Archive for the ‘Osa Peninsula’ Tag

Mixed Fruit and Nuts   Leave a comment


Felipe del Bosque Blog January 14th 2013

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A Waterless Place

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This has been another week of bright sunny days and rising temperatures.  There has not been a drop of rain this week.  The level of water at the ponds is dropping.  There are fewer species of amphibian out but now the Savage’s Thin-fingered Frogs have started to congregate around the pond simply because it is a damper than the surrounding areas.

At night the Cat-eyed Snakes can be seen lying around the edge of the pond waiting for the froglets to emerge from the water.  You can sometimes see them with their heads beneath the surface of the water picking off the tadpoles which hang motionless in the nighttime shallows.

Colorful Confetti

The sun continues to bring out the butterflies which are increasing on an almost daily basis both in terms of numbers and individuals.  It doesn’t take much to stroll around the grounds with your camera at the ready to get some nice shots, the earlier the better before they warm up.

Last week I got some nice photos of Chlosyne theona which was out in full sun on the side of a hillock.  This week it was in exactly the same place so I took some more shots.  It wasn’t easy being in full sun with a constant breeze blowing against the butterflies wings.  Not too far away, again settled close to the ground thus requiring some awkward but nonetheless stealthy maneuvering to get close was a Pyrisitia nise.  These small yellow butterflies seemingly never settle so here was an opportunity to snap an image.  The problem was the wings being parallel with the bright sun making it difficult to truly capture the bright lemon yellow coloration.  Not so far away was a White Peacock, (Anartia jatrophae).  It refused to land so that I could get the right angle to photograph the spread of its wings but there will be many other days and more opportunities over the coming months to do so.

Chlosyne theona

Pyrisitia nise

Anartia jatrophae

A Bouquet and a Basket of Fruit

As the conditions become progressively drier, the trees begin to flower.  At this point in time as you walk through the forest there are places along the trails where the ground is covered in a carpet of fallen yellow flowers dropped from the overhanging branches of the Garlic Trees, (Caryocar costaricensis).  This is by no means the only flower to be seen but it stands out because of its bright golden color.  Not so intense in color but noticeable due to it strangely shaped blossoms are the flowers of the Hule or Rubber Tree, (Castilla tunu).  The soft gold velvety male inflorescence is shaped like a folded tortilla filled with the stamens. Currently it is possible to see the fruits lying on the ground too.  These come from the pollinated female flowers and resemble a miniature basket filled with green pairs.  When cut into, the trunk of the tree exudes white liquid latex that is processed to produce rubber.

Castilla tunu male flower

Castilla tunu fruit

A Hint of Spice

One of the distinctive fruits decorating the forest floor at the moment is that from the Fruta Dorada, the Golden Fruit Tree better known as nutmegs.  The nutmeg we use in a culinary situation is an Indonesian species belonging to the same Family Myristicaceae.  There are four species of nutmeg, (Virola spp), to be found within the forests of Bosque del Cabo.  The species that is currently fruiting is V. guatemalensis.

Virola guatemalensis

When the fruit first falls to the ground it is a green to yellow in color hence the golden fruit.  The shell is closed holding the seed hidden within.  But as it dries, it splits revealing a visceral looking membrane that provides a bright flash of red.  Red is a very important color in the forest.  It is the complimentary color to green.  Whereas green is a very cool color, red is a very hot color.  Birds having acute color vision will see fiery red a long way off standing out vividly against the cold verdant background.

Virola guatemalensis

Particularly with the nutmegs they are attracting the attention of Chestnut-mandibled Toucans, (Ramphastos swainsonii).  Toucans are fruit eating birds that gulp the fruits down whole.  The red covering to the seed is called the aril.  It is very tasty and nutritious.  The toucan digests the aril but is now left with a gut full of big heavy seeds which is not conducive to flight, so the bird regurgitates up the seeds thereby distributing them some distance from the parent tree.  In effect the tree attracted the bird in using the color red, gave it a nice tasty reward in the form of the aril to eat the seed which is then transported away and dispersed.

The Indonesian nutmeg, Myristica fragrans, is used in two ways.  The seed is dried and ground to give the familiar spice nutmeg whereas the aril is dried and ground to give the spice mace.  Certain of the South American nutmegs when tapped give a sap which is used in tribal rituals; the least of its effects being that of one of the most powerful hallucinogens that we know of.

Shady Characters

One other plant that has previously found their way into these pages has been in flower again.  One the Titi Trail you will see many corky vines woven within the fabric of the other plants.  This characteristic texture belongs to the Family Aristolochiaceae.  There are 4 species on the Osa Peninsula all belonging to the Genus Aristolochia.  They are unmistakable when in bloom as the flowers come directly from the side of the vine and stand erect like a Dutchman’s pipe which strangely enough is what they are called.

Aristolochia goudoti

The mottled purple blooms give off the scent of rotten meat which consequently attracts the attention of carrion flies.  The flies land expectantly on what they think will provide a good meal for their larvae.  The inner surface of the flower is slick so the inveigled fly slips down into the interior chamber of the bloom.  Backward pointing spines bar its escape so there the insect remains trapped.  Had it already suffered the same indignant experience it would be carrying the pollen from another bloom which is transferred effecting pollination.  The flower then wilts allowing the fly to go free carrying a fresh batch of its own pollen hoping that the fly can be duped yet again.  Following successful pollination then the fruit capsules are formed holding the seeds which are flat and wind dispersed.

Aristolochia goudoti fruit

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

Figs for All

Another tree that can be seen producing fruit, although in this case there is no specific season, is one of the many species of Fig Tree, (Ficus spp).  Figs are an important food source not the least because within any one population of a fig species at least one individual will be fruiting at some point during the year.  They produce such a copious amount of fruit that they feed so many animals in the forest.

Ficus insipida

Tropical rain forests are generally found to be windless places.  For that reason the plants largely have to rely on animal agents for pollination and seed dispersal.  Due to the fact that there is such a high number of tree species within any given area, not only do the trees have to attract an animal to come to them but also then offer the animal a reward to stop it going to any other species of tree.  The figs have taken this to an absolute extreme.

Every species of fig tree has it own individual species of fig wasp, (Family Agaonidae), to pollinate it and there are approximately 800 different species of fig to be found worldwide. The fig is a synconium and inside each fig there are three types of flower; male flowers, female flowers and sterile flowers called gall flowers.  The gall flowers are the reward, which is where the female wasp will lay her eggs.  The first eggs to hatch are the wingless males.  They move around inside the fig looking for the as yet undeveloped females.  They find them and mate with them.  The male then bores a hole out of the fig and dies.

Later the female fig wasp emerges but her emergence coincides with the male flowers coming into season so as she travels around inside the fig she gets coated with pollen.  She makes her way out of the hole the males bored out and then she has to fly off to find a tree where the female flowers are in season.  This is achieved by following a pheromone trail released by the young fig.  The fig has an opening, the ostiole, which is lined with downward pointing scales that allow entry in one direction only, from the outside to the inside.  The female enters and loses her wings as she does so.  The pollen is transferred from her body to the female flowers thereby pollinating the fig.  The gall flowers are short stalked female flowers into which the ovipositor of the female wasp can reach to lay eggs.  Once she has finished transferring the pollen and laying her eggs, the female wasp dies.  Several weeks later the larvae that have developed within the gall flowers will emerge and the cycle will repeat.

The fig and the fig wasp have become mutually dependent on one another for their very existence.  Due to the fact that so many animals rely on the crop of figs that relationship produces it is known as one of the keystone dependencies of the forest.

One the fig has been pollinated it produces tiny seeds which the tree has to get through the guts of the animals eating them very quickly to stop the digestive juices breaking down the seed coat.  To aid in the rapid passage of the seeds through the alimentary canal of the animals eating them, the pulp of the fig contains a laxative.  But it has relied on large mobile animals such as birds, monkeys and bats that will have moved some distance from the parent tree before they defecate and disperse the seeds.

Sometimes the figs produce more fruit that even all the visiting animals can consume.  As you walk through the forest you may find yourself under a rain of falling figs, each one crashing through the underlying foliage before hitting the ground.  This benefits many ground living creatures such as peccaries, agoutis, pacas, opossums and rodents.  As the figs rot the heavy scent of fermenting fruit attracts in butterflies such as blue morphos which imbibe the liquor.  Ultimately the mould spores germinate and within a short space of time the fig will have become a fuzzy white ball of threadlike mould mycelium.

Ficus insipida

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

Highest Daily Temp 90°F.  Lowest Daily Temp 74°F.

Highest Daily Temp 32.0°C.  Lowest Daily Temp 23.2°C.

Species List for the Week

Mammals

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

Birds

  • Red-lored Amazon
  • Scarlet Macaw
  • Brown Pelican
  • Great Curassow
  • Crested Caracara
  • Mangrove Black Hawk
  • Pale-billed Woodpecker
  • Chestnut-backed Antbird
  • Short-billed Pigeon
  • White-tipped Dove
  • Rufus Piha
  • Blue-crowned Motmot
  • Stripe-throated Hermit
  • Red-capped Manakin
  • Chestnut-mandibled Toucan
  • Bright-rumped Atilla
  • Dusky-capped Flycatcher
  • Great Kiskadee
  • Green Honeycreeper
  • House Wren
  • Great Tinamou
  • Black Vulture
  • Turkey Vulture

Reptiles

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

Amphibians

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

Butterflies

  • Adelpha heraclera
  • Anartia Fatima
  • Anartia jatrophae
  • Archaeoprepona demophon
  • Battus belus
  • Calycopis isobeon
  • Chlosyne theona
  • Consul fabius
  • Dryas iulia
  • Eueides aliphera
  • Eueides lybia
  • Glutophrissa drusilla
  • Heliconius erato
  • Heliconius hecale
  • Heliconius ismenius
  • Heliconius sapho
  • Heraclides cresphontes
  • Hermeuptychia hermes
  • Morpho helenor
  • Morpho Menelaus
  • Pareuptychia ocirrhoe
  • Parides erithalion
  • Pierella helvina
  • Philaethria dido
  • Phoebis sennae
  • Pyrgus oileus
  • Pyrisitia nise
  • Pyrrhogyra crameri

Plants

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

 

 

New Ways of Falling from Grace   3 comments


Felipe del Bosque Blog July 16th 2012

How The Mighty Have Fallen

So far the wet season has proved to be a little unpredictable.  Up until the beginning of the week we still had not had a great deal of rain.  The days were bright and sunny followed by 2 or 3 days of heavy cloud cover but still no rain.  Towards the end of week that all changed.  There were 3 or 4 nights in a row where the visitors were treated to the most spectacular thunderstorms.  The storms came straight in off the sea and so the thunder and lightning were simultaneous.   The rain was subsequently measured in several inches for the period of one cloud burst.

One evening at the normal 6:00 pm downpour time, a terrible roaring sound started low down near the cliff edge.  The sound intensified until it sounded like a freight train was heading straight for the bar.  Wind of this ferocity is normally a portent of exceptionally heavy rain that is following in behind.  It did rain but not with the deluge we were expecting, the wind too eventually died down.  We thought we had been spared what potentially could have been a serious ravaging.  It wasn’t until a few days later when I went for a walk on the Zapatero Trail that I could see that had not been the full story.  The main event had hit the forest and as I made my way around the trail, every 100 yards or so my path was blocked by a fallen tree.  Between the fallen trees the path was littered with dead branches.  Off the trail yet more massive arboreal giants had tumbled, their huge forms now laid prone by the force of the short lived squall.  In 12 years of walking the trails on an almost daily basis I had never seen so much sylvan devastation.

The trail maintenance teams went to work clearing out all the fallen timber.  These occasional catastrophic events are all part of the cycle in the forest.  Now there are large gaps in the canopy so the microclimate at the forest floor will have changed; temperature goes up, light levels increase and humidity drops.  All of this acts as a spur for the germination of a lot of the pioneering species of tree which are lying as dormant seeds in the ground just waiting for this situation to occur before rapidly growing to fill the gap which they do within in a very few years.

All the saplings of those shade tolerant tree species have, over many years, stored a lot of energy in their roots systems and then waited patiently in that state of suspended animation for this kind of event to take place.  They are spurred into re-growth, eventually overshadowing the pioneering species as they make their way up to the uppermost level of the forest where their crowns spread and to block the light from penetrating to the forest floor.  There they will stand in statuesque grandeur until perhaps 100 years from now they will ultimately suffer the same fate as those forest giants that preceded them.

Something New

This week there have been no actual Puma sightings but that does not mean there are not around.  The alarm call of the Spider Monkeys has been heard echoing around the grounds at various different locations so even if we haven’t seen them from the ground, the monkeys have certainly been able to see them from the tree tops.

This week a new bird turned up and that was not hard to see.  Standing in the restaurant one morning I could hear a call that I was not familiar with and it was coming from just outside in a Guava Tree.  I went out to take a look and there was one of the Euphonia species but this one was strangely unfamiliar.  Looking through the binoculars I could see it had a small yellow cap but the most distinctive feature was that the whole of the neck was yellow, there was no continuous purple collar.  This limited the choice and I was pretty sure I was looking at a Yellow-throated Euphonia, (Euphonia hyrundinacea), which is exactly what is was.  From the day of its arrival it has been in the same location in the Guava Tree every morning.  It is not alone; there is a female companion who has a slightly different call.  In fact they appear to have made a nest in a palm tree next to their perch.  It is described as very rare in Pacific Lowlands so we are lucky to have it take up temporary residence within earshot of the restaurant.

The Euphonia was not the only new record for the lodge this week.  One night when I went back to my cabin, I proceeded to open up the laptop and do a little more writing before going to bed.  I noticed on the wall to my left a small roosting butterfly that had settled for the night.  Just the same as the Euphonia, I did not immediately recognize the tiny nocturnal squatter, I could see it was one of the Riodinids or Metalmarks but not one I had ever seen before.  As it was motionless no more than 2 feet from my arm it made an easy photographic opportunity.  So I picked up the camera, took the shots, put the camera away and continued my writing.

Calospila martia

Next day the butterfly was flying up and down against the screen of my window so held out my hand and let it settle on my finger whereupon I took it outside and liberated it to fly off into the forest.  Later I looked at the photos with the intention of making an identification.  The butterfly, although small, was distinctly marked with large orange bars traversing the forewings.  It didn’t take long to arrive at the species name, Calospila martia.  The interesting thing is that, according to Philip J. DeVries in his book “The Butterflies of Costa Rica Volume II the Riodinidae”, this butterfly has only ever been recorded from one location on the Atlantic lowland rainforest of Costa Rica, never from the Pacific.  It is found in Panama and its distribution suggests it should be found in this area too, but there are no records.  It could well be that Bosque del Cabo has the first recorded sighting of this species for Costa Rica outside of its only other previous known location.  I await confirmation.

Calospila martia

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

 Fighting For Attention

Activity at the pond at night is cyclic in its intensity.  Some evenings the area and vegetation around the water’s edge is full of calling frogs.  If a lot of spawning has taken place, over the following nights the amphibian activity may die down but they their presence has been replaced by large numbers of Cat-eyed Snakes which venture forth to feed on the now freely available food source.  Generally on a nightly basis you can still find Marine Toads, Red-eyed Green Tree Frogs, Banana Frogs and Smoky Jungle Frogs.  One or two other species may be thrown into the mix; Olive Tree Frogs and more particularly Gladiator Frogs.  The predators of the frogs and their eggs will be around in greater or lesser numbers too; the already mentioned snakes but also large Wandering Spiders.

Last week when I was out and about on one of my nocturnal walks I found a Salmon-bellied Racer settling down for the night on top of a leaf.  Young Basilisks are always found sleeping on vegetation over the water.  My mission on this particular evening was to photograph some of the Amblypygids or Tailless Whip Scorpions.  Once the sun has gone down there are normally a good few sitting on the exposed banks on the side of the road.  I duly arrived at the spot where I thought I might find the subjects and sure enough there they were, grotesque denizens of the dark world, ominously hanging around the entrances of holes in the sheer walls waiting for their supper to arrive in the form of unsuspecting insects.  Unfortunately the ground where I would have to stand and set up the tripod was alive with swarming masses of Army Ants.  So my dilemma was to suffer the painful bites of a myriad enraged ronchadores or come back on another night.  I decided on the latter.

Gladiator Frog

While walking past the pond on my way back to the restaurant I could hear several male Gladiator Frogs calling.  I didn’t want to go back with no results for my efforts so decided to go and take a look.  As luck would have, there was one male sitting on a palm leaf stem at eye level 6 feet off the ground, (my eye level).  It duly obliged by posing perfectly for its profile.  So even if the shot you want is not always available, there is always something else you can get if you look.

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 0.14 ins.  Total Weekly Rainfall 1.00 ins

Average Daily Rainfall 1.0 mm.  Total Weekly Rainfall 7.1 mm

Highest Daily Temp 89°F.  Lowest Daily Temp 74°F.

Highest Daily Temp 31.4°C.  Lowest Daily Temp 23.4°C.

Species List for the Week

Mammals

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

Birds

  • Red-lored Amazons
  • Scarlet Macaws
  • Grey-necked Woodrail
  • Great Curassow
  • Roadside Hawk
  • Pale-billed Woodpecker
  • Chestnut-backed Antbird
  • Black-hooded Antshrike
  • Common Paureque
  • Short-billed Pigeon
  • Magnificent Frigatebird
  • Long-billed Hermit
  • Rufous-tailed Hummingbird
  • Blue-crowned Manakin
  • Red-capped Manakin
  • Fiery-billed Aracari
  • Chestnut-mandibled Toucan
  • Blue Dacnis
  • Cherrie’s Tanager
  • Golden-hooded Tanager
  • Red-legged Honeycreeper
  • Wedge-billed Woodcreeper
  • Great Kiskadee
  • Tropical King Bird
  • Masked Tityra
  • Black-throated Trogon
  • Great Tinamou
  • House Wren
  • Riverside Wren
  • Yellow-throated Euphonia
  • Black Vulture
  • Turkey Vulture

Reptiles

  • Basilisk
  • Boa Constrictor
  • Central American Smooth Gecko
  • Clawless Gecko
  • Five-lined Ameiva
  • Golfo Dulce Anole
  • Mediterranean House Gecko
  • Northern Cat-eyed Snake
  • Pug-nosed Anole
  • Salmon-bellied Racer
  • Tiger Rat Snake
  • Tropical Bird-eating Snake

Amphibians

  • Banana Frog
  • Black and Green Poison Arrow Frog
  • Golfo Dulce Poison Arrow Frog
  • Marine Toad
  • Olive Tree Frog
  • Parachuting Red-eyed Green Tree Frog
  • Red-eyed Green Tree Frog
  • Smoky Jungle Frog
  • Tink Frog

Butterflies

  • Anartia Fatima
  • Anartia jatrophae
  • Archaeoprepona demophon
  • Caligo eurilochus
  • Colobura dirce
  • Dryas iulia
  • Eurema daira
  • Euptoieta hegesia
  • Euselasia
  • Eurybia lysisca
  • Glutophrissa Drusilla
  • Heliconius erato
  • Heliconius hecale
  • Heliconius ismenius
  • Heliconius sapho
  • Heraclides cresphontes
  • Hermeuptychia hermes
  • Morpho helenor
  • Morpho menelaus
  • Opsiphanes tamarindi
  • Parides erithalion
  • Philaethria dido
  • Phoebis argante
  • Phoebis sennae
  • Pyrgus oileus
  • Saliana longirostris
  • Siproeta stelenes
  • Staphylus mazans
  • Strymon megarus
  • Urbanus simplicius

 Plants

  • Alamandra  cathartica Flowering
  • Alpinia purpurata Flowering
  • Anthurium salvinii Flowering
  • Apeiba tibourbou Flowering
  • Arachis pintoi Flowering
  • Arundina graminifolia Flowering
  • Aspidosperma spruceanum Fruiting
  • Astrocaryum standelyarum Fruiting
  • Atrocarpus heterophyllus Fruiting
  • Averrhoa carambola Fruiting
  • Brownea macrophylla Flowering
  • Cascabella thevetia Flowering
  • Chamaedorea costaricana Fruiting
  • Cocos nucifera Flowering and Fruiting
  • Crestentia alata flowering and Fruiting
  • Costus speciosus Flowering
  • Couroupita guianensis Flowering and Fruiting
  • Dipsis lutescens Fruiting
  • Ficus citrifolia Fruiting
  • Ficus insipida Fruiting
  • Gustavia brachycarpa Flowering
  • Hedychium coronarium Flowering
  • Heliconia chartacea Flowering
  • Heliconia latispatha Flowering
  • Heliconia pogonantha Flowering
  • Heliconia psittacorum Flowering
  • Heliconia rostrata Flowering
  • Hibiscus rosa-sinensis Flowering
  • Hymenaea coubaril Fruiting
  • Ixora coccinea Flowering
  • Lacistema aggregatum Fruiting
  • Lacmellea panamensis Flowering and Fruiting
  • Lantana camara Flowering and Flowering
  • Lagerstroemia speciosa Flowering and Fruiting
  • Mangifera indica Fruiting
  • Miconia argentia Flowering
  • Morinda citrifolia Fruiting
  • Musa acuminate Flowering and Fruiting
  • Naucleopsis uliae Fruiting
  • Pandanus tectonus Fruiting
  • Piper auritum Flowering and Fruiting
  • Piper umbellatum Flowering and Fruiting
  • Pleiostachya pruinosa Flowering
  • Psidium guajava Flowering and Fruiting
  • Stachytapheta frantzii Flowering
  • Terminalia catappa Flowering
  • Tocoyena pittieri Flowering and Fruiting
  • Virola koschnyi Fruiting
  • Vochysia ferruginea Fruiting

 

 

It Sounds Like Fishing For Fruit   4 comments


Felipe del Bosque Blog April 23rd  2012

Wet’n Dry

The weather this week has been more or less as the week before.  There has been some rainfall but not a lot and the rain that we have had has been interspersed between days of clear skies and sunny conditions.  In fact the sunny conditions prevailed as the week progressed.

One unusual feature that seems to accompany the start of the rainy season is the water in the creeks, which at this time of year is already at a low level, suddenly drops as the rains begin. This would seem to be counter intuitive; more water falling from the sky you might think would then finds its way into the creeks and consequently the levels rise.  My theory, and I would stand to be corrected on this point by any hydrologist, (I would dearly love to hear from a hydrologist on this point is one is reading), is that the initial rains soak only the top levels of the soil.  If it only rains for a few days followed by dry days then the high temperatures and dry atmosphere might cause increased evaporation at the top soil level resulting in water being drawn up from lower levels by suction and capillary action reducing the amount percolating into the creeks through the springs.  This is just an idea not necessarily a fact, I have to do some more research on this one.  But the fact remains, the rains have started and the creek levels have dropped.

Gone Fishing

One night when I had no takers for the night tour, I decided to go to the pond alone and try to photograph some of the amphibians.  While I was looking for some suitably placed subjects, I noticed a single Cat-eyed Snake, (Leptodeira septentrionalis), sitting on the rocky edging to the pond.  I usually try to get pictures of the head and front end of snakes as being rather linear animals is not easy to get them all in the frame unless you are stood some way back.  This individual was in a semi curled position so I thought I could get some close pictures of all the body.

         Cat-eyed Snake         Cat-eyed Snake

As I set up the camera, the snake slipped over the edge, head down with its tongue constantly flicking in and out, searching the surface of the water.  Lying just beneath the surface were hundreds of Milky Frog tadpoles resulting from the adults that had emerged en masse, paired up and spawned on the first evening of rain a week or so earlier.  The eggs had hatched within two days and now, no more than two weeks later, the tadpoles had started to grown legs.

It was the seething mass of tadpoles that was attracting the attention of the snake.  Cat-eyed Snakes can be seen throughout the year in greater or lesser numbers, (greater during the height of the amphibian breeding season, June – August).  They are specialist feeders on frogs and frog eggs, but tadpoles will make an acceptable substitute when the other options are not readily available, such as now at the back end of the dry season.

Cat-eyed Snake         Red-eyed Green Tree Frog Eggs         Cat-eyed Snake

The snake would approach the water, about 6 inches below the pond edge.  The seething and shimmering mass of tadpoles were lying on the tops of water plant leaves directly below the surface.  It was the movement of the plants that was attracting the snake’s attention.  The fishing could not have been simpler.  Open mouthed the snake simply had to strike out a few millimeters in front of it and a snack would be obtained.

Cat-eyed Snake

Following the consumption of each and every tadpole caught, the snake would withdraw on to the flat rock edge and rest for a couple of minutes before eating again.  There weren’t just tadpoles, it was readily devouring the small froglets that had emerged from the water and were sitting on the Water Lettuce above the surface.

Cat-eyed Snakes are nocturnal snakes with large eyes that have vertical pupils that look just like the eyes of a cat which give the snake its name.  During the height of the amphibian breeding season they can be seen in numbers sometimes in the region of 40 or 50 at the back of the pond, moving over the vegetation but with their heads underneath looking for the eggs of the Red-eyed Green Tree Frogs.  Frogs eggs are a perfect protein packed meal which neither fights back nor runs away.

The Cat-eyed Snakes are venomous but they are rear fanged and the venom has the potency to kill little more than a frog.  They are not inclined to bite so pose no danger to visitors to the lodge.  I sat watching and photographing this individual for about 45 minutes and then left to let it continue its amphibian rich banquet.

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

Batman

While out on a tour through the forest, one of the guests with me noticed what she thought might be a bat hanging from a small fallen branch close to the ground.  Closer inspection through my binoculars revealed that she was in fact correct, it was indeed a solitary bat roosting out in the open a couple of inches from the ground.

Short-tailed Fruit Bat

Costa Rica is a very small country, about the size of West Virginia.  On the mainland United States there are 44 species of bat, which without exception are all insectivorous.  Costa Rica has probably 111 species of bat of which 80 species are estimated to live on the Osa Peninsula.  Here we have insectivorous, nectar feeding, fruit eating, carnivorous, fishing and blood feeding bats.

Short-tailed Fruit Bat

Bats are the second most diverse order of mammals after the rodents, but inversely to rodents, there are more species of bats in the tropics and more species of rodents at higher latitudes.  Costa Rica is only 0.03% of the land surface of the earth but contains 12% the total bat diversity of the earth so it is a very special country as far as bats are concerned.

Short-tailed Fruit Bat

The way the bat we were looking at was hanging made it difficult to identify any further than family.  I could see it was one of the Leaf-nosed Bats, family, Phyllostomidae.  We continued walking but I had the intention of returning after the tour with a camera to try and get some closer photographs.

Short-tailed Fruit Bat

When I returned from the tour, I quickly ate lunch and then headed back out with the camera to get the photos of the bat.  It was still in the same position at the same location, suspended from a small dry twig, on top of a live Leaf-cutter Ant nest surrounded by fallen branches.  I could get a picture from some distance, but to try and identify the bat I needed to get close.

I shot a few exposures from about 6 feet away, then progressively made my around 360° trying to obtain images from all angles.  Then I moved in closer, gently removing some of the branches that were in front of the non moving creature obscuring a clear image.  Eventually I had to lie down on the ant nest to get the profile close up of the head.  This final action drew the wrath of the Leaf-cutter soldiers who commenced carving through my flesh and drawing blood.  Needless to say, I took the photos as quickly as I possibly could.

When I returned to my cabin it was time to identify the bat and that is no easy task.  Several distinguishing features allowed me to get to the family.  The most obvious was the distinct nose leaf that I could clearly see in that profile shot that had been so painfully acquired.  This puts the bat in the family Phyllostomatidae which translates more or less literally from the Greek into “leaf opening”.  I could also see the bat had a small, almost indiscernible tail which put it in the family Carollinae – the Short-tailed Fruit Bats.

Now came the hard part, identifying the species.  One of the photographs I had taken of the ventral side, nicely revealed under the chin a central wart with a series of smaller warts lining the underside of the jaw.  So now I knew I had an individual in the genus Carollia  but that is as far as I could get.  To identify the bat to species would require me blowing on the fur to observe the depth of agouti, (the depth of gray layering in the fur) and I would also need to see the dentition.

All of the bats in the Americas are of the suborder Microchiroptera which literally means “Small Hand Wing”.  The hand of the bat is highly modified with the digits creating a specialized frame supporting an elastic membrane which forms a wing thereby transforming the bat into the only mammal which can truly fly.

As opposed to common folklore which has bats as blind, they are not, they have very good eyesight especially in low light conditions.  As well as having very good eyesight, all of the Microchiroptera use echolocation or SONAR to find their way around at night.  Some bats emit the pulse of sound through the mouth but the Phyllostomatidae emit the sound through the nose.  The specially modified flap of skin that forms the nose leaf is thought to direct the sound.

If the nose of the bat is a highly modified transmitter of sound, the ears are equally highly modified receivers of the reflected sound.  Due to the fact that air does not transmit sound very well the energy that the bat has to put into each pulse of sound to make it effective is the equivalent for the bat of listening to a jet engine, it would deafen itself.  The structure of the ear is such that whenever a pulse is emitted, the muscles in the ear close it for a microsecond and open again to receive the echo.

As may be expected, the Short-tailed Fruit Bats are fruit eaters.  They consume a variety of fruit, the structure of which can be distinguished by echo location.  There are a variety of fruit eating bats in Costa Rica and each species tends to favor a certain type of fruit.  It has been shown the preferred fruit of the Short-tailed Fruit Bats are the low growing Pipers, (related to peppers), many species of which are commonly found throughout the Neotropical forests.

One feature revealed in the photographs that is not commonly considered with the bats is a modification in the placement of the legs which allows them to hand upside down; the legs are back to front. The knees and feet face backwards to that the toes can hook of a twig or projection.  The weight of the body pulls down on a tendon which locks the toes into position so that the bat does not have to expend any muscular energy into holding on, it is gravity that does all the work.  When the bat wants to fly, is simply lets go with its toes, opens its wings and it departs into the night.

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 0.04 ins.  Total Weekly Rainfall 0.27 ins

Average Daily Rainfall 1.00 mm.  Total Weekly Rainfall 6.90 mm

Species List for the Week

Mammals

  • Howler Monkey
  • Spider Monkey
  • Capuchin Monkey
  • Agouti
  • Red-tailed Squirrel

 

Birds

 

  • Red-lored Amazons
  • Scarlet Macaws
  • Great Currasow
  • Crested Caracara
  • Lineated Woodpecker
  • Chestnut-backed Antbird
  • Common Paureque
  • Short-billed Pigeon
  • White-tipped Dove
  • Rufus Piha
  • Blue-crowned Manakin
  • Red-capped Manakin
  • Fiery-billed Aracari
  • Chestnut-mandibled Toucan
  • Cherrie’s Tanager
  • Bright-rumped Atilla
  • Golden-crowned Spadebill
  • Buff-rumped Warbler
  • Great Tinamou
  • Riverside Wren
  • Black-throated Trogon
  • Black Vulture
  • Turkey Vulture

 

Reptiles

 

  • Barred Ameiva
  • Barred Forest Racer
  • Central American Whiptail
  • Common Basilisk
  • Five-lined Ameiva
  • Clawless Gecko
  • Golfo Dulce Anolis
  • Green Iguana
  • Northern Cat-eyed Snake
  • Salmon-bellied Racer
  • Terciopelo

 

Amphibians

 

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

 

Butterflies

 

  • Arawacus lincoides
  • Archaeoprepona demophon
  • Caligo atreus
  • Calycopis isobeon
  • Dryas iulia
  • Eurema daira
  • Eueides lybia
  • Glutophrissa Drusilla
  • Heliconius cydno
  • Heliconius erato
  • Heliconius ismenius
  • Heliconius sapho
  • Heraclides cresphontes
  • Mechanitis polymnia
  • Metacharis victrix
  • Morpho helenor
  • Morpho Menelaus
  • Philaetria dido

 

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
  • Hog Plum Flowering
  • May Tree Flowering
  • Monkey Comb Tree Flowering and Fruiting
  • Mountain Rose Flowering
  • Passion Vine Flowering and Fruiting
  • Stinky Toe Fruiting

 

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

 

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