroptera tricolor).  The first group of Marantas that we passed, I looked down an as yet unfurled leaf and sure enough there were the bats and they got their pictures.

Walking down the beach we found a lot of the Sally Lightfoot Crabs on the rocks, parting and running before us in droves.  There was any number of Hermit Crabs at the back of the beach.  Those quick growing, colonizing trees that line the upper shore line, Balsa Trees, were in flower.  We stopped to have a look in one of the caves for the White-lined Sac-winged Bats, (Saccopteryx bilineata), that sometimes inhabit them, one male and a harem of females generally hanging head down from the walls, but on this occasion we had no luck.

We finally made it to the creek and the search began.  The initial turning of rocks and logs in likely looking spots produced nothing but it didn’t take long before one hopped from its hiding place under a dead leaf.  Taking the pictures was not as easy as finding the subject.  Every time one of the photographers set up and framed the frog, off it hopped.  But with patience and endeavor the required images were captured and everyone returned tired but happy from the experience.

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

Owl Eyes

An unusual insect turned up in my cabin this week.  I have seen several over the years but had not managed to photograph one.  This insect looks every bit like a damselfly except for the long, clubbed antennae.  The very distinctive feature though are the huge hemispherical eyes after which it is named, the Owl Fly.  The owl flies belong to the family Ascalaphidae of the order Neuroptera which includes the Lacewings and Antlions.

Owl Fly

As well as superficially resembling dragonflies and damselflies, the owl flies also hunt like their odonate lookalikes.  Those large compound eyes quickly observe any movement and if it happens to be a prey item of the right size, the fly seizes it out of the air.

Owl Fly

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 83°F.  Average Daily Temp Low 72°F.

Average Daily Rainfall 0.46 ins.  Total Weekly Rainfall 3.23 ins

Average Daily Temp High 27.9°C.  Average Daily Temp Low 22.2°C.

Average Daily Rainfall 11.72 mm.  Total Weekly Rainfall 82.04 mm

Species List for the Week

Mammals

  • Howler Monkey
  • Spider Monkey
  • White-faced Monkey
  • White-nosed Coati
  • Agouti
  • Red-tailed Squirrel
  • Spix’s Disc-winged Bats

Birds

  • Orange-chinned Parakeets
  • Red-lored Amazon
  • Scarlet-fronted Parakeets
  • Gray-necked Woodrail
  • Pale-billed Woodpecker
  • Great Currasow
  • Crested Caracara
  • Roadside Hawk
  • Laughing Falcon
  • White Hawk
  • Yellow-headed Caracara
  • Black-hooded Antshrike
  • Chestnut-backed Antbird
  • Common Paureque
  • Wedge-billed Woodcreeper
  • Plain Xenops
  • Short-billed Pigeon
  • Long-billed Hermit
  • Stripe-throated Hermit
  • Spectacled Owl
  • Chestnut-mandibled Toucan
  • Blue-crowned Manakin
  • Swainson’s Thrush
  • Cherrie’s Tanager
  • Gray-headed Tanager
  • Summer Tanager
  • White-shouldered Tanager
  • Bright-rumped Atilla
  • Dusky-capped Flycatcher
  • Great Kiskadee
  • Great Tinamou
  • Black-throated Trogon
  • Riverside Wren
  • Black Vulture
  • Turkey Vulture

Reptiles

  • Cat-eyed Snake
  • Common Basilisk
  • Clawless Gecko
  • Golfo Dulce Anolis

Amphibians

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

Butterflies

  • Anartia Fatima
  • Heliconius sapho
  • Hermeuptychia hermes
  • Morpho Menelaus
  • Pyrgus oileus

 Plants

  • Aphelandra golfodulcensis Flowering
  • Bamboo Orchid Flowering
  • Black Alligator Tree Fruiting
  • Calabash flowering and fruiting
  • Cannonball Tree Flowering and Fruiting
  • Clusia rosea Flowering
  • Golden Trumpet Vine Flowering
  • Heisteria fruiting
  • Inga Flowering
  • Monkey Comb Tree Flowering
  • Figs Fruiting
  • Mountain Rose Flowering
  • Ox Eye Vine Fruit
  • Stinky Toe Fruiting

 

A WEEK IN THE LIFE   1 comment


Felipe del Bosque Blog Oct 10th 2011

Back to Normal

The rain has continued in typical October fashion; heavy and incessant.  I have not seen the long term weather forecast, but based on previous experience I would say this is going to stay with us for a month or so.

That is how it has remained for the past week.  Whereas previously we had bouts of dry, sunny weather interspersed with brief periods of rain, we now have torrential downpours interrupted infrequently with a little bit of optimistic sunshine.  It is never enough time to hang your washing out to dry though, the rain returns very quickly

ONE FINAL FLING

The frogs are having their last big beano before the end of the reproductive season.  There was another big breeding episode of the Milky Frogs this week.  The last time they were out in such numbers was when the rains arrived in April and May.

Flocks of the two noisy green parrot species, Red-lored Amazons and Mealy Amazons arrive in huge numbers around the grounds every morning.  Many of them have chicks which add to the din with their unremitting begging of food from the parents.  They are fully fledged, can fly and should soon be finding food for themselves.

A pair of Yellow-headed Caracaras is currently suffering the same plight, with a noisy youngster following them around demanding food at every opportunity.

One species of bird, very noticeable by its absence, or rather, silence over the past few days are the Chestnut-mandibled Toucans.  It could well be the rain has silenced them or an abundance of food which is now freely available.

The figs are fruiting which is attracting in troops of Spider Monkeys and White-faced Monkeys whose discarded leftovers are being picked up by the White-nosed Coatis on the ground.  The coatis are perfectly capable of climbing the trees and getting fruit for themselves, and in fact often do so, but probably not with troops of boisterous young male monkeys in the trees.

Butterfly numbers remain very low in terms of both species and individuals.  While walking around the grounds you should be able to see maybe a half dozen species of longwings, peacocks and satyrs.

Caught Short

As I was returning through the forest to my cabin the other day, I came across a somewhat amusing sight.  Squatting at the base of a giant Garlic Tree, between two huge buttressed roots and holding on with its front legs to a low overhanging vine was a Three-toed Sloth attending its toilet.  It was an opportunity too good to miss so I ran for the camera.  It was late afternoon and already dark down amongst the bases of the trees.  When the first flash fired, it alerted the sloth, which was in a very vulnerable situation, that something was there.  It quickly finished its business and headed up the vine.  It was only a foot or so in front of me, but as I pressed the shutter release, no flash.  The batteries had died.  It didn’t matter as the sloth, despite its name was now well up the vine on its way back up to the top of the tree.

Three-toed Sloth

Sloths only come to the ground about once a week to defecate.  The trip to ground level and subsequent time spent evacuating its bowels leave it open to attack from any potential ground living predator such as cats, and cats we do have in some numbers in this area.  The sloth bores a shallow hole in the ground with its stubby tail, defecates and then covers it all again so as to not readily reveal its presence up above.

This one did get caught, not literally with its pants down, but certainly in a defenseless and compromising position.

One Tree Still

For this, the last week of the season at Bosque, I decided to randomly select a tree not too far from the restaurant and have a look on a daily basis to see what was there.  I thought it might give an idea of the very small distance you have to walk to find wildlife at Bosque.  As I have said many times before, it is quite often just a case of adjusting your focus and looking a little closer at the vegetation surrounding you to open up a world that you might otherwise simply walk past, oblivious to the wonders this small world contains.

The tree I selected was a Mango tree in the orchard near the restaurant car park.  There is normally a lot of wildlife traffic passing through here as well as people both watching the wildlife and the staff moving between areas.

Mango Tree

It was chosen for no other reason than it was the first tree that caught my eye as I entered the area rather than for any special reason.  Mango trees are not native to Costa Rica, they originate in Asia.  But this is not a scientific investigation where I might compare and contrast the fauna and flora inhabiting native versus non-native trees, it is simply curiosity.

MONDAY

The first day of the week provided a good haul; termites, a millipede, paper wasps, an orb spider, a harvestman, a long-legged bug and both Cherrie’s Tanagers and White-shouldered Tanagers making quite a raucous din in the branches above as they engaged in some territorial dispute. A Double-tooth Kite momentarily alights, only for a couple of seconds before flying off again, probably on the lookout for some small unsuspecting reptilian prey.  Down at ground level, at the base of the trunk, a small anolis lizard, Norops limifrons sat under a leaf, probably the best place to be with the kite up above.  These were all spotted within a matter of seconds only 2 minutes from the restaurant.

The tree also has a good covering of moss and epiphytic ferns.

Harvestman

TUESDAY

The termites, spider and millipede are still where they were yesterday.  The termites are not going to be going anywhere fast as they are in a nest on the side of the tree.  The spider is sitting in the centre of its web and the millipede doesn’t seem to have any urgency about it.

Termite Nest

The heavy rainfall yesterday and last night seems to have caused the wasps to relocate, the small, several celled pendulous nest is gone and have the harvestman and the anolis lizard.  The bizarre long-legged bug is still clinging to the underside of a leaf though.  Later in the day the two Long-waisted Wasps returned forlornly looking for the nest that no longer exists.

Conspicuously, a pale gray weevil is taking shelter near the base of the tree, its light body color contrasted against the dark green of the fern leaves and the shadows they cast in the gloomy weather conditions.  One of the Reduviid bugs busily patrols the leaves while an unidentified ant does the same down the trunk.

WEDNESDAY

The homeless pair of wasps were still in the vicinity of where the nest used to be.  I think the heavy rainfall over the past few days has sent most things into hiding.  One strange little wasp which seems to have a nest in a curled up leaf will occasionally show itself, running around on the surface of the leaves, its antennae constantly in motion and its white tipped wings flicking open and closed.

By the afternoon the wasps had selected a site close to the last location and had started to build a new nest and already several cells had been added.  There was another new visitor, a small leafhopper sitting not too far from where the wasps were working.

THURSDAY

The wasps initial construction has gone once more, but they still occupy the same area.  A Thread-legged bug is under a leaf.  This actually is its name, once again literally describing the organism.

The Thread-legged Bug is one of the Reduviid Hemipteran, (True Bugs), or Assassin Bugs.  They hunt down their insect prey which they stick with a long piercing mouthpart.  They then inject saliva which contains a paralyzing toxin and digestive juices.  The resulting predigested liquefied innards of their unfortunate victim are then suck out of its now dead exoskeleton.

Thread-legged Bug

FRIDAY

The wasps are endeavoring to make a new nest and this one seems to be meeting with yesterday’s aborted attempt. Apart from the wasp activity, all else seems quiet on our tree this morning.

SATURDAY

After that initial burst of activity on the first day, things have quietened down.  The Long-waisted Paper Wasps continue about egg laying in the newly constructed nest.  Another one of the paper wasps, this time a much smaller Polybia sp is hovering not too far away, probably in search of insect prey to take a the covered nest nearby.

Paper Wasp

SUNDAY

On the final day, when I went to visit the tree, during heavy rain, the only inhabitants visible were the wasps which this time had secured their nest under the shelter of a fern leaf,  and hopefully that would provide adequate security and refuge to raise the offspring.

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

Unfeasibly Long Narrow Waists

Wasps are Hymenopterans which means narrow waists and the Long-waisted Paper Wasps are certainly that.  The Order Hymenoptera includes bees, wasps and ants, most of which are social insects to a greater or lesser degree.  The Long-waisted Paper Wasps belong to the genus Mischocyttarus of which there are 186 named species.  They belong entirely in the Americas, most of them being inhabitants of more tropical regions.  They are morphologically distinct with a long narrow “waist”.

Paper Wasp

As with other wasps belonging to the genus Polistes they make nests which have pendulous downward facing uncovered cells.  These generally hang from a stalk which they sometimes cover in a secretion which acts as an ant repellant.

There is generally one dominant breeding female who lays the eggs and she is supported by closely related submissive females whose task is to help raise the larvae.  Sometimes the submissive females revolt and drive the dominant queen away allowing a new individual to take over the role.

Colorful Poison Sticks in Your Throat

The Micrathena orb weavers are easy to identify by their bright coloration and spiny bodies.  The highly visible black and yellow coloration warns potential predators to stay away.  Should a naïve lizard or more particularly a bird ignore the bright warning signal, the thorns and spines on the body of the spider lodge it in the bird’s bill.  The now distressed avian predator cannot extricate the spider which gives off an obnoxious tasting secretion from its skin.  When the bird finally does manage to dislodge the spider from its beak, the lesson will have been learned and it will never go near anything black and yellow again.

Micrathena breviceps

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 88°F.  Average Daily Temp Low 76°F.

Average Daily Rainfall 0.61 ins.  Total Weekly Rainfall 4.29 ins

Average Daily Temp High 30.9°C.  Average Daily Temp Low 23.5°C.

Average Daily Rainfall 15.6mm.  Total Weekly Rainfall 109.0 mm

Species List for the Week

Mammals

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

Birds

  • Mealy Amazon
  • Orange-chinned Parakeet
  • Red-lored Amazon
  • Scarlet Macaw
  • Crested Caracara
  • Double-toothed Kite
  • Laughing Falcon
  • Yellow-headed Caracara
  • Pale-billed Woodpecker
  • Black-hooded Antshrike
  • Chestnut-backed Antbird
  • Short-billed Pigeon
  • Long-billed Hermit
  • Purple-crowned Fairy
  • Stripe-throated Hermit
  • Red-capped Manakin
  • Tropical Gnatcatcher
  • Chestnut-mandibled Toucan
  • Prothonotary Warbler
  • Cherrie’s Tanager
  • White-shouldered Tanager
  • Streak-headed Woodcreeper
  • Bright-rumped Atilla
  • Great Kiskadee
  • Plain Xenops
  • Yellow-bellied Elaenia
  • House Wren
  • Great Tinamou
  • Black Vulture
  • Turkey Vulture

Reptiles

  • Barred Ameiva
  • Four-lined Ameiva
  • Golfo Dulce Anolis
  • Clawless Gecko
  • Cat-eyed Snake
  • Boa Constrictor

Amphibians

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

Butterflies

  • Anartia fatima
  • Heliconiius erato
  • Heliconius ismenius
  • Heliconius sapho
  • Hermeuptychia hermes
  • Morpho menelaus
  • Urbanus simplicius

 Plants

  • Bamboo Orchid Flowering
  • Black Alligator Tree Fruiting
  • Calabash flowering and fruiting
  • Candlestick Plant Flowering and Fruiting
  • Cannonball Tree Flowering
  • Clusia rosea flowering
  • Clusia Vine Fruiting
  • Golden Trumpet Vine Flowering
  • Hog Plum Fruiting
  • Inga Flowering
  • Ox Eye Vine Flowers
  • Protium Fruiting
  • Santa Maria Flowering and Fruiting

 

Click For Green Protection   Leave a comment


Felipe del Bosque Blog Oct 3rd 2011

 

A Wet Outlook

At the beginning of this week the metrological office of Costa Rica promised that the rain we had not received so far in this wet season would in fact arrive with Friday being the designated day.  They were not wrong.  It had remained fairly bright and sunny up until dusk of Thursday, but everyone awoke Friday morning to a thunderous downpour.  This cleared later in the day only to be repeated over the weekend in a similar fashion.

I don’t know how far into the future the prognostication goes but at this moment the weather does seem to be taking a change to that which we would normally expect this time of year.

My Precious

While I was engaged taking photographs of a katydid, out the corner of my eye I saw something moving and then stop then move again.  It repeated this action in a series of rapid motions.  When I turned my attention away from the katydid, I found I was looking at an ant which was carrying something almost as large as itself in its mandibles.  At this point it was almost in front of the lens so I could not resist the opportunity to capture its image.

Ponerine Ant

Ants are notoriously difficult to identify, which is a fairly typical situation with most tropical insects as I explain below with the beetles.  One of the problems with the ants is not the sheer number of species, which doesn’t approach that of the beetles, but rather the fact that each species, particularly the highly organized social ants, have many castes within the nest carrying out different tasks, allowing the nest to function as a single unit.  Many of the different castes are morphologically differentiated from one another, adapting them to sometimes very specialist roles.  All of these different caste members, no matter how different they may look from one another, are nonetheless of the same species.

I think this particular ant was one of the large ponerine ants whose species boast some of the large hunting ants.  People are probably familiar with stories of the Bala or Bullet Ant.  These are large ponerine ants whose bite can result in hospital treatment.  The larger ones are found on the Caribbean coast of Costa Rica, but here on the Pacific we have some smaller versions which are equally as capable of packing a painful sting.

It looked like this ant was carrying a cocoon, possibly containing an all but fully developed adult ant.  It was being seriously molested by a small Solenopsis ant which appeared to be attacking it or trying to drive it out of the area, hence the rapid jerky movements.  If you want to know how much of a sting a Solenopsis ant can pack, try standing in a Fire Ant nest.

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

Verdantly Coy

Green Click Beetle

There are lots of species of beetle.  Anyone who has previously read my blog will now know there are thousands, nay hundreds of thousands of beetle species around the world.  There are in the region of 320, 000 named species of beetle and that number is probably way short of the actual total due the many species of beetle that have not yet been found and named.  An estimated 1 in every 4 or 5 species of insect found during expeditions to the Amazonian rainforests will have previously been undiscovered and a great many of those will be beetles.

Costa Rica has approximately 47,000 named species of beetle on its records and so when you find a beetle that you can easily identify, you are very fortunate.  I know for some the challenge of identification is all part of the fun of field work, but when time is limited and you are dealing with a wide range of organisms, the easier the better.

Green Click Beetle

So when I found this beetle walking around on a rotting tree stump I was happy that I knew what it was immediately or at least what type of beetle if not species; a Green Click Beetle.  It belongs in the Family Elateridae, the Click Beetles of which there are approximately 1,200 species in Costa Rica.  The name literally describes the beetle; it is a beautiful rich metallic verdant green.  The click refers to the fact that in defense, the beetle will drop to the ground.  If it should fall on its back or in an effort to escape a predator, the beetle has a modified mechanism on its back which under muscular action will allow itself to “click” or jump itself right side up or away from danger.  As if to confirm my identification, the beetle obliged me by clicking and falling immediately to the ground.

Green Click Beetle

In order to photograph the beetle, I picked it up and put it back on its log but had it shut down, drawing in its legs and just lying still.  As time progressed, and after I had fired off a few shots, it eventually became active once again, finally moving to the edge of the branch, opened it elytra, or wing cases and took to the air.

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 90°F.  Average Daily Temp Low 74°F.

Average Daily Rainfall 0.75 ins.  Total Weekly Rainfall 5.23 ins

Average Daily Temp High 31.7°C.  Average Daily Temp Low 22.9°C.

Average Daily Rainfall 19.0mm.  Total Weekly Rainfall 132.8 mm

Species List for the Week

Mammals

  • Howler Monkey
  • Spider Monkey
  • White-faced Monkey
  • White-nosed Coati
  • Red-tailed Squirrel
  • Spix’s Disc-winged Bats

Birds

  • Red-lored Amazon
  • Scarlet Macaw
  • Mangrove Black Hawk
  • Pale-billed Woodpecker
  • Golden-naped Woodpecker
  • Lineated Woodpecker
  • Red-crowned Woodpecker
  • Black-hooded Antshrike
  • Chestnut-backed Antbird
  • Common Paureque
  • Short-billed Pigeon
  • Long-billed Hermit
  • Chestnut-mandibled Toucans
  • Bananaquit
  • Cherrie’s Tanager
  • Golden-hooded Tanager
  • White-shoudered Tanager
  • Bright-rumped Atilla
  • Golden-crowned Spadebill
  • Great Kiskadee
  • Southern Beardless Tyrannulet
  • Tropical Kingbird
  • Western Pewee
  • House Wren
  • Riverside Wren
  • Masked Tityra
  • Black Vulture
  • Turkey Vulture

Reptiles

  • Barred Ameiva
  • Four-lined Ameiva
  • Golfo Dulce Anolis
  • Pug-nosed Anolis
  • Clawless Gecko
  • Mediterranean House Gecko
  • Cat-eyed Snake
  • Boa Constrictor

Amphibians

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

Butterflies

  • Anartia Fatima
  • Anartia jatrophae
  • Dryas iulia
  • Heliconius erato
  • Heliconius ismenius
  • Heliconius sapho
  • Hermeuptychia hermes
  • Marpesia berania
  • Morpho Menelaus
  • Pierella helvina
  • Pierella luna
  • Pyrrhogyra crameri

 Plants

  • Bamboo Orchid Flowering
  • Black Alligator Tree Fruiting
  • Calabash flowering and fruiting
  • Cannonball Tree Flowering
  • Clusia Vine Fruiting
  • Monkey Comb Tree Flowering
  • Candlestick Plant Flowering
  • Figs Fruiting
  • Golden Trumpet Vine Flowering
  • Hog Plum Fruiting
  • Ox Eye Vine Flowers
  • Protium Fruits
  • Santa Maria Fruiting
  • Water Hyacinth Flowering

 

Call of a Fallen Star   Leave a comment


Felipe del Bosque Blog Sept 26th 2011

On the Verge

The weather continues as it has for months now with bright sunny days.  There is the ever present promise of rain in the air and on several nights over the past week we have been subject to torrential downpours.  One night the clouds delivered nearly 5 inches of rain between dusk and dawn.

Paper Stings

There are several structures around the grounds at the minute that made of paper but not manmade origami.  Just a stroll around the grounds taking a peak under some of the palm leaves will reveal small round gray papery globes with a small oval hole at the front.  They are the nests of various species of Paper Wasp.  It is best not to get too close to observe these pieces of natural artistic paper sculptures but rather admire their beauty from a distance.

Paper Wasp Nest

The wasps themselves can be anything up to 1.5 inches in length to just a few tenths of an inch.  The larger wasps such as the Drumming Wasps have large nests that attached to the underside of the tree branches.  The smaller ones, you are more likely to find closer to ground level.

Paper Wasp Nest

The wasps are carnivores and are usually out foraging for arthropod prey to feed the larvae.  Wasps of the genus Polistes make open nests usually hanging pendulously from a stalk-like structure.  These wasps belong to the genus Polybia which have their nests enclosed within the paper shell.

Fallen Star

As most of the life in a rainforest is at the top of the trees, for the most part your gaze is going to upwards.  But if you keep your eyes on the ground, there is another stratum of life at your feet.  Here some unusual things occasionally turn up but they aren’t always obvious.

Everyone is familiar with the usual form of mushrooms and toadstools, but they do take other forms.  The family Geastraceae or Earth Stars, produces some intriguing sessile fruiting bodies that split andpeel back like a banana skin producing the star shaped structure from which they obtain their name.  The globous spore sac has an opening at the top that that releases the spores into the air in small bursts when hit by a rain drop.

Earth Star Fungus

Earth stars can be found singly or in groups in temperate and tropical forests.  They are definitely worth a photograph if you should happen to come across them.

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

It Is A Mystery What Katydid

Katydids are in the same insect order as grasshoppers and crickets.  They can at least be identified as distinct from grasshoppers by their long filamentous whip-like antennae.  Katydids are generally not hard to find around the grounds of Bosque, but you need a keen eye as many of them are master mimics of the vegetation amongst which they live.  The body can be shaped like leaves and have a subtle mix of dappled greens and grays to break up the outline.  Others look exactly like dead leaves, brown in color with veining and false fungal damage spots.  Yet others are bright green with lime green edging to resemble plant shoots.

      

Katydids tend to be heard rather than seen.  The evening air is filled with the calls of males searching for a mate.  Some of the calls are soft and whispering whereas others can be loud and course.  The name Katydid comes from the call of the male which is apparently how it sounds to some.  Orthopterists can identify katydids in the field by their calls.  If you would like to hear some visit:

http://entnemdept.ufl.edu/walker/buzz/a00samples.htm

Katydid Head

The katydids in these photographs I found close by each other near to my cabin.  Out came the camera and despite the fact every time I placed myself to get the shot, the katydid moved, I still managed to get some half decent images.

Katydid Head

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 87°F.  Average Daily Temp Low 75°F.

Average Daily Rainfall 1.02 ins.  Total Weekly Rainfall 7.16 ins

Average Daily Temp High 30.6°C.  Average Daily Temp Low 23.5°C.

Average Daily Rainfall 23.2 mm.  Total Weekly Rainfall 162.1 mm

Species List for the Week

Mammals

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

Birds

  • Orange-chinned Parakeets
  • Red-lored Amazon
  • Great Currasow
  • Roadside Hawk
  • Yellow-headed Caracara
  • Pale-billed Woodpecker
  • Black-hooded Antshrike
  • Chestnut-backed Antbird
  • Common Paureque
  • Short-billed Pigeon
  • Rufus-tailed Hummingbird
  • Violet-crowned Woodnymph
  • Chestnut-mandibled Toucan
  • Fiery-billed Aracari
  • Streak-headed Woodcreeper
  • Wedge-billed Woodcreeper
  • Red-capped Manakin
  • Bananaquit
  • Cherrie’s Tanager
  • Gray-headed Tanager
  • Bright-rumped Atilla
  • Great Kiskadee
  • Southern Beardless Tyrannulet
  • Streaked Flycatcher
  • Tropical Kingbird
  • Mourning Warbler
  • Tennessee Warbler
  • White-shouldered Tanager
  • Yellow Warbler
  • House Wren
  • Riverside Wren
  • Masked Tityra
  • Black-thoated Trogon
  • Black Vulture
  • Turkey Vulture

Reptiles

  • Barred Ameiva
  • Four-lined Ameiva
  • Golfo Dulce Anolis
  • Pug-nosed Anolis
  • Clawless Gecko
  • Mediterranean House Gecko
  • Cat-eyed Snake
  • Parrot Snake
  • Salmon-bellied Racer

Amphibians

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

Butterflies

  • Anartia Fatima
  • Calospila celissa
  • Dryas iulia
  • Glutophrissa drusilla
  • Heliconius ismenius
  • Heliconius sapho
  • Hermeuptychia hermes
  • Magneuptychia libye
  • Morpho menelaus
  • Phoebis sennae

 Plants

  • Bamboo Orchid Flowering
  • Black Alligator Tree Fruiting
  • Calabash flowering and fruiting
  • Cannonball Tree Flowering
  • Clusia Vine Fruiting
  • Dinner on a Plate Fruiting
  • Monkey Comb Tree Flowering
  • Candlestick Plant Flowering
  • Figs Fruiting
  • Golden Trumpet Vine Flowering
  • Hog Plum Fruiting
  • Ox Eye Vine Flowers
  • Protium Fruits
  • Royal Palms flowering and fruiting
  • Santa Maria Fruiting
  • Yayito Fruiting
  • Ylang Ylang flowering

Flocking to a Disco Fight   2 comments


Felipe del Bosque Blog Sept 19th 2011

Something Strange

Not much change in the weather this week over last.  The days remain bright and sunny for the most part but with a small amount of rain falling just about every night.  It could well be that the wet season is going to bypass us completely this year or it is going to arrive with a vengeance later than usual.

Return of the Migrants

This is the time of year when all those birds that migrated north for the northern summer started to return back to their native lands for the southern summer.  Technically Costa Rica lies north of the equator and now we should be entering the winter, but here there are only two seasons wet and dry.  The worst of the wet season has yet to occur, but the temperatures remain pretty constant all year round, so even if it is not dry and sunny, it will almost certainly not be freezing either, which would be a terminal situation for most small tropical birds.

There tends to be a natural northern bias to migrating birds, people from northern latitudes regard them as their birds flying south to escape the winter whereas most of the birds migrating are from tropical bird families that have migrated north for the summer.

Why would a tropical bird leave these conditions and fly north.  The reason would be with regard to food availability for growing chicks.  The 21st of September is the vernal equinox when the earth’s position around the sun is at that point where all points on the globe receive 12 hours of daylight and 12 hours of night.  With Costa Rica lying so close to the equator, this situation does not change much over the course of the year, the longest day and the shortest day differing by approximately 45 minutes.

When the birds fly north, they now have summers where the day length is much longer, particularly the further north you fly.  This provides extended foraging time for food, which for growing chicks involves the consumption of a lot of protein, particularly in the form of insects.  Northern summers provide this huge boost in a food source in a way that the tropics don’t.  So in essence you have more available food and longer hours in which to find it.

Now the chicks have fledged it is time to return home to the tropics.  Over the past week I have seen Yellow Warblers, Prothonotary Warblers, Black and White Warblers and Mourning Warblers all in the garden areas in front of the Bosque del Cabo restaurant.

Flyweight Fight

On one afternoon stroll around the grounds I heard the sounds of an avian altercation accompanied by the frenzied buzzing of wings somewhere in a thicket off to the side of the garden.  Upon closer scrutiny I could see a Rufus-tailed Hummingbird, (Amazilia tzacatl), attempting to encourage a larger Violet-crowned Woodnymph, (Thalurania colombica), to remove itself from the area.  The subject of this dispute was a patch of Heliconias in bloom.

Heliconia sp    Heliconia sp    Heliconia sp

Heliconias are essentially a family of plants from the American tropics.  Their flowers come in variety of shapes and sizes but whatever form the blooms take, they are all colored in multifarious shades of red, orange, or yellow, colors attractive to hummingbirds.  Due to the different species of Heliconia having different shaped flowers, as the hummingbirds visit them, it results in pollen being dusted on different parts of the bird’s anatomy.  So in theory, one species of hummingbird could potentially pollinate a variety of Heliconia species.

Heliconia sp    Heliconia sp    Heliconia sp

Hummingbirds need to feed on approximately 8 times their own bodyweight everyday just to keep themselves flying, so once they find a productive food source they don’t give it up.  Rufus-tailed Hummingbirds, despite their diminutive size are very pugnacious little birds.  They will take on, challenge and expel any interlopers into their territory with gusto.

Heliconia sp    Heliconia sp

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

Rolling the Disc’s

Costa Rica is a very special little country in many respects, not one of the least is its bat diversity.  It may only encompass .03% of the land surface of the earth, but it hosts 12% of the planet’s bat species.

Around the grounds of Bosque, if you look closely, and in the right places, you will come across several different species of bat.  The Common Tent-making Bats, (Uroderma bilobatum), have their roosts under the large leafs of palms or bananas where they have ripped through the veins, causing the leaf to fold over.  These bats can be occasionally seen under various palm leaves close to the Bosque restaurant.  The continually change the location of the day roosts to avoid having their main predators, Tropical Bird-eating Snakes and Squirrel Monkeys being able to easily locate them.  They change their night roosts depending upon which of the trees are fruiting as they never forage too far from the nearest fruiting trees.

Common Tent-making Bats

Nectar feeding and fruit eating bats tend to attracted to musky smells rather than sweet smells.  Bananas are both bat pollinated and dispersed in the wild hence the flowers and fruit have that very musky smell.

On the Zapatero Trail and in small caves, both on the Pacific and Saino Trails, you may have the opportunity of seeing the White-lined Sac-Winged Bats, (Saccopteryx bilineata).  You will generally find a male with a harem of females in their typical repose of clinging head down to the sides of the tree or rock face but with the head distinctively held away.  You may be lucky enough to see the male fluttering up and down serenading his collection of female followers.

Spix's Disc-winged Bat

The third species of bat commonly found around the grounds of Bosque also uses plant leaves but this time the unfurled leaves of Heliconias, bananas and Calathea.  If you look down into one of these rolled up green cylinders, if the diameter and situation are suitable, you may see a small group of 2 or 3 Spix’s Disc-winged Bats, (Thyroptera tricolor).  The disc refers to the modified suckers on the wings which allow them to stick to the slippery inside of the leaf surface.  As opposed to other bats which roost head down, Spix’s Disc-winged Bats characteristically roost head up allowing them an easy flight up and away from danger should it threaten.

Spix's Disc-winged Bat

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 88°F.  Average Daily Temp Low 73°F.

Average Daily Rainfall 0.21 ins.  Total Weekly Rainfall 1.27 ins

Average Daily Temp High 30.8°C.  Average Daily Temp Low 22.8°C.

Average Daily Rainfall 5.3.  Total Weekly Rainfall 37.3 mm

Species List for the Week

Mammals

  • Howler Monkey
  • Spider Monkey
  • White-faced Monkey
  • White-nosed Coati
  • Agouti
  • Red-tailed Squirrel
  • Spix’s Disc-winged Bats
  • Nine-banded Armadillo

Birds

  • Orange-chinned Parakeet
  • Red-lored Amazon
  • Scarlet Macaw
  • Great Currasow
  • Crested Caracara
  • Roadside Hawk
  • Yellow-headed Caracara
  • Golden-naped Woodpecker
  • Pale-billed Woodpecker
  • Black-hooded Antshrike
  • Chestnut-backed Antbird
  • Dot-winged Antwren
  • Short-billed Pigeon
  • White-tipped Dove
  • Long-tailed Hummingbird
  • Purple-crowned Fairy
  • Rufous-tailed Hummingbird
  • Stripe-throated Hermit
  • Violet-crowned Woodnymph
  • Chestnut-mandibled Toucan
  • Plain Xenops
  • Streak-headed Woodcreeper
  • Bright-rumped Atilla
  • Golden-crowned Spadebill
  • Great Kiskadee
  • Southern Beardless Tyrannulet
  • Tropical Kingbird
  • Masked Tityra
  • Rufous Piha
  • Bananaquit
  • Blue Dacnis
  • Cherrie’s Tanager
  • Golden-hooded Tanager
  • Gray-headed Tanager
  • Black and White Warbler
  • Mourning Warbler
  • Tennessee Warbler
  • House Wren
  • Riverside Wren
  • Great Tinamou
  • Black-throated Trogon
  • Black Vulture
  • Turkey Vulture

Reptiles

  • Barred Ameiva
  • Four-lined Ameiva
  • Golfo Dulce Anolis
  • Central American Smooth Gecko
  • Clawless Gecko
  • Mediterranean House Gecko
  • Brown Blunt-headed Snake
  • Cat-eyed Snake

Amphibians

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

Butterflies

  • Anartia fatima
  • Anartia jatropha
  • Glutophrissa Drusilla
  • Heliconius erato
  • Heliconius ismenius
  • Heliconius sapho
  • Heraclides cresphontes
  • Hermeuptychia hermes
  • Morpho menelaus
  • Opsiphanes tamarindi
  • Phoebis sennae

 Plants

  • Bamboo Orchid Flowering
  • Black Alligator Tree Fruiting
  • Calabash flowering and fruiting
  • Cannonball Tree Flowering
  • Clusia Vine Fruiting
  • Dinner on a Plate Fruiting
  • Monkey Comb Tree Flowering
  • Candlestick Plant Flowering
  • Figs Fruiting
  • Golden Trumpet Vine Flowering
  • Hog Plum Fruiting
  • Jacaranda Flowers and Fruit
  • Ox Eye Vine Flowers
  • Protium Fruits
  • Santa Maria Flowering and Fruiting
  • Water Hyacinth Flowering
  • Yayito Fruiting

Dance of Death with a Stinking Bride   Leave a comment


Felipe del Bosque Blog Sept 12th 2011

Nice For This Time Of Year

The weather is continuing to favor visitors to the Osa Peninsula.  Those bright, sunny, warm days with a little rain falling overnight have now endured well into the month.  Generally by this point in September we have very heavy rainfall.  Although this time of year, the number of visitors coming to Costa Rica dips, those visiting Osa are certainly not complaining about the weather.

Crawling with Crabs

Earlier in the year we had the mass migration down to the ocean of the Halloween Crabs to reproduce.  Now some 4 months later the grounds of Bosque del Cabo are home to a myriad small crabs that have made their way up from the sea.

At night, once the lights have gone out, the Marine Toads come out of hiding.  Normally they feed on the insects that have been attracted to the artificial illumination.  Now there is a freely available 10 legged food source to supplement the regular six legged sustenance.

Marine Toad

A few weeks ago we had huge flocks of parrots, both Red-lored Amazons and Mealy Amazons arriving in their hundreds at the crack of dawn.  The attraction for the parrots was that the Hog Plum trees had started fruiting.  It was not the soft yellow sour flesh of the ripe fruits the parrots were craving but rather the unripe hard green fruits or more precisely the seeds enclosed within the flesh.  Parrots are seed eaters and do little to propagate the plants on whose seeds they feed.

The larger cousins of the parrots, the Scarlet Macaws are flying in large numbers too.  They circle the grounds of Bosque all day, every day, their presence being announced to the world by the flash of bright red, blue and yellow and if you should miss that, then the persistent screeching and squawking will ensure you will be able to locate them.

Bounteous Harvest

It is not just the Hog Plums that have been fruiting, earlier this year we had a bumper harvest of fruit from the mango orchard too.  That supplied a daily viewing of the Spider and White-faced Monkeys taking advantage of the profuse food supply.  There was a prolific supply of the rich, oily nutritious fruit from the Garlic Tree in January.  Towards the end of the dry season, many of the different species of Virola Trees produced a huge number of their golden fruits which continued until about a month ago.  The figs produce fruit all year round, at least a few different individuals within a population are in fruit at some point during the year.

The Last Waltz

On one recent night tour, not far from the restaurant, we were privileged to see a deadly dance of wits performed by a male Bark Scorpion, (Centruroides bicolor), and his potentially final date.  When a male scorpion locates a female, the first thing he needs to ensure is that he doesn’t end up becoming her next meal.  He has to tentatively dance his way into a position whereby he can clasp her pincers in his.  This is bound to incur a reaction, normally that of the female swinging her sting forward in an attempt to assassinate her suitor.  He then acts swiftly to sting his mate first, not lethally but with only a light anaesthetizing injection of venom.  Whilst she is in a soporific state, the male deposits a sperm package on the substrate, which he then maneuvers the female over so that she can accept it.  Once the deed is done, the male releases his grip and heads for cover before the female regains her hunting instinct once again.

Bark Scorpion

After the tour, I went back to see if the deadly dance was still in progress but alas the participants had already parted company and gone their respective way, so no photograph.

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

The Stinking Bride

The conditions of warm days and wet nights have also caused the fungi to producing fruiting bodies in larger numbers than normal here.  We generally find fungal fruiting bodies; mushrooms and toadstools, all year round in a wet forest, not just a onetime massive fruiting extravaganza as is found in temperate forests come the fall.

In front of one of the cabins over the course of several days, the Bridal Veil Stinkhorn, (Dictyophora indusiata) produced a succession of strange shaped mushrooms.  As with much of the other fauna and flora of the tropics, the name literally describes what you are looking at.  The Stinkhorn part stands for itself and the strange net like structure gives the bridal veil part of the common name.

Bridal Veil Stinkhorn

We regularly see a closely related species, the Swiss Cheese Stinkhorn, (Staheliomyces cinctus) in the forest.  The Bridal Veil Stinkhorn is found in tropical forests wherever they occur on all continents.  Stinkhorns are named after their phallic shape and the fact that the spores are contained within a grey mucous which smells like carrion.  Flies arrive looking for a place to deposit their eggs and having been deceived, leave but carrying with them the fungal spores which are now stuck to their feet.  It is a very efficient means of spore dispersal as the entire spore mass will have been diseminated within just a few hours.

Swiss Cheese Stinkhorn

Another fungal fruiting body familiar to many people visiting Bosque and walking the trails, is the Orange Cup Fungus, (Cookeina speciosa). The distinctive bright orange bowl shaped caps from which it gets its name are normally found on the ground sprouting from rotten wood.  There are two species though, the other one, (Cookeina tricholoma) is a little more hirsute and is found growing from dead wood once more but this time above the ground on as yet unfallen dead trees.Orange Cup Fungus

Hirsute Orange Cup Fungus

On the Titi Trail, that herculean mushroom, Macrocybe titans, produced its awesome fruiting body, a white cap that can measure over a foot across.  They are normally only found growing on the waste tips of the Leaf-cutter Ant nests and this is exactly where this one was found.

Titanic Fungus

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 88°F.  Average Daily Temp Low 74°F.

Average Daily Rainfall 0.52 ins.  Total Weekly Rainfall 3.61 ins

Average Daily Temp High 30.8°C.  Average Daily Temp Low 22.8°C.

Average Daily Rainfall 13.1mm.  Total Weekly Rainfall 91.7 mm

Species List for the Week

Mammals

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

Birds

  • Red-lored Amazon
  • Scarlet Macaw
  • Great Currasow
  • Crested Caracara
  • Roadside Hawk
  • Yellow-headed Caracara
  • Lineated Woodpecker
  • Pale-billed Woodpecker
  • Chestnut-backed Antbird
  • Black-hooded Antshrike
  • Common Pauraque
  • Ruddy Quail-Dove
  • Short-billed Pigeon
  • Long-billed Hermit
  • Purple-crowned Fairy
  • Rufous-tailed Hummingbird
  • Stripe-throated Hummingbird
  • Violet-crowned Woodnymph
  • Red-capped Manakin
  • Long-tailed Woodcreeper
  • Chestnut-mandibled Toucans
  • Golden-crowned Spadebill
  • Cherrie’s Tanager
  • Golden-hooded Tanager
  • Tropical Gnatcatcher
  • Bright-rumped Atilla
  • Southern Beardless Tyrannulet
  • Streaked Flycatcher
  • House  Wren
  • Riverside Wren
  • Prothonotary Warbler
  • Tennessee Warbler
  • Great Tinamou
  • Black-throated Trogon
  • Black Vulture
  • Turkey Vulture

Reptiles

  • Barred Ameiva
  • Four-lined Ameiva
  • Golfo Dulce Anolis
  • Pug-nosed Anolis
  • Clawless Gecko
  • Mediterranean House Gecko
  • Cat-eyed Snake
  • Boa Constrictor

Amphibians

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

Butterflies

  • Anartia fatima
  • Anartia jatrophae
  • Glutophrissa drusilla
  • Heliconius erato
  • Heliconius ismenius
  • Heliconius sapho
  • Heraclides cresphontes
  • Hermeuptychia hermes
  • Morpho Menelaus
  • Morys valerius
  • Opsiphanes tamarindi
  • Pierella luna
  • Pyrgus oileus
  • Urbanus proteus
  • Urbanus simplicius

 Plants

  • Bamboo Orchid Flowering
  • Black Alligator Tree Fruiting
  • Calabash flowering and fruiting
  • Cannonball Tree Flowering
  • Clusia Vine Fruiting
  • Dinner on a Plate Fruiting
  • Monkey Comb Tree Flowering
  • Candlestick Plant Flowering
  • Figs Fruiting
  • Golden Trumpet Vine Flowering
  • Hog Plum Fruiting
  • Jacaranda Flowers and Fruit
  • Ox Eye Vine Flowers
  • Protium Fruits
  • Santa Maria Flowering and Fruiting
  • Water Hyacinth Flowering
  • Yayito Fruiting

Sticking With The Rain   1 comment


Felipe del Bosque Blog Sept 5th 2011

I have taken a few weeks off from the blog due to the number of different project I am trying to get written up before I go away for a month in October.  If anyone reading these blogs is not already aware my main reason for being in Costa Rica, it is to carry out research into climate change and its affect on the fauna and flora of a tropical rain forest.  I am not affiliated to any academic body or institution, my work is all my own.  I do not receive funding to help with studies, so in order to maintain a base from which I can work, for the past 11 years I have been doing guided tours for Bosque del Cabo Rain Forest Lodge.

Over the past eleven years I have accumulated vast data sets based on continual monitoring of butterfly and amphibian populations as well as measuring just about every climatic variable you could think of.  It is now time to stop the data collection and start the process of analysis.  Next year I hope to have all that work completed in order to publish the results and conclusions.

As I am not beholden to anyone for the results of my work, the intention is to release it on a dedicated website so that it has a wider general audience.  As I have been using standardized techniques, then my findings hopefully will become comparable with and complement anyone doing similar studies anywhere around the world.

As if all of that is not enough, I have been writing several books to act as souvenir guides to Bosque.  Due to not having the luxury of much time to myself, it has taken many years to take the photographs and write the text but with a little determination these too should be completed within the coming year.

And on top of all that I try without exception to get a weekly blog out so that anyone interested can tap into the amazing location that is Bosque del Cabo, keep in touch with the comings and goings of the plants and animal life here, maybe plan a trip based around the weather reports and species lists or just join us vicariously as I regale with tales from Bosque del Cabo and its incredible natural history.

A Little Summer Rain

The first two weeks of July would have had the visitors to Bosque thinking that this was October.  The rain was very heavy and incessant.  We had nearly 24 inches of rain for the first 14 days.   But then things changed.  For the next two weeks, the rains more or less stopped and the visitors were treated to long days of bright, sunny, dry weather.  Whatever precipitation did occur was experienced at night.  This was a situation that suited most of our guests.

This time of year we experience what is known as a “Veranillo” or little summer.  We are right in the middle of the wet season but conditions dry up for two weeks.  It always occurs sometime around the end of July/beginning of August, you can never be sure exactly which two weeks it is going to be.

Those conditions continued through August we have had sunny days with rain at night, but some of those nights have provided visitors the opportunity to experience just what the rain part of rain forest means.  One night we had over 7 inches of rain.  That substantial weight of water being delivered to the top of the trees in a short space of time saw a lot of trees fall.  The following morning, all of the trails at Bosque were blocked along their path by not only large fallen trees but also by a great many trees crowns that could not support the burden of water.  That provided enough extra work to keep our trail maintenance team busy for a while.

Crawling with Cats

Some weeks ago, I was returning from the Primary Forest tour with a couple of visitors and on the final stretch of the trail across the suspension bridge, below us a Jaguarundi was standing in a forest clearing.  Whether it saw us or not it did not seem to be unduly concerned.  It moved off in that typical fluid feline motion over a large buttressed root and without even casting a glance our way disappeared behind the tree and that was the sighting over.

Jaguarundi’s are small sleek cats somewhat larger than a large house cat.  They come in several color forms, the one we get at Bosque being the very dark grey, almost black.  About a month after our sighting another couple saw one crossing the path by the Titi Trail and just the other day a visiting biologist saw one in the same area.

This maybe the Chinese year of the cat, but here at Bosque it most certainly has been the year of the Puma.  The number of times people have seen Pumas this year is incredible.  Now, into September, this situation continued unabated. We have been having, on occasion, multiple Puma sightings on one day.  Most, as with earlier this year, if not on the Titi Trail, have occurred in that vicinity.  The last encounter, just a few days ago, happened when a couple of guests found themselves walking along the trail with a Puma nonchalantly ambling along in front of them.

Good for Some

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

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

Not So Good For Others

Following the heavy rainfall and the subsequent fall into bright sunny weather for the past two months has seen the area subject to but a few severe overnight convection storms.   About one month ago, there was an instance where we suffered over 7 inches of rain falling overnight.  For many trees, that burden of weight was simply too much.  The following day, it did not matter which trail you walked, the way was blocked with large fallen trunks.  It took the trail maintenance team several days to finally cut their way through them all and clear the paths.

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

Prayer Sticks

I think most people are familiar with the Phasmids and Mantids, but rather under different names, Walking Sticks and Praying Mantises.  They have a basic body form that would be instantly recognizable, but only if you could see them.  And that is the problem, they have evolved to blend in perfectly with the background vegetation, firstly to avoid predation and secondly, most certainly in the case of the mantises, to stop their potential prey from seeing them.  Over the course of the year I will find at least one or two species serendipitously.  If I spend a little more time closely examining the vegetation I can generally find one or two species more.

Unidentified Phasmid

Phasmids, or Walking Sticks are vegetarian, many species being host plant specific.  Their body form typically resembles a dead twig, long and thin with spindly legs, and many a time you may find yourself looking directly at the animal but unable to see it.  Some have wings, particularly the females.  Should a potential predator get too close, the Walking Stick has several other methods of completing the deception of crypsis; swaying like a twig in the breeze, remaining motionless, flying off or falling to the ground, flashing brightly colored wings, rattling the wings and some release a noxious chemical spray.

Unidentified Phasmid

Mantids on the other hand are strictly carnivorous.  Instantly recognizable by the prey catching front legs held distinctively in the position of someone at prayer.  The mantids can sometimes be a match for the phasmids when it comes to disguise not only bearing the colors of vegetation but also have the morphological appearance of anything from sticks to leaves to bean pods to flower heads.  It would take a sharp-eyed potential prey item to see its nemesis sitting in wait amongst the vegetation.

Unidentified Mantid

Text and Photographs are taken from the forthcoming book:

The Natural History of Bosque del Cabo by Philip Davison

Temperature and Rainfall

Average Daily Temp High 89°F.  Average Daily Temp Low 74°F.

Average Daily Rainfall 0.64 ins.  Total Weekly Rainfall 4.51 ins

Average Daily Temp High 31.0°C.  Average Daily Temp Low 24.1°C.

Average Daily Rainfall 15.2 mm.  Total Weekly Rainfall 106.7 mm

Species List for the Week

Mammals

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

Birds

  • Red-lored Amazon
  • Scarlet Macaw
  • Crested Caracara
  • Laughing Falcon
  • Roadside Hawk
  • Yellow-headed Caracara
  • Great Currasow
  • Black-hooded Antbirds
  • Chestnut-backed Antbird
  • Golden-crowned Spadebill
  • Short-billed Pigeon
  • White-tipped Dove
  • Chestnut-mandibled Toucan
  • Pale-billed Woodpecker
  • Bright-rumped Atilla
  • Great Tinamou
  • Riverside Wren
  • Black-throated Trogon
  • Black Vulture
  • Turkey Vulture

Reptiles

  • Barred Ameiva
  • Four-lined Ameiva
  • Golfo Dulce Anolis
  • Clawless Gecko
  • Mediterranean House Gecko
  • Cat-eyed Snake
  • Boa Constrictor
  • Terciopelo

Amphibians

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

Butterflies

  • Anartia Fatima
  • Caligo eurilochus
  • Chloreuptychia arnica
  • Cissia confusa
  • Dione juno
  • Dryas iulia
  • Glutophrissa drusilla
  • Heliconius erato
  • Heliconius ismenius
  • Heliconius sapho
  • Heraclides cresphontes
  • Hermeuptychia hermes
  • Morpho helenor
  • Morpho Menelaus
  • Panoquina panoquinoides
  • Parides erithalion
  • Pierella luna
  • Pyrgus oileus
  • Urbanus tanna

 Plants

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