Archive for the ‘Savage’s Thin-fingered Frog’ Tag

The Savage Death of a Velvet Cat   2 comments


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

Sunny Days are Back Again

The weather has most certainly turned a corner.  After the record-breaking deluge that occurred continually over the course of the last five weeks we now have the opposite situation, no rain.  Not a single drop of rain has fallen over the past week.  The skies have been clear and bright blue.  The sun has been shining brightly.  The temperatures are on the rise.  The night skies have been clear and filled with stars.  Just within the space of seven days, the formerly soft muddy trails have started to harden up.  There are, of course areas where the ground is stiff soft and in places water continues to run off but these are now few and far between.  One trail had a new lake form as the water was unable to run off.  Walking along a familiar path I was finding myself waist deep in water.  I imagined that this new water feature may persist for months before the ground was exposed once more.  I was wrong.  Walking the trail a few days ago, all the water had gone.  The path was very muddy but no longer submerged.

Bosque del Cabo Rain Forest Lodge. Osa Peninsula. Costa Rica.

Zapatero Trail at Bosque del Cabo Rain Forest Lodge.

It was fortunate that the heavy rain stopped as the flowering season for many of the trees commences in December.  Should the trees bloom and then become bombarded with persistent downpours, the flowers can be knocked from the trees before they have been pollinated.  The result of this is a lack of fruit later in the dry season as the plants have not set seed.  There are many animals whose lives depend on the bounteous supply of mixed fruits that comprise their diet that should the flowering and fruiting seasons fail then they simply starve to death.  This happened in 2005 when substantial numbers of Spider Monkeys and Toucans were, quite literally, just dropping out of the trees.  Necropsies carried out by veterinarians showed that they were suffering from very low body fat.  They were starving to death.  Everything looks good at the moment for a bumper harvest as I have seen many trees starting to produce blooms.

Golfo Dulce. Cabo Matapalo. Osa Peninsula. Costa Rica.

The Sun is Shining Over the Golfo Dulce Once More.

Caught in the Eye of a Cat

The frogs are still out in numbers but those numbers will start to dwindle as we head into the dry season.  There are creatures that feed on frogs and they too have been out and about at night, the snakes.  One of the commoner snakes around the pond after sunset is the Cat-eyed Snake, (Leptodeira septentrionalis).  It feeds on frogs at all stages of their life history.  More particularly it searches out clumps of Red-eyed Green Tree Frog eggs which it finds suspended beneath the leaves overhanging the water.  The gelatinous masses are stuck in position and when the tadpoles reach about 7 or 8 days in age, the jelly liquidizes allowing the tadpoles to drop into the water where they complete the initial stage of their life history before emerging as froglets.  Frogs eggs make a perfect meal for the snake, they don’t run away or fight back and are packed with protein.  At the height of the amphibian breeding season, May, June and July, there are so many egg masses that the snakes start to look well fed and bloated.  Now, because there is little amphibian reproduction taking place, the snakes also fish for the tadpoles from beneath the water surface, take froglets as the emerge from the water and if they get the opportunity they will eat the adults too.

Red-eyed Green Tree Frog.

Red-eyed Green Tree Frog, (Agalychnis callidryas)

Agalychnis callidryas eggs

Red-eyed Green Tree Frog Eggs

Cat-eyed Snake

Cat-eyed Snake, (Leptodeira septentrionalis)

Leptodeira septentrionalis

Cat-eyed Snake. Close up.

The Fatal Velvet Kiss

Whereas the Cat-eyed Snakes feed on the smaller frogs, there is a much larger snake which feeds on the larger frogs.  One of the largest frogs in Costa Rica is the Savage’s Thin-fingered Frog, (Leptodactylus savagei).  A huge amphibian might make a satisfying for meal for any number of creatures.  To lower the risk of being predated upon Savage’s Thin-fingered Frog has several defenses.  It has a toxic skin secretion that can cause intense irritation of mucus membranes.  Should this prove ineffective it has a secondary defensive measure.  When it is caught, it issues a loud cry not dissimilar to a crying baby.  More importantly the call resembles the distress call of young caiman.  If there any adult female caiman in the area they charge in to defend their young, which means hopefully as far as the frog is concerned, it can then make its escape as its attacker is attacked.

Savage's Thin-fingered Frog

Savage’s Thin-fingered Frog, (Leptodactylus savagei)

But there are predators from which there is generally no escape.  It is not uncommon to see by the pond at night some substantially large sized Terciopelos, (Bothrops asper).  They are large pit-vipers in the same subfamily as rattlesnakes.  Like rattlesnakes they have a venomous bite that spells certain death for any prey victim it strikes.  An adult female can reach up to 6 feet, (2 meters), in length.  A snake that size demands a big meal and the Savage’s Thin-fingered Frog fits the bill.

Once the sun sets out come the Terciopelos.  They place themselves around the pond where an encounter with a frog is likely.  They are ambush predators; the cryptic coloration of muted browns and greys camouflage them perfectly against the background.  They remain motionless, camouflage works best if it is still.  Frogs, being mostly nocturnal, have large light gathering eyes.  They rely on movement to find food which is usually anything smaller than themselves, particularly arthropods, but sometimes smaller frogs too.  But the only movement they will detect from a hungry coiled Terciopelo will be one that is over in a flash.

Terciopelo. Crotalinae.

Terciopelo, (Bothrops asper)

The pit-viper is not so visually acute especially at night although its eyes will detect close movement.  Once the feeding response has been stimulated then the tongue comes into play, slowly flicking out then in again, each time tasting the air.  The tongue can detect parts per million of scent particles in the air and because it is forked it can pick up the gradient of a scent plume.  You and I may not know what a frog smells like but the snake does.  Then there are the pits that give it the sinister name pit viper.  These lie one on either side of the head between the eye and the nostril.  They are lined with cells that detect minute differences in background infra-red radiation.  They work best at responding to the presence of warm blooded prey such as rodents but their efficiency could also differentiate the small difference in body heat of even a cold-blooded creature such as a frog against the background temperature.

The unsuspecting frog passes by.  The snake has already drawn its head and neck into tightly sprung S-shaped.  The strike happened so fast that it would probably have been unaware, there would have been no time to react, no chance of escape.  As the snake’s head shoots forward and the jaws open, two long hinged fangs that lie flat against the upper part of the mouth now swing down.  They are simply two hypodermic syringes attached to glands that contain virulent life-ending cytotoxic venom.  The fangs puncture the skin like two needles, the force of the bite pushes them deep into internal tissues and organs.  The snake quickly recoils to avoid any retaliatory action by the victim in its final moments, not that a frog could inflict any damage but the bite of a rodent might.  The quantity of venom injected will spell doom and instant death for the unfortunate amphibian.  It probably would not feel anything from this lethal injection, the effects of which would most certainly be instantaneous.

The frog takes one or two steps forward then collapses dead in its tracks.  The snake is in no hurry.  The meal is ready whenever it would care to dine.  Lying patiently in the shadows the Terciopelo begins to smell the air with its tongue once more.  Once it is feels secure in the demise of its victim it slips forward, the tongue constantly flicking in and out over the cadaver.  It is searching for the head.  Snakes have no way of rendering a meal into small pieces and must swallow the prey whole.  Savage’s Thin-fingered Frog is a giant among amphibians, its body larger than the snakes head.  To deal with this inconvenience the snakes lower jaw disengages at the midpoint as do the upper and lower jaws where they hinge together at the side of the head.  Now the snakes gape can accommodate the huge frog body.  The snakes skin is highly elastic allowing it to stretch as it moves forward over the meal and with continuous backward moving S-shaped waves the feast is delivered finally to the stomach.  The snake moves away back into the shadow of the undergrowth where it will lie motionless for some time until it has digested the hearty dinner.

Terciopelo. Leptodactylus savagei

Terciopelo eating a Savage’s Thin-fingered Frog

Payback Time

There are times when even the top predators can become prey.  Where there are snakes then there might be snakes that eat snakes.  Sure enough on occasion by the pond where the Terciopelos lie in wait there is a hunter that actively seeks them out.  A hunter that is immune to the deadly venom.  A hunter that can overpower with impunity its adversary.  That hunter is the Mussurana, (Clelia Clelia)..

The Mussurana is a snake with a solidly muscled body.  It has a beautiful deep gloss grey color which radiates a fabulous deep blue iridescence.  The underside is a soft eggshell cream.  It is a powerful constrictor.  The teeth at the back of the jaws are strong and allow it to hold onto its writhing victim while it throws around it those ever-tightening coils.  This is a non-contest, the Terciopelo has little or no chance.  Finally, it succumbs and expires.  The hunter has become the hunted and the frogs have one less problem in their territory.

Mussurana.

Mussurana, (Clelia clelia)

Philip Davison is a Biologist, Writer and Photographer Based In Costa Rica

A New Season of Discovery   10 comments


Philip Davison. nature diaries. Osa Peninsula. Costa Rica.

After a five week period away from the Osa Peninsula I am back to carry out another year of research.  For the past sixteen years I have been monitoring populations of both butterflies and amphibians in the forests of Cabo Matapalo on the tip of the Osa Peninsula in South West Costa Rica.  I collect the daily weather data and compare changes in amphibian populations against precipitation and butterflies populations against temperature in an effort to evaluate how or whether climate change effects the fauna of a tropical rain forest.

Marine Toad. Amphibians. Osa Peninsula. Costa Rica.

Marine Toad, (Chaunus marinus)

As I live in the forest and can be found constantly walking the trail systems, camera in hand, it provides ample opportunity to photograph the diversity of life that surrounds me.  I am generally photographically prepared for small things so unless I am going out specifically to capture images of mammals or birds then my photographic galleries generally consist of reptiles, amphibians, all manner of arthropods as well as any plant and fungi features that catch my eye.

Savage's Thin-fingered Frog. Frogs

Savage’s Thin-fingered Frog, (Leptodactylus savegei)

This blog acts as an expanded form of my nature diaries which are simply daily recordings on Excel spreadsheets.  I enjoy sharing my experiences with those who read my blog and over the years the number of subscribers constantly increases.  If you are a first-time reader, then welcome and I hope you enjoy the content and the photos.  I am not a professional photographer but I do try and take the best composed shots I can.

Banana Frog. Wet Season.

Banana Frog, (Dendropsophus ebreccatus)

The blog also allows visitors to the area an insight of what they might expect to see in their absence or when they arrive as well as providing a small amount of information about the natural history of the organisms I feature.  I try to post one blog a week but sometimes time constraints means there may be occasions when this is not possible.

Small-headed Frog. Pond life.

Small-headed Frog, (Dendropsophus micracephalus

For me the year does not begin on the January 1st but rather on my return to the area in November.  At this time of year we should be moving out of the main rainy season, which is what caused me to leave for a month or so, and into the dry season.  There is no exact date and sometimes the rains hang on until December while other times the sun has started to shine constantly by mid-November.  Anyway, here we go with the opening blog of the 20016/17 season.

Olive-snouted Treefrog. Philip Davison

Olive-snouted Treefrog, (Scinax elaeochrous)

First things first.  November normally heralds the ending of the rainy season.  Sometimes the wet period may continue into December but by now we are looking towards a drying of the forest.  Not so this year.  This has been, without doubt, the wettest November I have recorded in 17 years, 185 inches of rain fell in that 30-day period.  The area was briefly closed down as bridges were not crossable, roads were not passable and the local town of Puerto Jimenez and its attendant landing strip were closed due to being under water.  This may bode well for the coming dry season when for 4/5 months the area receives little or no rain whatsoever but at the moment the forest floors have rivulets with running water everywhere.

Red-eyed Green Tree Frog. Costa Rica

Red-eyed Green Tree Frog, (Agalychnis callidryas)

The daily torrential downpour has made wildlife spotting rather difficult.  It is neither easy to see or hear anything in those conditions.  In the inter deluge periods I have been out searching for whatever I could find and it may come as no surprise that the amphibians most certainly have enjoyed the excess water.  All the usual members of the pond community have been out calling; Banana Frogs, Small-headed Frogs, Red-eyed Green Tree Frogs, Parachuting Red-eyed Green Tree Frogs, Savage’s Thin-fingered Frog, Marine Toads and Masked Smiliscas.  Even the largest tree frogs in Costa Rica, the Milky Frogs have been coming out, which is unusual this time of year.  Away from the pond the Tink Frogs and Fitzinger’s Rain Frogs call as soon as the sun sets.  Here are some photographs of the amphibians you may be lucky enough to see if you visit the Osa Peninsula now.

Parachuting Red-eyed Green Tree Frog. Torrential Rain.

Parachuting Red-eyed Green Tree Frog (Agalychnis spurrelli)

Tink Frog. Frog chorus.

Tink Frog, (Diasporus diastema)

Gladiator Frog. Mud puddle nest

Gladiator Frog, (Hypsiboas rosenbergi).

Bolivian Frog. Foam nest.

Bolivian Frog, (Leptodactylus bolivianus)

Masked Tree Frog.

Masked Smilisca, (Smilisca phaeota)

Philip Davison is a Biologist, Photographer and Writer based in Costa Rica.

Here We Go Again   4 comments


Felipe del Bosque Blog November 12th 2012

Sun Shade

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

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

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

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

Doing the Rounds

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

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

Summer Calling

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

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

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

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

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

Spotted Frogs

Agalychnis callidryas

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

Leptodactylus savagei

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

Agalychnis callidryas eggs

Fitzinger's Rain Frog

Smilisca phaeota

Wandering Spider

Unidentified Katydid

Only When The Sun Shines

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

Dryas iulia         Heliconius ismenius         Heliconius erato

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

Micrathyria ocellata         Micrathyria ocellata        

Fruitless Search

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

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

www.bosquedelcabo.com

 Photo Feature

 A Small Problem

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

Atta cephalotes         Atta cephalotes         Atta cephalotes

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

Atta cephalotes

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

Text and Photographs are taken from the forthcoming book:

The Natural History of Bosque del Cabo by Philip Davison

Temperature and Rainfall

Average Daily Rainfall 0.23 ins.  Total Weekly Rainfall 1.63 ins

Average Daily Rainfall 5.9 mm.  Total Weekly Rainfall 41.4 mm

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

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

Species List for the Week

Mammals

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

Birds

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

Reptiles

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

 Amphibians

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

Butterflies

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

 Plants

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

FROGS OF COSTA RICA: LARGEST AND SMALLEST   Leave a comment


Today started as last night ended, not a cloud in the sky, and apart from a few scattered showers throughout the morning, that is how things stayed.  This time of year we have the daily dawn chorus of Chestnut-backed Antbirds, Black-hooded Antshrikes, Bright-rumped Atillas and the raucous din of the Scarlett Macaws.  All of this has, of course, been preceded by the early morning wakeup call provided by the Howler Monkeys.  The ruckus is normally complemented and completed by the arrival of large numbers of Red-lored Amazons, whose higher pitched squawking simply adds to the cacophony.

Walking through a rainforest after a shower certainly gives the overall impression of dampness.  It has been raining since April and so the creeks and rivulets in the forest have a constant supply of running water.  The ground is both soft and sticky under foot.  With the addition of a shower, the vegetation already dripping with moisture, now most certainly completes the visitors’ expectations of how a tropical rainforest should look.

Following lunch I went for a leisurely stroll around the grounds to see if any new birds and butterflies had turned up.  One did, a butterfly I had not seen before, and guess what; once again I was not carrying my camera.  Here in front of me on vegetation close to the ground was a very conspicuously patterned Metalmark.  These are small and generally insignificant butterflies, but here was one with a dark background with a concentric series of white dashes and a bright red border to the hind wing, a White-stitched Metalmark, (Napaea eucharila).  I ran over to my cabin to get the camera but when I returned, it was gone.  So, I have found two new species in one week and no images to prove it.  At least I have the images in my head and the records in my diary.

Costa Rican Frogs: The Largest and the Smallest

Here we are looking at two extremes; one of the largest and one of the smallest frogs in the forests of the Osa Peninsula.

Amphibian, Savage's Thin-fingered Frog, Leptodactylus savagei, Costa Rica, Veridion Adventures, Nature Photography, Travel

Savage’s Thin-fingered Frog, (Leptodactylus savagei)

Savage’s Thin-fingered Frog, (Leptodactylus savagei), is a veritable behemoth of a frog, second only in size to the female Marine Toad.  It is the only amphibian we know of that eats scorpions, but they are opportunistic feeders and will eat smaller frogs, snakes, really anything smaller than themselves.  Like the Marine Toad, it is very poisonous, having a skin secretion called Leptodactylin.  If you handle the frog it is very uncomfortable, but if you then rub your eyes, nose or mouth, in fact any mucus membrane it can be become a very distressing situation.  They do have predators though, more or less the same predators as Marine Toads, i.e. Opossums and snakes.  To that effect they have a secondary defense.  When you catch one it will scream like a baby.  The screaming may shock the predator into letting it go or the commotion could attract the attention of any other predator in the area which subsequently may attack whatever is trying to eat the frog, but most importantly, the screams very closely resemble the alarm calls of young caiman.  If there any adult caiman in the area, they will charge in and attack the creature predating upon which will hopefully, as far as the frog is concerned, allow it to make its escape.

Savage’s Thin-fingered Frog is a foam-nester.  The male comes to the water first.  He has massive front legs and gives emits a “Whoop, whoop” call.  The female joins him later, he grabs on to her with his massive front legs, he has two sharp spines on his chest which also help secure her until she is ready to lay eggs.  Once the female has spawned, the male fertilizes the egg mass and then using his hind legs he whips the eggs up with water from the pond and mucus from his body to produce froth.  The eggs develop in the froth until about 8 days at which point the froth dissipates and the tadpoles as they now are have to complete the normal tadpole stage in the water.

Amphiibian, Stejneger's Rain Frog, Craugastor stejnegerianus, Veridion Adventures, Nature Photography, Travel

Stejneger’s Rain Frog, (Craugastor stejnegerianus)

Closely related to the huge Savage’s Thin-fingered Frog is probably one of the smallest frogs in Costa Rica, the tiny Stejneger’s Dirt Frog, (Craugastor stejnegerianus).  These are tiny frogs that live terrestrially on the forest floor.  If you ever spot a slight movement down by your feet as you on the forest trails, close examination will quite often reveal a frog no bigger than your fingernail.

Stejneger’s Dirt Frog is one of the rainfrogs.  They do not need to come back to the water to breed.  They pair up and lay only 10 – 30 yolk filled eggs, fairly large in comparison to the frog, in the leaf litter on the forest floor.  The whole process of development takes place within the egg so there is no free swimming tadpole stage.  After about 8 weeks, you will find emerging from the egg a tiny copy of the adult.

So there you have it, the little and large of the amphibian world.

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