Costa Rica 2014...my 4th trip

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Rothdigga
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Costa Rica 2014...my 4th trip

Post by Rothdigga » April 21st, 2014, 4:30 pm

I know I know...another Costa Rica post? Hopefully you guys aren't getting sick of seeing people go down there. It's actually a pretty inexpensive trip to take from the US if any of you are considering it, and feel free to hit me up for any advice on future trips. I may be able to help with some spots and pointers.

This is my 4th trip down there, having made trips in 2006, 2010 and 2011 before this one. We've gone to the same area each time staying near Dominical. Dominical is on the Pacific coast and pretty far from the hoards of tourists up near Manuel Antonio or the surf crowds further north.
It also offers some decent access to good spots for wildlife viewing. Hacienda Baru is a wildlife refuge nearby that is solid for hiking. The owner lets me cruise the grounds at night without a guide. You can drive up into higher elevations very easily by heading towards San Isidro to access montane species for herping as well as birding. You can also head a little south to the Osa Peninsula to get into some untouched areas of Corcovado National Park.

This year I took a pretty large crew with me. There were 10 of us, me and my wife, my brothers whole family (wife and 3 kids) and my dad and step mom and step sister. 3 rental cars so that everyone could sort of come and go as they pleased and nobody was stuck doing something they didn't want to.
Of course on the drive I stopped at the Rio Tarcoles so they could see all the big crocs lurking below the bridge.
ImageTarcoles River Crocodiles by jrothdog, on Flickr
ImageTarcoles River Crocodiles by jrothdog, on Flickr

Our schedule is pretty similar each day. Wake up around 4:45 and take a hike somewhere nearby in the early morning before the heat rolls in. Hike until about 10-11am and then head back to where we're staying and chill, nap and hit the pool. It's unbearable during the afternoon down there to really do much physically. We went from March 26-April 3, which is on the border of the dry/wet season. I was really hoping we would catch the early wet season but only got about 1-2 days of light rain storms. Enough to bring some stuff out but not much.
Turning corners on trails and seeing coati is always a treat.
ImageCoati on the trail at Hacienda Baru by jrothdog, on Flickr
I missed the focus on this orange-headed gecko but they're still cool looking.
ImageOrange-headed Gecko by jrothdog, on Flickr
These Black Iguanas are everywhere you look down there.
ImageCtenausaur (black iguana) at Hacienda Baru by jrothdog, on Flickr
I shot this Cheerie's Tanager while sitting in a chair resting at Baru. They're so sick.
ImageCheerie's Tanager (Ramphocelus costaricensis) by jrothdog, on Flickr
While walking another trail later the first day, we came up on a large group of Capuchin monkeys. The ones at Baru are wild and don't usually get close to humans. We watched them for a while then tried to move down the trail. As soon as we tried to go by this really old, bald and crusty looking individual flipped out and showed us we weren't going to be able to pass. It was actually a little sketchy. I don't want to get bit by those chompers.
ImageWhite-faced Capuchin at Hacienda Baru by jrothdog, on Flickr
Then his little buddy tried to copy him.
ImageWhite-faced Capuchin at Hacienda Baru by jrothdog, on Flickr
Who doesn't like toucans?
ImageChestnut-mandibled Toucan (Ramphastos ambiguus swainsonii) by jrothdog, on Flickr
As stated before, it was very dry so down low there were very few frogs seen. This was our first night hike and the lone frog I saw.
ImageUnidentified Frog Hacienda Baru by jrothdog, on Flickr

We watched an armadillo rooting up the ground for a bit then headed back to the car. I was scanning the fence posts for anything when I spotted my first snake of the trip. Blunt Headed Tree Snake
ImageBlunt-headed Tree Snake (imantodes cenchoa) at Hacienda Baru by jrothdog, on Flickr
ImageBlunt-headed Tree Snake (imantodes cenchoa) by jrothdog, on Flickr
The next day we decided to head to cooler climates and hit the mountains. I was hoping to get lucky and find a Black-speckled Palm Pitviper as I've seen a few photos of them in the Savegre Valley on the trails. I struck out on those and Quetzals as well but did find some cool stuff.
The Hummingbirds up there are incredible.
ImageScintillant Hummingbird (Selasphorus scintilla) San Gerardo De Dota by jrothdog, on Flickr
We hiked to a couple of waterfalls and on the way I was flipping a few pieces of tree bark on the ground when I found this Coffee snake. It was at about 2500KM elevation. It looks dead in this photo but was very much alive. I put my hands over it to calm it down and this is how it lay until I put it back under the bark.
ImageCope's Coffee Snake (Ninia psephota) by jrothdog, on Flickr
ImageCope's Coffee Snake (Ninia psephota) by jrothdog, on Flickr
I made a quick stop at a place for some lunch and hummingbird photos and also looked around their grounds for those amazing bright green Montane Alligator Lizards but struck out on them.
ImageFiery-throated Humminbgird (Panterpe insignis) by jrothdog, on Flickr
ImageMagnificent Hummingbird (Eugenes fulgens) by jrothdog, on Flickr

I linked up with a biologist at a place called Cloudbridge Nature Reserve. They also have a population of Black Speckled Palm Pitvipers and he was nice enough to offer to take us around. He wanted to stop by a river on the drive up to Cloudbridge from town and try to find some Glass Frogs. Our trip basically ended up being just looking for Glass Frogs as that's what he was into more than snakes, but I was fine with it. I like frogs well enough.
Saw this badass Laughing Falcon on the way up at dusk.
ImageLaughing Falcon (Herpetotheres cachinnans) by jrothdog, on Flickr
The river yielded about 20+ glass frogs on the leaves of the bushes around the water. They're pretty cool looking.
ImageEmerald Glass Frog (Centrolenella prosoblepon) by jrothdog, on Flickr
ImageEmerald Glass Frog (Centrolenella prosoblepon) by jrothdog, on Flickr
ImageEmerald Glass Frog (Centrolenella prosoblepon) by jrothdog, on Flickr
While climbing around on the rocks next to the river in the dark, we got to one where I needed both of my hands to climb up. I put my flashlight in my mouth and climbed up, but it slipped out of my teeth, down the rock and right into the river. I was so pissed. It was my "good" flashlight and was of course waterproof, but in 3-4 ft of rushing water with no good way to get it I had to say bye bye to the $100 and keep moving. My wife thought we could get it but it wasn't worth the risk. Chalk it up to a good story and move on, even if I could still see the light shining. Ugh.
A few more frogs found that night.
ImageUnidentified Frog Costa Rica by jrothdog, on Flickr
ImageUnidentified Frog Costa Rica by jrothdog, on Flickr
Sometimes you find lizards sleeping on the bushes at night also.
Image404A1343 by jrothdog, on Flickr
Not much of a bug guy but this red morph katydid was pretty cool looking
ImageRed Phase Leaf Katydid Costa Rica by jrothdog, on Flickr
While walking up to Cloudbridge we finally spotted a snake that night. Same kind as the first night but a cool looking juvie Blunt Headed Tree Snake
ImageBlunt-headed Tree Snake (imantodes cenchoa) by jrothdog, on Flickr

We planned a trip to Corcovado National Park to hike for a full day. Most people stay nearby but we only had 1 day to do it so we just arranged a LONG day trip from 6am-3pm of boat rides and hiking at Sirena Ranger Station.
Having travelled to South America 3 times and Central America 6 times, I still had not seen a Tapir until this day. I was stoked.
ImageBaird's Tapir (Tapirus bairdii) at Corcovado National Park by jrothdog, on Flickr
ImageBaird's Tapir (Tapirus bairdii) at Corcovado National Park by jrothdog, on Flickr
Squirrel Monkeys are the most pleasant looking of the 4 species in Costa Rica in my opinion.
ImageSquirrel Monkey (Saimiri oerstedii) by jrothdog, on Flickr
Some nice birding in Corcovado including this nicely posed Black-throated Trogon.
ImageMale Black-Throated Trogon (Trogon rufus) by jrothdog, on Flickr

This coati was going to town on finding land crabs and devouring them.
ImageCoati feasting on a land crab Corcovado National Park by jrothdog, on Flickr

I had never seen a monkey fully passed out until this one. It was twitching from his dreams. Pretty funny.
ImageCapuchin asleep at Corcovado National Park by jrothdog, on Flickr

Back at Baru for another morning hike we saw a few of these juvenile Green Iguanas hanging out.
ImageJuvenile Green Iguana at Hacienda Baru by jrothdog, on Flickr

This restaurant is now near Dominical. The actual restaurant is to the left and the plane is empty but looks like it's used as a club at night. There's a similar one up the coast near Jaco.
ImageRestaurant near Dominical by jrothdog, on Flickr

While relaxing in the pool I saw this guy coming down the vine right next to the driveway. He came to within about 10 ft of me.
ImageThree Toed Sloth Dominical, Costa RIca by jrothdog, on Flickr
ImageThree Toed Sloth Dominical, Costa RIca by jrothdog, on Flickr

There's a place called Parque Reptilandia near Dominical http://www.crreptiles.com/ that is basically a reptile zoo. I'm not a huge fan of captive reptiles but it's a very cool place. I was hoping to get the owner to take me out field herping one night but he was away in New York the whole time I was there. The on duty manager was super cool and was totally down, but they had just been robbed about 2 months prior and he was uncomfortable leaving the place unattended at night until the owner got back. Apparently someone broke in and took about 40 snakes including their Bushmaster. Fortunately for them the guy tried selling the Bushmaster online to someone in Spain, who saw where the seller was located and contacted the park about it. They ended up retrieving the Bushmaster and got almost all the snakes back.
So the manager gave me some real specific directions on where to find some eyelash vipers. I still have yet to find one as I struck out that night in perfect conditions and habitat.
On my way there though, right after we left our place I saw what was clearly a snake in the road. I was stoked to find this nice small boa making it's way across the road.
ImageJuvenile Boa near Dominical Costa Rica by jrothdog, on Flickr
I didn't notice the huge ticks on it's neck until the photos. It was very calm as I moved it off the road and put it in a small tree, then when I tried moving it further down it bit me pretty readily.
ImageJuvenile Boa near Dominical Costa Rica by jrothdog, on Flickr

That ended up being the only snake we found that night as it was all frogs and some sleeping lizards from then on.
Cross-banded Treefrog
ImageCross-banded Treefrog (Smilisca puma) by jrothdog, on Flickr
Bad photo of a sleeping Casque Headed lizard
ImageCasque Headed Lizard Costa Rica by jrothdog, on Flickr

I always like Costa Rica and even being the designated tour guide for our whole family I had plenty of time to get out and herp and explore.

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SurfinHerp
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Re: Costa Rica 2014...my 4th trip

Post by SurfinHerp » April 21st, 2014, 5:05 pm

Another excellent post Rothdigga!

I especially like the small boa constrictor you found :mrgreen:

Costa Rica is such a great place for ecotourism. I stayed a few nights at Hacienda Baru once about 10 years ago with my brother and had a great time. Saw many of the same animals you've posted photos of here, but we could never track down a boa.

One of these days I hope to take the whole family down there and do basically the same thing you did. I'll probably hit you up for some advice when the time comes.


Have any plans to herp SD anytime soon? Maybe with Kevin P.?


Jeff

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Rothdigga
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Re: Costa Rica 2014...my 4th trip

Post by Rothdigga » April 21st, 2014, 5:34 pm

SurfinHerp wrote:Another excellent post Rothdigga!

I especially like the small boa constrictor you found :mrgreen:

Costa Rica is such a great place for ecotourism. I stayed a few nights at Hacienda Baru once about 10 years ago with my brother and had a great time. Saw many of the same animals you've posted photos of here, but we could never track down a boa.

One of these days I hope to take the whole family down there and do basically the same thing you did. I'll probably hit you up for some advice when the time comes.


Have any plans to herp SD anytime soon? Maybe with Kevin P.?


Jeff

Jeff,
I did a quick SD trip about 1 month ago with a friend looking for Zonata in the mountains and found one deep in a crevice (no photos) but haven't been since. I've got a crazy schedule coming up soon for work. Travel to NYC this week, then leave to Shanghai the day after I get home from there, then hit AZ and Vegas after I get back. I'm going to most likely be getting some early May herping in AZ and Vegas while there but nothing down in SD unfortunately.
For sure hit me up for advice though as I really found some good spots this trip, even if they weren't super fruitful, they were very promising.

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Dr. Dark
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Re: Costa Rica 2014...my 4th trip

Post by Dr. Dark » April 21st, 2014, 5:43 pm

Good stuff! Your unidentified snake looks like Ninia psephota.

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Antonsrkn
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Re: Costa Rica 2014...my 4th trip

Post by Antonsrkn » April 21st, 2014, 5:48 pm

Excellent! In my opinion Corcovado outshines the rest of Costa Rica in terms of nature and thats no easy feat! Its probably the best place in the world to see Tapir and amazing for all kinds of other wildlife too. I think if/when I make it back to CR next time, I will try to maximize my time in Corcovado and the Osa peninsula.

Great stuff all around, particularly enjoyed the shots of the glass frogs, amazing little things. Also nice shot of the laughing falcon, you probably already know but its a specialist snake eater. I'm always a bit jealous of birds like that, they must find more snakes than I do.

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Re: Costa Rica 2014...my 4th trip

Post by ClosetHerper » April 21st, 2014, 7:00 pm

Costa Rica has such great diversity and you sampled a nice cross-section of it. The glass frog images are beautiful and cool you got to see a Tapir. I, too, have been to CR 4 times and the Osa and Corcovado are my favorite!

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Re: Costa Rica 2014...my 4th trip

Post by Rothdigga » April 21st, 2014, 10:02 pm

Antonsrkn wrote:Excellent! In my opinion Corcovado outshines the rest of Costa Rica in terms of nature and thats no easy feat! Its probably the best place in the world to see Tapir and amazing for all kinds of other wildlife too. I think if/when I make it back to CR next time, I will try to maximize my time in Corcovado and the Osa peninsula.

Great stuff all around, particularly enjoyed the shots of the glass frogs, amazing little things. Also nice shot of the laughing falcon, you probably already know but its a specialist snake eater. I'm always a bit jealous of birds like that, they must find more snakes than I do.
I've seen a few images of Laughing Falcons specifically with eyelash vipers in their talons. Bastards find things I can't find. Corcovado rules. Next time we go I'm going to try to stay in Drake bay for at least a few days to maximize some time in that area instead of just a day trip.

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Rothdigga
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Re: Costa Rica 2014...my 4th trip

Post by Rothdigga » April 21st, 2014, 10:02 pm

Dr. Dark wrote:Good stuff! Your unidentified snake looks like Ninia psephota.
Perfect. Thanks a ton Dr. Dark!

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Kevin Price
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Re: Costa Rica 2014...my 4th trip

Post by Kevin Price » April 24th, 2014, 5:25 pm

Another awesome post bro! While reading through I kept hoping you had found an eyelash viper and got some shots of it. Got to the end and, read that once again, no eyelash vipers. Maybe trip number 5. That monkey was crazy. Reminded me of our bear in the Huachuca's. Like Jeff said, I really liked the boa as well.

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Re: Costa Rica 2014...my 4th trip

Post by Y.Morgan » April 24th, 2014, 8:15 pm

Rothdigga wrote:I know I know...another Costa Rica post? Hopefully you guys aren't getting sick of seeing people go down there.
You gots to be kidding...no way to get tired of shots like these! Nice dialogue too. I really liked your 2nd shot of the blunt-head on the fence. Cool glass frog shots! At first I was worried you were gonna say that badass little boa that I'd just been drooling over, was from the zoo. Whew - nice find on a 1-snake night! Sloths by the pool, crab-eating coatis and a tapir? Lots of great stuff. Thanks!
York

Jeff Teel
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Re: Costa Rica 2014...my 4th trip

Post by Jeff Teel » April 24th, 2014, 9:56 pm

Sweet, it's no frontside flip switch nose manual...(what, '92 or '93?) but that looks like a rad trip.

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moloch
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Re: Costa Rica 2014...my 4th trip

Post by moloch » April 24th, 2014, 11:30 pm

These were a fantastic series of posts. Thanks for taking the time. The herps were very nice but my favourites were the hummers, especially that gorgeous Fiery-throated Hummingbird. You certainly captured it perfectly.

Regards,
David

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Rothdigga
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Re: Costa Rica 2014...my 4th trip

Post by Rothdigga » April 26th, 2014, 5:30 pm

Jeff Teel wrote:Sweet, it's no frontside flip switch nose manual...(what, '92 or '93?) but that looks like a rad trip.
So funny. Every once in a while someone throws in a skate quote on here and I'm sure people are like "What in the hell did that dude just say?".
To tell the truth, I haven't done one of those since I filmed that one probably. That's one of the hardest manual tricks I did next to cab flip switch manny.

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Re: Costa Rica 2014...my 4th trip

Post by crotalusman » April 27th, 2014, 3:17 am

Wonderful shots. Looks like you had a very successful trip! I love your bird shots....the tanager and hummingbirds are mind-blowing, great pic of the laughing falcon, and that trogon photo is amazing. How lucky did you get with that tapir? Are they relatively easy to see or secretive? Don't know much about them. Hope to get to the tropics one of these years.

Thanks for sharing.

CM

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