Buckeye Herps Blog

A photographic journal of the reptiles and amphibians of Ohio, Michigan and other places interesting wildlife call home.

Friday, January 16, 2015

Costa Rica: Part 2 More La Selva and Plenty of Glass Frogs

You can see Part 1, Part 2, Part 3 and Part 4 here.

Carl and I set out on a short hike to look for lizards while Brian worked on his project. Carl managed to flip this racer checking under a piece of a fallen log.

Another Dendrophidian sp (likely percarinatus?). This one was much larger than the snake last night.

We saw many Central American Whiptails Ameiva festiva active around us. I even photographed a little one.

We got decent looks at a Slaty-tailed Trogon? Trogon massena

In a small clearing in the forest created by a tree fall, we spotted a Norops limifrons. It took some balance to photograph it.

We turned up a Tularan Robber Frog Craugastor mimus.

We joined Brian for a nice lunch and headed out to one of his study plots after. Unfortunately, it poured on us shortly after arriving. Nice reminder we are in a rain forest.

Pug-nosed Anole Norops capito

Limon Robber Frog Pristimantis cerasinus

Litter Toad Rhaebo haematicus

Brian finished up his plots and we headed back to dry out for the afternoon, recharge some batteries and get a nice hot meal. From here on Carl and I opted to drive to dinner. We were hiking significant distances from the lab clearing out into the forest, and managing our time for that. We also were enjoying a brew or three after returning back from our night hikes with other researchers. By the time we would set out on the long hike to our cabin from the lab clearing it would often be extremely late and night and our energy levels were on empty. We figured we could spend more time in the main forest and then get back to our cabin faster by car to turn in for the night.

On the way to a froggy spot after the fall of night, we noticed one of the La Selva guards hanging out in the lab clearing. Brian jokingly asked him there was snake. He moved his flashlight and we saw this curled right by the path.

Fer-de-lance Bothrops asper

We had a hiked a way back, and turned off the main trail to head to our spot to search for the night. Right after turning, one of us noticed a small snake crawling between the feet of the first person. We had no idea what it was at first, which is usually a very exciting thing!

Rugose Litter Snake Nothopsis rugosus

The snake was really interesting to look at. Upon close examination, you could see tons of small scales along its head. It was a very different appearing snake.

This night was starting off pretty darn good! I was very excited to be able to see and photograph more Corytophanes. Brian and I had only seen one in my first trip in 2010 and it was after my camera had died from the moisture. Carl also tends to be a big lizard fan, and it was a species we really wanted him to be able to see.

Helmeted Iguana Corytophanes cristatus

The frogs were out en masse.

Fitzinger's Robber Frog Craugastor fitzingeri
After descending down, we had started working the start of the glassfrog stream. I was photographing a pretty neat frog when Brian called out that he had something we probably wanted to see. If we could find it. It took us a while to spot it.

Eyelash Viper Bothriechis schlegelii
It was a first for Carl and I, and we took many pictures.

I went back to photographing my frog. It wasn't nearly as cool anymore. It was a little Pristmantis cruentas.

But these guys are always cool. Warszewitsch's Frog Lithobates warszewitschii

And then the glass frogging began. We saw over 10 of these.

Spiny Cochran Frog Teratohyla spinosa
And even a pair in amplexus

The Emerald Glass Frogs Espadarana prosoblepon were also out and calling. We saw four of these tonight, as well as 1 amplectic pair.

Hiking back to the start of the stream, Carl saw a flash of color and yelled "CORAL!!!" We all converged quickly and were elated to see a nice sized Allen's Coral Snake Micrurus alleni. It was very difficult to photograph.

The hike out we saw a Fer-de-lance Bothrops asper. I was unable to get pics, read on find out why.

At this point, the humidity again got to my camera. Pardon my rant.

When my Nikon D200 died in 2012 I had been awaiting a never announced Nikon D400 for years. It has still yet to arrive. Not fully committed to full frame, (I refuse to play your full frame upgrade game Nikon) I downgraded in some features to the Nikon D7000. It had much newer tech, a nice new sensor and fit my hand surprisingly better. It is a better camera just because of sensor technology in the many years that had passed. BUT, it does not have Nikon's pro weather sealing. Is it too much to ask for a pro-level crop DSLR with weather sealing Nikon? Clearly wildlife photography needs this. Canon has answered with the 7D and now 7D2 but Nikon continues to keep it's head in the sand. All along, knowing the type of use I would subject my camera to, this has been a concern. Well two years after purchasing, it crapped out. My concerns were realized. The camera became stuck in Liveview mode, and would also not take any pictures. I stuck it in a dry bag with silicon packets. Later that night after much troubleshooting, I figured out that if I popped the battery out while the camera was on, and then place the battery back in, the camera would be on but in an error mode. I could then press the shutter release, and the camera would function in normal mode, but now my LCD review would not work. I could shoot blind, similar to the dark ages of film, but without the instant review or histogram access. I was elated I could still shoot though! After a few hours of keeping the camera on in this mode, the LCD would start to work again, and I could review the pictures from hours earlier. If I turned the camera off at all, this whole process would start again. The trip was not ruined, but how long would it last like this?

The rest of the hike out was fairly uneventful. We may have just been too exhausted to notice anything though. Our nightly ritual became convening in the lab clearing near Brian's office and shariing a brew (usually Pilsen) with other researchers on some hammocks and rocking chairs.  We were doing this tonight when one of the girls started to walk back to her room. She yelled snake a few yards away and crossing the path we saw this.

False Coral Snake Oxyrhopus petolarius 

We eventually called it a night and wearily stumbled to our car. On the short drive back to our cabin, Carl and I did roadcruise a new species for the trip though.

Canal Zone Treefrog Hypsiboas rufitelus
What a couple days in the field... More to follow!


You can see Part 1Part 2, Part 3 and Part 4 here.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Costa Rica 2014: Part 1

You can see Part 1Part 2, Part 3 and Part 4 here.

If you have read some past posts, you probably know that Carl and I try to get together for a trip once every year or two. Sometimes, it is just a long weekend, but usually we sneak away for a week or so. 

This year I wanted to do something before my son was born. Call it a "last hurrah" of sorts. My brother Brian was spending the year down in Costa Rica conducting his PhD research on leaf litter frogs and human parasites, so why not take advantage of that and join him?

We visited near the end of June, 2014. The World Cup was in full swing and Brian had been there long enough to welcome visitors. Beckett was due in late August, and Carl had wrapped up his teaching responsibilities for the semester. It seemed like as good of a time as any to make the trek.

We chose to limit our travel and mostly stay on site at La Selva Biological Station where Brian was working. We looked into visiting an ecolodge or ecoresort later in the week for a few days, but ended up camping out at La Selva due to the cheap cost and ease of it all. We did commit to a night at another site on the last day, which was a nice change of pace.

I flew in a day earlier than Carl, sorted out the rental car, and fought my way through the back roads to La Selva. 

La Selva Biological Station was our home for the week.

I settled in, grabbed dinner and met some of Brian's friends. I was eager to hit the field though, and shortly after night fell, Brian and I headed to a stream he thought would harbor glass frogs.

Right outside his office I noticed this Masked Treefrog, Smilisca phaeota.

We set out on the trails and quickly were seeing many of the typical subjects. We flipped this sleeping Central American Whiptail Ameiva festiva.

I was elated to spot one of this frogs though, something I had missed four years ago.

Warszewitsch's Frog Rana warszewitschii
Almirante Robber Frog Craugastor talamancae
Almirante Robber Frog Craugastor talamancae
Almirante Robber Frog Craugastor talamancae
We were working our way to our destination, a nice first order stream, when Brian spotted two really stinking cool lizards in the trees.

Casque-headed Lizard Corytophanes cristatus
Shortly after arriving in the stream, Brian found one of our targets, the Spiny Cochran Frog Teratohyla spinosa. We would see 12 of these frogs this night, and hear many more calling.

More spinosa.

We also saw one Emerald Glass Frog Espadarana prosoblepon.

Chirriqui Robber Frog Pristimantis cruentus
I was photographing a glass frog and looked up to see this cool snake moving through a tree.

Stejneger's Snail Sucker Sibon longifrenis
We saw a couple Cat-eyed Snakes, a large Fer-de-lance and various frogs on the hike back out. A nice first night!

On the second day we got up early to head back into San Jose and pick up Carl from the airport. Both trips into town and back out went without any major issues. We were soon showing Carl around La Selva and photographing the "common" stuff. Carl and I were housed a little farther off site in a row of cabins that were more tradition "rooms" with private bathrooms. Brian had a cabin to himself most of the year, but did share a bathroom. I forgot the name of our cabins now... It was cool because it forced you to walk 3/4 of a mile to and from the main cafeteria and lab clearing and you ended up herping/birding more. After two days of hiking our asses off and essentially stumbling into the lab clearing very late at night, we started driving to and from the cafeteria. "Lazy" Gringos!

After settling in, we headed to la comedor (dining room) for lunch. We took our time on the walk in and kept our cameras out for some of the daytime animals that were out and about.

Strawberry Poison Dar Frog Oophaga pumilio
Neotropical Green Anole Norops biporcatus
a young Salmon-bellied Racer Mastigodryas melanonomus
Redback Coffee Snake Ninia sebae
Noble's Robber Frog Craugaster noblei
We then set out to a few of Brian's study plots.  A very quick and dirty version is that Brian marked out study plots under different species of trees and then counted as many reptiles and amphibians, and mark and recaptured them, throughout his plots, all year long. 

One of Brian's favorite dirt frog, Bransford's Robber Frog Craugastor bransfordii.

This frog is pretty variable in coloration. Brian asked me to try and photograph a few of the different morphs for him.

These eggs were in one of Bri's plots. Not sure what they are?

While exploring along a stream we came across this Green and Black Poison Dart Frog, Dendrobates auratus. These seem to have an expanding range at La Selva.

Wet Forest Toad Bufo melanochlorus
We hiked up on a swamp that had two calls in an active chorus. One of the frogs was an unIDd Smilisca species. The other was a large breeding congregation of Southern Narrow-mouth Toads Gastrophryne pictiventris.

We headed back in to charge our batteries, and enjoy a hot meal. After dusk fell we headed back out to the swamp. On the hike in we walked right under this trogon. I believe it is a Black-throated Trogon Trogon rufus.

The swamp was alive with activity. We saw a number Olive Snouted Treefrogs Scinax elaeochrous.

There was lots of evidence of recent breeding activity, as seen by recent egg masses of Costa Rica's charismatic Red-eyed Treefrogs.

Red-eyed Treefrog Agalychnis callidryas eggs

Fitzinger's Robber Frog Craugastor fitzingeri
San Carlos Treefrog Dendropsophus phlebodes
More unIDd eggs
Brian turned in for the night, but Carl and I headed to another swamp.

More Scinax were out and about.

as well as both Agalychnis callidryas and Agalychnis saltator.

Red-eyed Treefrog Agalychnis callidryas

We also saw another Sibon longifrenes, caimen, green basalisk and the hourglass treefrog. We were pretty gassed and it was getting very late so we started the long trek back to the lab clearing, then the comedor, then hike back to our room. It wasn't totally wasted, although we could barely keep one foot going in front of the other.

Powdered Glass Frog Teratohyla pulverata
Pulveratta eggs

We also spotted this snake sleeping along the trailside.

Dendrophidian sp, likely percarinatus?
We stumbled back to our rooms, showered, tried to clean equipment and eventually made it to bed. It was extremely late at this time, and if you can imagine, we had a hard time making breakfast in the morning.

I will leave you here for now. More to come in the future!


You can see Part 1Part 2, Part 3 and Part 4 here.