Archive for the ‘Tropical Bird-eating Snake’ Tag

Harlequin Beetle: Hiding In Full View   Leave a comment


Wildlife, nature, fauna and flora of Costa Rica.

Over the past week the rains have continued, now sometimes during the day as well as at night.  There have been some heavy downpours.  One thing that can occur this time of year are the climatic phenomena known as temporals.  Clouds will settle over an area for some days producing grey, overcast conditions with constant rainfall.

The water level in the creek has risen, not drastically, but enough to secure a steady flow.  The mango orchard is the scene of a lot of activity with so many animals coming to feed from the bumper crop that is presently hanging from the trees.  During the day spider monkeys and white-faced capuchin monkeys can be seen greedily feasting on the abundant and ripening fruits.  Monkeys are very wasteful feeders, they pluck a fruit from the branch, take a bite and throw the remainder to the ground.  Here the white-nosed coatis and agoutis take advantage of a free meal falling from above.

At night the mangoes are visited by kinkajous in the trees and pacas on the ground, the nocturnal cousin of the agouti.  All manner of insect life feeds on the fermenting mangoes, everything from flies, bees, butterflies and at night, moths.

The Mighty Harlequin Beetle

One night while returning to my cabin I noticed a beetle, a very large beetle, on the vertical surface of a tree trunk.  It was late and I did not want to set up the camera equipment so I placed the beetle in a collecting bottle in order to photograph it the next day.  Beetles, due to the huge number of species are not always the easiest creatures to identify but there was no problem with this one.  The color, the pattern, the long, curved antennae and the thin extended front legs allowed me to identify this one immediately.  This was a Harlequin Beetle, (Acrocinus longimanus).

Coleoptera. Cerambycidae. Acrocinus longimanus. Osa Peninsula. Costa Rica.

Harlequin Beetle, (Acrocinus longimanus)

The exquisite geometric black and red markings over a green background of this handsome beetle would appear to make it stand out rather obviously in the hand.  But place it on a lichen covered tree trunk and it disappears from in front of your eyes.

Harlequin Beetles belong to the Longhorns of the family: Cerambycidae and are found throughout the Neotropics.  If a tree noted for producing copious amounts of sap is either injured or damaged then you can expect many Harlequin Beetles turning up as if from nowhere.

Harlequin Beetle. Felipe del Bosque. Osa Peninsula. Costa Rica.

Strangely long front legs of a Harlequin Beetle

Both sexes have long extended front legs but the males much more significantly longer.  It is thought that this is in some way related to mating.  The beetles are active both day and night.  The females prefer rotting wood already proliferated with bracket fungus in which to lay her eggs.  The resulting larvae then complete their development within the now dead wood.  For this reason they can be regarded as speeding the decay of non-living trees rather than a pest of live wood.

While I was taking the pictures, I noticed that the beetle was covered, particularly around the head and bases of the wings with a myriad of mites.  Mites are arachnids and can be parasitic or predaceous upon other arthropods.  They sometimes feed on the secretions of their hosts and other times use them as a means of transport, phoresy.  Phoretic mites usually glue themselves to the host in order to hitch a ride without falling.  Mites are a specialized and difficult group to study and the people that do so are few and far between.  It is way beyond my ability to identify these mites.  It could well be that they are one of the nymphal stages.  There appear to be both orange and white colored mites.  Once again I am at a loss as to whether these are of different species.  The beetle did not appear to be too agitated by its infestation.  If anyone has further information to help elucidate what was happening then I would be happy to hear from you.

Coleoptera. Cerambycidae. Acrocinus longimanus. Osa Peninsula. Costa Rica.

Close up of the Harlequin Beetle head showing the mite infestation

A Fleeting Glimpse of Blue

At the present there are lots of trees producing fruit, notably the figs.  In some areas the ground is covered with figs in various states of decomposition.  The scent of rotting fruit is irresistible to many insects that come to imbibe the liquifying and fermenting meal it provides.  Some of the butterflies are drawn this intoxicating feast, the commoner ones being species of Blue Morphos.

As I was walking through a sunlit path in the forest I was met with a bright metallic blue morpho taking to the air from down by my feet.  I had disturbed its meal of fig juice from the fruits that were lying everywhere.  It was not going to be so easily dissuaded though and landed a short distance away on a tree trunk.  Here it would wait momentarily for a few moments before circling around and taking up where it had left off feeding on the ground.

While it was stationary I took the opportunity to capture its image.  I noticed one of the hindwings was damaged and the brilliant electric blue coloring of the upperwing for which the butterfly is named was visible.  There are three species of blue morpho in this area, each one distinct from the other.  This one was a male Morpho menelaus.

Lepidoptera. Nymphalidae. Morphinae. Morpho menelaus. Osa Peninsula. Costa Rica.

Torn hindwing of male Morpho menelaus reveals blue color of upperwing

Morphos are large butterflies and are unmistakable in flight due to their size and eye-capturing iridescent blue coloration.  In flight they move with slow wing beats up and down, left to right.  Each time they open their wings the bright blue appears but when the wings close then it disappears.  For any predator trying to follow the flight path of a blue morpho, and with flying butterfly then that is generally going to be a bird, all that it is going to see is a stroboscopic flashing of metallic blue from different points in front of it making it impossible to follow.  But there are always around systems and some birds, Jacamars, which are related to kingfishers, have learned how to intercept the morpho on its flight path.  The perches of jacamars will have the discarded wings of morphos littering the ground below where they have eaten the bodies of the butterfly and dropped the wings.

Butterflies belong to the insect order: Lepidoptera, which translates into scaled wings.  From the photograph you can see the lines of overlapping powdery scales that cover the wings.  With the morphos the scales on the upperside of the wing are transparent but layered.  In effect each scale acts as a prism.  Light entering the scale is broken down and the blue light is refracted back out.  So the blue coloration is not due to pigment but rather the refraction of light.

One of the other species of morpho found in this area, Morpho cypris, is one of the most highly iridescent insects on the planet.  It will only be seen in the morning and only found flying at the level of the canopy, 100 feet or more above the ground.  Should you be on a tree platform or a canopy bridge you will be astounded to see what appears to be a diffuse metallic blue sphere floating through the tree tops.  It is an absolutely phenomenal sight.

Unseen Red

One of the more frequently encountered snakes in the area is the Tropical Bird-eating Snake, (Pseustes poecilonotus).  They are one of a handful of larger snakes to be found here, which is good in as much as that limits your choice when it comes to identification.  They can grow to about 6 feet in length.  Most of the individuals I have found are a muted green color with pale red bands along the body.  The belly is usually yellow and the top of the head black.

On one of my walks, in the open before the forest entrance, I heard a rasping sound which I knew immediately as the rubbing of dry scales against each other heralding the presence of a snake.  I looked down and there close to the forest edge was a beautiful Tropical Bird-eating Snake.  This one was so striking as it did not have the normal coloration but was rather an overall vivid scarlet with tinges of orange suffused around the lips.

Reptilia. Squamata. Serpentes. Colubrinae. Pseustes poecilonotus. Osa Peninsula. Costa Rica.

Unusually red-colored Tropical Bird-eating Snake, (Pseustes poecilonotus)

As the name suggests these snakes eat birds as well as chicks and eggs from nests.  They are non-venomous but can be irascible.  If you approach too closely they will laterally flatten the neck to give the appearance of being larger than they are.  They open the mouth and hiss which gives them the alternative name of “Hissing or Puffing Snakes”.

Tropical Bird-eating Snake. Philip Davison. Felipe del Bosque.

Defensive threat pose of a Tropical Bird-eating Snake

As I bent down to take a closer photograph, the snake duly obliged by living up to its name, flattening its neck, opening its mouth and letting out a hiss of discontent at my presence.  I didn’t bother it for too long, took the pictures and left to let the serpent continue about its business.

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

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Shining a Golden Light on Serpent Eyes   6 comments


Philip Davison. Costa Rica. Blog. Nature Diaries

Ray of Light

This July was probably the wettest that I have experienced in 16 years of living on the Osa Peninsula.  Here at Cabo Matapalo the total rainfall for the month was 38 inches.  But a lot of the rain came in heavy torrential downpours.  We did see a great deal of sun between the downpours.  Also much of the rain fell overnight.  One morning following a night long deluge the sun rose but while still low in the sky it cast rays of light through the tree trunks.  The shafts of light were emphasized by the rapid rising misty droplets creating a heated steam.

Osa Peninsula. Costa Rica.

The early morning sun breaks through.

Close Encounters of the Bird-eating Kind.

Snakes are notoriously hard to find in a tropical rain forest.  There are snakes on the ground and snakes in the trees, there are snakes out at night and there are snakes out during the day but locating snakes can be a thankless task at best and fruitless preoccupation at worst.  Sometimes snake hunters come to the lodge armed to the teeth with knee length leather boots, grab sticks and snake hooks wanting to engage in 24 hours snake hunting trips.  I have to lower their expectations by telling them that they can turn over every log and rock in the forest and they won’t find snakes.  Conversely people come and walk with trepidation on the forest trails in a state of dread in case they happen upon a snake.  Invariably these will be the people who will find them.

Last week while out on the butterfly transect I was walking through a section of forest, handheld recorder in one hand, camera in the other when I noticed a fairly large snake on the forest floor just to the side of the trail.  I stepped off the path to a position in front of the snake which had frozen and was watching me as I sunk slowly to my knees while lifting the camera to my eye.

As well as being hard to find snakes are difficult to photograph due to the linear dimensions of the body.  Unless they are coiled then only the head will be in focus while the rest of the body is either out of shot or too long for the depth of field to accommodate.  As I leaned forward to get my belly on the ground the snake lifted its head and the performance began.

The snake I was looking at was a Tropical Bird-eating Snake, (Pseustes poecilinotus).  It is also known as the Hissing or Puffing Snake as it has a tendency to turn its head sideways while flattening its neck laterally to give the impression of being larger than it actually is.  It whatever it is that is upsetting the snake, in this case me, it will strike out.  I managed to stay out of range as I did not want to risk a bite to the face.  This species is non-venomous but a snake bite in the vicinity of the eyes may not be such a pleasant experience.  However I did manage to get several shots before rising to my feet and continuing on my way while letting the snake go about its business once more.

Pseustes poecilinotus

Tropical Bird-eating Snake, (Pseustes poecilinotus)

Tropical Bird-eating Snakes are one of the larger serpents to be found in this area.  Fully grown they can reach up to 6 feet in length.  The ground color of the body is a pale blue/grey fused with orangey-brown patches.  The lips and lower sides are a brighter orange and quite often with a yellow belly and dark top to the head. As the name suggests their principal prey item are birds, more particularly chicks and eggs taken from nests.  Rodents make up some of the diet and I have seen them eat bats too.

Tropical Bird-eating Snake

Tropical Bird-eating Snake in Threat Pose

Remember if you visit the area it is highly unlikely that you will see a snake and the ones that you may stumble across will probably be non-venomous.  The snakes want as little interaction with you as you will of them and they will make themselves very scarce in short time so it is not something that should detract from the enjoyment of walking the trails.

Pecked Out Eyes

One of the comments that I come across is the eye spots on an Owl Butterfly when the wings are open resemble the eyes of an owl, (or any other large potential predator), and scare off whatever is trying to catch the butterfly.  As I have said previously in this blog it sounds like a good anti predator strategy but fails when put into practice as when the butterfly opens it wings, the spots which are on the ventral surface are then underneath and can’t be seen.

Morpho helenor

Damaged Blue Morpho, (Morpho helenor)

Many predators when aiming to catch, subdue and kill their prey will direct an attack in the area of the eyes because lying behind the eyes is the major part of the central nervous system, the brain.  Destroy the prey’s brain and the battle is over.  So many butterflies have a ruse that will use this attack to their advantage, they create a false eye.  It is usually large and distinct and placed at the trailing edge of the hind wing.  Any bird or lizard taking a peck or bite at the “eye” area will only be rewarded with a tatty piece of wing membrane while the main body of the butterfly makes its escape.

Caligo eurilochus

Damaged Owl Butterfly, (Caligo eurilochus)

With these two butterflies this damage can be seen quite nicely illustrated.  The Blue Morpho, (Morpho helenor), has a line of eye spots down the trailing edge of the upper and lower wing.  As can be seen the wing has already been pecked at and torn in that area yet the butterfly is still capable of flight.  With the Owl Butterfly, (Caligo eurilochus), very obviously the attack was directed against the “eye”.  More often than not, unless it is newly emerged, the Owl Butterflies will be missing this part of the wing when seen in the wild.  It buys the butterfly a second change to locate a mate to partner with and reproduce.

Big-legged Bug

It is thought that the term bug comes from the Old English word for a goblin.  The tern bug when applied zoologically refers specifically to the order: Hemiptera.  This order is divided into two sub orders depending upon the structure of the wings.  The sub order: Heteroptera have the wings divided almost equally into a thick basal part and a thin distal part.  The sub order: Homoptera have the wings completely thin and cellophane-like.

As you can see this Big-legged Bug, (Pachylis tenuicornis), is a heteropteran with wings being clearly divided into two textures. It belongs to the family: Coreidae, the Big-legged or Flag-legged Bugs.  The hind legs are very swollen and stout.  This individual flew past me in an area of grassland where it landed not too far away on the ground.  The thing that caught my eye was the bright red coloration of the body beneath the wings.

Big-legged Bug

Big-legged Bug, (Pachylis tenuicornis)

The Big-legged Bugs when attacked by a predator lift the wings to reveal that bright coloration which warns of an impending defensive measure, notably that it is about to spray from glands an offensively odorous fluid.  The fluid discharges from a gland on the thorax and opens by way of a pore on either side.  The gland has a valve which allows one or the other or both pores to discharge at once.  The cuticle around the pores is sculpted so that when the fluid is sprayed some of it remains on the body providing even further protection.  Thankfully I did not disturb this individual so much as to stimulate such a reaction.

How to Spin a Golden Orb

One of the commonly seen spiders in this area, due to their large size and elaborate webs, is the Golden-orb Spider, (Nephila clavipes).  Its large size and striking black and yellow coloration along with the “furry” legs make it look very dangerous but it is in fact totally harmless to humans.

Nephila clavipes

Female Golden-orb Spider, (Nephila clavipes)

Like just about all other spiders they are carnivores using both traps and venom to catch and immobilize the prey.  The trap is the web or orb.  In the case of the Golden-orb Spider it is made from a yellow silk which gives the spider its name.  Outside the forest the web is made from a deeper yellow silk which attracts bees so a large percentage of its diet in more open areas is bees.  Inside the forest it is made from a much paler silk.

Normally with orb weavers when something lands in the web they rush towards it and envelope it in sheets of silk to completely immobilize it before injecting the venom. The Golden-orb Spiders on the other hand bite first and then wrap in silk.  If the victim caught in the web is a large or aggressive ant or wasp she won’t take it on because there is a good chance she will be stung o bitten before she can get her bite in.

Webs are fascinating structures.  Although not so obvious to the human eye each spider has a web that is structurally pertinent to the species.  That means there are as many different types of webs as the number of species that create them.  As most people are aware the web is made from silken strands that are meticulously meshed together to produce one of nature’s most amazing death traps.

Silk is not exclusive to spiders, some other invertebrates are capable of producing silk, it is just that spiders are the unreserved masters in the production and utilization of silk and all spiders are capable of producing silk.  Silk itself is a remarkable substance.  It is a proteinaceous material stored as a liquid in the spinning glands.  When spun by the spider it turns from a water soluble liquid to an insoluble silken thread and this change occurs due to tension orienting the molecules rather than exposure to air.  The nature of the thread means it has both strength and elasticity. Spiders can produce many types of silk depending upon the use to which it will be put.  In a web there may be dry silk which is stiff and used as the framework while a moist viscous silk capable of stretching 300% of its original length is used as the sticky catch net.

Golden-orb Spider

Golden-orb Spider, (Nephila clavipes) producing silk

The spider has 3 pairs of independently mobile spinnerets on its abdomen.  Each spinneret ends in a spigot through which the silk gland exudes the silk.  As the proteinaceous silken thread is produced other cells in the silk glands secrete mucopolysaccharides which give it a viscous coating.  The mucous coating takes water from the atmosphere which separate into small droplets along the length of the fiber which in turn gives it the highly elastic quality to take the momentum from a large insect hitting the web as well as the glue-like adhesiveness which then holds it there.

Nephila clavipes spinnerets

Golden-orb Spider close up of spinnerets

I used extension tubes with a 105mm macro lens to try and capture a close up of the spinnerets of this Golden-orb Spider.  The spider is fairly large which made the task a little easier.  You can see the silken line being produced as well as the mucous globules along its length.

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

Drops of Colored Poison on a Leafy Bed   Leave a comment


Felipe del Bosque Blog February 11th 2013

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The Patter of Tiny Feet

The dry conditions continue but with the bonus of some rain at night which is enough to keep things green.  That hint of dampness is enough to tempt the Halloween Crabs, (Gecarcinus quadratus), out from the dark dank tunnels in which they reside beneath the surface of the forest floor.  They may be land crabs but they breathe through gills which have to remain moist to function effectively, so even though they may have escaped the confines of their aquatic environs and adopted a terrestrial habit, they have not fully adapted to totally dry conditions.  It always remains something of a surprise for people who had never heard of land crabs, and consequently only associate these crustaceans with the rocky coastal shorelines, to find the forest floor crawling with them following a summer shower.

It is not only those creatures in possession of 10 legs that have been spurred into action; the six-legged life forms of the social kind have suddenly become more obvious by their untiring activities.  Leaf-cutter Ants, (Atta cephalotes), familiar to most visitors to Bosque del Cabo due to the mesmerizing lines of slightly wavering fragments of leaf being carried in what seems like a slow moving river of green through the lawns and across the forest floor, have caught a second wind.

Normally at the height of the dry season the Leaf-cutter Ants cease their assiduous cutting and carrying during the daylight hours and recommence once the sun has set.  The dry season in the south west of Costa Rica can quite often result in very little rain for five months of the year and sometimes none at all during February and March.  At this time of year, should the ants cut and carry leaf, the distance over which it has to be transported and the time required to do so can result in the leaf drying out.  If the leaf contains small quantities of toxic compounds, as it dries these may become more and more concentrated thereby constituting a lethal cocktail for the ant or the fungus grown on the leafy mulch that provides staple diet of the ants.  This time of year those leaves delivered to the nest that were tasted and recognized as being unsuitable by the quality control ants are brought back to the surface and dumped on top.  The further we go into the dry season, the higher these mounds of dried leaves will built up around the entrances of the nest.

Leaf-cutter Ant

Currently the waste disposal ants in the colonies seem to be hard at work too.  In many of the nests around the trails excavation has been taking place at a heightened level of activity.  If you were to walk the trails on a daily basis you would see the heaps of earth accumulating in ever increasingly sized mounds.  Take a closer look and you will see the ants whose allocated employment is to remove excavated earth and waste products from inside the nest and bring it to the outside.  Each one is carrying a fragment larger than her own head.  Where the waste tip issues from the side of a hill or bank you will see the friable piles tumbling down, in ant terms each mouthful the size of a boulder, to the base.

Feeding of the Ravenous Hordes

The leaf-cutters are not the only ants that have been stimulated into action over the past week or so.  At various points on several trails long columns of ants moving quickly, deliberately and determinedly have been seen.  These are army ants, (Echiton spp), one of the forests most formidable mini predators.  Army ants have no nest, they are nomadic.  They have to periodically change the location of their temporary headquarters due to the fact that being such a super efficient predator, were they to remain in any one area for a protracted period of time they would deplete the locality of all small forms of life.

They may be encountered in one of two phases of activity; translocation or foraging.  When on the move to a new hunting area the whole colony including the queen is on the march.  There appears to be an endless river of ants streaming across the forest floor, insects in fluid form.  The workers carry the immobile pupae like swaddling aliens in their mandibles.  When virgin territory is reached the army ants ball up, linking their legs together to form a living bivouac, generally somewhere in a sheltered spot such as a hollow log or under a large fallen branch.  The queen moves to the centre, swells up and starts to lay about 60,000 eggs a day.

When the first larvae emerge, they emit a pheromone which causes a change in the behavior of the other workers.  They are stimulated into a hunting response which results in the mustering of half a million murderous assassins swarming through the forest slaughtering all that find themselves so unfortunate to be in their path.  The ravenous hordes surge relentlessly across the forest floor, up trees and scouring every nook and cranny.  The foraging front can be anything up to 60 feet across and 3 feet in breadth.

Army Ant

The ant’s progress will be heralded by flocks of exciting birds gathering as if at a tickertape parade.  You will hear the calls of antbirds, ant-thrushes, antwrens, woodcreepers, woodpeckers and tinamous.  If ever you see Grey-headed Tanagers you will see army ants, they are obligative followers of the army ants.  None of the birds are here to eat the ants.  As the front moves forward so many creatures are flushed, fleeing for their lives only to meet their end in the bill of a hungry bird.

Even if they escape those two terminal hazards, a third gruesome fate may await.  Clouds of parasitic flies, Phorid flies are flying in droves at the head of the advancing front.  The hum of their countless buzzing wings can be heard in the air.  They fly in and lay an egg on any victim attempting to escape the melee of death beneath.  The fickle hand of fate has played them a cruel hand.  They may have escaped mandibles, bills and jaws but the insidious cargo they now carry will now become their executioner.  When the egg hatches the fly maggot will eat its victim alive.

The ants push forward, unrelenting in their pursuit of fresh meat.  Whatever they come across they have, spiders, scorpions, centipedes, beetles, cockroaches, crickets, small frogs, small lizards, small snakes and even fledgling birds, it matters little to the ants.  There is no hiding place; the only choice is to run.  Once found, the prey is overwhelmed in a seething mass of frenzied killers, the ant’s venom laden stingers plunging through the victim’s skin time and time again and within seconds it will have been done to death.  Then it will be butchered on the spot, the slashing mandibles of the ants acting like meat cleavers to dismember the cadaver.  The separate parts of its now mutilated corpse will be carried back along feeder columns from the foraging front to the bivouac to feed the hungry carnivorous larvae.  Once the larvae pupate, the hunting response is turned off and away they go nomadically through the forest until they reach new and rich killing fields from which they will steal the lives of countless unfortunate creatures now dwelling there in blissful ignorance of their rapidly approaching fate.

Swollen With Indignation

Snakes are never the easiest animal life form to find in the forest.  They are ever-present but tend to elude those who want to see them but ironically make an appearance for those who don’t.  As with everything else, once you overcome your aversion to these reptiles, then they become fascinating creatures evolutionarily modified for a unique legless life-style.

One reasonably common snake around the grounds of Bosque del Cabo is the Neotropical Bird-eating Snake, (Pseustes poecilonotus).  They can grow up to six feet or more in length, are a pale blue-grey in color with a yellow belly and quite often a dark head.  If approached they put on a defensive display that involves flattening the neck laterally and turning the head side on so that they look larger than they are.  They are also very snappy snakes and are inclined to readily strike out and bite if molested, a characteristic of both juveniles and adults alike.

Tropical Bird-eating Snake

As the common name suggests, the bird-eating snake feeds on chicks and eggs from nests.  The breeding success of many birds at Bosque is hampered by these lithe predators whose forked tongue allows them to locate the presence of prey very quickly.  Many times around the restaurant area where Cherrie’s Tanagers and House Wrens nest and raise their offspring, it is almost a certainty that before too long the bird-eaters will turn up.

Pseustes poecilonotus

This individual I happened across this week when returning to my cabin.  It was lying across the path and I could see it ahead so just stood and watched for a while.  Its tongue was flicking constantly in and out tasting the air for scent particles.  It moved very slowly its head face down intently following what seemed to be a trail across the ground.  Then it lifted its body and flattened its neck, still its tongue rapidly flicking to taste the air and leaf litter in front as if something was bothering it.  I could see no sign of other life.  It looked like its attention was going to be held in this area for a while so I fetched the camera, lowered myself to the ground and took some close ups of its head before letting it slowly slither off into the undergrowth.

Unexpected Visitors

As the forest is so full of life it is no surprise that things turn up all over the place all of the time.  If I was to sit on the patio of my cabin and take time to look around I will see a myriad of small animals each one of which can capture your attention and then hold you thrall to its actions which can be observed, noted and later analyzed.  It may produce nothing more than an air of idle curiosity but when you delve a little deeper then most subjects however large or small have a fascinating life history and natural biology.

Jumping Spider

This week I was sat reading in the shade and noticed a line of minute ants making their way up and down the outside wall of my abode.  They were little more than moving specks and in typical ant fashion were following in a fairly strict line in both directions.  There was nothing unusual in this per se and my attention was concentrated more on where they were coming from and consequently where they were going to before returning again.

Saltacidae

Off to one side of the ant column was another small dark speck that I could make out as having eight legs.  Tiny as it was, its form and behavior suggested that of a jumping spider, Family Saltacidae.  As I sat watching a small drama unfolded.  One of the ants broke ranks and the maverick spirit took a line of its own deviating away from the main caravan.  This was to be its undoing.  Small prey attracts small predators; nature is red in tooth and claw at every size level.  This ant that had left behind the safety in numbers that comes with a being part of a group had now exposed itself as a target.  That error did not escape the attention of the spider.

Jumping Spider

Despite its minute dimensions, the jumping spider is an evolutionarily adapted hunting and killing machine.  Looking at it face on you will find the front of the head bears huge eyes which in spider terms are visually acute.  It’s not very often that the spider prey will see these eyes as the jumping spiders are as stealthy as a cat.  Once they have singled out their victim they sneak up on it at the last moment launch into the air landing on the hapless prey.  Needle sharp chelicerae inject a powerful immobilizing venom and digestive enzymes which both kill the prey as well as reducing its innards to a soup that the spider can suck from its now dead shell.

That is what happened to the ant.  It would not have even registered that anything was happening.  The attack was lightning fast.  The ant did not know what hit it and it was dispatched in the blink of an eye.  The tragedy played out on the mini stage before me was one of countless such encounters that you can witness all around if you choose to redirect the focus of your attention.

Bat Sac

Despite their numbers, abundance and diversity bats are not always the easiest animals to find.  When you do find a bat, without having it in your hand it may not always be the easiest animal to identify to species level.  Costa Rica has a very diverse bat fauna, 111 species in total of which 80 species live on the Osa Peninsula.

Some bats are so distinctive though that their identity leaves little ambiguity as to what it is you are looking at, the Greater White-lined Bat, (Saccopteryx bilineata), falls into this category.  One morning while walking on the Zapatero Trail with a group of guests, we stopped to watch two bats flitting around between the giant buttresses of the tree.  They would settle momentarily then flit off again to land not so far away.  When they did land it was face down but with the head pushed out at almost a right angle to the body.  This is the characteristic poise of the Greater White-lined Bat.  After the tour had ended I headed back in the hope of getting some photographs.  My luck was in, the bats were still there.  They were not keen on my presence and kept moving but with a little perseverance I managed to capture several images.

Greater White-lined Sac-wnged Bat

The Greater White-lined Bat is one of the sac-winged bats belonging to the Family Emballonuridae.  They are insectivorous bats and are normally communal roosters having one male guarding a harem of one or more females.  Quite often there can be several roosts in close proximity.  They are called sac-winged bats as the male has a small pouched scent gland on the wing in front of the forearm.  This emits a smelly secretion which is used in both territorial and mating displays.  The male can be seen during the course of the day flying up and down in front of the females serenading them with releasing scent from his ‘sac’.

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

Localised Poison

There are two species of poison arrow frog to be found at Bosque del Cabo; the Black and Green Poison Arrow Frog, (Dendrobates auratus), and the Golfo Dulce Poison Arrow Frog, (Phyllobates vittatus).  Both are visually unique, both have different calls and they inhabit different habitats so there should be no confusion as to what you are looking at when you find one.

Black and Green Poison Arrow Frog

Currently on the forest floor behind the restaurant where the Creek Trail enters the forest the Black and Green Poison Arrow Frogs can be seen without little difficulty.  You just have to walk ten yards or so then stop and look down by your feet and invariably you will see at least one but often several hopping around.  They are not inclined to be shy either, quite often making their way across the open expanse of the cleared trail or jumping around on the leaf litter to the sides.  The Golfo Dulce Poison Arrow Frogs can be a little more difficult to locate.  They prefer damper habitat and can be found by the creek beds.

Both species have different calls.  The black and green has a high pitched trill which is produced in a very broken stuttering fashion.  The golfo dulce calls with a long unbroken trill.  At certain times of the year you can hear the golfo dulce constantly calling but that is not always going to lead you straight to them.  They are more retiring than their black and green relatives and usually call from under fallen leaves, hollow logs or small spaces in the banks.  Also due to their inherent ability with regards to ventriloquism they seem to be in a different location to where the calls are emanating from.

The poison arrow frogs are diurnal.  For a frog to be found hopping around on the forest floor during the light of day would normally make it an easy target for predators.  These frogs have evolved toxic skin secretions to protect them against predation.  But there is little point having a toxic skin secretion if the predators are not aware of it.  If the frog gets eaten it is too late for both the frog and the animal naïve enough to eat it.  The glowing colors that they sport make them stand out clearly against the background.  If something is so deliberately drawing attention to itself it is not inviting predators to dine on it but rather warning them off.  These are warning colors, aposematic coloration.

Golfo Dulce Poison Arrow Frog

The black and green secretes a lipophilic alkaloid skin toxin which if you get it on your skin can cause burning and itchiness of cuts and scrapes.  Woe betides you if you get it on any mucus membranes such as eyes, nose or mouth.  Put two of these frogs in a bag together and they will die.  The golfo dulce is the most poisonous of the Costa Rican poison arrow frogs.  The skin toxin is a batrachotoxin which poisons heart muscle causing a painful death.  Do not attempt to handle these frogs but by all means admire them for their toxic beauty.

Text and Photographs are taken from the forthcoming book:

The Natural History of Bosque del Cabo by Philip Davison

Temperature and Rainfall

Average Daily Rainfall 0.04 ins.  Total Weekly Rainfall 0.29 ins

Average Daily Rainfall 1.1 mm.  Total Weekly Rainfall 7.4 mm

Highest Daily Temp 96°F.  Lowest Daily Temp 75°F.

Highest Daily Temp 35.9°C.  Lowest Daily Temp 24.8°C.

Species List for the Week

Mammals

  • Mantled Howler Monkey
  • Spider Monkey
  • White-faced Monkey
  • Agouti
  • Alfaro’s Pygmy Squirrel
  • Red-tailed Squirrel
  • Greater White-lined Bat
  • Collared Peccary

Birds

  • Crimson-fronted Parakeet
  • Red-lored Amazon
  • Scarlet Macaw
  • Great Curassow
  • Crested Caracara
  • Mangrove Black Hawk
  • Roadside Hawk
  • White Hawk
  • Crested Owl
  • Spectacled Owl
  • Chestnut-backed Antbird
  • Short-billed Pigeon
  • White-tipped Dove
  • Blue-crowned Motmot
  • Rufus Piha
  • Long-billed Hermit
  • Red-capped Manakin
  • Chestnut-mandibled Toucan
  • Grey-headed Tanager
  • Bright-rumped Atilla
  • Dusky-capped Flycatcher
  • Black-throated Trogon
  • Great Tinamou
  • House Wren
  • Black Vulture
  • Turkey Vulture

Reptiles

  • Barred Ameiva
  • Cat-eyed Snake
  • Central American Smooth Gecko
  • Central American Whiptail
  • Clawless Gecko
  • Four-lined Ameiva
  • Golfo Dulce Anolis
  • Mediterranean House Gecko
  • Pug-nosed Anole
  • Tropical Bird-eating Snake

Amphibians

  • Black and Green Poison Arrow Frog
  • Golfo Dulce Poison Arrow Frog
  • Marine Toad
  • Masked Smilisca
  • Red-eyed Green Tree Frog
  • Savage’s Thin-fingered Frog
  • Stejneger’s Dirt Frog

Butterflies

  • Anartia Fatima
  • Anartia jatrophae
  • Archaeoprepona demophon
  • Caligo eurilochus
  • Colobura dirce
  • Dryas iulia
  • Eueides aliphera
  • Eueides lybia
  • Eurema albula
  • Glutophrissa drusilla
  • Heliconius erato
  • Heliconius hecale
  • Heliconius ismenius
  • Heliconius sapho
  • Heraclides cresphontes
  • Hermeuptychia hermes
  • Morpho helenor
  • Morpho Menelaus
  • Parides erithalion
  • Pierella helvina
  • Pierella luna
  • Pierella argante
  • Phoebis sennae
  • Philaethria dido
  • Pyrisitia proterpia
  • Pyrrhogyra crameri
  • Temenis laothoe

Plants

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

 

 

Galling Tales From Under a Tent   Leave a comment


Felipe del Bosque Blog February 20th 2012

Baked Earth

The weather conditions, as would be expected at this time of year, continue to be hot and dry.  There have been some nights with cloud and one brief sprinkling of rain but it would be a surprise if we ended up with any measurable precipitation.  The days are clear and sunny with the temperatures constantly in the upper 90’s.

The trails through the forests are now rock hard and starting to crack up as they lose moisture at deeper levels.

Return to Camp

The Puma sightings continue all around the grounds of Bosque.  Last week a group of four friends videoed the resident half-tailed female as she walked nonchalantly past their house.  Several days later another couple found a male Puma lying asleep on the Titi Trail.  It proved too much of a perfect subject and they obtained a really nice picture.  One of our staff was busy washing her hands early one morning when she saw a male Puma walk in front of her.  She followed it shoeless and hands covered in soap along a forest trail before it left the path and headed into the forest.  Two more guests were out on an early morning walk before leaving the lodge when they saw a Puma heading down on the trail towards the suspension bridge.

Over recent weeks, the Tent-making Bats, (Uroderma bilobatum), have been finding their way back under the leaves of some of the palms near the restaurant.  The bats used the leaves every night for the first eight years of my residence here but for the next four years used the same roosts less and less, eventually stopping altogether, only making occasional returns.

Tent-making Bats

One night while out on a Sunset Tour, we had a Kinkajou, (Poto flavus), walk across the path in front of us, go to the edge of the pond and start to drink.  It is very rare to see a Kinkajou on the ground but the exceedingly dry conditions must have forced this one from the trees to get a drink.  Kinkajous are nocturnal arboreal feeders on flowers but they may also take nectar, insects and lizards.  They have a very low muscle mass and so sometimes may seem emaciated.  As this one leant forward to drink, the specialized limbs which can rotate 180° could clearly be seen with rear toes facing backwards to hold the pond edge.

Kinkajou

New Nests

The bird nesting season is well under way.  For several weeks now three pairs of Great Kiskadees have made nests around the restaurant garden area.  One of them is very obvious in the fork of a large Guanacaste tree.  In the forest there are several Scarlet Macaw, (Ara macaw), and Chestnut-mandibled Toucan, (Ramphastos swainsoni), nests.  The toucans and macaws are both cavity nesters that utilize holes in trees well above ground level but you can see them coming and going, disappearing inside the tree before emerging sometime later.  There is also a nest of a Purple-crowned Fairy Hummingbird, (Heliothryx barotti), sitting precariously on top of a leaf belonging to one of the broader leafed plants not too far from the restaurant.  At the moment it contains one jelly bean sized white egg.

There was a new first for me this week with the spotting of a Hook-billed Kite, (Chondrohierax uncinatus), during the course of a morning Primary Forest Tour on the Zapatero Trail.  I saw the bird fly through the trees and land on a branch some distance away.  These kites are normally found in forests near water feeding on lizards and snails.  We don’t have a high abundance of snails at Bosque but we certainly have many lizards.

One Year On

One of the Green Iguanas, (Iguana iguana), hatched last year has taken to sleeping nightly in some of the bushes by the pond.  It still sports the bright green coloration of a juvenile but is now twice the hatchling length.  We see the newly hatched iguanas around May and June but don’t often see the adults which tend to frequent the higher levels of trees.  The adults can reach 5 or 6 feet in length, are darker in color and the diet changes from insectivorous to more herbivorous with age.

Green Iguana

I have seen a few young Central American Smooth Geckoes, (Thecadactylus rapicauda), on the walls of several Bosque buildings.  Last week I also found the egg of a Mediterranean House Gecko, (Hemidactylus frenatus), in a tiny cavity low down in a Star Fruit Tree.

One night a young Boa Constrictor, (Boa constrictor), turned up, crossing the floor of the bar as the guests were eating in the restaurant.  Down by the pond the Cat-eyed Snakes, (Leptodeira septentrionalis), are still out but only two or three a night rather than the large numbers we find during the wet season when their main food source, frogs and frog eggs are available in abundance.

Boa constrictor

Cat-eyed Snake

This week on the Zapatero Trail we found a large Tropical Bird-eating Snake, (Pseustes poecilinotus), lying across the path.  As we approached it gave a display that nicely illustrates its other names; the Hissing or Puffing Snake.  It spreads its neck laterally giving itself a larger profile while at the same time expelling air through its glottis making a deep and intimidating hissing sound.  It is, in fact, a totally harmless but is inclined to bite and repeatedly so.

Tropical Bird-eating Snake

Wet Behind The Ears

Something stimulated the Smokey Jungle Frogs, (Leptodactylus savegei), into breeding action this week.  Two males could be heard calling in different locations.  The following evening, two females had joined the company of one of the males at the pond.

Smokey Jungle Frog

For several weeks a single male Banana Frog, (Dendropsophus ebreccatus), would emerge from the shade when the sun set and sit on top of the Water Hyacinth calling forlornly for a mate.  None came and one night the male disappeared.  The hungry Cat-eyed Snakes probably found him while patrolling the pond for froglets emerging from the water and he most likely ended up in one of their stomachs.

Banana Frog

Soft and Blurry

At the moment as you wander through primary forest, secondary forest, the gardens and the driveway, you will be surrounded by swirling masses of brightly colored wings as we reach the zenith of annual butterfly activity.

The most obvious of the butterflies are the Heliconiids or longwings.  They tend to be decked in bright gaudy colors and so are the most noticeable.  Many species can be found around the Lantana bush, a little way beyond the pond.  On the forest floor you will see some of the Satyrs or browns.  The commonest is Pierella luna, a medium sized and subtly marked butterfly that always remains close to the forest floor.  As soon as it settles, the color of the wings blend in with the background dead leaf litter and it disappears from view.  At the moment there is another brown butterfly to be seen on the Zapatero Trail, Antirrhea philoctetes.  It is not actually one of the Satyrs although it is similarly colored; it is one of the Morphinae which are well known for the spectacularly impressive Blue Morphos.

Pierella luna

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

 Galling Problem

One of the unusual things people sometimes see on the underside of leaves is small pointed fleshy projections.  These are galls and they are the result of a tiny wasp laying eggs in the plant tissue.  The wasp belongs to the Hymenopteran family Cynipidae.  There are many species of gall wasp and each one causes a different looking gall to be formed.  Even within one species of wasp, depending upon where the egg was laid, different parts of the plant can produce a different gall.  Even within the life history of the gall wasp, different generations at different times of the year can produce different looking galls.

Plant Gall

Gall wasps are so small that they are barely visible to the naked eye, you really need a hand lens to see them and in fact you are far more likely to see the galls and not the wasps.  The mechanism involved with the production of a gall is not fully understood.  The wasp lays an egg in the plant tissue; it is then possible that the wasp larva uses its saliva to cause a reaction in the undifferentiated plant cells resulting in a mass of tissue being deposited around the larva in the form of a cyst.

Plant Gall

The larva develops within the cyst to eventually emerge as a new adult.  The gall may not only house the gall wasp but a host of other small insects too including parasitic wasps of a different family and larvae of parasitic flies.

A Dose of Shingles

The forest is home to a myriad species of vines and their woody forms, lianas.  Vines and lianas have a different early life history to most plants.  When a seed germinates the young plant generally grows towards the light.  If a vine or liana was to grow towards the light, they would end up in a temporary sunfleck on the forest floor, have nowhere to go and so wither and die.  Vine and lianas initially grow towards darkness, a situation known as skototropism and it normally results in the vine growing towards the base of a tree.  When it makes contact there is a hormonal change that takes place and the vine now starts growing up towards the light.  So it has to find the platform before it can climb it.

Shingle Leaves

Many vines as they make their way up from the forest floor into the canopy they change their leaf form.  While growing along the forest floor, the stem may be leafless or have very small leaves.  At it starts to climb the tree the leaves remain small and overlap like a series of shingles.  This helps keep a constant humid microclimate close to the leaves.  The small overlapping leaves are probably all that a developing plant can support.

Philodendron sp

As the vine grows up the side of a tree, the shape of the leaf now changes.  It now becomes long stalked and has a large light gathering leaf surface.  Strangely enough it is not increased light levels that cause the leaf to change shape as the change will occur in the open where light is hitting the full length of the tree but rather the developmental age of the plant stem.

If you look carefully at lower levels of the tree trunks you will see the small overlapping shingle leaves tightly hugging the trunk.  Turn your gaze up and you will see the large leaves that you are probably more familiar with.

Text and Photographs are taken from the forthcoming book:

The Natural History of Bosque del Cabo by Philip Davison

Temperature and Rainfall

Average Daily Rainfall 0.00 ins.  Total Weekly Rainfall 0.00 ins

Average Daily Rainfall 0.00 mm.  Total Weekly Rainfall 0.00 mm

Species List for the Week

Mammals

  • Howler Monkey
  • Spider Monkey
  • Tent-making Bats
  • Agouti
  • Red-tailed Squirrel

Birds

  • Red-lored Amazon
  • Scarlet Macaws
  • White-crowned Parrot
  • Hook-billed Kite
  • Mangrove Black Hawk
  • Roadside Hawk
  • Lineated Woodpecker
  • Blue-crowned Motmot
  • Black-hooded Antshrike
  • Chestnut-backed Antbird
  • Common Paureque
  • Short-billed Pigeon
  • White-tipped Dove
  • Blue-crowned Manakin
  • Red-capped Manakin
  • Chestnut-mandibled Toucan
  • Summer Tanager
  • Rufus Piha
  • Bright-rumped Atilla
  • Dusky Flycatcher
  • Great Kiskadee
  • Great Tinamou
  • House Wren
  • Black-throated Trogon
  • Black Vulture
  • Turkey Vulture

Reptiles

  • Barred Ameiva
  • Central American Whiptail
  • Five-lined Ameiva
  • Cat-eyed Snake
  • Clawless Gecko
  • Golfo Dulce Anolis
  • Tropical Bird-eating Snake

Amphibians

  • Banana Frog
  • Marine Toad
  • Red-eyed Green Tree Frog
  • Smokey Jungle Frog
  • Stejneger’s Dirt Frog

Butterflies

  • Agraulis vanillae
  • Anartia fatima
  • Anartia jatrophae
  • Antirrhea philoctetes
  • Autochton neis
  • Dryas iulia
  • Eueides lybia
  • Eurema daira
  • Glutophrissa drusilla
  • Heliconius erato
  • Heliconius hecale
  • Heliconius ismenius
  • Heliconius sapho
  • Heraclides cresphontes
  • Hermeuptychia hermes
  • Magneuptychia libye
  • Morpho helenor
  • Morpho Menelaus
  • Opsiphanes tamarindi
  • Parides erithalion
  • Philaetria dido
  • Pierella luna
  • Phoebis argante
  • Phoebis sennae
  • Pyrisitia nise
  • Pyrrhogyra crameri
  • Pyrrhogyra otolais
  • Quadrus cerialis
  • Urbanus simplicius
  • Urbanus tanna

Plants

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

 

Praying For a Hooded Killer under the Cloak of Darkness   Leave a comment


Felipe del Bosque Blog Jan 24th 2011

Average Daily Temp High 85°F.  Average Daily Temp Low 73°F.

Average Daily Rainfall 0.59 ins.  Total Weekly Rainfall 4.12 ins

Average Daily Temp High 29.2 °C.  Average Daily Temp Low 22.5 °C.

Average Daily Rainfall 14.9 mm.  Total Weekly Rainfall 104.6 mm

The temperatures are starting to creep up, not so that you would notice, other than it results in changes you can see.  Now many of the trees are flowering, Ajo, Hule and Peine de Mono.  Some trees are fruiting, the Matapalo, Fruta Dorada and Peine de Mono.

Last week we had one night and day of almost continual rain, but that is the exception rather than the rule this time of year.  Once again it serves to keep the area from becoming very dry.  Another benefit is that the rain keeps the ground soft and so you can still see what has been around from the tracks they leave behind.

Some of the visitors to Bosque had the chance to see, not the animals themselves, but the tracks on the Titi Trail of Puma, Collared Peccary and a Tapir.

Normally I take people up into the forest canopy in the afternoon but on one occasion this week circumstances dictated that we ascend into the treetops midmorning.  The location of the tree platform means that it is bathed in fierce sunlight before lunch, with very little shade for respite.  On my infrequent forays into the ante meridian inferno I have been fortunate to see some unusual butterflies and this visit proved to be every bit as fortuitous.  There was a spectacular Morpho theseus hanging almost motionless in the air in front of me.  This is a butterfly with large wings colored white on the top surface not blue as some of more commonly encountered relatives.

The imperceptible temperature increases are continuing to have a mark effect on the number of butterflies I am seeing.  Last week’s butterfly transect butterfly count registered 41 species over the course of the day.

Many of the birds have now paired up, found nest sites and started laying eggs.  Out on the Zapatero Trail I noticed a Striped-throated Hermit flying repeatedly to and fro from a perch not far from the path.  Standing motionless on the trail, silently observing I could see what she was waiting to do.  Above my head was a long, cup shaped nest that had been attached to the underside of a palm frond.  The frond serves well as an umbrella to shade nest from falling rain and bright sun.  The female hermit had carefully attached the nest to the leaf using the distinct yellow threads of strong silk from a Golden-orb Spider web.

One female Cherrie’s Tanager has made her nest in a small palm near the Bosque swimming pool.  She doesn’t appear to be too bothered by the presence of bathers.  When she vacates the nest you can see it contains two eggs of a wedgewood blue color.

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

Tropical Bird-eating Snake Tropical Bird-eating Snake Tropical Bird-eating Snake

Two weeks ago I featured here a juvenile Tropical Bird-eating Snake.  This week an adult turned up and so I managed to take some photographs which nicely show the tremendous difference in coloration between juveniles and adults.  The total lack of resemblance had me fooled for some time after I arrived here, I was convinced I was looking at a different species; I just wasn’t sure which one.

The successful raising of chicks by nesting birds can be fraught with hazards, not the least of which is predation by snakes.  It is probably no great surprise to find Tropical Bird-eating Snakes where their prey is sitting on a nest.  Adult birds, chicks and eggs will all be consumed with relish by these attractive looking snakes.

A regular visitor to the restaurant at night is the Hooded Mantis, (Choeradodis sp).  These intriguing creatures also solicit a response from the diners due to their resemblance to a flying bean pod.  The mimicked similarity is not simply co-incidence; it allows the mantis to remain motionless, blending in perfectly with its background, awaiting the opportunity to strike out with lightning fast precision and capture any prey item oblivious to its presence.

Choeradodis sp

Choeradodis sp

I have always found something compelling about mantises.  Perhaps it is the way they always turn their heads to follow you and the way the eye appears to have a distinct dark pupil, (it doesn’t, it is just a feature resulting from the structure of the compound eye).

Finally, a spider that I had seen taking refuge inside a leaf, the two sides of which had been stuck together with silk, to provide respite from the daytime sun.  Once the sun sets, out it comes to sit in the centre of the web in the hope of catching a meal for the evening.

Unidentified Orb Spider - Hiding During the Day Unidentified Orb Spider - In The Web at Night

Having taken its photograph during the day, I returned after sunset to obtain a more complete image at night.

Unidentified Orb Spider

Unidentified Orb Spider - Ventral View

Text and Photographs are taken from the forthcoming book:

The Natural History of Bosque del Cabo by Philip Davison

Species List for the Week

Mammals

Howler Monkey

Spider Monkey

Nine-banded Armadillo

Agouti

White-nosed Coati

Birds

Red-lored Amazon

Scarlet Macaw

Great Currasow

Crested Caracara

Rufus Piha

Chestnut-backed Antbirds

Stripe-throated Hummingbird

Short-billed Pigeon

White-tipped Dove

Brown Pelican

Chestnut-mandibled Toucan

Cherrie’s Tanager

Bright-rumped Atilla

Great Kiskadee

Riverside Wren

Great Tinamou

Black Vulture

Turkey Vulture

Reptiles

Mediterranean House Gecko

Central American Smooth Gecko

Clawless Gecko

Goflo Dulce Anolis

Basilisk

Four-lined Ameiva

Barred Ameiva

Cat-eyed snake

Tropical Bird-eating Snake

Amphibians

Marine Toad

Red-eyed Green Tree Frog

Banana Frog

Masked Smilisca

Milky Frog

Fitzinger’s Rain Frog

Stejneger’s Dirt Frog

Butterflies

Adelpha basiloides

Adelpha cytherea

Anartia Fatima

Anartia jatrophae

Anthanassa ardys

Antirrhea philoctetes

Arawacus lincoides

Cissia confusa

Cithaerias pireta

Cupido comyntas

Eueides aliphera

Eueides lybia

Dione juno

Dryas iulia

Euptychia westwoodi

Eurema albula

Glutophrissa Drusilla

Gorgythion begga

Heliconius cydno

Heliconius erato

Heliconius hecale

Heliconius ismenius

Heliconius sapho

Heraclides cresphontes

Hermeuptychia hermes

Marpesia alcibiades

Mechanitis polymnia

Metacharis victrix

Morpho helenor

Morpho Menelaus

Morpho theseus

Panoquina panoquinoids

Parides erithalion

Philaethria dido

Phoebis agarithe

Phoebis argante

Phoebis sennae

Pierella helvina

Pierella luna

Pompeius pompeius

Pyrgus oileus

Pyrisitia nise

Pyrrhogyra crameri

Siproeta stelenes

Tigridia acesta

Urbanus proteus

Urbanus simplicius

Urbanus tanna

Plants

Yellow-trumpet Vine flowering

Calabash flowering and fruiting

Monkey Comb Tree flowering and fruiting

Garlic Tree Flowering

Candlestick Plant Flowering.

Cannonball Tree Flowering

Hule flowering

Heisteria fruiting

Nutmeg fruiting

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