Archive for the ‘Queen’s Crape Myrtle’ Tag

Unseen Wet and Dry Daggers   2 comments


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

Dry Days, Wet Nights

The rainy season has arrived.  The initial rains were not too heavy but persistent.  Last week there was more or less constant rain all day, but light rain.  This week there have been sunny days with the rain falling at night.  For the past four days there has been only one rainy day and the night time skies have been clear and star filled.

The vegetation looks refreshed having been washed of a dry season’s worth of accumulated dust and dirt.  Verdant green is now the predominant color.  A lot of the trees are flowering and fruiting which is good news for those nectar or fruiting eating creatures.  Many of the non-native tropical ornamental plants found growing around the grounds have been planted for the beautiful floral and foliage displays they produce.  At the moment the Queen’s Crepe Myrtle, (Lagerstroemia speciosa), have the low growing crowns covered in deep lilac blooms.  That produces a sumptuous contrast to the deep green background of the forest.

Queen's Crepe Myrtle. Lythraceae. Osa Peninsula. Costa Rica.

Queen’s Crepe Myrtle, (Lagerstroemia speciosa)

The frogs have turned up at the breeding pond in reasonably large numbers.  Whereas in the dry season there are only one or two individuals of one or two species, we are now experiencing the presence of various species that have been noticeable by their absence over the past five months.  As it is only the beginning of the wet season, the intermittent dry days mixed with wet days cause nightly fluctuations in the numbers seen.  Given a few weeks then the amphibian breeding season will really take off and we will start to see large numbers of frog egg masses around the ponds.

Of course, when the number of frogs and frogs eggs increases so will the number of predators that prey upon them.  The number of Cat-eyed Snakes, (Leptodeira septentrionalis), seen around the pond at night has increased many fold.  Last week I found a small Terciopelo, (Bothrops asper), hunting small frogs in the vegetation at the pond edge.  It won’t be long before the large Terciopelos arrive to feed on the larger frogs, more particularly the giant Savage’s Thin-fingered Frog, (Leptodactylus savagei).

There were several Puma, (Puma concolor), and Ocelots, (Leopardis pardalis) caught walking past the trail cameras over the past week.  The cameras allow the lodge to monitor the presence of a great deal of wildlife, mammals more particularly, the roam the trails in the absence of people.

Colored Shelving

Frogs are not the only organism to have been stimulated into action.  The damp conditions have resulted in many fungi mycelia, which ramify throughout the soil and decaying vegetation, to produce fruiting bodies.  Most of them resemble the mushrooms and toadstools that we are familiar with at higher latitudes.  They commonly proliferate through the forests and fields with the oncome of autumn.  Here in the constantly damp conditions of a tropical rain forest you can find fungal fruiting bodies all year round, but at this time of year the sudden increase in humidity encourages a temporary reproductive burst.

Agaricales. Fungi. Costa Rica. Philip Davison

Unidentified Agaric Mushroom

Bosque del Cabo Rain Forest Lodge.

Weird and Wonderful Fungal Fruiting Bodies

In Europe and North America there is a great deal of readily available reference material to help identify mushrooms.  Here that is not the case.  But you don’t have to always put a name to something to enjoy the beauty of its color and form.  As they are relatively immobile they also make good photographic subjects.

Leucocoprinus sp

Leucocoprinus sp

Fungi are one of the vitally important constituents of the forest community and help the rain forest to function in the manner that it does.  The constant warm, damp conditions under the canopy provide an excellent incubator for fungal and bacterial action.  Although by no means are these the only two agents of decay and decomposition they are however two vitally important parts of that process.  Dead organic material rots very quickly, leaves as quickly as two weeks and fallen trees sometimes within two years.  The nutrients resulting from this rapid breakdown enter the soil but do not stay for long in the soil.  They are taken up by the vegetation almost as fast as they are produced.  Rain forest soils, apart from the top inch or so, do tend to be very nutrient poor, most the of the nutrients are above ground, locked up as part of the physical makeup of the plant life.

Fungus. Bosque del Cabo

Unidentified Fungal Fruiting Body

Many plants are rather poor at extracting nutrients from the soil.  To that affect the plant roots have a relationship with a fungal mycelium.  Quite often these relationships are specific, a certain plant species only having a relationship with its own species of fungus.  The fungal mycelium is very efficient at taking nutrients from the ground, a certain percentage of which are passed through the tree roots into the plant.  Fungi on the other hand are not photosynthetic and receive sugars produced by the plants in the reverse direction.

Sulfur shelf Fungus. Bosque del Cabo.

Sulfur Shelf Fungus, (Laetiporus sulphureus)

Not all fungi produce the familiar mushroom.  Take a close look and you will see a huge variety of other forms in the forest such as bracket fungi, cup fungi or cauliflower fungi.  They are all fascinating, not only in their life histories, but also in terms of their aesthetic qualities.

Bracket Fungus. Philip Davison.

Mysterious Bracket Fungus

Once Seen, Not Forgotten

There are some butterflies that I see throughout the year.  There are some butterflies that are seasonal.  Then there are those butterflies I only see occasionally.  Finally there are butterflies I have only ever seen once and then never again.  Many butterflies spend their adult days at the top of the canopy.  Forest edges are always a good location to find butterflies as are nectar plants in gardens.  Some butterflies are secretive and won’t venture out into the open, preferring dark secluded, undisturbed areas within the forest.

Last week I managed to find two of the occasionally seen butterflies on the same day and in the less visited areas of the forest.  Over the course of 17 years living in the area I have only found one or two individuals of these species.  I have not been able to take a decent photograph of either of them.  Last week that changed.

While walking along a forest trail, I noticed a small butterfly flitting back and forth from one plant to the next, always landing beneath the leaf, stopping for a few seconds and then taking flight once more.  I knew I had no chance of taking a photo if it continued in this manner.  I stayed still, camera ready in hand, and waited to see if it would rest for a longer period of time.  My patience was rewarded as it flew beneath a leaf in front of me and stopped.  I slowly lifted the camera to my eye and hoped that I would not disturb it.  My luck was in and it remained in position despite the flash firing so I finally managed to take a reasonable picture.

Callicore lyca. Biblidinae. Nymphalidae. Lepidoptera.

Aegina Numberwing, (Callicore lyca)

This butterfly is an Aegina Numberwing, (Callicore lyca).  The genus Callicore is restricted to Mexico, down through Central America and into South America.  They are generally found in the upper layers of the forest, typically in the subcanopy, and rarely venture down to ground level, only doing so to feed on rotten fruit.  I just happened to be in the right place at the right time to find this individual making a sortie to low levels.

Not so far along the trail a bright blue creature with a texture resembling velvet flashed past me.  By the time I noticed and looked to see what it might be, it had gone.  I continued walking and it seemed that this was to be a lucky day.  The creature, which I could now see as a butterfly, had crossed in front of me and flew over the top of low growing vegetation just a foot or so above the ground.  Once again it would not settle so I stood and watched its wandering path.  Unlike the last species, this one was briefly landing on top of the leaves.  Finally it stopped for a few moments not too far from where I was standing and I managed to capture the image.

Theorema eumenia. Theclinae. Lycaenidae. Lepidoptera.

Pale-tipped Cycadian, (Theorema eumenia)

The butterfly was a beautiful Pale-tipped Cycadian, (Theorema eumenia).  The cycadians belong in the family: Lycaenidae along with the hairstreaks.  They tend to be small butterflies and are quite often overlooked.  Had it not been for the sumptuous blue of the upper wing surfaces then I may have missed this individual.  When perched the wings are closed and the undersurface is black with pale v-shaped spots, shot through here and there with metallic blue.

One final butterfly that I managed to take a photograph of was one of the daggerwings.  This time I was out in the open in bright sunny conditions.  The gravel path was still damp from the previous night’s rain and in several spots there were rapidly drying puddles.  Many butterflies like to visit damp ground to engage in mudpuddling where they imbibe nutrient rich moisture.  That does not happen much in this area but one group of butterflies I do see indulging themselves in this way are the daggerwings of the genus Marpesia.

Marpesia alcibiades. Biblidinae. Nymphalidae. Lepidoptera.

Alcibiades Daggerwing, (Maresia alcibiades)

There are six species of Marpesia I find here, some more frequently than others.  The name reveals the distinctive feature, the tip of the hindwing has a long drawn out dagger-like extension.  Daggerwings are found in North, Central and South America as well as the Caribbean Islands.  This species is Marpesia alcibiades.  It is rarely recorded in the wild but that may be due to the fact that it is easily mistaken for several other similar looking species.  Here I found myself faced with a choice of five individuals at my feet.  I ended up on my belly lying prone on the ground to get the shot.  That fills another blank space in the collection.

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

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Here Comes the Rain Again   1 comment


Felipe del Bosque Blog June 2nd 2013

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Water World

Now the rains have started and with a ferocity of a force that has been pent up for 5 months.  Over the past few weeks there were occasional showers which had   brought some light relief to the parched ground and thirsty plants but the small amount of precipitation was not really making an impact on the soil at depth.  Over recent days the skies have been dark and heavy with brooding clouds always threatening to douse the area in rain.  The threats eventually changed to action, the clouds broke and down came the deluge accompanied by bright streaks of lightning that lit up the black night sky.  Thunder was rumbling around for hours on end in the immediate vicinity and for days over a wider area as a portent of what was about to happen.

Lush Forest

The first real week of rain produced over 20 inches.  The upper layers of the soil softened after months of cracking up in dry conditions resulting in sticky mud adhering to the shoes of walkers on the trail.  The mystifying annual drying of the creek occurred as it does each year with the onset of the rains.  Those initial downpours are followed by an immediate disappearance of water from the water channels which had already been low in volume to start with.  The heavy rains were followed by lighter but more constant rain.  Now the sunny days were few and far between.  After a week of these conditions the creek began to flow once more.  But two days without rain would see it run dry once again.  It will take several more weeks before the water issues from the springs in sufficient quantity to see the creek water levels rise.

Towards the end of the week the rains lessened in both duration and volume.  We finally had a weekend with the sun shining brightly and a clear blue sky.  Let’s see how long that lasts.

Special Cases

There was one Puma, (Puma concolor), sighting last week.  A couple walking on the Creek Trail were initially concerned by the fact that they had stumbled upon a female Puma sleeping in the middle of the path.  Her presence froze them to the spot as they tried to recall the protocol for situations such as these.  There was no cause for alarm. The cat roused, lazily got to its feet and, although somewhat disturbingly for them, walked towards them, then turned and headed of unhurriedly into the forest.  The guests did manage to get a reasonable picture given their preoccupation with considering a hasty get away.  The picture revealed that the Puma was “Half-tail” a female that has been resident here for many years and raised several sets of cubs with the Bosque forests.

It was also nice to see this week the at least one of the White-lipped Peccaries, (Tayassu pecari), is walking around the grounds of Bosque.  It passed in front of the restaurant without stopping one day not long after lunchtime.  It did not seem too happy to be out in the open and made its way very quickly back into the forest by Cabina Mariposa.

There are a couple of Three-toed Sloths, (Bradypus variegatus), that can be seen in several localities near the restaurant.  One female seems to have her territory in and around the mango orchard.  She can regularly be seen in the mango trees or in one of a variety of different taller trees in the same area.  Yet another female can be seen at the tops of the trees on the Creek Trail immediately behind the bar.  The Three-toed Sloth normally only has a territory consisting of about 45 individual trees so they never venture too far from any one spot.  The trick is to find them and that is not always easy.  But if one is spotted then everyone at the lodge will be talking about it and if the conversation is taking place not long after the sighting then the chances are it will still be there for all to see.

Three-toed Sloth

Loopy for Fruit

One question frequently asked by guests to the lodge is whether the animal life shuns the rain and takes shelter while it is raining.  This is a rain forest and the animal life here is adapted to living in these conditions.  If they were to hide from the rain, which is what is does here 7 months of the year, then that would be unfeasibly long sleep.

Everything is out and about as normal, the rain has by no means hindered the animal activity.  The vegetation is drawing up the water and the now washed leaves cleansed of the layer of dust and dirt that accumulated during the dry season are looking vibrant, lush and green.

At the moment there is a lot of Spider Monkey, (Ateles geoffroyi), activity.  Troupes can be seen swinging through the tree tops, noisily making their way to some tree laden with fruit.  Several species of Fig, (Ficus spp), are currently providing an abundant crop for a variety of animal life on which to gorge themselves.

There are a number of Queen’s Crape Myrtle Trees, (Lagerstroemia speciosa), scattered throughout the garden areas of Bosque.  These are currently in flower as well as producing fruit which the Toucans appear to be enjoying.  Not only are the myrtles fruiting in front of the restaurant but there are a variety of different palm species that are also attracting the attention of the toucans.

Toucans are such distinctive birds so it is very unlikely that anyone visiting Bosque would not know what they were looking at even though they may not have seen one in the wild.  For many years the Guinness breweries featured them as part of their promotional advertising.  Children are more likely to have seen them consuming Fruit Loops.  Although they don’t have a fondness for breakfast cereal they most certainly are fruit eaters.  The only species of toucan to be found on the Osa Peninsula and consequently at Bosque del Cabo is the Chestnut-Mandibled Toucan, (Ramphastos swainsonii). That characteristic long bill is an adaptation allowing the toucan to reach its food.  Fruit normally occurs at the end of branches which won’t support the weight of a large heavy bird such as the toucan.  Despite its appearance the bill is hollow and very light.  This allows the toucan to sit on a part of the branch that will support its weight while reaching out to pluck the fruit.  Toucans are gulpers; they toss the fruit in the air and swallow it without masticating.  They do occasionally supplement their diet with protein by taking an assortment of small animals including rodents, reptiles and other birds’ eggs and chicks.  This occurs more frequently during the nesting season, (January-June), when the rapidly growing toucan chicks need protein in order to develop.  This time of year they can be seen in small flocks which may become periodically noisy with a loud call that resembles a rusty pulley that needs a drop of oil.

The Queens Crape Myrtle is a decorative non-native ornamental that graces the gardens of many properties in Costa Rica.  The tree originates in the Old World tropics of South East Asia being found as far south as Northern Australia. The name refers to the crumpled purple petals which resemble crape paper.  Within the gardens of Bosque del Cabo the Queen’s Crape Myrtle poses no problems but in open wet pastures it can become invasive.

Queen's Crape Myrtle Flower

Queen's Crape Myrtle Fruit

This individual toucan, one of a noisy flock, that I photographed from below was not entirely sure of my intentions and kept turning its head one way and then the other as it cast a watchful eye over me.  It did not seem too disturbed as it carried on preening itself for a while before taking to the air and flying off to a neighboring tree.

Chestnut-mandibled Toucan

One of the large Costa Rican Royal Palms, (Attalea rostrata), is both flowering and fruiting in front of the restaurant at the moment.  The inflorescence is a huge bract bearing countless thousands of tiny yellow flowers.  These are hugely attractive to many insects which come in massive numbers to feed on the short term nectar supply.  There is the perpetual buzz of bees in particular around the flowering bract.  As the flowers are pollinated the spent blossom falls to the ground producing a small floral carpet around the base of the palm.

Attalea rostrata

The fruit that subsequently develop are large woody “nuts”.  As the palm nuts ripen they draw large numbers of Spider Monkeys and Capuchin Monkeys, (Cebus capucinus).  A good many of the fruits fall to the ground where there is another set of diners waiting to feed on the banquet dropping from above.  The large caviomorph rodents commonly seen around the grounds, the Agouti, (Dasyproctus punctata), gather around the base of the trees.  Turkey Vultures, (Cathartes aura), which are normally associated with a diet of carrion also congregate to feed on the fallen fruit.

Agouti

Turkey Vulture

Keep Your Head

There are two species of caracara the inhabit the grounds of Bosque del Cabo and it is normally fairly easy to see them both in the vicinity of the restaurant.   The Yellow Headed Caracara, (Milvago chimachima), has been a Bosque resident for many years now.  They breed readily and the adults are quite often seen with vociferous demanding youngsters constantly screeching at them for food.  The young birds are dependent upon the adults for several months until they acquire the relevant skills needed to hunt for themselves.  The adults can be as noisy as their offspring producing very high pitched screeches.

Yellow-headed Caracaras have only been recorded in Costa Rica from 1973.  They are birds of open pasture and scrubland.  Progressively as the trees were felled in Costa Rica and the forests were turned into grazing lands the Yellow-headed Caracaras found their way north from neighboring Panama.

Yellow-headed Caracara

This individual caught my eye when it was determined to catch something in the grass. I moved in as close as I could without disturbing it although it was aware of my presence and kept an eye on me, its attention was more focused on a Halloween Crab, (Gecarcinus quadratus), trying to escape being eaten.  This was a young bird still with the last remnants of juvenile plumage.  The bird would grab the crustacean in its bill and throw it a short distance, not exactly sure how to avoid the pincers.  It had not quite perfected its technique, which would come with time.

The Crested Caracara, (Caracara cherriway), is another falcon, slightly larger than its yellow-headed cousin, that is normally found in more open areas.  Some 3 or 4 years ago we had several pairs make their way into the grounds of Bosque del Cabo from the pastures a couple of miles down the road.  Conditions here obviously suited them because they have been here ever since.  They can be found most days strutting around on the lawns in front of the rest looking for grubs or whatever morsel may have discarded by another predator.  Both species of caracara are carrion feeders but would defer to the much larger vultures of which there are many individuals onsite.

Crested Caracara

The caracaras belong to the Falcon Family: Falconidae.  There is another raptor, the Roadside Hawk, (Buteo magnirostris), from the Hawk Family: Accipitridae, that is very common around the grounds of Bosque del Cabo.  They can be seen sitting on the lower branches of the trees in the more open garden areas waiting for a meal to walk by which is generally one of the smaller ground living lizards, (Ameiva spp).  Although the Roadside Hawk has pleasing good looks with its grey head and shoulders, brown barred chest and vivid yellow eyes, cere and legs, it still has that less than melodious shriek of a call that is typical of many raptors.

Roadside Hawk

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

Bursting into Life

The rains have brought about an explosion in amphibian numbers, both individuals and species.  A trip to the pond at night will reward the visitor with a spectacular frog show.  Covering the Water Lettuce and Water Hyacinth are large numbers of calling male Banana Frogs, (Dendropsophus ebreccata).  These small yellow frogs with mottled skin resembling the skin of a banana call with a high pitched “eek, eek”.  The larger females will join the males selecting a mate on the quality of his call.  They lay their eggs on the vegetation floating on the water surface where they develop for 7 or 8 days before the now formed tadpoles wriggle free to complete their development in the water.

Banana Frog

Slightly higher you can hear the constant “chuck chuck” of the Red-eyed Green Tree Frogs, (Agalychnis callidryas).  It doesn’t take much searching before you will locate the gaudily colored calling male that is the darling of the Costa Rica advertisers.  Just as with the Banana Frogs the larger females seek out the calling males, they pair up and then visit the pond about three times over the course of the evening.  Each visit the female absorbs a lot of water through her skin, fills her bladder and then they go to the underside of a leaf overhanging the pond where she will lay a clutch of about 50 eggs.  Once again the tadpoles develop over the course of a week, the egg mass liquidizes and they slip into the water to complete their development.

A few weeks ago, along with the first rains, the Milky Frogs, (Trachycephala venulosa), arrived at the pond in phenomenal numbers.  This explosive breeding episode happened intermittently for several weeks and then they disappeared to where they had come.  Now there are one or two males seen in the higher levels of the plants growing around the pond but now sitting in quiet contemplation of all the other activity taking place around them.

Milky Frog

The Marine Toads, (Chuanus marinus), which are normally found everywhere around the grounds have started to congregate around the pond too.  The males, the mating call of which sounds like a mini jack hammer, sit around the pond edge at night waiting for the much larger females to turn up.  The Marine Toads pair up and lay their long strings of eggs in the water.  Marine Toads are the largest of the Costa Rican amphibians with the females sometimes attaining 3 lbs in weight.

Marine Toad

The second largest amphibians in Costa Rica are Savage’s Thin-fingered Frog, (Leptodactylus savagei).  These are handsome mottled smoky colored frogs that can also be found in large numbers around the pond at night.  The males, which are easily distinguished from the females by their huge front legs, start to call with an incessant “whoop whoop”.  The females respond to the calls and as they approach are grabbed by the males in a strong embrace until they are ready to spawn.  When the female spawns, the male fertilizes the egg mass, then using his powerful and muscular hind legs, whips the eggs up with mucus from his body and water from the pond into a white froth.  Once again the tadpoles develop in the froth for about a week, the froth then dissipates and the tadpoles exit this foam nest into the water to complete their development.

From the largest to possibly one of the smallest and paradoxically loudest of the frogs at Bosque del Cabo, the Tink Frog, (Diaspora diastema).  These tiny frogs, less than an inch in length are noticeable by their absence for 5 months of the dry season.  Like so many other amphibians, once the rains arrive they appear as if by magic in huge numbers.  With the Tink Frogs you are very rarely going to see them but you most certainly will hear them.  At the onset of the wet season the male Tink Frogs call producing the characteristic ping, not unlike the chime of a small metal bell, which can be heard all night every night for 7 months of the year.  Quite often the males call from within a hollow trunk or branch so that when you approach the sound and are quite sure you are looking directly at its origin, you can’t see what is making it because it is hidden within.

Where there is a short term abundant supply of food then it won’t take long for the predators to arrive.  Some of the major predators on frogs and their eggs are snakes.  All year round you will find Cat-eyed Snakes, (Leptodeira septentrionalis), somewhere around the pond at night.  Their location depends upon the time of year.  Now that the frogs are out in force engaged in a reproductive frenzy there is plenty free protein going in the form of frogs eggs and it is this easy food source that the Cat-eyed Snakes relish and feed upon.  They can sometimes be seen in anything up to 50 in number cruising over the leaves with their heads beneath searching for the eggs of the Red-eyed Green Tree Frog.  Lower down they will be searching for the Banana Frog eggs but should an unwary frog present itself as a target the snakes will take that too.

Cat-eyed Snake

During the dry season the Cat-eyed Snakes will be more commonly found around the pond edge.  Even though the main period of frog reproduction takes place throughout June, July and August there will always be 1 or 2 breeding outside of the season.  There is less of a supply but the snakes, now also lower in numbers, sit and pick of the froglets as they emerge from the water.

Much larger in size and much more of a concern are the Terciopelos, (Bothrops asper).  These nocturnal pit vipers are found in the dry season down by the creeks at night long after the sun has set.  This time of year they can be seen sitting by the pond where they will envenomate and consume the larger amphibians.  Although they are not always seen, there are plenty of rodents and small opossums by the pond which also provide a perfect meal for these beautiful but deadly predators.

Terciopelo

Last year seems to have been a particularly successful breeding year for the Black and Green Poison Arrow Frogs (Dendrobates auratus).  They are everywhere; hopping around on the forest floor, all around the restaurant, on the deck of my cabin and even in my shower.  They are diurnal frogs and a short walk behind the bar on the Creek Trail should reward you in a very short space of time with the sightings of several of these small neon green and black frogs.

Black and Green Poison Arrow Frog

Down in the damp creek beds the second species of dendrobatid that Bosque has, The Golfo Dulce Poison Arrow Frog, (Phyllobates vittatus), can be seen.  The increase in precipitation has brought about an increase in activity and the soft but persistent trill of the male can be heard in most of the creeks.

Text and Photographs are taken from the forthcoming book:

The Natural History of Bosque del Cabo by Philip Davison

Temperature and Rainfall

Average Daily Rainfall 0.23 ins.  Total Weekly Rainfall 1.59 ins

Average Daily Rainfall 5.8 mm.  Total Weekly Rainfall 40.4 mm

Highest Daily Temp 85°F.  Lowest Daily Temp 74°F.

Highest Daily Temp 29.1°C.  Lowest Daily Temp 23.1°C.

Species List for the Week

Mammals

  • Mantled Howler Monkey
  • Spider Monkey
  • White-faced Capuchin Monkey
  • Common Tent-making Bat
  • Western Red Bat
  • Crab-eating Raccoon
  • White-nosed Coati
  • Kinkajou
  • Agouti
  • Vesper Rat
  • Nine-banded Armadillo
  • Three-toed Sloth
  • White-lipped Peccary

Birds

  • Orange-chinned Parakeets
  • Red-lored Amazon
  • Scarlet Macaw
  • Great Curassow
  • Pale-billed Woodpecker
  • Crested Caracara
  • Roadside Hawk
  • Yellow-headed Caracara
  • Streak-headed Woodcreeper
  • Black-hooded Antshrike
  • Chestnut-backed Antbird
  • Short-billed Pigeon
  • Long-billed Hermit
  • Stripe-throated Hermit
  • Red-Capped Manakin
  • Chestnut-mandibled Toucan
  • Fiery-billed Aracari
  • Cherrie’s Tanager
  • Bright-rumped Atilla
  • Golden-crowned Spadebill
  • Great Kiskadee
  • Great Tinamou
  • House Wren
  • Riverside Wren
  • Masked Tityra
  • White-collared Seedeater
  • Black Vulture
  • Turkey Vulture

Reptiles

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

Amphibians

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

Butterflies

  • Dryas iulia
  • Eurybia lycisca
  • Glutophrissa drusilla
  • Heliconius erato
  • Heliconius ismenius
  • Heliconius sapho
  • Hermeuptychia hermes
  • Magneuptychia libye
  • Morpho helenor
  • Morpho Menelaus
  • Phoebis argante
  • Siproeta stelenes
  • Strymon megarus
  • Urbanus simplicius
  • Urbanus tanna

Plants

  • Alamandra  cathartica Flowering
  • Alpinia purpurata Flowering
  • Apeiba tibourbou Fruiting
  • Arachis pintoi Flowering
  • Arundina graminifolia Flowering
  • Attalea rostrata Fruiting
  • Bauhinia variegata Flowering
  • Caryocar costaricense Fruiting
  • Cascabella thevetia Flowering and Fruiting
  • Citrus spp  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 insipida Fruiting
  • Garcinia madruno Fruiting
  • Gustavia brachycarpa Flowering
  • Heliconia chartacea Flowering
  • Heliconia latispatha Flowering
  • Heliconia pogonantha Flowering
  • Heliconia psittacorum Flowering
  • Heliconia rostrata Flowering
  • Hibiscus rosa-sinensis Flowering
  • Hymenaea coubaril Fruiting
  • Hymenocallis littoralis Flowering
  • Inga spp Fruiting
  • Ixora coccinea Flowering
  • Lantana camara Flowering and Flowering
  • Lagerstroemia speciosa 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
  • Psychotria sp Fruiting
  • Stachytarpheta frantzii Flowering
  • Symphonia globulifera Fruiting
  • Voschia ferruginea Flowering
  • Zammia sp Flowering

 

 

A Closer Look at Blooming Sweet Deceptions   2 comments


Felipe del Bosque Blog June 11th  2012

Suck It Up

The rains that did start in April and continued into May did not persist into the early part of June.  A daily walk on the Zapatero trail witnessed the rapid drying of the creek into little more than a series of puddles.  There has been a lot of very dark cloud cover which produced a sprinkling of rain before dispersing despite the constant rumble of thunder that threatened something much more dramatic.

All the usual mammal players have been seen over the past week, monkeys, coatis, agoutis and squirrels.  Macaws, toucans and curassows have been the vanguard of bird sightings.  The ever present anolis lizards, whiptails, basilisks and iguanas are the commonly spotted reptiles around the grounds.  Snakes are a lesser presence but are still there if you care to look.  This week there have been Bird-eating Snakes, Tiger Rat Snakes, Cat-eyed Snakes and a Parrot Snake caught in the act of consuming a frog.

It had been some time since I had walked around the grounds looking at the plant life so I decided to spend some days just noting and photographing what was flowering and fruiting.  Many of the plants in the Bosque gardens are tropical ornamentals.  Many of them flower all year round while others only bloom once a year.

One of the small trees in front of the restaurant that immediately caught my eye due to its dazzling display of bright purple blooms with yellow stamens in the center was the Queen’s Crape Myrtle, (Lagerstroemia speciosa).  This is a tree native to India, China and Australia.  There are several more smaller sized individuals of these trees growing in the Tropical Garden.

Queens Crape Myrtle

To the left of the restaurant at the forest edge there is a shrub which has clusters of tiny red berries at regular intervals along the branches at the base of the leaf stalk.  This is plant native to Costa Rica curiously called “Huesito” or “Little Bone”, (Lacistema aggregatum).  Unless you were looking for it you could easily miss it.  But the White-faced Monkeys won’t as they, along with many birds, relish the white fleshy aril that coats the dark seeds.

Huesito

In front of Casa Blanca is a small tree with a big fruit, Calabacito de Montaña, (Tocoyena pittieri).  The leaves are very large and broad.  The flowers are yellow, long and tubular, like a small straw with a distinctive hard waxy feel to them, with 5 acutely back folded petals.  The fruit is larger than a mango and when cut open resembles a large pomegranate filled with dark seeds covered in a yellowy flesh.  This soon ripens into a dark unpleasant smelling pulp.  The White-faced and Spider monkeys find them agreeable eating though.

On the sides of one of the mango trees there is a large leafed member of the Philodendron family currently flowering.  The flower is borne on the end of a long stalk and is distinctly different from other flowering plants.  The actual flower is called the spadix and normally has a covering bract called a spathe.  The spadix is divided into two areas, the proximal part which is the female flower and the distal part which is the male flower.  The spathe and spadix can sometimes be very decorative in form which, along with their large showy leaves and tolerance of shady conditions, makes them very attractive houseplants.

Philodendron flower

Sweet Lies

Around the grounds there are many species and varieties of heliconias flowering.  heliconias are for the most part native to the Americas except for a few species found in Melanesia and Polynesia.  There are in the region of 200 species of heliconia, 43 species of which are found in Costa Rica and 16 of them are on the Osa Peninsula.

Heliconius psitticorum

Heliconias have large broad leaves fleshy leaves.  Each different species of heliconia has a different shape flower, some are longer and thinner, some are shorter and fatter, yet others have turned upside down and flower from the underneath.  Whatever the shape of the flower, the Heliconias are all shades of red, orange or yellow.

Heliconia sp         Heliconia sp         Heliconia sp

These are the colors that serve to attract the attention of hummingbirds, so the heliconias are hummingbird pollinated.  Because each different species of heliconia has a different shaped flower, as the hummingbirds visit them, they get pollen deposited on different parts of the body.  Theoretically, one species are hummingbird could therefore potentially pollinate lots of different species of heliconia.  In reality though, different species of hummingbird are attracted to different species of heliconia.

Heliconia sp         Heliconius latisphatha         Heliconia longiflora

The Long-billed Hermit and Stripe-throated Hermit that are frequently seen in the Bosque gardens, have long sickle shaped bills that fit down into the long narrow tubular flowers of heliconias that occur in small groups and produce copious amounts of nectar.  The hermits are trap liners; they visit a regular series of heliconias during the course of the day.

Heliconia sp

Rufus-tailed Hummingbirds, Purple-crowned Fairies and Violet-crowned Woodnymphs are shorted, straighter billed hummingbirds.  Their preference is for heliconias that have shorter, straighter flowers, occur in larger numbers and grow close together.  Hummingbirds visit the heliconias to get a feed of nectar which is very energy expensive for the plant to produce.  So, the plant cheats the bird, it only puts nectar in one of the flowers.  The hummingbird doesn’t know which flower it is in, it is a boom or bust situation with an intermittent reward.  As hummingbirds require about 6 times their own body weight every day just to keep themselves flying they are very pugnacious little birds, especially the smallest, the Rufus-tailed Hummingbird who will chase any other hummingbird, large or small out of its feeding patch.

Hummingbirds are not the only visitor interested in the nectar supply that the plant produces, bees too require the sweet elixir.  As the bees do not have a tongue long enough to reach inside the flower, they steal the nectar by biting in at the base of the flower.  To avoid this, the heliconias produce their nectar first thing in the morning, which is when the hummingbirds are active, not when the bees are active.  Also, the bases of the flowers are enclosed within a tough fibrous bract which fills with water drowning the flower base and stopping the bees getting in.  The water held within the bract not only keeps bees out but it turns acidic and becomes a little pond of microscopic life that lives within.

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

www.bosquedelcabo.com

Photo Feature

A Lingering Stench

Although not a plant, one of the first things that I noticed as I was out on my flower and fruit hunt was a small group of fruiting bodies from a very distinctive fungus, the Bridal Veil Stinkhorn.  Throughout the wet season the main body of the fungus, which lives under the ground as network of thread-like structures called a mycelia, will produce the spore producing mechanism which are familiar to us as mushrooms and toadstools.

Bridal Veil Stinkhorn

The mushroom of the Bridal Veil Stinkhorn is unmistakable.  Overnight it will have appeared as a small white egg buried in the lawn and over the next period of days, if the conditions are right, the egg splits and during the hours of darkness, a long white shaft with an expanded tip covered in a glutinous grey jelly will grow up from the soil.  Hanging from the tip will be a white net, narrow at the top and wider at the bottom which gives it the name ‘bridal veil”.  Stinkhorn is derived from the appearance of the shaft, (they belong to the family Phalloides), the grey jelly contains the spores and smells not unlike rotten meat, a tasty treat for flies to lay their eggs in.  But the flies are being duped.  They land only to find there is nothing of substance to be found and fly off only now with their legs covered in slime and therefore unwittingly act as transfer vectors allowing the devious fungus to disperse its spores.

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 0.20 ins.  Total Weekly Rainfall 1.39 ins

Average Daily Rainfall 5.0 mm.  Total Weekly Rainfall 35.3 mm

Highest Daily Temp 89°F.  Lowest Daily Temp 76°F.

Highest Daily Temp 31.3°C.  Lowest Daily Temp 24.5°C.

Species List for the Week

Mammals

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

Birds

  • Red-lored Amazons
  • Scarlet Macaws
  • Great Curassow
  • Black Hawk
  • Laughing Falcon
  • White Hawk
  • Lineated Woodpecker
  • Pale-billed Woodpecker
  • Chestnut-backed Antbird
  • Black-hooded Antshrike
  • Short-billed Pigeon
  • White-tipped Dove
  • Long-billed Hermit
  • Blue-crowned Manakin
  • Red-capped Manakin
  • Chestnut-mandibled Toucan
  • Streak-headed Woodcreeper
  • Tawney-winged Woodcreeper
  • Cherrie’s Tanager
  • Grey-headed Tanager
  • Red-legged Honeycreeper
  • Great Kiskadee
  • Clay-colored Thrush
  • Great Tinamou
  • House Wren
  • Black-throated Trogon
  • Masked Tityra
  • Black Vulture
  • Turkey Vulture

Reptiles

  • Barred Ameiva
  • Basilisk
  • Central American Whiptail
  • Clawless Gecko
  • Five-lined Ameiva
  • Golfo Dulce Anolis
  • Northern Cat-eyed Snake
  • Norops limifrons
  • Parrot Snake

Amphibians

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

Butterflies

  • Anartia Fatima
  • Archaeoprepona demophon
  • Astraptes fulgerator
  • Battus polydamus
  • Catonephele numilia
  • Chlosyne theona
  • Dryas iulia
  • Glutophrissa Drusilla
  • Heliconius erato
  • Heliconius ismenius
  • Heliconius sapho
  • Heraclides cresphontes
  • Hermeuptychia hermes
  • Marpesia berania
  • Marpesia chiron
  • Morpho Menelaus
  • Pareuptychia occirhoe
  • Philaethria dido
  • Phoebis sennae
  • Pyrgus oileus
  • Pyrrhogyra crameri
  • Urbanus simplicius
  • Urbanus tanna
  • Urbanus teleus

Plants

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