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Thread: Costa Rica, August 2012

  1. #1
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    Default Costa Rica, August 2012

    In August, I spent 12 days in Costa Rica with a couple of friends from Arizona. 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 was one of the wet months but the rain was never excessive and we always had a few hours of sun each day.

    This will be a large post and will include shots of plants and other animals as well as butterflies. I will add to it for the next week or so. I will also add costings to the end of the report.

    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 that I used to follow were 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.


    RAINFOREST INTERIOR
    The following shot illustrates the location of La Selva. The watershed above it is protected all the way to the top of Volcan Barva.


    La Selva is mostly covered with lowland rainforest.





    Many of the trails were paved like this. They were wide enough for bikes that could be hired at the headquarters.




    I saw Banded Owl Butterflies (Caligo atreus) once or twice each day in the forest interior. These remind me a little of Koh-i-Noor in behaviour since they will flush, fly maybe 20m or so and then land on a tree trunk. I did see other Owls but this was the only species that I was able to photograph.




    Satyrinae were numerous in the forest. Some of these were nicely marked. As always, there was a bewildering array of similarly marked species. After lots of study of the online guide, I think that I can recognize a few but others were just too confusing.

    Jesia Satyr (Euptychia jesia)

    David Fischer
    Wollongong, Australia

    My photos: http://www.flickr.com/photos/moloch05/sets/

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    Blue-smudged Satyr (Chloreuptychia arnaca): the lower, inner wings were blue. These were very nice and colourful.



    unknown satyrinae 1




    unknown satyrinae 2



    Emerald Aguna (Aguna claxon)



    Saliana sp. There are a number of species of Saliana with a similar pattern to this in Central America.



    Spotted Flat (Celaenorrhinus monartus)



    Bifurcated Flat (Celaenorrhinus bifurcus)
    David Fischer
    Wollongong, Australia

    My photos: http://www.flickr.com/photos/moloch05/sets/

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    The following hairstreak species was abundant in the forest (Calycopis cerata, thanks Aaron!).



    This hairstreak was much larger and darker in colouration than the one above. I only saw a few of these. (Panthiades bitias, thanks Aaron!)



    I saw these gorgeous day-flying moths of family Uraniidae a few times.



    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 Heliconia flowers where they sometimes wait for hummingbirds. It remained in the same position for 3 days.




    Last edited by moloch; 09-Sep-2012 at 06:08 AM.
    David Fischer
    Wollongong, Australia

    My photos: http://www.flickr.com/photos/moloch05/sets/

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    Slender Anole (Norops limifrons) were common lizards. Several species were possible.



    I saw a number of frogs while on night walks.

    Common Rain Frog (Craugastor fitzingeri)


    Mimic Rain Frog (Craugastor mimus)



    These small toads (Bufo haematiticus) were seen a few times along the trails after night rains.




    This fulgorid was incredible. I believe that it was Phrictus quinquepartitus, one of Lanternflies.



    Whip Scorpion (Amblypygi)



    I liked these nicely coloured fungi.
    Last edited by moloch; 09-Sep-2012 at 06:05 AM.
    David Fischer
    Wollongong, Australia

    My photos: http://www.flickr.com/photos/moloch05/sets/

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    More rainforest plants:





    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!


    Monkey Comb (Apeiba membranacea). These seed pods always make me think of sea urchins.



    Some of the rainforest trees had cauliforous flowers and fruit.



    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.



    Keel-billed Toucan: Always nice to see and hear the toucans. Chestnut-mandible and Collared Aracari were also frequent in the forest.
    David Fischer
    Wollongong, Australia

    My photos: http://www.flickr.com/photos/moloch05/sets/

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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.




    Some parts of the reserve support swamp forest. Years ago, I spent many nights along trails here looking for reptiles and amphibians.




    One of the highlights to me in the swamp forest was seeing these clearwing 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.

    Dulcedo polita. The butterly jumped with the preflash in photo 2 but this illustrates how clear the wings appear.




    Rusted Clearwing Satyr (Cithaerias pireta)



    A guide told us that Fer-de-Lance (Bothrops asper) were the most commonly encountered snake at La Selva. We only found this single individual while we were on a night walk in the swamp forest. It was waiting in an ambush position at the base of a fallen tree.



    I found this Hyla rufitela by day on a small plant in the swamp forest.
    David Fischer
    Wollongong, Australia

    My photos: http://www.flickr.com/photos/moloch05/sets/

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    I liked this trail marker, "trail without a name", in the swamp forest.




    We visited "Sendero Cantarrana", 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.




    Red-Eyed Tree-Frog (Agalychnis callidryas). These are one of the most attractive species of frogs in Costa Rica.




    Yellow Blunt-headed Vine Snake (Imantodes inornatus) were frog eaters and they were numerous around the swamp of Sendero Cantarana.




    Brown Forest Turtle (Rhinoclemmys annulata) were observed along Sendero Cantarana as well as along another trail in the reserve.
    David Fischer
    Wollongong, Australia

    My photos: http://www.flickr.com/photos/moloch05/sets/

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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.





    Nymphalidae
    Malachite (Siproeta stelenes)



    Little Banner (Nica flavilla)



    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.




    Sara Longwing (Heliconius sara)



    Cydno Longwing (Heliconius cydno)
    David Fischer
    Wollongong, Australia

    My photos: http://www.flickr.com/photos/moloch05/sets/

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    Tiger Longwing (Heliconius hecale)



    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.



    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.



    Calephelis sp.




    Victrix Metalmark (Metacharis victrix)
    David Fischer
    Wollongong, Australia

    My photos: http://www.flickr.com/photos/moloch05/sets/

  10. #10
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    Amazing collection of butterfly species, David! You must have had a great time over there! My favourites are the clearwing Satyrids.
    Khew SK
    Butterflies of Singapore BLOG
    Try not. Do, or do not. There is no try

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