Seeking Advice for Costa Rica in January

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s.riley1
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Seeking Advice for Costa Rica in January

Post by s.riley1 » December 20th, 2015, 2:31 pm

Hi Everyone!

The other day I came across some cheap flights to costa rica and jumped on the opportunity. Now I will have from January 16th-27th and hope to make the best out of my short stay in the country and find as many herps as I can:)! Given that I currently have no plans, I am seeking advice on which areas I would be best off visiting considering the time of year and time constraints. I have heard great things about La Selva, CRARC, Cerro Dantas, Monte Verde, Hacienda Baru/Dominical , La Tarde/Corcovado, Cahuita, Cano Palma/Tortugero, etc.

I will only have time to visit a couple of these places and I am curious as to which ones would be the most highly recommended and likely to be productive for herps during the dry season? I am also wondering which ones have the most extensive trail networks as I would like to do a lot of exploring?

At the moment I am leaning towards staying mostly on the Caribbean side because places appear to be closer together and I have heard it stays wetter during the dry season, thus is better for herping? does anybody know if this is true?

Also, regarding lodging, do any of these places require reservations? Or can I expect that most of them will have rooms/camping space available when I get there?

If anybody has any information or experience from any of these or other locations and would like to share it I would be very greatful:)!!! Any info on what others have found (especially around this time of year) would be cool as well.

I am also interested in finding some good birds and mammals (especially silky anteater), so any info on that would be awesome too!

Thanks.

Sam

Kfen
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Re: Seeking Advice for Costa Rica in January

Post by Kfen » December 21st, 2015, 12:37 pm

I have been 2 CR a few times, once in January. January was the toughest month to find things, but in 11 days you should still have a blast and see a bunch of cool things. My January species list in 7 days is below (there have been some taxonomic changes since I made the list). I would recommend picking 2 or 3 places to visit and focus on those. I have done a few trips trying to see too much and wasted time traveling. (My January CR trip was one of those). Along the same lines, make reservations to avoid wasting time finding places to stay. When picking places to stay, pick places with their own trails. It can be difficult in CR to find places with public access at night. All the national parks close pretty early.
Here is a link to a map of rainfall. Hover over the map to get a monthly rainfall graph for that area:

http://costa-rica-guide.com/travel/weat ... -rainfall/

Good luck and make sure to post about your trip when you get back!


Rana taylori
Rana vaillanti
? Rana forreri
Leptodactylus pentadactylus
Dendrobates auratus
Dendrobates pumilio
Phyllobates vittatus
Hyla microcephala
Agalychnis callidryas (tadpoles)
Smilisca phaeota
Smilisca sordida
Eleutherodactylus stejnegerianus
Eleutherodactylus megacephalus
Eleutherodactylus fitzingeri
? Eleutherodactylus sp
? Eleutherodactylus sp

Bufo marinus
Bufo coccifer

Oedipina pacificensis

Iguana iguana
Ctenosaura similis
Basiliscus basiliscus
Basiliscus vittatus
Basiliscus plumifrons
Lepidophyma reticulatum
Ameiva leptophrys
Ameiva festiva
Ameiva quadrilineata
? Ameiva undulata
Gymnopthalmus speciosus
Gonatodes albogularis
Hemidactylus garnotii
Thecadactylus rapicauda
Norops limifrons
Norops capito
Norops polylepis
Ctenonotus cristatellus
Mabuya unimarginata
Corytophanes cristatus
Polychrus gutturosus

Crocodylus acutus
Caiman crocodilus

Kinosternon leucostomum

Leptodeira septentrionalis
Dendrophidion sp.
Micrurus nigrocinctus
Bothrops asper
Rhadinaea decorata
Bothriechis schlegelii

DOR only
? Kinosternon sp
Leptodeira annulata
Imantodes cenchoa
Imantodes inornatus
Sibon nebulatus
Leptophis ahaetulla
Drymobius margaritiferus
Urotheca guentheri

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cbernz
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Re: Seeking Advice for Costa Rica in January

Post by cbernz » December 21st, 2015, 10:06 pm

In my experience, the Caribbean Slope is both wetter and herpier in general than the Pacific, probably particularly so in the "dry" season (which really isn't that dry at all on the Caribbean side, just somewhat less wet). It is hard to go wrong with La Selva, which is within a couple hours drive of San Jose, has miles of well-marked trails, 24-hour access (if you overnight there), plenty of great herps, birds, and other animals to see, and convenient and comfortable (though not luxurious) accomodations. The room rates are pretty reasonable, and include 3 decent cafeteria meals a day, at which you can converse with scientists and other nature enthusiasts. You can also order to-go meals if you want to take a full-day hike. The trails in the immediate vicinity of the station are paved, and while the others can be pretty muddy and sometimes steep, they are generally always passable, and they are marked with a system of posts that count upwards in .1km increments the further you get from the station, making it almost impossible to get lost as long as you are on a trail (simply count backwards to zero to return to the River Station). Unless you hit some weird dry spell, you will find frogs pretty much all over the place, and with a little luck you can find decent numbers of snakes as well. The birding is great also - on my last trip, we lucked into a Great Green Macaw nest, and on a previous trip we had Spectacled and Black-and-White Owls calling from a tree right behind our room, in addition to the myriad tinamous, motmots, manakins, and other tropical specialties that one finds in the Costa Rican jungle. I've never seen a Silky Anteater, but I've seen at least a couple Tamanduas there, plus Pacas, Mouse Opposums, various monkeys, sloths, bats, etc.

CRARC is another incredible place to visit. I remember it being fairly close (within a few hours) to La Selva. It's much smaller, and you can't really go walking the trails by yourself, but a night with Brian searching for frogs is a pretty unforgettable experience. We had something like 32 species of frogs in 2 nights, including 6 species of glass frogs. If you have the time, I'd book one or two nights there and get the guided tours.

Monteverde is a beautiful place, but I found it to be pretty herp-poor in my 3 rainy-season days there. I've spent only one night at Baru, but it seemed like a cool spot with a lot of potential (lots of freshwater marshy areas that were mostly dry when I visited). Corcovado is incredible, but it's vast, really far away, and much less user-friendly than the other places mentioned. I will say that I visited it myself on a shorter trip than you are going to take, and I don't regret going there at all, but I'm pretty sure that for a purely herp-oriented trip I would have done better to go someplace much closer to San Jose on the Caribbean Slope. I did, however, get to see Tapirs, all 4 monkeys, crocodiles and Bull Sharks swimming in a river, and other really cool stuff that is perhaps easier to see there than elsewhere.

Here are albums from my 2 winter trips to CR:

http://www.pbase.com/cbernz/costarica09
http://www.pbase.com/cbernz/laselva

s.riley1
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Re: Seeking Advice for Costa Rica in January

Post by s.riley1 » December 22nd, 2015, 6:54 pm

Thankyou Kfen and cbernz for all the advice! Looks like you both have had some amazing experiences in CR!! I enjoyed your albums cberns and it looks like you put together a pretty solid list in just 7 days Kfen. sounds like the caribbean side is the way to go for herps in January. I cant wait to get over there! Thanks again for all the tips and if anyone else has anything to add that would be great too!

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blacktara
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Re: Seeking Advice for Costa Rica in January

Post by blacktara » December 23rd, 2015, 8:44 pm

I guess the big querstion is what are your biggest targets? I would highly recommend CRARC. Did one night there in May 2015 and will be spending another two there in mid February. Brian K is a great host and guide. Monteverde is not particularly herp or herper friendly. It's too much "on the beaten path" and at least when we were there you were absolutely NOT allowed to go anywhere in the park at night. Some of the lodges around La Fortuna and Arenal are very very good. LaTarde on the Osa is a special place. It's remote and rugged - but you have a chance at true magic - see this thread http://www.fieldherpforum.com/forum/vie ... sa#p244567

s.riley1
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Re: Seeking Advice for Costa Rica in January

Post by s.riley1 » January 10th, 2016, 5:26 pm

I now have the majority of my trip planned out, but still have a few questions for anyone who can help!! Ill be spending the first 4 nights in tortuguero, then 2 nights at La Selva, 1night at the CRARC, and the last 3 nights at a pretty remote campground outside of Jicotea. Regarding Tortuguero, I am a little worried about the restrictions of wandering around at night.. Does anyone know of any trails/reserves/areas that might be open to explore by myself at night? Has anyone tried renting a canoe at night there (is that allowed?)? also has anyone visited the research station Cano Palma that is nearby and do you know if its possible to stay there as a guest?

My other question is has anybody herped the middle elevation Jicotea/plantanillo area? Is it any good for herping? I heard it can be a bit cooler. Those last three nights are still not certain so if anyone has other cheap alternative suggestions that would be cool too.

Blacktara- Thanks for the heads up about Monteverde being very restrictive.. What kinds of things did you find around Arenal/ La Fortuna? and that Bushmaster you found on the osa is incredible! Good work!

Thanks again to everyone who has helped me out. All the information i've received here has really helped me plan my trip.

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blacktara
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Re: Seeking Advice for Costa Rica in January

Post by blacktara » January 13th, 2016, 9:51 pm

Around arenal snakes we found included about two dozen schlegeli, several asper, two porthodium, two atropoides, a red tailed boa, cat eyes, northern tree snake, many many sibons, a coffee snake, three or four bird snakes . Interested to hear how you do at CRARC, I will be there Feb 13 and 14.

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Roki
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Re: Seeking Advice for Costa Rica in January

Post by Roki » January 14th, 2016, 10:54 am

Thus far all the advice given has been stellar. I will again put another thumbs up to La Tarde and CRARC.

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cbernz
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Re: Seeking Advice for Costa Rica in January

Post by cbernz » January 14th, 2016, 1:59 pm

blacktara wrote:Around arenal snakes we found included about two dozen schlegeli, several asper, two porthodium, two atropoides, a red tailed boa, cat eyes, northern tree snake, many many sibons, a coffee snake, three or four bird snakes .
That's all?!!

MCHerper
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Re: Seeking Advice for Costa Rica in January

Post by MCHerper » January 15th, 2016, 7:19 am

cbernz wrote:
blacktara wrote:Around arenal snakes we found included about two dozen schlegeli, several asper, two porthodium, two atropoides, a red tailed boa, cat eyes, northern tree snake, many many sibons, a coffee snake, three or four bird snakes .
That's all?!!
Cliff, I looked at your albums, very cool! In the 2nd album that you posted (La Selva), there is a picture of a spider taken on 1/3/10, simply labeled 'spider'. I'm no arachnologist, but is there any way that the specimen in the photograph is a Phoneutria? If so, that would be quite interesting!

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cbernz
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Re: Seeking Advice for Costa Rica in January

Post by cbernz » January 15th, 2016, 12:07 pm

MCHerper wrote:
cbernz wrote:
blacktara wrote:Around arenal snakes we found included about two dozen schlegeli, several asper, two porthodium, two atropoides, a red tailed boa, cat eyes, northern tree snake, many many sibons, a coffee snake, three or four bird snakes .
That's all?!!
Cliff, I looked at your albums, very cool! In the 2nd album that you posted (La Selva), there is a picture of a spider taken on 1/3/10, simply labeled 'spider'. I'm no arachnologist, but is there any way that the specimen in the photograph is a Phoneutria? If so, that would be quite interesting!
Thanks! I had to look up "Phoneutria," but yeah, that seems right. I've heard people call them "wandering spiders" or "banana spiders." They seem to be pretty common down there. Typically I see them on the side of buildings just below the roof, especially where there is an overhanging roof and a light source to attract prey.

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blacktara
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Re: Seeking Advice for Costa Rica in January

Post by blacktara » January 16th, 2016, 5:07 pm

That was a partial listing of snakes. Also found tons of amphibeans. Also the wandering spiders in CR are cupiennius not phoneutria

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cbernz
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Re: Seeking Advice for Costa Rica in January

Post by cbernz » January 16th, 2016, 5:48 pm

blacktara wrote:That was a partial listing of snakes. Also found tons of amphibeans. Also the wandering spiders in CR are cupiennius not phoneutria
I was totally kidding - that's an outstanding number and diversity of snakes. I think you might be right about the spider, although it does seem there is one Phoneutria that makes it to Costa Rica, perhaps Cupiennius is more likely.

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