Archive for the ‘Puma’ Tag

A Passion for Ant Killing Lions   4 comments


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

No change in the weather this week.  We have had another seven days of hot, sunny weather.  There were two days when the clouds had formed and the sky remained overcast but no rain resulted although the temperatures plummeted from 104⁰F to 96⁰F.

The butterfly numbers are increasing but still way below what would be expected for this time of year which is normally the peak of butterfly activity.  Around the pond at night, the Savage’s Thin-fingered Frogs are starting to gather in greater numbers.  The pond is the last remaining damp area on site.  The flowering period for many of the trees has finished and now some of them have started fruiting.

The major excitement this week has been the presence of a female Puma, (Puma concolor).  She had been seen in several different locations around the grounds.  The high-pitched barking alarm call of the Spider Monkeys is always an indication of where the cat is passing by.  One day, as the sun was setting, the alarm calls of agitated monkeys and agoutis started the fill the air.  The cat was on the prowl.

She left the cover of the forest and walked through an open garden.  That is where I spotted her.  She was in no hurry and it was patently obvious that she could see me.  She crossed the driveway and made her way into some dense vegetation.  The monkeys settling down in that area for the evening were suddenly stirred into action and more alarm calls began to build eventually reaching a fever pitch.

She emerged from the tangle of dense vegetation and slowly walked toward the edge of the cliff overlooking the ocean.  An Agouti that was in the same vicinity saw the cat, let out a loud shriek and ran off with its hair stood on end.  The cat immediately looked alert but then just as quickly lost interest.  She sat down and started to clean herself before lying down for a few minutes.  She then rose to her feet, turned her back on me and walked off into the rapidly darkening forest.

There was another predator that I managed to get very close to this week.  Very close.  While I was out conducting my butterfly counts I found a juvenile Broad-winged Hawk, (Buteo platypterus), sitting on a low cut tree stump on a trail through an open area of forest.  It was an ideal opportunity to take a photo.  I fully expected the bird to take off and fly away but it remained where it was and just looked at me.  I approached closer and closer but very slowly, each time taking a photo.  Eventually I ended up lying on the ground within touching distance but the bird never even flinched.  I kept a wary eye to my surroundings as it was not beyond the possibility that the parent birds would be keeping watch and attack should I get too close but nothing happened.

Broad-winged Hawk. Accipitridae. Philip Davison.

Juvenile Broad-winged Hawk, (Buteo platypterus)

Broad-winged Hawks are migratory throughout North, Central and South America.  They tend to hunt in the understory of the forest from where they swoop down and take small rodents and lizards from the ground.  The broad wings and short tail are a good visual identification feature.

Buteo platypterus

Close up of Juvenile Broad-winged Hawk, (Buteo platypterus)

A New Passion For Flags

Along the forest trails there are several species of Passion Vine currently in flower but this week I found one species that I had never seen before.  I returned with the camera and took photos for the record and to identify this new species.  –

There are sixteen species of Passion Vine to be found in the forests of the Osa Peninsula.  One is seen throughout the year at Bosque del Cabo Rain Forest Lodge, the Scarlet Passion Vine, (Passiflora vitifolia).  It is hard to miss the bright red flowers suspended on thin, fleshy, green stems that grow up from the ground and entwine the vegetation.  Two others flower only occasionally.

The new species, Passiflora pittieri, is normally found in primary forest but at the top of the canopy or in light gaps.  The flower is very distinctive with its pale cream petals and a corona of yellow-tipped orange filaments and pink-flushed anthers.  This one appears to be insect pollinated as I could see bees visiting the blooms.

Passifloraceae. Bosque del Cabo.

Passiflora pittieri

The leaves of this species are highly cyanogenic.  When physically damaged they release cyanide which would normally deter most creatures from eating them.  But where there is a system then there is a way round the system.  There are many species of longwing butterfly the larvae of which feed on the leaves of various species of passion vine.  The larvae have an enzyme that allow them to sequester the cyanide molecule and use it in turn as a toxic defense.  The caterpillars can only eat the young leaves as the older leaves will have become too unpalatable.

Cydno Longwing. Nymphalidae.

Cydno Longwing, (Heliconius cydno)

Heliconius sapho. Heliconiinae

Sapho Longwing, (Heliconius sapho)

Another insect associated with passion flowers are the flag-legged bugs.  These phytophagous, or leaf-eating, members of the Order: Hemiptera, Su

border: Heteroptera and Family: Coreidae can usually be found clustered around the flowers of passion vine.  Their rearmost legs have a large expanded flat and colored section.

Flag-legged Bug. Hemiptera. Heteroptera.

Flag-legged Bug, (Anisoscelis flavolineata)

Flag-legged Bug. Philip Davison. Bosque del Cabo

Flag-legged Bug, (Coreidae sp)

If a predator approaches a Flag-legged Bug, then the insect will wave one of its two brightly colored expanded rear legs.  This provides a target for the attacker which will end up with little more than a leg for its efforts while the bug will have flown away.  Many Flag-legged Bugs will be observed with either one or both rear legs missing.

The Pit of no Escape

This time of year with the ground having become very dry and friable, there are many small crater-like pits that have appeared all over the trails.  It would appear as if a miniature meteor storm had hit the area.  Further investigation, more particularly by disturbing the sides of the crater wall, will result in small grains of sand erupting upwards towards the source of the disturbance.  Buried and hidden at the bottom of the pit is a larva of an insect closely related to Lacewings and Owlflies, the Antlion, and it is this larva which is responsible for throwing the sand grains.

Myrmelon sp. Neuroptera.

Antlion, (Myrmelon sp), Pit

The Antlions belong to the Family: Myrmeleotidae within the Order: Neuroptera.  Only antlions of the Genus: Myrmelon create the pits.  The larva excavates the steep-sided pit and places itself at the bottom, just beneath the surface and covers itself with the fine sand.  They don’t just feed on ants, any small insect venturing within the crater rim will find itself struggling to leave.  The more it struggles to climb out, the more loose material it will dislodge causing it to slip towards the bottom.  The predatory larva lying in wait will now begin its performance of death to bring down the final curtain on the life of its victim.

Myrmelon sp

Mandibles of Antlion, (Myrmelon sp), Larva Grabbing Hapless Ant

Using the front legs the larval antlion flicks sand up at the ant desperately trying to escape the steep sided crater.  This serves to drag it further down towards the bottom of the pit.  When it finally slips all the way down, then the mandibles of the larva snap shut around the prey’s body.  This is what I was observing.  The unfortunate ant was struggling to escape the deadly grip of the mandibles but to no avail.  Sharp projections on the inside of the mandibles pierce the ants body and the larva sucks the juice out of the ant.  Once it has finished the remaining dry and drained carcass is flicked out of the pit while the larva awaits a fresh potential food item to enter.

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

Wildlife Capital of Costa Rica   3 comments


Felipe del Bosque Blog November 25th 2013

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Dry Times

It could well be the the transition is occurring.  This week began with a little rain and eventually that became less and less.  The sun was shining most days and with clear blue skies to make sure the butterflies were active.

This week I have instigated the butterfly and amphibian counts again. The project that I had been collecting data for over many years needs finishing.  Many years ago I started monitoring the dynamics of both butterfly and amphibian populations.  These were being measured against temperature and precipitation figures respectively to try and evaluate as to whether the climate of the area might be changing and if it is what affect that may have on the flora and fauna of a tropical season forest such as exists at Bosque del Cabo.

Three is the Magic Number

There have been several exciting sightings at Bosque del Cabo this week.  While conducting my butterfly counts I found a Baird’s Tapir, (Tapirus bairdii), print in the soft earth near where the trail exits onto the main driveway.  The print was very obvious due to its large size and distinctive three leaf shaped toes.  The tapir is an odd-toed ungulate an order of mammals, (Perissodactyla), that also includes horses and rhinoceroses.  There have been several records of tapirs passing through the bosque property over the years but as to where they came from or where they were going is currently unknown.

If you have been following the blog you will be aware of the fact that some months ago a small herd of White-lipped Peccaries, (Tayassu pecari), appeared in the grounds of Bosque del Cabo.  Every day they would do their rounds passing in front of the restaurant just after lunch before making their way through the mango orchard.  They could also be seen and most smelled out on the trails in close proximity to the lodge.  Progressively though the numbers dwindled.  As with the tapir we are not sure how they made it here but we were certainly glad to see them as they are normally an indicator of more pristine forest conditions.

White-lipped Peccary

Now there are two, a male and a female, who have taking a liking to the garden area in front of the restaurant.  Every day they are seen feasting on the fallen fruits of the palm trees, a variety of species which are producing small red fruits at the moment.  If approached he loudly clacks his teeth, his long shaggy hair stands on end and he runs off grunting in irritated disapproval of being disturbed.  The female is a little more relaxed and tolerates close approaches before trotting off a short way before commencing feeding.  This is one of those enigmatic animals that people hike for days through Corcovado National Park with a vain hope of seeing, along with the tapir.  Here they are in the grounds of Bosque del Cabo Rainforest Lodge for all to see while eating their breakfast.

The reason that Bosque has acquired the reputation as the wildlife capital of Costa Rica is that the 800 acres of grounds has a huge selection of habitats within which reside a phenomenal amount of biodiversity that is not too difficult to experience.  This week a three of our guests, Courtney, Che and Jermaine arrived from Texas and Los Angeles.  The first question they asked was “where can we see a Puma”.  I related a tale of a wildlife photographer who had photographed a Puma on the steps of the cabin in which they were staying.  That particular scenario was unlikely to repeat itself.  But the next day just after breakfast one of the Che was walking across the lawn and came face to face with a beautiful female Puma that was walking between cabins Congo and Mariposa.  He returned to the lodge to inform the other two guys who immediately headed over to the area where the cat had been seen, cameras in hand.  There was the Puma lying in the shade, completely indifferent to the presence of those trying to capture its image.  Many thanks to Courtney Bennett for allowing us to use the photo.

Puma

Changing Scales

There are several species of anolis lizards to be seen around the grounds of Bosque del Cabo.  Some are literally everywhere, in the buildings, in the gardens and in the forest.  The most common is the Golfo Dulce Anolis, (Norops polylepis) which is small but quite often noticed due to the males extending the bright orange flap of skin under the chin which is known as the dewlap.  A slightly smaller anolis is the Common Anolis, (Norops limifrons).  It may be a  delicate looking lizard but nonetheless is very robust in defending its territory.  The males of this species have a small snow white dewlap.  If a rival male enters its territory it will bob its head up and down furiously and then chase the potential invader away.

Norops limifrons

While the forest trails remain damp then some of the amphibian species can be seen during the day.  The Black and Green Poison Arrow Frogs can still be found in numbers on the trails by the restaurant.  On some of the longer forest trails if you watch down by your feet you will see tiny frogs of which there are several species.  These are the dirt frogs.  There are two commonly found species, Stejneger’s Dirt Frog, (Craugastor stejnegerianus) and the Rough-skinned Dirt Frog, (Craugastor rugosus).

Stejneger's Dirt Frog

The dirt frogs and the related rain frogs are totally terrestrial frogs, they don’t return to the water to reproduce.  The male and female pair up, the female lays around 10-30 large yolk-filled eggs which the male fertilizes.  The whole process of development takes place within the egg so there is no free-swimming tadpole stage.  After 7 or 8 weeks a tiny copy of the adult emerges from the egg.

Something Old, Something New

The clouds of Green Urania Moths continue to increase in number on a daily basis.  Wherever you walk numbers beyond counting take to the air.  At eye level the metallic green bars on the velvet black wings glint and shimmer as they fly from shade to sunlight and back again.  Look up above your head into the sky at tree level and you will see endless black silhouettes lazily drifting to and fro.

The continuous sunshine is bringing more and more butterflies out.  The brightly colored Heliconiids or longwing butterflies gaudily dressed in contrasting primary colors of red, orange and yellow can be seen rapidly fluttering from flower to flower.  The shocking electric blue of the Morphos easily catches the eye as they drift down forest rides and stream beds.  In the adult stage the morphos feeding on fallen and fermenting fruit.  If you should find, for example, a lot of figs that have dropped from the tree tops and are covering the ground, you will invariably find several individuals of Morpho menelaus and Morpho helenor imbibing the liquid fruit cocktail.  If they scatter upon your approach they will merely circle and alight again in the same position.

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The morphos aren’t the only butterfly to indulge in this sylvian liquor.  Some of the satyrs will join them.  The satyrs are normally brown butterflies with wing patterns that create the illusion of dead leaves.  To this effect they fly close to the forest floor which means when they land their image is absorbed into the background and they essentially disappear from in front of the eye.  Two species seen seasonally throughout the year are Pierella luna and Pierella helvina.

Pierella luna

Metamophosis

This year I have decided to take up the data collection again regarding the project I had started some years ago.  For many years I had been monitoring butterfly and amphibian populations and trying to correlate dynamic changes in their abundance against the prevailing weather conditions in an attempt to evaluate if there is a recordable change in the climate how is it affecting the flora and fauna of a tropical lowland seasonal forest.  I started up the counts again last week.  The butterfly count takes place every Wednesday along the course of a 5 kilometer transect which is divided up into 15 habitat sub zones and is conducted once in the morning and again in the afternoon.

After observing and identifying butterflies for so long I know when I am seeing a species I have not previously recorded.  So it was last week.  A small brown object flitted from up in front of me and landed on the underside of a leaf of a low growing plant.  It would, of course, be in the muddiest part of the trail.  I sank to my knees in a in puddle of brown gooey mud and tried to lower the camera to a point where I could see the specimen which fortunately was sitting still.  I took a shot to get the all important image then slowly eased the tripod forward, shuffling along on my knees.  I progressively managed to get closer and closer each time clicking the shutter.  Due to the low aspect, dark conditions and shooting up into the light the best of the images wasn’t that brilliant but at least it gave me something to work with.

Nascus paulliniae

The butterfly could be recognized as a skipper which in themselves can be notoriously difficult to identify.  The Family is Hesperidae and this was a spreadwing skipper of the Subfamily: Pyrginae.  Now comes the difficult part, genus and species.  Not having the butterfly in my hand I have to rely on photographic comparisons in reference books.  There are lots of skippers and so many of them look the same with only minute differences in coloration or markings.  Eventually I settled on the identity of  this one being the Least Scarlet-eye, (Nascus paulliniae).  That is another new record for the lodge.

Another skipper that turned up amongst the more brightly colored butterflies at the Lantana was a Perching Saliana, (Saliana esperi).  These are small delicate looking butterflies with handsome two-tone wings.  The leading front half of the underside of the hindwing has a rich cream color with a diffuse curved border blending into the soft warm brown of the trailing half.

Saliana esperi

Trampled Underfoot

Every day I while walking around the trials or the gardens I make notes of everything I see and hear which leads to the production of the species lists below.  These are all casual observations, there is no scientific methodology as there is with the above project.  You tend to encounter the larger, louder, brighter and more obvious species more than those that don’t advertise themselves as readily.  To that end I went out to photograph some of the plants that we have around the grounds that most people would walk by and not even notice.

When it is fruiting the Monkey-comb Tree, (Apeiba tibourbou) produces the very distinctive spiny globular fruits that many people make comment upon when they find them on the forest floor.  This time of year all you will find are the old spineless shells.  But you know the new fruits will soon be appearing as the trees are bearing flowers.  The petals are a bright yellow with very hairy sepals.

Apeiba tibourbou         Crotalaria retusa         Gallinita

Another yellow flower is that borne by the Gallinita, (Crotalaria retusa). It is very reminiscent of the Lupins found in English country gardens and in fact belongs to the same family: Fabaceae.  This is normally a plant you would find in open sunny situations.  The pods look like small fat peapods.

There are several purple flowered plants in bloom around the grounds at the minute.  Brunfelsia grandiflora is a small shrubby bush native to South America that is planted in gardens throughout Costa Rica.  When they open the flowers are at first purple but these then fade and eventually end up as white.  It flowers all year long which is why it is a garden favorite.

Finally there are the sedges and grasses which are very difficult to identify to species level unless you can find a good key.  The only one that I photographed that was easy happened to be a sedge with distinct white bases to the bracts which give it the name Little Star, (Rhynchospora nervosa).

Unidentified Sedge         Rhynchospora nervosa         Unidentified Sedge

Philip is a biologist, writer and photographer at Bosque del Cabo Rainforest lodge on the Osa Peninsula, Costa Rica.

www.bosquedelcabo.com

 

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 0.48 ins.  Total Weekly Rainfall 3.38 ins

Average Daily Rainfall 12.3 mm.  Total Weekly Rainfall 85.9 mm

Highest Daily Temp 92°F.  Lowest Daily Temp 74°F.

Highest Daily Temp 33.3°C.  Lowest Daily Temp 23.1°C.

Species List for the Week

Mammals

  • Central American Squirrel Monkey
  • Mantled Howler Monkey
  • Spider Monkey
  • White-faced Capuchin Monkeys
  • Common Tent- making Bat
  • Common Opossum
  • Nine-banded Armadillo
  • Agouti
  • Alfaro’s Pygmy Squirrel
  • Northern Raccoon
  • White-nosed Coati
  • Collared Peccary
  • White-lipped Peccary
  • Baird’s Tapir
  • Puma

 

Birds

 

  • Mealy Amazon
  • Red-lored Amazon
  • Scarlet Macaw
  • Great Curassow
  • Roadside Hawk
  • Yellow-headed Caracara
  • Golden-naped Woodpecker
  • Lineated Woodpecker
  • Pale-billed Woodpecker
  • Black-hooded Antshrike
  • Chestnut-backed Antbird
  • Short-billed Pigeon
  • Long-billed Hermit
  • Stripe-throated Hermit
  • Blue-crowned Manakin
  • Red-capped Manakin
  • Fiery-billed Aracari
  • Chestnut-mandibled Toucan
  • Green Honeycreeper
  • Summer Tanager
  • Bright-rumped Atilla
  • Dusky-capped Flycatcher
  • Golden-crowned Spadebill
  • Great Kiskadee
  • Black-throated Trogon
  • Great Tinamou
  • Black Vulture
  • Turkey Vulture

 

Reptiles

 

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

 

Amphibians

 

  • Banana Frog
  • Black and Green Poison Arrow Frog
  • Fitzinger’s Rain Frog
  • Golfo Dulce Poison Arrow Frog
  • Masked Smilisca
  • Marine Toad
  • Milky Frog
  • Red-eyed Green Tree Frog
  • Rough-skinned Dirt Frog
  • Savage’s Thin-fingered Frog
  • Stejneger’s Dirt Frog
  • Tink Frog

 

Butterflies

 

 

  • Adelpha cytherea
  • Anartia fatima
  • Anartia jatrophae
  • Antirrhea philoctetes
  • Archaeoprepona demophon
  • Astraptes fulgerator
  • Chloreuptychia arnaca
  • Cithaeria pireta
  • Dryas iulia
  • Eueides aliphera
  • Eueides lybia
  • Glutophrissa drusilla
  • Heliconius erato
  • Heliconius hecale
  • Heliconius ismenius
  • Heliconius sapo
  • Heraclides cresphontes
  • Hermeuptychia hermes
  • Hypna clytemnestra
  • Junonia evarete
  • Laparus doris
  • Morpho helenor
  • Morpho menelaus
  • Nascus paullinieae
  • Opsiphanes tamarindi
  • Parides erithalion
  • Philaethria dido
  • Phoebis argante
  • Phoebis sennae
  • Pierella helvina
  • Pierella luna
  • Pyrgus oileus
  • Pyrisitia nise
  • Pyrrhogyra crameri
  • Siproeta stelenes
  • Taygetis andromeda

 

Plants

 

  • Anthurium salvinii Flowering and Fruiting
  • Alpinia purpurata Flowering
  • Allamandra cathartica Flowering
  • Apeiba tibourbou Flowering
  • Arachis pintoi Flowering
  • Arundina graminifolia Flowering
  • Attalea rostrata Fruiting
  • Bauhinia variegata Flowering
  • Brassovola nodosa Flowering
  • Brownea macrophylla Flowering
  • Brunfelsia grandiflora Flowering
  • Cascabella thevetia Flowering and Fruiting
  • Citrus spp Fruiting
  • Clusia rosea Flowering and Fruiting
  • Cocos nucifera Flowering and Fruiting
  • Costus osae Flowering
  • Costus speciosus Flowering
  • Couroupita guianensis Fruiting
  • Cresentia alata Flowering and Fruiting
  • Etlingera elatior Flowering
  • Ficus citrifolia Fruiting
  • Ficus insipida Fruiting
  • Hedychium coronarium Flowering
  • Heliconia chartacea Flowering
  • Heliconius clinophylla Flowering and Fruiting
  • Heliconia latispatha Flowering
  • Heliconia longiflora Flowering
  • Heliconia pogonantha Flowering
  • Heliconia psittacorum Flowering
  • Heliconia rostrata Flowering
  • Hibiscus rosa-sinensis Flowering
  • Hymenaea coubaril Fruiting
  • Ixora coccinea Flowering
  • Lantana camara Flowering and Flowering
  • Morinda citrifolia Flowering and Fruiting
  • Musa acuminata Flowering and Fruiting
  • Pandanus sp Fruiting
  • Pleiostachya pruinosa Flowering
  • Plumeria rubra Flowering
  • Rhynchospora nervosa Flowering
  • Spondias mombin Flowering
  • Stachytarpheta sp Flowering
  • Thunbergia erecta Flowering
  • Thunbergia fragrans Flowering
  • Tocoyena pittieri Fruiting
  • Zingiber spectabile Flowering

 

 

Cat Scratch Fever   Leave a comment


Felipe del Bosque Blog August 17th 2013

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Interrupted Halcion Days

This week has followed more or less the same pattern as last week with the area experiencing warm, dry and bright days with a small amount of rain falling over night.  It is just enough to keep  the area damp with a humid atmosphere.  Towards the end of the week more and more began to fall until eventually the days turned grey and the rain persisted for more or less 24 hour periods.  Then just as we thought we might have seen the last of the sun until November, out it came once more.

That is the problem with predicting the weather here.  The national forecast can give you the weather for a wide area but locally the difference between conditions at Bosque del Cabo and only a few miles in either direction can be that of a hot bright sunny day versus an overcast chilly deluge.

Jackpot

Changing the memory cards in the cameras on the Titi Trail is always a prelude to excited anticipation.  Every Saturday the cards are removed, brought back to the lodge, inserted into the laptop and then meticulously scrutinized for whatever was taking place on the trail over the last seven days.  Any humans are immediately eliminated.  Dates and times are recorded for each species so we can build up a data base of activity.

After six weeks we know we are going to get a lot of the same animals stealing the majority of the show.  Camera #1 is place in an area where there is more dense growth around and above the camera.  Here we get a lot of videos featuring Agoutis,(Dasyprocta agouti), during the day and their cousins the Pacas, (Agouti paca), at night.  This is also the area where we find Tamanduas, (Tamandua mexicana), Nine-banded Armadillos, (Dasypus novemcinctus), Common Opossums, (Didelphis marsupialis), Red-tailed Squirrels, (Sciurus granatensis), as well as some Collared Peccaries, (Tayassu tajacu) and the occasional White-lipped Peccary, (Tayassu pecari).

M2E34L105-105R398B310          M2E1L0-0R350B300         M2E35L109-108R398B307

Red-tailed Squirrel         Paca         Collared Peccary

Camera #2 is much closer to the end of the trail. The path is much clearer and the trees above are more open crowned so it tends to be a lot lighter.  Once again we have Agoutis active during the day and Pacas at night.  But this area really does seem to be alive with White-collared Peccaries 24/7.  Peccaries of all ages, in large or small groups or even alone walk every which way on this trail.  If our guest walk this trail they can see for themselves the ground criss-crossed with hoof prints.  However this last week some of our guests saw prints that were not only distinct but huge too.  A big cat had walked this way.  He had left his mark in terms of pugmarks around various parts of the property.

So the memory cards were duly brought back and the video viewing began.  Each video is of 30 seconds duration and if when it commences you can see any of the above animals you can move on.  Sometimes the camera will have been triggered by movement of something not in shot.  If after the time is up and nothing has been seen then the video is deleted.  This week there were 600 videos to sit through.  Another Agouti, another peccary, some more visitors, all very nice but where is the special guest star?

Camera #1 had 300 videos, there was a great deal of animal life but no cat.  Camera #2 had another 300 videos to sift through.  Up to  #272 there were endless videos of some Agoutis but mostly peccaries, a great many of which were of excellent quality. Then came video #273 and BINGO, we hit the jackpot.  A fabulous video of that huge male Puma, (Puma concolor).

M2E40L148-147R412B318

You can see he looking for something.  The resident Bosque female, “Half Tail” is commonly found on that trail.  But he is also in “Peccary Alley” and there is nothing Pumas like to eat more than  tasty little peccaries.  The Spider Monkeys in the trees above are fully aware of his presence, they are giving the incessant and frantic high pitched bark that constitutes the alarm call reserved for large cats.  If ever you hear that sound coming from somewhere in the forest then you know full well what is walking on the forest floor.

The fun did not stop there.  The handsome predator goes walking past camera but the next photo shows him in full flight running back from whence he came.  The chance of snatching a single peccary that may have strayed too far from the herd might be worth the risk of a feline hunter of this size venturing into “Peccary Alley” but it is however a risk.  There are sizeable numbers of peccaries in this area.  They are not going to tolerant of something posing a threat to them or their offspring.  A defensively agitated peccary would be a fearsome adversary at the best of times but multiply that number into 10 or 20 plus and you have a potential life threatening situation on your hands, (paws).

The photo was that of the rear end of the Puma fleeing for its life.  The next video showed why.  Irate peccaries numbering in groups of 3 or 4, one group after another, all charging along the trail, the hair on their bodies bristling, the scent gland exposed, grunting and huffing, but more particular the clacking of the teeth.  The action was fast and furious.  The Puma had no chance, it was so outnumbered.  Once the excitement had died down and the peccaries were satisfied the predator had been shown the true order of world they returned to “Peccary Alley”.  The next few videos show the self-congratulatory individuals of the repulsive warrior force rubbing against one another sharing in an exchange of glandular secretion to bond the herd.

Slow to Show

One group of creatures very noticeable by their absence in these tropical forests are the mollusks. It has  been suggested that the soils in the area have low levels of calcium and therefore lacking in shell building material.  There are no shortage of marine mollusks but then there is no shortage of calcium in the sea.  The land crabs are crustaceans and so have an exoskeleton composed of calcified chitin, a protein, the calcium initially coming from the crabs formative time in the ocean and the subsequent visits to the ocean on the annual reproductive migration.  Many of the snails to be found in these forests are carnivorous, (feeding on other snails), but tend to be small with translucent thin shells.

Tropical Land Snail

This particular mollusk had a very thick large shell.  On thirteen years of walking through the forests of Bosque del Cabo I very rarely see mollusk and this particular species I have only seen live on 2 or 3 occasions. Identifying the species has proved somewhat difficult by I will keep searching.

Black and Yellow Peril

Scattered throughout the gardens of Bosque are several specimens of a plant native to Central America but more familiar to those guests who have visited Hawaii where it is not in fact native and that in fact is Frangipani, (Plumeria rubra).

This week it was noticed that the Frangipani was host to a plague of very large caterpillars munching their way through the leaves.  The caterpillars were so distinct, not only due to their large size, but also the eye-catching velvety black and yellow banding and the vivid red heads.  They were without doubt moth caterpillars whose identities are not always easy to arrive at given the number of species. These ones posed no such problem though, they are the larval stage of the aptly named Frangipani Moth, (Pseudosphinx triota).

Frangipani Sphynx Moth

The caterpillars are so spectacularly large and so brightly colored it would seen as if they were just a meal waiting to be consumed by any bird or lizard.  They also have the habit of lifting the front end of the body and waving the head violently from side to side which is not the  exactly behavior of an animal trying to remain hidden from view.  In point of fact black and yellow is the most visible color combination that exists and animals bearing this most acutely bicolored attire want you to be aware of and shun their presence.  Think of it, bees, wasps, hornets all sport these colors as do many poisonous butterflies, spiders and snakes as well as some species of poison dart frog.  This is aposomatic coloration otherwise known as warning coloration.

Psuedosphynx triota

The caterpillars of The Frangipani Moth before consuming the Plumeria leaves bite through the base of the leaf stalk.  A white milky latex leaks out thereby stemming the flow into the leaf.  But  some of the latex the caterpillar imbibes.  It contains alkaloids which then render the caterpillar distasteful, and cyanogenic glycocides, (cyanide), which render it downright poisonous, to any unsuspecting and naive predator.  Better take notice of that warning coloration.

Banana vs Small-heads

Over the past few blogs I have posted information and photos separately of two small yellow frogs found by the pond this time of year.  Below I have posted two photographs to show the two species in juxtaposition.  The top photo is the Banana Frog, (Dendropsophus ebreccatus), and the bottom photo is the Small-headed Frog, (Dendropsophus microcephalus).  These two individuals were photographed on the same evening very close to each other.  The Banana Frog is handsomely marked with large blotches of yellow and tan.  The Small-headed Frog is more uniformly colored with stripes down the length of the body.  However the two species are not always so distinctly marked which causes the confusion in identity.

Banana Frog

Small-headed Frog

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

Legging It

The past few weeks have been good for spiders which may or may not be good news depending how you feel about these creatures.  Arachnids in general seem to have a polarizing effect on peoples behavior.  In these forests there are a great many spider species and they are not that easy to identify sometimes. There are 2 commonly seen species of bark scorpion and a night it doesn’t take much searching before you will find tailless whip scorpions.

I always find that spiders make a good subject for photography as they are generally stationary, either on the vegetation like the wandering spiders, disguised amongst the flower heads such as the crab spiders or suspended in a web such as the orb spiders.  Macro photography and orb spiders pose a little bit of a problem as the spider is not compact, having eight spread legs and any slight zephyr of wind will move the web in an out of focus including, of course, the spider itself.

I you choose to look it won’t take too long before you start to notice that Bosque is not short of spiders of any sort.  The Golden Orb Spiders, (Nephila clavipes), are perhaps the most noticeable as they make very large webs of bright yellow silk and in areas very close to or in the restaurant and around the cabins.  The spider itself is impressively large.

Golden-orb Spider

You will notice the large and seemingly complex web is made from two types of silk.  The orb is made from a sticky silk.  Outside the forest the silk is much brighter yellow in color.  This attracts in bees so 60% of her diet outside of the forest is bee.  Inside the forest the web is made from a much paler silk which largely remains invisible to a lot of insects.  The orb is being held in place by a non sticky silk which has a tensile quality half that of the finest steel.

Normally with orb spiders when something lands in the web they approach it, wrap it in silk and then deliver the lethal bite.  With the Golden Orb Spiders she approaches the stuck prey, bites first then wraps in silk.  So if she gets something such as a large aggressive ant or wasp trapped in the web she will not take it on in fear of being stung or bitten before she can deliver her kiss of death.

Close inspection may reveal other spiders living in her web.  The female sits in the centre and normally sitting in attendance above her is a small brown spider which is the male.  The male remains small but the female grows huge.  At the periphery of the orb there are tiny little spiders living a precarious existence.  These are kleptoparasites and they live by stealing her silken wrapped food parcels of predigesting prey left dangling from various locations in the web.  The female will tolerate kleptoparasites to a certain degree, they are adapted to living in her web and avoiding her, but once they become too numerous she will depart and build a new web elsewhere.

The female Golden Orb Spider can grow very large and may appear to be very intimidating but in fact she is totally harmless.  If you should be walking the trails and didn’t see the web, go crashing through it and end up with the spider climbing up your arm, it will not harm you, all you need do is pick it up and place it back on a leaf.

Another commonly seen spider that superficially resembles the Golden Orb Spider is the Silver Orb Spider, (Argiope argentatum).  The web is not as complex and is made of the more typical white colored silk familiar to most people.  They are reasonably large spiders and quite often have a telltale feature to the webs in the form of a large white cross.  This is known as a stabilimentum and can be visible for some distance from the web.

Silver-orb Spider

Much smaller in size and quite pretty as far as spiders go is the Orchid Spider, (Leucauge venusta).  They are Long-jawed Orb Weavers, Family: Tetragnathidae, but the spider is tiny and consequently the webs tend to small to, inserted as they are between the leaves of one plant as opposed to the two species above which can have their webs extended between two different plants.  Orchid spiders typically construct two types of web, the more commonly seen orb and another web which is produced as sheets of horizontally placed silken lines.  It was in just such a horizontal web that this Orchid Spider was photographed.

Orchard Spider

Studies of the Orchard Spider has shown that as the females mature they build their web in vertically higher strata of the vegetation.  The lower webs catch more insects but smaller in size than the higher webs which capture fewer insects but larger in size.

Although it spins a network of silk, the Lynx Spider, Family: Oxyopidae, are active daytime hunters.  They have excellent eyesight and use vision as the means by which to detect prey upon which the jump and dispatch before consuming.  This one was found in the Tropical Garden finishing sucking the juices out of its victim, one of the bee species. The opisthosoma, (body), is quite elongated and the legs are long and held in a basket-like grasping fashion.

Lynx Spider

Just walk around the grounds, keep your eyes open and re-adjust your point of focus and a whole different world, an amazing small world, will be revealed.

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 0.69 ins.  Total Weekly Rainfall 4.82 ins

Average Daily Rainfall 17.5 mm.  Total Weekly Rainfall 122.4 mm

Highest Daily Temp 87°F.  Lowest Daily Temp 74°F.

Highest Daily Temp 30.8°C.  Lowest Daily Temp 23.5°C.

Species List for the Week

Mammals

  • Mantled Howler Monkey
  • Spider Monkey
  • Squirrel Monkey
  • White-faced Capuchin Monkey
  • Nine-banded Armadillo
  • Tamandua
  • Common Tent-making Bat
  • Western Red Bat
  • Common Opossum
  • Kinkajou
  • White-nosed Coati
  • Agouti
  • Paca
  • Alfaro’s Pygmy Squirrel
  • Red-tailed Squirrel
  • Underwood’s Pocket Gopher
  • Collared Peccary
  • White-lipped Peccary

Birds

  • Mealy Amazon
  • Orange-chinned Parakeets
  • Red-lored Amazon
  • Scarlet Macaw
  • Gray-necked WoodRail
  • Great Curassow
  • Crested Caracara
  • Rufus Piha
  • Black-hooded Antshrike
  • Chestnut-backed Antbird
  • Short-billed Pigeon
  • Red-Capped Manakin
  • Chestnut-mandibled Toucan
  • Grey-headed Tanager
  • Bright-rumped Atilla
  • Golden-crowned Spadebill
  • Great Kiskadee
  • Great Tinamou
  • Black-throated Trogon
  • Black Vulture
  • Turkey Vulture

Reptiles

  • Barred Ameiva
  • Cat-eyed Snake
  • Central American Coral Snake
  • Central American Smooth Gecko
  • Common Anolis
  • Common Basilisk
  • Clawless Gecko
  • Four-lined Ameiva
  • Golfo Dulce Anolis
  • Litter Snake
  • Mediterranean House Gecko
  • Pug-nosed Anole
  • Salmon-bellied Racer
  • Terciopelo
  • Tropical Bird-eating Snake

Amphibians

  • Banana Frog
  • Black and Green Poison Arrow Frog
  • Golfo Dulce Poison Arrow Frog
  • Fitzinger’s Rain Frog
  • Masked Smilisca
  • Marine Toad
  • Milky Frog
  • Parachuting Red-eyed Green Tree Frog
  • Red-eyed Green Tree Frog
  • Rough-skinned Dirt Frog
  • Savage’s Thin-fingered Frog
  • Small-headed Frog

Butterflies

  • Anartia Fatima
  • Anartia jatrophae
  • Colobura dirce
  • Consul fabius
  • Dryas iulia
  • Eueides aliphera
  • Eueides lybia
  • Glutophrissa drusilla
  • Heliconius erato
  • Heliconius hecale
  • Heliconius ismenius
  • Heliconius sapho
  • Hermeuptychia hermes
  • Mesosemia zonalis
  • Morpho cypris
  • Morpho helenor
  • Morpho menelaus
  • Phoebis sennae
  • Pyrgus oileus
  • Siproeta stelenes

Plants

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

 

 

Deadly Nectar   2 comments


Felipe del Bosque Blog August 12th 2013

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Beach Weather

Weatherwise the past week has been one of sunshine and showers.  The week started wet but as we progressed through the days then the sun became more and more of a feature until finally over the weekend the days were warm and cloudless.  We even managed a few nights without rain. The rain that did fall was not too heavy, just enough to keep things moist and help maintain a flow of water in the creek.

Building Blocks

Over recent years there has been a downturn in the fortunes of the White-nosed Coatis, (Nassua narica).  Their numbers fell precipitously and for a period of several years the individuals that were seen appeared to suffering some sort of disease.  Their fur was sparse and mangy-looking and their demeanor seemed lethargic and lacking their normal inquisitive vitality.  Last year the males, which are solitary, (the name of a single male coati is Coati Mundi), were back sniffing around the grounds in search of whatever they could find.  This year the grounds have been home to roaming bands of gregarious females with a plethora of young in attendance.  It would seem that whatever malady had apparently been affecting them seems to have run its course and now people can see them with relative ease on most of the trails.  The Australian Screw Pines, (Pandanus sp), have been fruiting recently and it is not uncommon to see one the male White-nosed Coatis at the top of the plant ripping the exotic pinecone-looking fruit to pieces.

Screw Pine

Another animal whose numbers appear to be on the increase are the Collared Peccaries, (Tayassu tajacu).  They can be seen on any of the trails but the Titi Trail seems to be their preferred habitat.  Everyone walking the Titi Trail will invariably come into contact with the peccaries.  The Bosque Trail Camera Project has given us the opportunity of observe 24 hours/day, 7 days/week the animal movement at least on that one trail.  Each week when the camera memory is downloaded there is an air of anticipation and excitement as to what will have passed by over the previous week.  Inevitably it is the peccaries, coatis and the Agoutis, (Dasyprocta punctata), that take centre stage in regards to numbers and frequency with some lesser players in the weekly cycle of activity who taking up the supporting roles.

Bingo

We did get our first photo of a Puma, (Puma concolor), this week on the Titi Trail.  It will come as no surprise to regular readers of this blog that it looks like the resident and distinctive female “Half Tail” that walked through the cameras field of vision.  Unfortunately she did so in such a fashion that she triggered the camera as she was passing and so we are missing her head.  For reasons as yet unknown, wildcats have a predilection for the scent “Calvin Klein Obsession for Men”.  To that effect the lodge has purchased a bottle of said perfume to spray in front of the cameras with a view of holding the cats attention for long enough that we get some photos with her head on her shoulders.

M2E39L137-136R408B319         M2E39L137-137R408B319         M2E44L157-157R410B311

M2E1L0-0R350B300         M2E34L106-106R398B311         M2E1L0-0R350B300

M2E1L0-0R350B300         M2E45L35-35R350B300         M2E42L155-155R411B309

Yellow Peril

The rain combined with constant warmth has resulted in a lot of the fungi producing fruiting bodies, mushrooms and toadstools.  Some of the fungal fruiting bodies are so obscure that they resemble something more alien in form than most people are used to seeing  Many times people don’t even know it is a fungus they are looking at.  Then, of course, there are the more familiar parasol-shaped mushrooms that occur in all sizes and colors, many of which are diagnostic features in helping identify the specimen to species level.

Leucocoprinus bernbaunii.

Growing saprophytically on the rotting wood of dead trees it is not uncommon to see the bright yellow granular caps of Leucocoprinus birnbaunii.  It is found throughout tropical regions as well as growing in glasshouses in more temperate areas.  It is quite surprising how many fungi know few boundaries and have a global distribution.  Despite its resemblance to a marzipan cake decoration it is inedible and regarded by some authorities as deadly poisonous.  As with many fungi it is always best to look and not touch.

Leucocoprinus bernbaunii

Banana Song

The rains have continued to fall so the frogs have continued to call.  Last week I posted a photo of a Small-headed Frog, (Dendropsophus micracephalus).  Located in the same area amongst the Water Hyacinth and Water Lettuce as well as all around the back of the pond is almost identical looking Banana Frog, (Dendropsophus ebreccatus).  Morphologically the frogs can be distinguished with close scrutiny.  The Small-headed Frog has a line running along the uppersides of the body while the Banana Frog has a small yellow patch under the eye.  But it is when they are calling that the males can be readily discerned.  The Small-headed Frog has a high pitched “eek eek eek eek” call while the male Banana Frog is more of a longer “neeurk”.

Banana Frog

Both species utilize the same areas to lay their eggs on the upper leaf surfaces of plants floating on the water.  They are small flat masses of leaves numbering about 50 eggs.  The eggs develop until about a week, the egg mass liquidizes and the tadpoles wriggle off into the water to complete their developement.

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 

Crabby Behaviour

Sometimes you witness aberrant animal behavior that allow you to identify that something outside of the norm in happening.  I was passing the patch of Lantana camara near the Bosque pond one day and was idly watching the butterflies that had been summoned by the sun.  I noticed a butterfly that was resting on a flowerhead but at a strange angle and with no wing movement.  Most of the other butterflies were warmed by the solar radiation and were flitting from one flower to the next, stopping only briefly to imbibe some of the nectar.  This individual, a White-banded Fatima, (Anartia fatima), was not.  I knew fron experience what was likely to have happened and luckily had the camera with me so took a closer look.

Thomisidae sp

Sure enough my thoughts were confirmed, a beautiful Crab Spider was positioned at the top of the flower head, its chelicerae, (fangs), buried in the body of the butterfly which must have succumbed to the quick acting venom.  Crab-spiders are placed in the arachnid family: Thomisidae and they are ambush predators that also the masters of disguise.  This one had a body colored in a fashion to match exactly the flower in which it was lurking, bright yellow.  Butterfly vision allows them to see color and movement but they don’t readily determine image.  This unfortunate individual would not have know what hit it until too late.

Crab Spider

The Crab Spider unlike its butterfly prey which has large compound eyes has small simple eyes that only produce sharp vision up close but can discern movement from some distance away.  They don’t build webs but use a silken line to secure them to the blooming flower.  Female Crab Spiders can change their color to a certain degree to match them to the flower.  They sit and wait with large strong front legs outstretched until the prey alights then grab it, hold it tight and inject the venom. The liquefied juices of the prey are sucked out of the puncture wounds.  They attain their name of Crab Spider due to their uncanny ability to walk sideways.

Anartia fatima

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 0.38 ins.  Total Weekly Rainfall 2.63 ins

Average Daily Rainfall 10.4 mm.  Total Weekly Rainfall 82.8 mm

Highest Daily Temp 88°F.  Lowest Daily Temp 74°F.

Highest Daily Temp 31.1°C.  Lowest Daily Temp 23.2°C.

Species List for the Week

Mammals

  • Mantled Howler Monkey
  • Spider Monkey
  • Squirrel Monkey
  • White-faced Capuchin Monkey
  • Nine-banded Armadillo
  • Tamandua
  • Common Tent-making Bat
  • Western Red Bat
  • Northern Raccoon
  • White-nosed Coati
  • Agouti
  • Paca
  • Red-tailed Squirrel
  • Underwood’s Pocket Gopher
  • Collared Peccary
  • White-lipped Peccary

Birds

  • Mealy Amazon
  • Orange-chinned Parakeets
  • Red-lored Amazon
  • Scarlet Macaw
  • Gray-necked WoodRail
  • Great Curassow
  • Crested Caracara
  • Yellow-headed Caracara
  • Rufus Piha
  • Black-hooded Antshrike
  • Chestnut-backed Antbird
  • Short-billed Pigeon
  • Red-Capped Manakin
  • Chestnut-mandibled Toucan
  • Bright-rumped Atilla
  • Golden-crowned Spadebill
  • Great Kiskadee
  • Great Tinamou
  • Black-throated Trogon
  • Black Vulture
  • Turkey Vulture

Reptiles

  • Barred Ameiva
  • Cat-eyed Snake
  • Central American Smooth Gecko
  • Central American Whiptail
  • Common Anolis
  • Common Basilisk
  • Clawless Gecko
  • Four-lined Ameiva
  • Green Iguana
  • Golfo Dulce Anolis
  • Litter Skink
  • Mediterranean House Gecko
  • Mussarana
  • Pentaprion Anolis

Amphibians

  • Banana Frog
  • Black and Green Poison Arrow Frog
  • Golfo Dulce Poison Arrow Frog
  • Fitzinger’s Rain Frog
  • Gladiator Frog
  • Masked Smilisca
  • Marine Toad
  • Milky Frog
  • Parachuting Red-eyed Green Tree Frog
  • Red-eyed Green Tree Frog
  • Savage’s Thin-fingered Frog
  • Small-headed Frog

Butterflies

  • Anartia Fatima
  • Anartia jatrophae
  • Colobura dirce
  • Dryas iulia
  • Glutophrissa drusilla
  • Heliconius erato
  • Heliconius hecale
  • Heliconius ismenius
  • Heliconius sapho
  • Hermeuptychia hermes
  • Mesosemia zonalis
  • Morpho cypris
  • Morpho helenor
  • Morpho menelaus
  • Parides erithalion
  • Phiaethria dido
  • Phoebis sennae

Plants

  • Alamandra  cathartica Flowering
  • Alpinia purpurata Flowering
  • Apeiba tibourbou Fruiting
  • Arachis pintoi Flowering
  • Arundina graminifolia Flowering
  • Attalea rostrata Fruiting
  • Bauhinia variegata Flowering
  • Brosimum utile Fruiting
  • Caryocar costaricense Flowering
  • Cascabella thevetia Flowering and Fruiting
  • Citrus spp  Fruiting
  • Clusia rosea Flowering and Fruiting
  • Clusia vallerii 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
  • 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
  • Inga spp Fruiting
  • Ixora coccinea Flowering
  • Lantana camara Flowering and Flowering
  • Lagerstroemia speciosa Fruiting
  • Morinda citrifolia Fruiting
  • Musa acuminate Flowering and Fruiting
  • Nephelium lappaceum Fruiting
  • Pachira quinata Flowering
  • 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
  • Zammia sp Flowering

 

 

The Trees Have Eyes   2 comments


Felipe del Bosque Blog August 5th 2013

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Don’t Be Fooled

This week has been something of a mixed bag as far as the weather goes.  We are well into the wet season now and as might be expected it has been raining a lot.  The earlier part of the week was quite pleasant with clear skies, bright sunny days and star filled cloudless skies at night.  It seemed as if we had entered that period known locally as the veranillo or little summer.  At this time of year there is a two week period where the rain stops and it dries up.  It is nice time to visit the Pacific coast of Costa Rica as there are not so many visitors as in the main holiday periods, the weather is conducive to exploration and all the vegetation is lush and green.  If this was the veranillo then it was short-lived because the rain came back.  The latter part of the week has experienced the normal weather pattern for this time of year with days overcast and the rain starting early evening then continuing through the night into the early morning.   Those are perfect conditions for wildlife watching and photography, not too hot to go out and no bright contrasting shadows.

Further into the week the rain became more persistent.  Sometimes it rained all day but with no more than a gentle drizzle followed by more heavy precipitation overnight.  Each day is different.  Some days the sun shines, some it doesn’t but whatever the weather, this is a rainforest, everything is adapted to living in constantly rainy conditions and so at least some wildlife of one sort or another should be guaranteed.

The latter part of the week dispelled the notion that we might still be in the veranillo.  There have been some violent thunderstorms producing spectacular light shows in the sky accompanied with a moderate amount of rain.  The good news is that the creeks are running with a substantial flow rate now after a period of being very dry.

Caught In The Act

It has been another eventful week as far as animal sightings go.  On several separate occasions a Puma, (Puma concolor), and Ocelot, (Leopardus pardalis), have been recorded by the trail cameras that have been set up on the Titi Trail.  This is a trail running through secondary growth.  When the ground is wet, which it tends to be for 7 months of the year, you can see quite readily the tracks of any passing animals.  Most tracks are distinctive enough to allow identification of the creature leaving them.

One day tracks from huge male Puma were found on the approach to the suspension bridge.  The cat then appears to have walked over the bridge as the tracks were readily visible in the mud straight off the lodge side of the bridge and were heading in the direction of the restaurant.  The Spider Monkeys, (Ateles geoffroyi), were most certainly aware of the predators presence as they gave off their loud and distinctive alarm call for a long time.  The tracks then left the main trail and headed off through the forest to the lookout point over the Gulf.  Finally they turned and headed down the Creek Trail to the platform of the zip-line and disappeared into the forest.  We know that the female Puma is around so this may have been a transient male searching for a mate.

Puma Print

Bosque has recently started a project whereby the animals can be seen and photographed without anyone needing to be present.  We have set up 2 trail cameras near both the entrance and exit to the Titi Trail.  The cameras have been placed looking down the trail so that if anything is either walking towards or away from the camera we should get a good 30 seconds of footage.  The cameras are motion sensitive and detect infra red.  They use passive infra red LEDs to illuminate the subject without producing any visible light or flash.

Over the past month the cameras have produced some very good photos and video of what is around and also when it is around and what it is doing.  The surprising discovery is just how often the Collared Peccaries, (Tayassu tajacu), are walking the trails.  There seem to be large herds that come back and forth.  It would appear at first that they don’t have a large territory but it may well be there are several distinct herds and unless they are somehow marked in a fashion that would allow their identity to be easy verified then we shall just have to enjoy the sight of them walking by.

One of the cameras has a resident Agouti, (Dasyprocta punctata), that seems to come out and mark the trail every hour so we can expect to get to see an endless number of videos featuring that particular individual.  But he could be living a charmed existence.  We have viewed several videos featuring Ocelots, both day and night, and we know there is a female Puma in the area, she just hasn’t been captured on our cameras yet.  She has, however, featured in a cameo role on a trail camera put up not too far from our own by a young boy from England who was staying at the lodge last weekend.

There have been a number of other animals passing by in greater or lesser numbers: White-nosed Coatis, (Nassua narica), White-lipped Peccary, (Tayassu pecari), Tamanduas, (Tamandua mexicana), Nine-banded Armadillos, (Dasypus novemcinctus), Red-tailed Squirrels, (Sciurus granatensis), Tayras, (Eira barbara), Pacas, (Agouti paca), Common Opossum, (Didelphis marsupialis), Striped Hog-nosed Skunk, (Conepatus semistriatus),  Great  Curassow, (Crax rubra), Great Tinamou, (Tinamus major).  But let’s not forget that this is just the activity on the ground in the vicinity of the cameras, there is also a whole load of other activity going on up and above this level in the trees.

M2E38L130-130R407B315         M2E27L54-54R392B294         M2E28L68-68R393B303

M2E1L0-0R350B300         M2E45L47-47R350B300         M2E45L32-32R350B300

M2E45L32-32R350B300         M2E26L49-49R389B305         M2E1L0-0R350B300

Quadruple Vision

It doesn’t take long once the sun has set to go out and find a great many creatures that have been hiding during the day.  My nightly excursions to the pond this week have been rewarded with sightings of Northern Raccoons, (Procyon lotor), Common Opossums and Nine-banded Armadillos.  While looking at these nocturnal mammals your flashlight may catch the diamond sparkles being reflected from the grass, from the plants, from the tree trunks, everywhere in fact.  Follow the sparkles in and you will be amazed to find it is your light being reflected back at you from the eyes of spiders.  Not only might that revelation be somewhat astounding but also the size of the spiders themselves which may be tiny.  Depending upon the angle at which you catch it, the eyeshine may be silver, blue, green or orange but with the spiders always a sparkle.

Have a care though because not all of the spiders are tiny.  Once the sun sets below the horizon, emerging from safe daytime refuges come the Wandering Spiders, (Cupiennius spp) to set up their positions on the leaf tops or stems.  The Wandering Spiders don’t build webs, they are ambush predators.  They sit and wait.  The legs are covered  in hairs of differing types each of which performs a specific function.  There are tactile hairs which are stiff and are sensitive to touch.  A similar hair, the trichobothrium is super sensitive to the slightest touch as well as eddies in air currents.  There are chemosensory hairs that detect changes is the molecular environment around them.  There are slit-like structures called sensillae near the joints of the legs.  These detect vibration and mechanical movement of the substrate.

Cupiennius_sp

Even though the spider has eight eyes they are not necessarily used for hunting but all that other highly receptive sensory apparatus ensures the spider knows whether there is predator or prey close by.  If it is the latter then it is generally goodbye.  I have seen the Wandering Spiders jump and take moths from the air, I have seen then jump on any small passing invertebrate and I have even seen then eating the Red-eyed Green Tree Frogs, (Agalychnis callidryas), at the pond.

Wandering Spiders are not dangerous, they will not kill you but they will give a nasty little ulcerated bite.  And they can jump so don’t get too close.  But if you leave them alone they won’t bother you.

Small Head and bulging Red Eyes.

The rains always bring out the frogs.  June, July and August is the best time to see frogs at Bosque as it is the main breeding season for many of the species to be found on the grounds.  Year by year there is a flux not only in the species to be found but also in the numbers of those species.  The Red-eyed Green Tree Frogs are present all year, every year but in much greater numbers in the wet season when their distinctive “chuck chuck” calls can be heard everywhere around the pond.  Their egg masses can be seen throughout the year too hanging as they do from the underside of leaves overhanging the water where the diligent female has placed them.

Over the past week there have been male Red-eyed Green Tree Frogs calling from every level of vegetation immediately next to or in the close vicinity of the pond.  The males set up their territories once the sun has set and then call to attract a mate.  The female which is much bigger than the male selects a partner for the evening depending on the quality of his call, the deeper the better.  The frogs pair up and visit the pond about 3 times over the course of the evening.  Each time the female absorbs a lot of water through her skin, fills her bladder and then they amplected couple make their way to a leaf overhanging the water.  The female lays a group of about fifty eggs which the male sitting on her back fertilizes as she expels them.

Agalychnis_callidryas

The eggs hang over the water for about a week until the tadpoles have developed enough to wriggle free and drop into the water where they have to complete the aquatic stage before metamorphose into froglets which leave the water and disappear into the vegetation before emerging some time later as adults.

The Small-headed Frog, (Dendropsophus microcephala), on the other hand may or may not be present each year.  Sometimes there are just one or two calling over the course of a season, last year there were none.  This year on the other hand they have arrived in huge numbers.  I was never sure in the years gone by whether they were being outcompeted by the more commonly seen and heard Banana Frog, (Dendropsophus ebraccatus), which are always here in reasonably large numbers.  This year though they haven’t appeared in such profusion as in years past.  I think it is time to start the frog counts again.

Dendropsophus_microcephalus

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 

Try Again

Several months ago there was a White-necked Jacobin Hummingbird, (Florisuga mellivora), that had nested right by the path on the Zapatero Trail.  The nest contained 2 eggs but one day both the eggs had disappeared and despite the fact the nest was intact the female was nowhere to be seen.  Then, a couple of weeks ago on a different part of the Zapatero Trail, there appeared another nest looking exactly the same and of the same species.  Although the two nest sites seemed somewhat removed, when looking at the map, the trail curves round at 180º so the second nest in actual fact lay very close to but just uphill of the first.  My guess would be that it is the same female.  She might have chosen a different location but not too far away based on the failure of the prior brood.

Florisuga_mellivora

Every day as I walked the Zapatero Trail the female White-necked Jacobin would sit tight until I approached to passing.  She would then take off and wait for me to go further down the trail before returning to the nest.  As the chick grew progressively larger the female would spend less time on the nest.  The chick now filled the nest and one day as I got closer I could see the nest was empty so I hope on this occasion the chick had managed to take to the air and fly off.

Florisuga_mellivora

There is a low success rate for breeding birds.  The forest is full of predators and parasites.  Certainly around the lodge if there is a nest containing either eggs or chicks it doesn’t take long for an individual of the species Tropical Bird-eating Snake, (Pseustes poecilonotus), to pay visit.  These snakes can reach well over 6 feet in length so can eat birds of most sizes here.  Quite often the birds have to raise 2 or 3 clutches a year to have 1 successful set of fledglings.

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 0.67 ins.  Total Weekly Rainfall 4.70 ins

Average Daily Rainfall 16.8 mm.  Total Weekly Rainfall 117.9 mm

Highest Daily Temp 84°F.  Lowest Daily Temp 74°F.

Highest Daily Temp 28.8°C.  Lowest Daily Temp 23.3°C.

Species List for the Week

Mammals

  • Mantled Howler Monkey
  • Spider Monkey
  • White-faced Capuchin Monkey
  • Nine-banded Armadillo
  • Common Opossum
  • Common Tent-making Bat
  • Western Red Bat
  • Northern Raccoon
  • White-nosed Coati
  • Agouti
  • Red-tailed Squirrel
  • Collared Peccary

Birds

  • Mealy Amazon
  • Orange-chinned Parakeet
  • Red-lored Amazon
  • Scarlet Macaw
  • Great Curassow
  • Laughing Falcon
  • Pale-billed Woodpecker
  • Black-hooded Antshrike
  • Chestnut-backed Antbird
  • Short-billed Pigeon
  • Red-capped Manakin
  • Chestnut-mandibled Toucan
  • Golden-crowned Spadebill
  • Great Tinamou
  • Little Tinamou
  • Black-throated Trogon
  • Black Vulture
  • Turkey Vulture

Reptiles

  • Barred Ameiva
  • Cat-eyed Snake
  • Central American Smooth Gecko
  • Central American Whiptail
  • Common Anolis
  • Common Basilisk
  • Clawless Gecko
  • Four-lined Ameiva
  • Golfo Dulce Anolis
  • Green Iguana
  • Litter Skink
  • Mediterranean House Gecko

Amphibians

  • Banana Frog
  • Black and Green Poison Arrow Frog
  • Fitzinger’s Rain Frog
  • Golfo Dulce Poison Arrow Frog
  • Marine Toad
  • Milky Frog
  • Parachuting Red-eyed Green Tree Frog
  • Red-eyed Green Tree Frog
  • Rough-skinned Dirt Frog
  • Savage’s Thin-fingered Frog
  • Small-headed Frog
  • Tink Frog

Butterflies 

  • Anartia Fatima
  • Anartia jatrophae
  • Colobura dirce
  • Dryas iulia
  • Heliconius erato
  • Heliconius ismenius
  • Heliconius sapho
  • Hermeuptychia hermes
  • Mesosemia zonalis
  • Morpho cypris
  • Morpho menelaus
  • Philaethria dido
  • Phoebis sennae
  • Pierella luna

Plants

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

 

 

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

Bosque del Cabo February 2011 Nature Review   2 comments


Felipe del Bosque Blog February 2011 Review

The start of February heralds the drying conditions which will now continue until the end of April.  February into March tend to be the hottest and driest time of year at Bosque.  Now the forest paths start to really harden and crack.

The amphibian life becomes harder to find, but it is still there.  It only ever takes a shower or two and all the frogs come back for at least a short time.  The butterfly numbers on the other hand start to soar.  If you really want to see as many species as possible, February is the month.

I don’t carry the camera with me when I am out on tour, it would be too much of a distraction.  Of course I sometimes regret this if I come across something I haven’t seen before and don’t get the picture, especially if I know it is an unrecorded species.  This happened last February when I had a family out with me.  We found a butterfly I had not previously recorded at Bosque.  Thankfully the family was carrying a camera and recorded the image for me.  I later identified it as a Hairstreak, (Evenus candidus).

Evenus candidus by Jael Polnac

The same family was one of many fortunate people who managed to witness the Bosque Pumas up close and personal.  One morning while out on the trails before breakfast, an almost fully grown male Puma cub lay languidly over a branch in a tree above their heads on the Bosque driveway.  Thanks to Steve Groselose and Jael Polnac for the photos.

Puma by Jael Polnac

February was also the month when a renowned wildlife photographer, Suzi Eszterhas, came to visit Bosque to assess the viability of the lodge as a base from which to run a wildlife photography course.  She must have been travelling with a great deal of luck because on her first morning, just as she was taking early coffee in the restaurant, a female Puma, mother of the above cub, ran across the lawn in pursuit of an Agouti, which made good its escape into the undergrowth.  Suzi was then left with a fairly nonchalant Puma by the cabins completely oblivious to the clicking of her camera.

Read more about Suzi here:

http://www.suzieszterhas.com/

Puma Portait by Suzi Eszterhas

Puma Portait by Suzi Eszterhas

Puma Portait by Suzi Eszterhas

One of the snakes found quite regularly around the grounds and buildings of Bosque are Boa Constrictors.  Wherever there are people there are boas.  The presence of people generally is accompanied by the presence of rodents, the principal food source of the boas.  Young ones can be sometimes found in and around the restaurant area while the larger individuals are more often found in the gardens and on the forest trails.  This was a small one about 3 feet in length that I found near my cabin.

Boa constrictor

Boa constrictor

I had great fun photographing this orb spider.  I had noticed it over the course of several days tucked away in the fold of some leaves.  Every night, once it had become dark, the spider would emerge and make anew its web.  The problem for me was that the web was very close to the ground and whenever I tried to get the tripod set up so low, if it touched a strand of silk, the spider would then disappear into its hiding hole and wait for about an hour before emerging.  Once I had managed to photograph the ventral surface, I then had to repeat the process with the dorsal surface.

Unidentified Spider

Unidentified Spider

To finish this month’s review, a few more photographs from the miscellany of unidentified arthropod files.  Spiders, grasshoppers, caterpillars and skipper butterflies; even if we can’t put a name to them we can still appreciate them, each one for their unique inherent beauty.  For me, that beauty becomes more compelling the closer I look.

Unidentified Spider

Unidentified Skipper

Unidentified Caterpillar

Unidentified Caterpillars

Grasshopper Portrait

Text and Photographs are taken from the forthcoming books:

The Natural History of Bosque del Cabo by Philip Davison

The Small World of Bosque del Cabo

The Colors of Bosque del Cabo

A Children’s Guide to Bosque del Cabo Rainforest Lodge

Temperature and Rainfall

Average M Temp High 94°F.  Average Daily Temp Low 73°F.

Average Daily Rainfall 0.00 ins.  Total Monthly Rainfall 0.10ins

Average Daily Temp High 34.2°C.  Average Daily Temp Low 23.0°C.

Average Daily Rainfall 0.1 mm.  Total Monthly Rainfall 3.0 mm

Bosque del Cabo January 2011 Nature Review   5 comments


Felipe del Bosque Blog January 2011 Review

 

January is the time when we see blue skies almost every day at Bosque del Cabo.  There is still a little rain but for the most part the days are clear and bright.  The forest floors are starting to dry out significantly and small cracks appear as the relatively thin soils lose their moisture content.  The vegetation however continues to retain its post wet season verdant coloration.  Now a lot of the plants are in bloom.  Flying into Puerto Jimenez from San Jose, as you cross over the Osa Peninsula, you will see the multifarious colors of blooms that cannot be seen from the forest floor, at least not until they fall to the ground, at which point they will have faded to a shade less vibrant than in the canopy.

Water Hyacinth Blooming at Pond

This is a good time of the year to see the orchids bloom, but as most of Costa Rica’s orchids are epiphytes growing on the uppermost part of a tree trunks and branches then that is where you will have to be to see them.

The air will be pervaded by various strange odors, some of which you would not always attribute to flowering plants. The January forest air normally hangs heavy with the scent of garlic.  The bright yellow flowers of the Garlic Tree, (Caryocar costaricensis),  are the source of that scent.  Bats are very important pollinators and seed dispersers in a tropical rainforest and rather than being attracted to sweet smells, they prefer those musky smells that are prevalent now, one of which is that garlicky odor that attracts the nectar feeding bats.

The year started for me in a somewhat exciting manner.  On the night of the first, when I returned to my cabin, I found a Bark Scorpion on the wall, low to the ground.  I illuminated the scorpion with the black light and set the camera to a 30 second exposure @ f/16.  The creature did not move at all and so I managed to obtain a nice image of the fluorescence from the exoskeleton that scorpions are famed for when exposed to ultraviolet light.

Centruroides bicolor

As ever beetles are there if you look.  Here is another couple of Longhorn species that I managed to get close up to.  The Hooded Mantis, (Choeradodis sp), makes an excellent photographic subject.  Mantis’s have a habit of turning the head to look at you and the structure of the eye gives the impression, a false one, that the eye has a pupil.  It is similar to the concept of the eyes of a portrait that follow round a room.  Photographed from beneath the insect, the eponymously expanded thorax adds extra character to the picture.

Longhorn Beetle     Longhorn Beetle     Longhorn Beetle

Hooded Mantis

If you take a short walk down to the pond you will see several species of dragonfly.  Each individual has its own perch and if disturbed and then left for a short period of time, it will return.  Just like butterflies, dragonflies are very sensitive to movement, so if you want your photograph, sit still, have the camera set and when it re-alights, just hit the shutter button.

The butterflies have now started to appear in larger numbers.  Only a few yards further down the path from the pond is a patch of Lantana camara, a native bush with orange/yellow flowers that certain species of butterfly such as the longwings find irresistible.  Unlike the dragonflies, which when perched, tend to stay in that position for a while, the butterflies are continually moving.  The best policy here is to choose a blossom and then keep and eye on any approaching individual which may then visit several blooms on the same flower head.  You will need a faster shutter speed and maybe some flash to freeze the motion.  If you are lucky the individual will settle for a second or two but don’t count on it being any more than that.

Adelpha cytherea     Marpesia petreus     Dione juno

Anartia fatima     Lantana camara     Dione juno

The adult butterflies may be easy to locate but in my experience, the larval form, the caterpillars are not.  Many caterpillars are beautifully and subtly colored.  As so many of the caterpillars I do find are those of moths, they remain just that, unidentified moth caterpillars.  There are some though that do stand out quite markedly.  The green caterpillar is that of a very indistinct little brown moth, the Saddleback Moth, (Sibine stimulea).  The caterpillar is found on the undersides of some broad leaved shrubs such as the Calathea.  It is armed with an array of urticating spines, bristles and hairs that cause a severe rash even with the slightest touch.  But even that heavy duty defense can be breached as has been the case with the example of an individual covered in the cocoons of a parasitoid wasp, the larvae of which had been consuming the now deceased caterpillars living flesh before pupating.

Unidentified Moth Caterpillar     Saddleback Moth Caterpillar     Parasitised Saddleback Moth Caterpillar

Saddleback Moth Caterpillar

The forest floor was still damp enough for some of the rainfrogs to be found.  The rain frogs are generally colored in muted tones that blend into the background of the soil and leaf litter hues.  One frog commonly seen on the forest floor of Bosque is the Black and Green Poison Arrow Frog.  Its bright neon green stripes contrast with the black markings rendering it as almost glowing against the dull backdrop of dead leaves.  The very visible coloration is not there to invite potential predators to an easy meal but rather to warn them of the toxic and potentially deadly skin secretion exuded by the amphibian in times of distress.  Frogs make superb photographic subjects if you take your time and move slowly in their vicinity.

Craugastor stejnegerianus     Craugastor rugosus     Dendrobated auratus

Snakes on the other hand require a great deal of patience and luck to photograph.  In the spirit of self preservation snakes don’t want to be where you are, they will make every effort to go move in exactly the opposite direction from your lens.  They move so fluidly and gracefully, not to mention rapidly for an animal with no legs.  The young Northern Cat-eyed Snake, (Leptodeira septentrionalis) featured here eventually settled, snakes exhaust easily and it was only 8 inches long.  The Tropical Bird-eating Snake, (Pseustes poecilinotus), was a different proposition.  They are fast and agile as well as irritably belligerent.  Not everyone is comfortable handling snakes, particularly of an unfamiliar species, but knowing your subject helps with the chances of a good photo.  Again my advice would be slow and fluid movements and get ready to move out of the way should the snake take offence to your close proximity.

Leptodeira septentrionalis     Pseustes poecilinotus     Pseustes poecilinotus

These little Clawless Geckoes abound in the buildings of Bosque but are so small that they are going to be overlooked by most people.  This species is Sphaerodactylus graptolaemus, the name being longer than the creature.  The spine over the eye is one of its distinguishing features.

Sphaerodactylus graptolaemus     Sphaerodactylus graptolaemus     Norops pentaprion

Whereas the Clawless Gecko is hard to find due to its size, the Lichen Anole, (Norops pentaprion), is not so easily spotted because it blends in so well with the color of the tree bark.  It is one of several different Anole species to be found on the grounds of Bosque.  This is one of the larger, more solidly bodied anoles.  It is less inclined to run and will stay put until the last minute before heading up and around the opposite side of the tree to yourself.  When you go around to find it, more often than not, it will have miraculously disappeared.

The grounds of Bosque are a bird lover’s delight.  All manner of avian fauna can be found here.  For those with a particular liking for raptors, there are Peregrine Falcons, Bat Falcons, Barred Forest Falcons, Laughing Falcons, Solitary Eagles, Ornate Hawk Eagles, Black and white Hawk Eagles, Roadside Hawks, White Hawks, Mangrove Black Hawks, Great Black Hawks, Broad-winged Hawks, Yellow-headed Caracaras, Crested Caracaras, Swallow-tailed Kites and Double-toothed Kites, just to name a few.  I don’t normally have the camera set for bird or mammal photos and so these are the exception rather than the rule.

Crested Caracara

Mangrove Black Hawk

Once again, Pumas have been the talking point of Bosque this year.  In January, before the ground started drying, it was still possible to see pug marks in the damp earth.  Never very far from the cat tracks you could find without too much endeavor, at least one or two individuals of the Pumas diet, in this case a Collared Peccary, (Tayassu tajacu).  Collared Peccaries can sometimes be found in herds of up to 20 individuals on the Titi Trail.  The reputation of their dangerous nature is saved for the larger White-lipped Peccary which is very rarely seen on the grounds of Bosque.  The collared cousins do not pose a danger and will move off huffing and puffing if disturbed.

Puma Pug Mark on Titi Trail

Collared Peccary on Titi Trail

Text and Photographs are taken from the forthcoming books:

The Natural History of Bosque del Cabo by Philip Davison

The Small World of Bosque del Cabo

The Colors of Bosque del Cabo

A Children’s Guide to Bosque del Cabo Rainforest Lodge

Temperature and Rainfall

Average M Temp High 86°F.  Average Daily Temp Low 72°F.

Average Daily Rainfall 0.20 ins.  Total Monthly Rainfall 6.22 ins

Average Daily Temp High 30.0°C.  Average Daily Temp Low 22.3°C.

Average Daily Rainfall 5.1 mm.  Total Monthly Rainfall 158.0 mm

 

Bosque del Cabo November 2010 Nature Review   2 comments


Felipe del Bosque Blog Nov 2010 Review

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

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

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

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

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

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

Bark Scorpion (Centruroides limbatus)

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

Bark Scorpion (Centruroides limbatus)

 

 

 

 

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

Silver-orb Spider (Argiope argentatum)

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

Postman (Heliconius erato)

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

Unidentified Skipper

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

Automeris moth sp

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

Unidentified Moth Caterpillar

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

Unidentified Fungus

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

Jews Ear Fungus (Auricularia auricula-judae)

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

Golfo Dulce Anolis Lizard (Norops polylepis)

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

Puma print

Text and Photographs are taken from the forthcoming books:

The Natural History of Bosque del Cabo by Philip Davison

The Small World of Bosque del Cabo

The Colors of Bosque del Cabo

A Children’s Guide to Bosque del Cabo Rainforest Lodge

Temperature and Rainfall

Average M Temp High 84°F.  Average Daily Temp Low 73°F.

Average Daily Rainfall 1.04 ins.  Total Monthly Rainfall 31.18 ins

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

Average Daily Rainfall 25.7 mm.  Total Monthly Rainfall 770.2 mm

 

Stinging Insult Drives You Up A Tree   2 comments


Felipe del Bosque Blog March 27th 2011

Leptophis ahaetulla

Caught in the Rain

This week started with a couple of surprise downpours which occured on two consecutive evenings.  The precipitation was not enough to substantially affect the ground conditions or the plant life, other than perhaps washing away some of the accumulated dust, but it did result in some spontaneous amphibian and crab action, more of which later.

Following the unexpected rainfall, things went back to normal weather-wise, with hot dry and sunny days and clear star filled night skies.

Turning the Tables

This week the Puma sightings continued unabated.  One of Bosque’s barmen, Harry was close to the workshop when a female and cub walked by.  At the time I was lying on the ground about 20 feet away photographing a snake.  The Pumas walked past me but under the cover of the undergrowth, so I was totally unaware of their presence until Harry gestured that they had just passed by.

The next day, early in the morning, some visitors were walking the Titi Trail in search of wildlife.  As they emerged onto the main driveway they were amazed to see “Half Tail”, one of the resident female Pumas running towards them.  They were not the object of her attention, rather what was behind her.  She was being chased by three irate Collared Peccaries, from whom she escaped by rapidly climbing a tree.  The Peccaries agitated by losing their adversary, now stood grunting and puffing at the open jawed visitors.  The peccaries soon tired of the confrontation and trotted off, leaving “Half Tail” with a clear exit to a safe retreat.  She jumped to the ground in front of her awestruck audience, flashed them an indignant glance and left for the forest.  They were fortunate enough to be carrying cameras in hand, took the photographs, and came to breakfast with huge beaming smiles.

In the evening, about an hour after the sun has set, the Jamaican Fruit-eating Bats can still be seen in large numbers feeding from the nectar producing flowers at the top of the Guapinol Tree, but the blooms are rapidly fading and soon this spectacle will be over for yet another year.

Forked Tongues and Lies

This has been a good week for the snakes, or rather a good week for those who like snakes, with several good spots.  Not always everyone’s favorite creature, they still evoke a sense of awe and wonder whenever they are encountered.

One family this week photographed what they thought was a Coral Snake on the trail.  This in itself would not be unusual; there are Coral Snakes at Bosque, two species.  But when they showed me the photographs, they were happy to learn that it was not a Coral Snake that they had seen, it was a Coral Snake mimic, the Coral Crowned Snake, (Tantilla supracincta).  These are normally fossorial, (burrowing), snakes which specialize feeding on centipedes.  Due to their subterranean life style, they are very rarely encountered.

One morning when I had a group out with me on the Zapatero Trail, I found a little brown snake, which although not uncommon, is rarely encountered, the Elegant Litter Snake, (Rhadinea decorata). I popped it into my water bottle so that I could photograph it later in the day.  On arriving back at the bar, there was some commotion around the pool with people photographing something in a small bush.  It could only be one thing, another snake.  This one was a very beautiful Parrot Snake, (Leptophis ahaetulla).

Later that night on a night tour, there was a lot a snake activity, with one Cat-eyed Snake, (Leptodeira septentrionalis), after another moving urgently through the bushes behind the pond.  These were all males intent on finding a female that was obviously releasing sex pheromones announcing her readiness to mate.

Staying with things reptilian, I also recorded a new species of lizard for Bosque del Cabo last week, Norops pentaprion.  This is one of the Anolis lizards, several species of which can be found on the grounds of Bosque, some of them in large numbers.  Norops pentaprion is a stocky Anolis, normally found in the canopy.  It has a grey mottled reticulated skin pattern, with some green on the throat and a cherry red dewlap.

There have been several clutches of Green Iguanas hatch over the past week.  In three or four separate areas in the vicinity of the restaurant, groups of young bright emerald green hatchlings can be seen sunning themselves on the tops of the leaves of low lying vegetation.

Sisterhood of Pain

While out one day, I noticed, not too far from the restaurant, a tree stump with a lot of insect activity.  On closer investigation I found a wasp nest, the exit simply being a hole in the stump.  The wasps were coming and going with frequent industry but I could not see them returning to the nest with anything.

Polybia Wasp

The wasps themselves were one of many species of Polybia wasps which normally construct paper nests occasionally found hanging from the underside of the leaves.  The nests can contain several “Queens” which are reproductive females; all the remaining wasps have reduced reproductive abilities and serve as foragers for food or nest builders.

Polybia Wasp

Polybia wasps are not normally noted for their mild mannered disposition.  They are active predators that catch and chew their prey into smaller pieces.  The sting is used solely for defense and they will defend the nests with a passion.  As the sting is used only for defensive purposes, the venom it contains has evolved to cause the maximum amount of pain to the aggressor.  The wasps will swarm and enthusiastically sting repeatedly, at the same time releasing an alarm pheromone which attracts more belligerent yellow striped defenders to the fray.

Polybia Wasp

I wanted to get some photographs, but the closer I got to the nest, the more I was attracting the attention of agitated investigators which began started flying around my head in ever increasing numbers.  Thankfully, I obtained enough images without provoking any vicious reprisals.

Not Forgetting…..

Still the butterflies continue to impress with sheer numbers of individuals and species.  They are currently joined in their daily carousel of swirling colorful dances by huge numbers of the Green Urania day flying moths, which roost head down on leaves until prompted by your approach into whirling clouds of metallic emerald green.  If you stand still for a few minutes the mini verdant tornado will slowly settle in peaceful repose on the vegetation once more, but ready to resume the vortex at the slightest hint of disturbance.

The briefly damp interlude to the week encouraged the land crabs out of their burrows on nocturnal foraging adventures.  If you were to have ventured into the forest after sundown, you would have been initially greeted by the sound of countless thousands of armored legs scuttling through the dried leaves.  Shine your flashlight in the direction of that sound and you would have found the bright purple and orange form of Halloween Crabs, (Gecarcinus quadratus), urgently trying to escape the beam.

Gecarcinus quadratus

The night of the heaviest rain brought out huge numbers of Costa Rica’s largest tree frog, the Milky Frog, (Trachycephala venulosus),  the males of which were making the most horrendous noise attracting the females to the pond.  The following morning, the pond was quite literally covered in Milky Frog eggs floating on the surface, so the collective choral clamor had obviously served its purpose.

Fruit Salad

Many of the trees that flowered earlier in the dry season have started to produce fruit.  The very arid conditions appear to be making it a very productive year.  Floating around the grounds are small bundles of filamentous threads containing a single dark seed.  These are from the Balsa Trees, one of the few wind dispersed seeds around Bosque.  Another tree that uses air currents to disperse its seeds is the Manglillo which has large flat silvery grey seed pods at the crown.  As they dry, they split releasing oval shaped paper thin and tissue light winged seeds that drift on the faintest of zephyrs.

There are several more substantial fruits to be found around the gardens of Bosque at this moment.  The Cashew is fruiting, bearing the distinct Cashew nuts beneath a swollen meristem which is known as the Cashew Apple or Marañon.  You can eat Cashew Apples but you cannot eat Cashew Nuts; they are very dangerous.  The shell of the nut contains a lot of volatile oils and if you get them on your hands they burn.  Cashews need to be roasted and even then you have to be careful, because if you breathe in the smoke, that can seriously damage your respiratory system.

Another fruit related to Cashew, although not native to Central America, Mango, is also now fruiting.  Cashews and Mangoes belong to the same family of plants as poison oak and poison ivy, so have a care if you suffer any bad reaction to these two plants.

While many of the trees are fruiting this time of year, there are others that have come into bloom and provide a spectacular back drop of color to the multifarious greens of the leafy canopy.  Right now we have floral shows in yellow from the Mayo and Santa Maria Trees standing in contrast to the pastel purples of the Jacarandas.

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

Snakes are notoriously difficult animals to photograph.  Unless they are coiled up and not moving they can prove to be a nightmare to capture in a fashion that you would like.  Being linear creatures, if they at full stretch you have to back off and all you have is a long piece of colorful string.  That leaves you with the option of trying to get the head and neck shots so that at least you can record those salient features that may prove vital in making a valid identification.

So now you are charged with the sometimes Herculean task of getting a snakes profile shots, a situation that does not always suit the subject.  Trying to use small apertures for a better depth of field requires more light, generally flash.  But that causes the background to be dark.  The subject will quite often not want to stay still, so again, faster shutter speeds, so more light therefore even more flash.

Being very close to the snake with a camera mounted on a tripod means that as soon as the snake moves, and they do move a lot and quickly to boot, they are suddenly out of focus.  I try not to use autofocus as I like to get the eyes in focus so there is a great deal of manual twisting of the focus ring.

All of this is by way of saying, to obtain the following shots my patience was being tried to the limit.  But if I had some mega creature flashing intermittent bright lights at me I too might not be so eager to pose.  After much effort I ended up with the following.

Parrot Snake, (Leptophis ahaetulla)

These are exquisitely colored long graceful tree snakes.  As mentioned above, this one was found by the lodge swimming pool.  Being found in trees by water, their main food item are frogs but they will also take small lizards, nestling birds and I have watched them eating frogs eggs too.  They are diurnal snakes.  That beautiful green body and head allows them to blend in perfectly and disappear into the background vegetation.

Leptophis ahaetulla

If the snake feels intimidated, it will open its mouth wide and face its antagonist presenting a huge gape threat display.  It is generally just bluff and even if they do bite the teeth barely break the surface of the skin.

Leptophis ahaetulla

This one would not stay still.  Sometimes it would reach out towards the lens as if it was going to make its escape over the camera and down the tripod leg.  Eventually I managed to get some half decent shots of it.

Leptophis ahaetulla

Elegant Litter Snake, (Rhadinea decorata)

This is a fairly common little snake but because it lives in leaf litter on the forest floor, it is not generally seen.  If they do get caught out in the open on the trails, they normally make haste under the leaves and at that point they will be gone.  The brown coloration makes them indistinct from the forest soils.  But once you get close up you can see why they have been given the moniker, Elegant Litter Snake.  The brown body now takes on shades of red, with two white stripes along the body, white spots behind the eyes and a gorgeous deep flame orange ventral side.

Rhadinea decorata

They are another diurnal snake that specializes feeding on Rain Frogs along with their terrestrial eggs on the forest floor.

 

Rhadinea decorata

 

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 94°F.  Average Daily Temp Low 75°F.

Average Daily Rainfall 0.13 ins.  Total Weekly Rainfall 0.9 ins

Average Daily Temp High 34.1 °C.  Average Daily Temp Low 23.6 °C.

Average Daily Rainfall 3.3 mm.  Total Weekly Rainfall 22.9 mm

Species List for the Week

Mammals

  • Howler Monkey
  • Spider Monkey
  • Capuchin Monkey
  • Jamaican Fruit-eating Bats
  • White-nosed Coati
  • Red-tailed Squirrel
  • Agouti
  • Collared Peccaries
  • Puma
  • Virginia Opossum

 

Birds

 

  • Red-lored Amazon
  • Scarlet Macaw
  • Great Currasow
  • Grey-necked Woodrail
  • Marbled Wood Quail
  • Crested Caracara
  • Laughing Falcon
  • Roadside Hawk
  • Crested Owl
  • Rufus Piha
  • Tawney-winged Woodcreeper
  • Wedge-billed Woodcreeper
  • Chestnut-backed Antbirds
  • Black-hooded Antshrike
  • Common Paureque
  • Short-billed Pigeon
  • Long-billed Hermit
  • Golden-crowned Spadebill
  • Blue-crowned Manakin
  • Red-capped Manakin
  • Chestnut-mandibled Toucan
  • Grey-headed Tanager
  • Bright-rumped Atilla
  • Great Crested Flycatcher
  • Great Kiskadee
  • Masked Tityra
  • Riverside Wren
  • Great Tinamou
  • Black-throated Trogon
  • Black Vulture
  • Turkey Vulture

 

Reptiles

 

  • Basilisk
  • Barred Ameiva
  • Four-lined Ameiva
  • Central American Whiptail
  • Green Iguana
  • Golfo Dulce Anolis
  • Central American Smooth Gecko
  • Clawless Gecko
  • Mediterranean House Gecko
  • Barred Forest Racer
  • Boa Constrictor
  • Cat-eyed Snake
  • Elegant Litter Snake
  • Parrot Snake
  • Teriopelo
  • Tropical Bird-eating Snake

 

Amphibians

 

  • Marine Toad
  • Red-eyed Green Tree Frog
  • Masked Smilisca
  • Smokey Jungle Frog
  • Milky Frog
  • Black and Green Poison Arrow Frog
  • Fitzinger’s Rain Frog
  • Rough-skinned Dirt Frog

 

Butterflies

 

  • Adelpha boeotia
  • Adelpha cytherea
  • Anartia Fatima
  • Anartia jatrophae
  • Anthanassa ardys
  • Arawacus lincoides
  • Archaeoprepona demophon
  • Astraptes fulgerator
  • Callicore lyca
  • Chioides albofasciata
  • Colobura dirce
  • Consul fabius
  • Dione juno
  • Dryas iulia
  • Eueides aliphera
  • Eueides lybia
  • Eurema albula
  • Eurema daira
  • Glutophrissa Drusilla
  • Heliconius cydno
  • Heliconius erato
  • Heliconius hecale
  • Heliconius ismenius
  • Heliconius sapho
  • Heraclides cresphontes
  • Hermeuptychia hermes
  • Hyalyris excelsa
  • Junonia everete
  • Laparus doris
  • Marpesia alcibiades
  • Marpesia berania
  • Marpesia furcula
  • Mechanitis polymnia
  • Melinaea scylax
  • Morpho helenor
  • Morpho Menelaus
  • Morpho theseus
  • Pareuptychia ocirrhoe
  • Philaethria dido
  • Phoebis agarithe
  • Phoebis argante
  • Phoebis sennae
  • Pierella luna
  • Pyrisitia nise
  • Pyrrhogyra crameri
  • Quadrus cerialis
  • Tigridia acesta
  • Urbanus proteus
  • Urbanus simplicius
  • Urbanus teleus

Plants

 

  • Almendra Fruiting
  • Balsa Fruiting
  • Cashew Flowering and Fruiting
  • Cercropia fruiting
  • Calabash flowering and fruiting
  • Monkey Comb Tree fruiting
  • Black Alligator Tree Fruiting
  • Garlic Tree Fruiting
  • Candlestick Plant Flowering.
  • Cannonball Tree Fruiting
  • Figs Fruiting
  • Heisteria fruiting
  • Jacaranda Flowering
  • May Tree Flowering
  • Manglillo Fruiting
  • Passion Vine Flowering
  • Pochote Tree Flowering
  • Psychotria Fruiting
  • Rubber Tree Flowering and Fruiting
  • Stinky Toe Flowering and Fruiting
  • Guanacaste Tree Fruiting
  • Santa Maria Flowering
  • Astrocaryum Palm Fruiting
  • Schelea Palm Fruiting
  • Ylang ylang Flowering

 

 

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