Trip to Costa Rica, August 2012

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moloch
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Trip to Costa Rica, August 2012

Post by moloch » September 7th, 2012, 5:41 pm

In August, I spent 12 days in Costa Rica with a couple of friends. It was fantastic to see this lovely country again and see the changes that have occurred since my student days in 1980. Eco-tourism has been highly successful and there were lodges and infrastructure all over the areas that we visited. We did not have much time so decided to visit areas that were not far apart to reduce the time lost to transfers. August is one of the wet months but the rain was never excessive and we always had a few hours of sun each day.

Our itinerary included the following stops:
1) Suena Azul, a lodge in Horquetas. We spent a single night while awaiting the tractor ride to Rara Avis the following morning.
2) Rara Avis, a remote lodge on the southern boundary of Braulio Carillo NP. This was a beautiful place located at about 700m elevation on the Caribbean flank of Volcan Barva. It was an extremely wet place. Branches and trunks of trees were totally covered with epiphytes.
3) La Selva Biological Station. We spent three nights at this lowland sites.
4) Observatory Lodge, Volcan Arenal. We spent three nights at this mid-level site.

I will begin this post with the photos from La Selva. In 1980, I spent a number of weeks here while studying birds from a canopy tower. Now, I could hardly recognize the reseach station. La Selva has a huge amount of new accommodation, labs, libraries and the like for the biologists who are studying various aspects of tropical ecology. In 1980, access to the reserve was via a boat trip up the Sarapiqui River from Puerto Viejo. Now, there is a road and bridge access. The old muddy trails are mostly paved within 2kms of the headquarters. Once I walked far back into the reserve, I reached the muddy trails that were more familiar to me. La Selva is really a top place to visit with so much to see.

The following shot illustrates the location of La Selva. The watershed above it is protected all the way to the top of Volcan Barva.
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La Selva is mostly covered with lowland rainforest.
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Ted and Cindy found this stunning yellow colour phase of the Eye-lash Viper (Bothriechis schlegelii). This species was at the top of my snake "wish-list" so I was very happy to see it. It certainly was not cryptic on the buttressed root but would have been harder to see on a Heliconia.
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Norops were common lizards. Several species were possible.
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I saw a numbert of frogs while on night walks.

Common Rain Frog (Craugastor fitzingeri) -- thanks, Don
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Mimic Rain Frog (Craugastor mimus) -- thanks, Don
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These small toads (Bufo haematiticus) were seen a few times along the trails after night rains.
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I saw Banded Owl Butterflies (Caligo atreus) once or twice each day in the forest interior.
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Nymphalids in the subfamily Satyrinae were numerous in the forest. Some of these were nicely marked.
1. Jesia Satyr (Euptychia jesia)
2. Blue-smudged Satyr (Chloreuptychia arnaca): the lower, inner wings were blue.
3. not certain of the species
4. not certain of the species
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This fulgorid was incredible. I believe that it was Phrictus quinquepartitus, one of Lanternflies.
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Whip Scorpion or Amblypygi.
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I liked these nicely coloured fungi.
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More rainforest plants:
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Monkey pot seed pod (Lecythis ampla) are relatives of Brazil Nuts. These were huge seed pods ... definitely would not want one of these to land on one's head!
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Monkey Comb (Apeiba membranacea). These seed pods always make me think of sea urchins.
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others ...
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A pair of Rufous Motmots were digging a burrow for a nest right next to the trail. The size of the hole was huge which seemed quite odd. They must be vulnerable to predaceous mammals and large snakes.
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Keel-billed Toucan: Always nice to see and hear the toucans. Chestnut-mandible and Collared Aracari were also frequent in the forest.
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Great Tinamou. These birds are normally very shy but some near the headquarters must be use to seeing people. Their songs are a gorgeous, rich flute-like whistle. The calls at night are one of my favourite sounds in the forest.
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Some parts of the reserve support swamp forest. Years ago, I spent many nights along trails here looking for reptiles and amphibians.
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Fer-de-Lance (Bothrops asper) were said to be the most commonly encountered snake at La Selva. We found this single individual while we were on a night walk in the swamp forest.
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This Hyla rufitela was discovered by day on a small plant in the swamp forest.
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Strawberry Dart Frog (Oophaga pumilio or Dendrobates pumilio). These frogs were common in wet areas. Their body size was smaller than those at Rara Avis. I will include the latter in a subsequent addition to the post. These little guys are quite shy and are hard to photograph.
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One of the highlights to me in the swamp forest was seeing these clear wing Satyrinae. They are almost invisible when in flight in the dark understorey of the forest. This was particularly true of the first species below. The second species was slightly more obvious in flight but I usually could only see the red patches and nothing else.
1, 2: Dulcedo polita. The butterly jumped with the preflash in photo 2 but this illustrates how clear the wings appear.
3. Rusted Clearwing Satyr (Cithaerias pireta)
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Stream Anoles (Norops oxylophus) were common in the swamp forest. They readily swam and would dive beneath the surface when disturbed.
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I liked this trail marker, "trail without a name", in the swamp forest.
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We visited "Sendero Cantarana", the trail of the frog songs, on two nights. The trail passed through an open flooded area and was alive with frogs and songs at night.
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Red-Eyed Tree-Frog (Agalychnis callidryas). These are one of the most attractive species of frogs in Costa Rica.
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Yellow Blunt-headed Vine Snake (Imantodes inornatus) were frog eaters and they were numerous around the swamp of Sendero Cantarana.
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Brown Forest Turtle (Rhinoclemmys annulata) were observed along Sendero Cantarana as well as along another trail in the reserve.
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I spent a fair amount of time chasing butterflies. One of the best areas for butterfly photography was in the secondary plots in the southern portion of the reserve.
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Skippers were abundant here.
1. unknown
2. Emerald Aguna (Aguna claxon)
3. Spotted Flat (Celaenorrhinus monartus)
4. Bifurcated Flat (Celaenorrhinus bifurcus)
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Nymphalidae
1) Malachite (Siproeta stelenes)
2) Little Banner (Nica flavilla)
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Heliconiinae were a beautiful subfamily of the Nymphalids. One of the prettiest was the Crimson-patched Longwing (Heliconius erato) that was feeding from a Heliconia flower.
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Sara Longwing (Heliconius sara)
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1. Tiger Longwing (Heliconius hecale)
2. Tiger Longwing (Heliconius hecale)
3. Not certain, but I think this to be an Ithomiinae, Polymnia Tigerwing (Mechanitis polymnia). Ithomiinae and Heliconiinae are both distasteful butterflies to predators. Many of these illustrate Muellerian mimicry where the distasteful species converge to the same pattern. It is interesting to see but makes the species and even sub-families hard to recognize.
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Cydno Longwing (Heliconius cydno)
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Metalmarks (Rhiodininae) were abundant in Costa Rica. I saw many species but was only able to photograph a few.


Possibly Emesis lucinda. The outer wings were orange and the butterfly looked quite different in flight.
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Calephelis sp.
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I saw these gorgeous day-flying moths of family Uraniidae a few times.
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This moth of family Castniidae was really odd with the clubbed antannae.
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Big spider at night.
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Crested Guans were frequent this year. Their numbers have certainly built up with protection since 1980. Great Currasows were also seen a few times.
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Restaurant. This was an excellent place for birding with many nearby fruiting trees. Flocks of tanagers, thrushes and flycatchers often moved through the area. One morning, army ants raided this area. The ground was covered with ants that investigated all the nooks and crannies beneath the chairs and tables. We watched small insects running for their lives. Scarlet-rumped Tanagers and others came into the area to catch the arthropods distrubed by the ants.
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Violaceous Trogons were common by call and occasionally seen.
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White-collared Manakin: We watched this adult male and a juvenile male doing the manakin wing-snap and rapid flight between saplings on a number of occasions. They often displayed right next to the restaurant.
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Tanagers: We saw many of these lovely birds.
1. Golden-hooded Tanager (top)
2. Palm Tanager (left)
3. Social Flycatcher (right)
4. Blue-grey Tanager (left)
5. Black-faced Grosbeak (right)
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We stayed in this house just across the river from the reserve.
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Leptodactylus pentadactylus were frequent on the lawns at night.
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In the old days, access to La Selva was by boat from Puerto Viejo. Now, it is just a matter of walking across the bridge.
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The big Green Iguanas (Iguana iguana) were a frequent site in trees near the bridge.
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Ted took this photo of a Prehensile-tailed Porcupine that was crossing the bridge one morning.
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Ted's photo of a Ringed Kingfisher
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... Rara Avis will be next

millside
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Re: Trip to Costa Rica, August 2012

Post by millside » September 8th, 2012, 4:28 am

awesome shots of the butterflies, still now sure how you are able to get them so well.
waiting for the rara avis post, patiently.

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JakeScott
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Re: Trip to Costa Rica, August 2012

Post by JakeScott » September 8th, 2012, 5:21 am

An amazing trip! Very cool find on the Bothriechis. But I will have to admit, my favorite was the prehensile tailed porcupine.

-Jake

AsydaBass
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Re: Trip to Costa Rica, August 2012

Post by AsydaBass » September 8th, 2012, 8:44 am

Great post! Your first anole is a Slender Anole, Norops limifrons. The first frog is a Common Rain Frog, Craugastor fitzingeri, and the next from is a Mimic Rain Frog, Craugastor mimus. I really like that second photo of the Imantodes.

I am very much looking forward to the Rara Avis post, as I lived there for a number of years, and still continue with my research there about three times a year. I was actually just there from August 8 - August 17. We must have just missed each other.

Pura Vida,
-Don
www.RainforestDon.com

AsydaBass
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Re: Trip to Costa Rica, August 2012

Post by AsydaBass » September 8th, 2012, 8:46 am

Oh, I forgot to mention, I'm quite jealous of the Porcupine! That's one species that still eludes me in Central America.

-Don
www.RainforestDon.com

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moloch
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Re: Trip to Costa Rica, August 2012

Post by moloch » September 8th, 2012, 2:17 pm

Thanks very much, guys, for the feedback.

Don, I appreciate the identifications. Wow, you lived at Rara Avis for several years? That must have been a fantastic experience. The forest into Braulio Carillo was so pristine. I would love to spend much more time there. Unfortunately, they are on the brink and unless something happens soon, may cease to exist. They've lost their main customer and access to the site is probably too difficult for most tourists. I hope that does not happen since it would be such a loss.

I hoped to pick up a few of the wet forest birds that I missed back in 1980. I did see a few but the Blue-and-Gold Tanager, Umbrellabird and Black-headed Antthrush still have eluded me. I did enjoy the big, mixed-species flocks of tanagers including Emerald, a new one to me.

I will begin to post photos from Rara Avis before long.

Regards,
David

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Brian Folt
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Re: Trip to Costa Rica, August 2012

Post by Brian Folt » September 8th, 2012, 7:57 pm

David,

Thanks for sharing your phenomenal experiences and images. Interesting observation on the Motmots -- I [presumably] noted those birds and that nest along the Sendero Tres Rios (STR) in 2010 and again in February of 2012. I wonder how long lived those birds and nest cavities are?

That rufitella in day-colors is really nice.

La Selva is a wonderful place, but I'm looking forward to your other adventures as well.

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Rags
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Re: Trip to Costa Rica, August 2012

Post by Rags » September 9th, 2012, 12:23 am

Super report as usual. For me also the porcupine stole the show.

Great diversity in butterflies. Emesis lucinda - strange!

White-collared Manakin: We watched this adult male and a juvenile male doing the manakin wing-snap and rapid flight between saplings on a number of occasions.
We also found these a couple of times - the noise they generate is such a startling sound. Like an electric current cracking through the trees. Never managed photos though.


Thanks for posting and looking forward to the next installment.

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Dalton Lund
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Re: Trip to Costa Rica, August 2012

Post by Dalton Lund » September 9th, 2012, 11:20 am

Very, very jealous. Can't wait till I can get down there. Awesome post, love the B. Asper, my favorite snake on the planet.

dickbartlett
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Re: Trip to Costa Rica, August 2012

Post by dickbartlett » September 9th, 2012, 11:28 am

As always, David, your post is wonderfully diverse. Thanx for sharing it with us. dick

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justinm
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Re: Trip to Costa Rica, August 2012

Post by justinm » September 9th, 2012, 12:21 pm

dickbartlett wrote:As always, David, your post is wonderfully diverse. Thanx for sharing it with us. dick

I agree you capture the essence of the trips you take, and you take some great ones!

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walk-about
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Re: Trip to Costa Rica, August 2012

Post by walk-about » September 9th, 2012, 7:21 pm

David,

That Hyla rufitela is stunning! Question about the Bothrops asper, is that a typical looking specimen in Costa Rica, or is there lots of variation in those things there? Looks kinda russet brown on my screen. The insect pictures you post are always the treat for me. This is a post I will revisit again and again. Thanks for the trip.

RocK ON!

Dave

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jordo
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Re: Trip to Costa Rica, August 2012

Post by jordo » September 10th, 2012, 12:40 am

Awesome post David, love the eyelash viper!

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moloch
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Re: Trip to Costa Rica, August 2012

Post by moloch » September 10th, 2012, 3:18 am

Thanks very much, everyone. I appreciate the feedback.

Brian,
It does sound like these were the same birds since they were along the STR trail.

Rags,
The sound of the manakins makes me think of the electric mossie zappers ... rapid series of snaps. They are just incredible birds. This year, we did not see Red-capped but they should be common at La Selva.

Dalton,
I think that you would be happy at La Selva with its good density of Fer-de-Lance. They always worry me, though, since they are so hard to see.

Thanks, Dick and Justin and Jordo.

Dave,
It is possible that I overcooked the photo when processing it. I am new to photoshop and have a big learning curve in front of me.




I will continue next with photos of Rara Avia, a magical place located at about 700m elevation on the same watershed as La Selva. It is situated on the boundary of Braulio Carillo NP, a huge preserve that is not open to the public. Rara Avis is located next to one of the few trail heads into this pristine national park.

This area was extremely wet with a high annual rainfall. Because of this, branches and tree trunks were totally covered with epiphytes. Trails were also difficult and I sometimes sank knee deep in mud. This wet forest was home to a number of localized birds and I hoped to add a few of these that I missed back in 1980. On this trip, I did see a single Purplish-backed Quail-Dove, many Emerald Tanagers and a few Ashy-headed Tanagers but birds like the Yellow-eared Toucanet, Bare-necked Umbrellabird, Blue-and-Gold Tanager and Black-headed Antthrush continued to elude me.

The journey to Rara Avis commenced from this small office in the village of Horquetas.
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A four-wheel drive tractor ride was necessary to reach the lodge. The road was not bad at first but was absolutely shocking for the last few kms. I did not realize that a tractor could tackle such conditions. We had to hang on continuously and there was little chance to birdwatch or to take photos. Our driver did stop once to point out a King Vulture that was circling high overhead. Ted later saw another at low level at the bridge next to the lodge.
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The road crossed farms at lower levels but higher up there were more extensive patches of forest.
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We spent five nights at Rara Avis. The first night was in a cabin that was situated a few hundred meters up a trail from the headquarters in a secluded patch of forest. It was a lovely place with the sound of the Sarapiqui River roaring in the background. We shared the cabin with big native rats that chewed on the walls during the night. More concerning to me was awakening with a Blood-sucking Conenose (big reduviid) on an adjacent window screen. These can be vectors of Chagas Disease so I am never pleased to sleep with them.
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The trail to the cabin was wet and slippery. Even though I was careful, I fell nearly everytime that I made the walk between the cafeteria and the cabin. This was not good for Ted who was recovering from an ankle injury so we relocated to "the hotel" on our second night. The balcony on the second floor had a great view of the surrounding forest and we often sat there and birdwatched during wet weather. We observed flocks of tanagers including Bay-headed, Silver-throated, Emerald, Golden-masked and Black-and-Yellow at close range. We also watched a small troop of White-faced Monkeys one day as they foraged in the nearby forest.
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Here is a shot of the cafeteria. It was a great place for seeing animals. We watched many mixed flocks of tanagers as they passed through nearby fruiting trees. At night, we heard Kinkajou, Least Pygmy Owls, Pauraque and saw large forest rats. A Baird's Tapir walked into the clearing near the lodge a few times during the week before our arrival. We were not so lucky and only observed tapir tracks in the mud.
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This Coati Mundi was often sighted near the cafeteria. It was not exactly tame but it was used to seeing people so would only run a short distance before continuing with its search for food.
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Rara Avis was a beautiful place. One of the nicest views of the area was of the waterfalls from the Mirador lookout. This area was about a half-hour walk from the cafeteria.
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River and habitat:
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For me, the highlight was walking into Braulio Carillo NP. It was just so lush and beautiful. Here are a few shots of the area.

Branches and tree trunks were totally covered:
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wet forest
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Bromeliads were numerous:
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... as were the lovely Heliconia flowers including a species with yellow flowers:
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I very nearly stepped on a Fer-de-Lance here about noon one day. There had been a torrential shower for an hour or so earlier in the morning. Finally, there was a break and the sun re-emerged. I was about an hour's walk into the park and was heading back quickly towards the headquarters. I put my boot down right next to a Fer-de-Lance that was crossing the trail. These are normally nocturnal snakes but this one was perhaps disturbed by the rain. The snake fortunately crawled rapidly into cover without biting me.
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Fer-de-Lance were certainly hard to see. After nearly stepping on this one, it headed into a sheltered area and the coiled while still keeping an eye on me:
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I saw Cope's or Blunt-headed Vine Snakes (Oxybelis brevirostris) on a couple of occasions.
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I saw this big Bird-eating Snake (Pseutes poecilonotus) one afternoon along the "El Plastico" trail.
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Water Anoles (Norops oxylophis) were common along creeks and even at the cafeteria. One of these displayed at me while I took its photo.
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Rainbow Ameiva (Ameiva festiva) were common near our accommodation
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Rara Avis produced a couple of species of frogs that I really wanted to see on this trip. The top of my frog wish-list was for a Crowned Tree-Frog (Anotheca spinosa). I was lucky and found one of these rare frogs on my first night. It was about the first frog encountered and wow, what an amazing creature it was! It hardly moved at all while I took photos.
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Glass Frogs (Centrolenella ilex) were also high on the wish list. We hired a guide who showed us several of these gorgeous creatures. Their bodies are translucent, hence the name.
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Dwarf or Spined Glass Frog (Teratohyla spinosa) -- thanks, Don.
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Strawberry Dart Frogs (Oophaga pumilio or Dendrobates pumilio) were seen a few times. Their body size was noticeably larger than those at La Selva. These little guys were quite wary and usually jump away and then hide beneath leaves when disturbed.
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These pretty Smilisca phaeota were seen near the cafeteria is a small pond.
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Common Rainfrog (Craugastor fitzingeri), were seen a couple of times:
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Broad-headed Rainfrog (Craugastor megacephalus) -- thanks, Don and Brian
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Brilliant Forest Frog (Rana warszewitischii) -- thanks Don and Brian
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Crowned Woodnymphs were the most abundant butterfly near the verbenna flowers. This was a male. In the second photo, the bird was drying itself after a heavy thundershower.
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Spotted Woodcreeper (thanks, Don). I saw many woodcreepers but they were often hard to recognize.
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More flowers from Braulio Carillo:
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"Hot Lips"
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One of the most exciting encounters was with this animal one afternoon. I walked about an hour from the headquarters to a small stream. I stopped just before reaching it to check for butterflies. A Puma suddenly jumped onto the rocks from the opposite bank. It had not seen me and was walking towards me. I thought that it might panic if it was too close when it detected me so I clapped once. The animal heard the sound but did not know the sou
rce. It looked up and down the creek and this gave me the chance to lift the camera and focus. I took this shot when it looked in my direction. The flash frightened the lion and it turned and raced away. What an experience! I could not help but look over my shoulder often on the return trip. My imagination also was animated when on lone night walks.
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These Satyrs (Pierella helvetia) were one of the most common butterflies in the forest interior. They tended to fly just a few cms above the surface of the ground and were hard to follow. They had lovely rose patches on their hindwings but usually would snap their wings closed after a beat or two following landing.
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Rusted Clearwing Satyrs (Cithaerias pireta) were fairly common in the forest understorey.
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... more tomorrow

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Brian Folt
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Re: Trip to Costa Rica, August 2012

Post by Brian Folt » September 10th, 2012, 6:27 am

Wow. I'm glad to see Anotheca spinosa are still holding on at Rara Avis/BCNP, because I've heard that species has declined significantly in the last 25 years.

Your 'Common Tink Frog' appears to be a Craugastor megacephalus. Note the characteristic "inverted parentheses" )( on the dorsum.

I think your 'Mimic Leaf Frog' may be another Lithobates warschewitzii.

Your 'Pygmy Rain Frog is likely a Craugastor fitzingeri, and I'm skeptical about your 'Coqui' also being a juvenile fitzingeri. Craugastor fitzingeri are identified by characteristic mid-gular white lines down the midline of their throat and a mottled pattern on the rear of the thigh. Got any pictures of those characters?

Incredible puma experience. Simply incredible. Was it an adult?

AsydaBass
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Re: Trip to Costa Rica, August 2012

Post by AsydaBass » September 10th, 2012, 7:14 am

David, a puma?! Simply amazing, sir! Good work. Anotheca spinosa was only just recorded for the first time at Rara Avis in 2008, and now we're seeing more and more of them every year.

As Brian mentioned, there are just a few corrections on the frog IDs:
The first glass frog picture is a Sachatamia ilex, however, the following glass frog photos are all Teratohyla spinosa, the Dwarf or Spined Glassfrog.
The "coqui" is indeed a young Common Rainfrog (Craugastor fitzingeri), to my knowledge, Coquis are not found up at Rara Avis
The Tink Frog is a Broad-headed Rainfrog (Craugastor megacephalus), and a good looking one at that. Those are one of my favorite species of frogs.
The Mimic rain frogs are all Brilliant forest frogs (Lithobates warszewitschii) *edit- I should note that Mimic rain frogs can be common on the trail system near El Plastico.
The Pygmy rain frog is also a Common rain frog (Craugastor fitzingeri)
And your wood creeper is a Spotted Woodcreeper (Xiphorhynchus erythropygius)

I'm glad that enjoyed your time up there. Again, phenomenal job with the puma!

-Don
http://www.RainforestDon.com

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Kevin McRae
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Re: Trip to Costa Rica, August 2012

Post by Kevin McRae » September 10th, 2012, 9:20 am

Wow, I loved all the frog photos!

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Re: Trip to Costa Rica, August 2012

Post by mikemike » September 10th, 2012, 7:30 pm

Good stuff, David! The Puma must have been awesome. I've seen them in California, but seeing one in the rainforest would be an awesome experience.

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moloch
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Re: Trip to Costa Rica, August 2012

Post by moloch » September 10th, 2012, 11:33 pm

Thanks very much, Brian and Don, for all the help with the frogs. I have edited the post accordingly.

Brian, I think that the Puma was an adult. It certainly looked big at close range! I never expected to encounter one of those big cats. I saw what I think to be fresh Ocelot tracks in Braulio Carillo. Did you see any of those during your stay at Rara Avis?

Thanks, Kevin and Mike, for the feedback.



Regards,

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moloch
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Re: Trip to Costa Rica, August 2012

Post by moloch » September 10th, 2012, 11:42 pm

These member of satyrinae was sometimes seen on the grassy lawns at the headquarters
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... a forest satyrinae:
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Here is one of the beautiful Glasswing Ithomiinae. I only saw them a few times and generally, they stayed to high for photos. As with the clearwings, they were very hard to follow in the darkness of the forest interior.
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This Cydno Longwing (Heliconius cydno) was found asleep at night on a branch that was overhanging a small stream.
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These metalmarks were by the far the most common butterfly in the forest interior. I often flushed them from beneath leaves as I walked along the trails. They would zip back and forth for a minute or two before realighting beneath another leaf. I occasionally saw a species with mostly blue upper wings and another that was mostly white but I never was able to obtain a photo. Here are shots of males and a female. I believe that these are all the same species (Mesosemia asa) but that may not be correct.
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Here is another species of metalmark. This male would land on the tops of leaves, dance about for a moment and then zip off to another leaf. Sometimes, it would creep backwards until it was haning over the edge of a leaf. It seemed as if it was displaying to another butterfly but I did not see others of this species in the area.
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Beautiful butterfly with translucent wings but I cannot find a name. I believe that it is an ithomiinae but am not certain. It unfortunately only allowed this quick snap before it flew up into the canopy.
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Skippers with swallow-tails were abundant along the ride up the mountain. I did see a few at Rara Avis but I think that they were more common in the open country further down the mountain. This one landed next to the trail in the half light of an overcast dawn.
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These Radiant Skippers (Callimormus radiola) were tiny.
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These day-flying moths were very colourful. I often mistook them for Glasswings in flight but then they would land with open wings beneath leaves.
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Ted took a photo of this nice lycaenid with blue upperwings. I saw them a few times but could not obtain a decent photo.
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Banded Owl Butterflies (Caligo atreus) were seen a few times. These were the same species as I flushed at La Selva.
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Army Ants were occasionally sighted. There often were mixed flocks of birds that moved with the front of a raiding party to capture animals disturbed by the ants.
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Leaf-cutter Ants were very common.
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Katydid
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Phasmids:
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Nicely marked Weevils (second photo was by Ted)
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Interesting harvestman:
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I saw small tarantulas a few times:
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Net-casting Spider
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huntsman?
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The streams supported several species of fish including this pretty species:
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... Volcan Arenal will be next

Matt Cage
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Location: Denver, CO

Re: Trip to Costa Rica, August 2012

Post by Matt Cage » September 11th, 2012, 1:54 pm

David

I don't even know where to begin. Your photography, stories, and subjects are simply incredible. I have not been to CR for a few years now and I NEED to go back. You found some stuff that I wanted to see. Thanks for posting this!!!!!

Hope all is well.

Matt

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Hans Breuer (twoton)
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Re: Trip to Costa Rica, August 2012

Post by Hans Breuer (twoton) » September 11th, 2012, 11:31 pm

There's certainly no shortage of Costa Rica posts here on FHF, but dammit if you didn't make it look like a completely new location, even though you included an Eyelash Viper and one of them red-eyed postcard frogs. Pumas? Tree porcupines? Designer frogs? Unbelievable. You're a true "naturer", Sir, and I'm convinced Alfred Wallace himself would have been proud to count you among his peers.

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moloch
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Re: Trip to Costa Rica, August 2012

Post by moloch » September 13th, 2012, 12:08 am

Thanks, Matt. Costa Rica is certainly a top place for a visit.

Wow, thanks, Hans! I like the phrase "Designer frogs". That certainly is a good description of the incredible Crowned Tree Frog. I was just as excited to see those as the Wallace's Flying Frogs that you showed Ted and I at Kubah.

Regards,
David

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moloch
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Re: Trip to Costa Rica, August 2012

Post by moloch » September 13th, 2012, 1:26 am

We spent a single night at Suena Azul while awaiting the transfer to Rara Avis the following morning. The grounds were nice and we saw a number of birds, butterflies and a few herps on our single afternoon noon and the following morning. The lodge was near the Rio Sarapiqui and there were patches of tall forest (secondary?) in places.
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There were several ponds on the grounds of the lodge. These were the home to numerous caimans that we saw at night.
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The adult male Brown Basilisk (Basiliscus vittatus) was basking in the early morning sun near our room. It seemed quite tame and allowed us to approach for photos.
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We also saw what I assume is a female Green Basilisk (Basiliscus plumifrons). She was shy and we could only take shots at a distance.
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These large frogs were common on the lawns at night. I think that they were Rana vaillanti.
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Butterflies were numerous especially near a stand of lantana. One of the common species at these flowers was the White Peacock (Anartia jatrophae):
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Banded Peacocks (Anartia fatima) were the most numerous butterfly.
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I watched a single Banner Metalmark (Thisbe lycorias) as it rested beneath palm fronds and then fed at the lantana flowers.
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This checkerspot (Chlosyne janais) was particularly colourful.
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This rodent was sheltering beneath the canopy over the walkway near our unit.
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Giant Squirrel:
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These bats were seen a few times.
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nice moth:
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... Volcan Arenal will be next

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moloch
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Re: Trip to Costa Rica, August 2012

Post by moloch » September 19th, 2012, 1:06 am

VOLCAN ARENAL

After La Selva, we moved to the Observatory Lodge of Arenal. This was about a 3 hour ride. Arenal supports patches of primary and secondary forest mixed with agricultural lands. We stayed at the Arenal Observatory Lodge and I highly recommend it to anyone travelling to this part of Costa Rica. The grounds of the lodge were enormous and it reminded me a little of walking at Fraser's Hill with paved walkways and manicured gardens. Many of the plants were flowering and butterflies were abundant.

Here are a couple of shots of the Volcano. It has been quiet since 2010 and at the moment, it is just venting steam and other gases from the summit.
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There were areas with primary forest within a km or two from the lodge. Here are shots of such areas. This was again a wet forest although not as wet as that of Rara Avis and Braulio Carillo NP.
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Here is a shot of a waterfall in primary forest. This area was about a half-hour walk from our accommodation.
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Colourful flower near the falls.
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I saw this butterfly near the falls. Eresia ithomioides alsina
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I saw this nicely coloured butterfly a couple of times. This group is difficult but I think that it is an ithomiid, possibly a Mimic Tigerwing (Melinaea lilis). These species are so hard to identify.
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Another one of the hard-to-identify species. Its pattern resembles that of Tithorea tarricina
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I saw Cydno Longwings (Heliconius cydno) a few times in the forest. They don't usually land low enough for photos.
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I was pleased on this trip to see several Great Currasow. This female with two young were observed along the trail to the falls in primary forest. I watched the female pluck and eat leaves. Back in 1980, this was a hard bird to see and I only saw a few in the remote Corcovado NP.
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Spotted Antbird. I saw these fairly often at Volcan Arenal. They usually fed at army ant swarms in mixed flocks. Spotted Antbirds usually kept near the front of the advancing swarm of ants and would drop down to catch invertebrates that were trying to escape from the ants. At Arenal, I saw birds like Carmiol's Tanagers, Plain Xenops, Sulphur-rumped Flycatchers, Slaty Antwrens, Spotted Woodcreepers and others at the swarms.
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Here is a shot of Ted and Cindy at the cabin where we stayed. We had a nice view of the surrounding garden and primary rainforest further down the slope. This place was said to be good for the gorgeous Lovely Cotinga but we were not lucky enough to see one. We did hear the incredible, metallic song of Three-wattled Bellbirds. Tanagers, euphonias and hummingbirds were abundant in the gardens. The second shot below is of a male Passerini or Scarlet-rumped Tanager.
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Here is a shot of the primary forest below our cabin:
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Ninia maculata. We saw this small species of snake on several occasions.
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We found this Cope's Vine Snake asleep on the upper surface of a palm frond while we were on a night walk.
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Geophis hoffmanni exhibited the most incredible anti-predator behaviour. When I disturbed it, it would literally cartwheel off the trail into cover. Somehow, it could rapidly throw itself end over end.
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Ameiva festiva
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One of the small rainfrogs?
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Rana warszewitschii were nicely marked frogs.
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Smoky Jungle Frogs (Leptodactylus pentadactylus) were seen on the banks of a tiny pond.
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Bufo melanochloris: a nicely marked toad found at night in the primary forest.
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There were nice gardens near our cabin and near the headquarters. The flowering plants attracted many butterflies.
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Flashing Flat (Celaenorrhinus aegiochus). Isn't this skipper fantastic? It was one of my favourites and so brightly coloured when in good light. These were big skippers.
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Here is another skipper without the white markings of the Flashing Flat. The body shape and size were the same but I assume that it must be a different species. I was not able to find anything like it on the butterfly website for North and Central America.
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Guava Skippers (Phocides polybius) were seen early every morning near our cabin. After that, they vanished.
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Nigrescens Skipper (Phocides metrodorus) were stunning. These were huge and colourful skippers.
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Here is a shot of one of the swallow-tailed skippers (Chioides sp). Skippers with swallowtails seemed to be the norm at Volcan Arenal.
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Long-tailed Skippers (Urbanus proteus) were nicely marked.
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I think that this must be another species since the wing spots are different from those of the Long-tailed Skipper above.
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Polythrix sp.
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Spineless Silverdrop (Epargyreus aspina). This was another large species of skipper. I only saw it twice.
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Swallowtails in the genus Parides were abundant. They were so hard to photograph since they rarely stayed at a flower for more than a second or two. The following species was the most abundant.

1) I believe that it is a True Cattleheart (Parides eurimedes)
2) Iphidamas Cattleheart (Parides iphidamas) were fairly common
3) Green-celled Cattleheart (Parides childrenae) were very common. I attempted many photos but this was the best that I could come up with. They just don't stop moving and seem to bounce from flower to flower.
4 & 5) This Parides was tiny. I only saw a few of these from time to time
6) Here is what I think to be a male Green-celled Cattleheart (Parides childrenae):
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Doris Longwing (Heliconius doris) was a new species to me. I think that the Parides must be mimicing the colour pattern of this heliconiinae. I initially that that this was another Parides when I spotted it but thought it strange that the behaviour was so different. This one flew slowly and remainded for much longer at a flower than did the frenetic Parides Swallowtails.
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Banded Peacock (Anartia fatima) was seen a few times.
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Satyrinae:
1) This Gold-stained Satyr (Cissia pseudoconfusa) was beautiful. I only encountered this single individual.
2) I think that this was a Blue-gray Satyr (Magneuptychia libye)
3) Wide-banded Satyr (Pareuptychia metaleuca)?
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Pierids:
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Four-eyed Possum. This little guy became confused with the bright light so it just sat down.
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Cindy took this shot of an Armadillo as she was walking back to the cabin from the headquarters one morning.
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Montezuma Oropendola: these giant blackbirds were a frequent sight and sound.
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We did not see many interesting insects at night but did find a few interesting animals. The following katdyds were crytically coloured.
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Sprouting fenceposts were a common sight in rural Costa Rica.
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Here is a final shot of the lovely Volcan Arenal.
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Kent VanSooy
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Re: Trip to Costa Rica, August 2012

Post by Kent VanSooy » September 19th, 2012, 11:34 am

FANTASTIC visuals covering so much natural history! And I really like the Glass Frogs. Thanks David!

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