Buckeye Herps Blog

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

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Costa Rica part II

Check out Costa Rica Part IPart IIPart IIIPart IV and Part V.

Dead set on getting started on the right foot and getting this trip turned around, Brian and I awoke at our impromptu hotel early and hit the road.  We would not waste another day.  We spotted a DOR boa on the side of  the road, grabbed some quick voucher pics and moved on.  We arrived at one of our destinations an hour or so later, and we set out to hike with the day in front of us. 

Right off the bat, I turned up the ubiquitous cane toad, Chaunas marinus.

We would be exploring a drier part of the country for the next couple of days.  The habitat looked very different from the rest of the trip.


We explored for a few hours but weren't about to turn up too much.

We found a number of Leptodactylus poecilichilus clustered around areas with water.

As well as Incilius valliceps.

Unfortunately, about this time, early afternoon, clouds rolled in the heavens opened over us.  We made the few km hike back to the car in the rain without turning up anything else.  We decided to take advantage of the rain to get situated with our lodging for the night.  We were going to stay at the Palo Verde research station, but the nice hosts at the first bed and breakfast recommended a couple that owned a farm, had some cottages and reported they had rattlesnakes on the farm!  Being one of our primary targets, we decided to check it out.  We pulled into the farm mid afternoon, and it was nice and sunny here.  We were able to get a nice clean room for $45 a night, extra for meals.  The meals were home cooked, and were by far the best food we had all trip.  The farm was situated on a river, with its own native crocodiles, and the owner even had  a couple of the rattlesnakes he had caught on his property the last few years.  Herper heaven...

We checked in and quickly hit the trails.  Within a few minutes, we noticed projectiles being thrown our way.  Looking up in the large trees over the property, we spotted large numbers of howler monkeys and spider monkeys.

Basilicus vittatus from the farm.


A much darker Incilius valliceps

Boatbilled Herons along the river.

Unfortunately, the river water was high and we never did lay eyes on one of the resident crocs.

We were enjoying one of the trails over the farm, basically through floodplain, then farm pasture and secondary growth forest when the trail ran into a barbed wire fence.  We could see the sign posts on the other side of the fence, but all the fences so far had a form of gate.  Not this one.  We were complaining about having to go under through the mud, or try to climb over, when Brian spotted a turtle right at our feet.  I am sure we would have missed it had there been a gate...

Rhinoclemmys pulcherrima

Otherwise, we enjoyed nice vistas and the local troupe of spider monkeys prior to a delicious dinner.

We enjoyed our meal greatly and quickly headed out for some road cruising.  This was a tough night.  Snakes were moving, but we were destined to only find them flattened.

Imantodes cenchoa

Porthidium ophryomegas

Ninea sebae

Leptodactylus labialis that I stupidly opted not to photograph better...?

And the heartbreaker, still squirming Micrurus nigrocinctus

Things slowed down, and we continued to cruise for a few more hours.  Another DOR porthidium, and a DOR boa and I started to work my way home.  Brian was dead asleep in the passenger seat when right by the turn off to the motel, I noticed a very alive coral booking it across the road.  I straddled the snake, yelled coral, and Brian was surprisingly out the door with tongs lickity split.  It was a large one, and refused to be corralled on the road.  We tried the tongs as a last resort, as well as forceps.  It was almost too big for forceps and too small for tongs.  You can see where this is going...  As Brian was booking it to the car, he made the mistake of taking the route near the edge of the road.  The snake squirmed loose and vanished in seconds off the road.  There was a very heated and furious exchange of words as our first live snake in 3 days, and one of our main targets was lost quickly, and all the pent up emotion and frustration of the past few days quickly boiled over.  To make matters worse, I noticed this pancake on the walk back to the car...

With a third or fourth wind now caught, we cruised a few more hours near the hotel, where a recent drizzle had wet the road.  While not super productive, we were bummed to find DOR Leptodeira annulata and Gymnopus multiplicata

We finally turned in, feeling good about evidence of animals moving, but still bummed about the lack of live specimens to show for it.  Luckily, tomorrow is always another day...

Check out Costa Rica Part IPart IIPart IIIPart IV and Part V.

Friday, August 27, 2010


Check out Costa Rica Part IPart IIPart IIIPart IV and Part V.

I try to make a dedicated herp trip each year, usually as the wife, money and time allows.  I was hoping to return to Arizona with Carl, and hike some of the ranges we scoped out a few years back now.  I had been to AZ in June (post to come!), managed to turn up some neat animals, and wet my appetite for more.  For various reasons, the trip fell through early on.  I have mentioned before my brother Brian was in Costa Rica for 2.5 months, and what better way is there to kill a week of vacation than a trip to the tropics?

Brian had finished his summer project, and had a couple weeks left in the country.  I flew into San Jose on Sat morning, met him at the airport and off we headed on our adventure.  We had a loose itinerary, and had planned on some wiggle room.  Various plans fell through, for better or worse, and I think we both learned many lessons in traveling in a 3rd world country.  After getting lost numerous times in San Jose, we finally got out of the city and on the road.  Our first destination was a lovely B&B south of San Jose in the mountains.  We really should have skipped this, if only due to location, but the possibility for montain species such as godmans vipers, palm vipers and black milksnakes lured us in.  The property owners were extremely helpful, pointed out all the haunts of the various serpents they had seen in the past 1-2 weeks.  We enjoyed wonderful food, great conversation and some nice hikes.  Unfortunately, we only had scenery, birds and a lone frog to enjoy.

I have a fond spot in my heart for Akita's, and enjoyed Kuma immensely.

And our lone frog, Craugastor crassiditus

Let the fun begin...  Alas, our trip continued to creep along at a slow start.  We were planning on heading to a completely different region of the country, and totally miscalculated how long it would take us to get there.  We were told a major bridge was out, and 2 alternate routes were recommended.  Both sounded pretty terrible.  In the end, we decided to try a ferry...  (don't ever take the ferry!).

Along the way, we turned up a tragic DOR, Drymobius margaritiferus

( Let me take this opportunity to apologize for the large number of DOR pictures to come.  I honestly can say I would much rather show live shots, but information can still be learned from DORs.  Unfortunately, many of the diurnal snakes this trip only made appearances as DORs. )

Brian had never seen a croc before, and we were anxious to get to a popular spot.  Unforunately, I failed to notice the speed limit go from 80kph to 60 kph and got nailed going 85.  About $550 later we were furiously on our way again.  DO NOT SPEED IN COSTA RICA.

The rest of the day went from bad to worse.  We caught the ferry, got lost many times on small back roads, ended up traversing washed out bridges in the middle of the night, saw few to no herps, and lost many hours.  Our 6-8 hr drive was sitting around 12 or 13 hours and we still were a few hours from our destination for the night when we finally started to get back on pavement and near a decent sized city.  We pulled over at the first motel we saw, sadly hit the sack, and vowed to have a better day tomorrow...

A couple Smilisca baudini showed up prior to us turning in, as well as an Incilus coccifer.

Two tough days down, and spirits are running low.  Did we make a huge mistake?  Our we wasting our time and money?  Or do we need to just get out of the car (we want to believe me) and hit the trails?

Until next time...

Check out Costa Rica Part I, Part II, Part III, Part IV and Part V.