Buckeye Herps Blog

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

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Costa Rica: Atlantic Slope and Conclusion

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

We were up and at em early again to make breakfast and hit the trails.  We set out first to check out a nearby swamp we had spotted a few mud turtles at but were never able to get pics of.  One of them happened to be easily within reach today.

Kinosternon leucostomum

We hiked a few new trails for a while without much luck.  I was rustling through some downed branches and leaves and noticed a small frog hopping the in the litter that was different from any we had seen so far.

It happened to be the least common of La Selva's dart frogs, Phyllobates lugubris.

There were other small groups of people out and about the grounds of La Selva the last few days.  Many of the summer and seasonal researchers had departed but there was a group of entomologists that we had chatted with here and there.  They had seen a few snakes recently, primarily the local Porthidium I was hoping for.  Brian had seen almost as many of them as he had of the aspers the last 2 months and ensured me one would turn up.  Usually they were a bit more common a few miles out at his primary research site but I was hopeful.  Anyway, we had chatted them up for a while early on in the hike, but while we were photographing the above dart frog, they returned.  They had hiked a good 20 minutes or so out of their way to find us on the intricate trail system.  Luckily, we had been photographing the frog for a little while and hadn't moved onto another trail.  They had brought us a present - a small snake that turned up while they were sifted through leaf litter for insects.  It turned out to be a neat little critter, even for a Ninia.

Ninia maculata

Moving on we found a likely looking glass frog spot.

And noticed some Norops limifrons predatory behavior.

The sun popped out and on cue so did the Ameiva festivus

We got back to the main compound for our usual afternoon routine.  I noticed this large iguana hanging around and couldn't resist shooting him a bit.

This was to be our last morning at La Selva.  I was feeling bummed about not seeing some other stuff, primarily the last dart frog.  I couldn't take it easy, despite my fatigue.  I rented one of the mountain bikes to ride out a ways to where the dart frogs are a bit more common.  I hiked around for a couple hours and stuck out.  I had to pull out the gear and shoot a Craugastor bransfordii on the ground to make up for my previous slight though.

We headed out for our night hike feeling very drained.

Craugastor sp. (fitzingeri?)

We spent much of the time checking trails where eyelash vipers are reportedly more common.  No luck there of course, but we spotted some new things for me.

Sibon longifrenis

And finally, on my 7th night in Costa Rica, I saw my first red eye (have you noticed the lack of rain at night?).

Agalychis saltator

Norops lemurinis

It was a bit of a slower night.  We saw many of things we had already seen, a couple other Sibon and were working our way back.  In one of the swamps I noticed a decent sized snake moving in the trees.  Imagine our suprise to find a young Pseustes active at night.

Pseustes poecilonotus

We got up early with plans to depart La Selva.  Our other plans ended up falling through as well so we decided to just stay for our fourth and last night knowing there was plenty more to discover.  Brian had to get back here tomorrow anyway for his last week in the country and to work a little more on his project.  We decided to forgo further travel disasters and just keep things simple.  We changed tactics a bit, renting bikes and riding the 30 minutes out to Brian's study site where Porthidium seemed to be everywhere.

Dendrobates auratus

The paved trail ended and we had to hoof it a ways on foot as well.  We turned up this neat turtle on the trail.

Rhinoclemmys annulata

We didn't get the snakes we wanted, but being in a different area provided plenty of opportunities to photograph new frogs that were more common in these sections.

Pristimantis cerasinus

Craugastor noblei

Craugastor talamancae

We were heading back to our bikes along a different trail, chatting and enjoying the trail when we noticed a green twig bolt from the trail 10 yards in front of us.  It took to the trees in a stand of green palms and vanished.  It was definitely a Leptophis but we weren't able to ID it to a species.  During our prolonged search, we turned up a new toad.

Incilius melanochlorus

We got back for our afternoon routine, pulled of the boots and decided to relax a bit.  I wanted to photograph a few of the sites around La Selva so we slowly wandered over to a nearby trail.  Again on the trail was a green stick, but we didn't let it catch us sleeping this time.

Leptophis depressirostris

We were relaxing before my last La Selva dinner, and I started to hear a few raindrops.  This would have been our fourth night here, and we had a slight drizzle the first night, but not another rain drop since.  Well the heavens opened on us this afternoon.  I started to get pretty excited about it, Brian started to get a little grumpy, complaining about getting wet, wearing a poncho, etc.  I managed to get him to snap out of it quickly, and we wolfed dinner down and headed out in the rain.  It was really pouring and I was hoping it would bring down some more Agalychis and Brian's holy grail, Cruziohyla, which he had been pining over all week.

Soon after setting out, Brian called me over with a smug grin and told me to find the animal.  I knew it had to be something that wasn't at risk for escaping so I scanned the ground for coiled vipers. 

Score! (I needed help...)

Porthidium nasutum

It was only a few minutes later when Brian started screaming.  I turned around to check out his side of the trail and immediately noticed this beast sitting on a branch.

Cruziohyla calcarifer

Lots of high fives around after that.  It really started to pour now, but I soon spotted another new frog for me on my side of the trail.

Dendropsophus ebrecattus

My camera took about 3 minutes of hard rain for the frog, and then died.  I didn't know actually, but a few minutes later we spotted the lizard I had been hoping for all trip.

Corytophanes cristattus, taken with Brian's camera.  Mine would turn on, focus, fire all my flashes and then just record a black screen of death.  I tried multiple fixes in the field, without help.

It was ok though.  It had been a good night.  We enjoyed our hike back, the rain now stopped, without much else spotted.  We hit a swamp that had been very good to us, and I finally saw my other red eye.

Agalychis callidryas

Which ended my trip.  We turned in around 1, and planned to get up at 630 for breakfast.  There was a quick car key scare in the morning which delayed my departure.  I was super worried about being able to make the drive back actually within my allotted time and getting the car back, through security, etc.  It was nothing to worry about though, and the drive to San Jose was for once easy and as planned.

My 1 hr layover in Fort Lauderdale which involved getting through customs, then back through security was a bit more sketchy (how did the airline let me book it?) but they actually held the door open so I could get on the plane.

I gave Brian a hard time throughout the trip, but it's mainly me just teasing my kid brother.  Without him the trip wouldn't have happened (I would have gone to AZ) or been nearly as enjoyable.  We invited the middle brother along, but he declined because we weren't going to be "doing anything fun, like ziplining and rafting".  I think we had a fracking blast and I can't wait to get back.  I learned some valuable travel lessons in the country and know I have just started to scratch the surface of its herp diversity.

Thanks for sticking with me.

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


  1. Wow what a herp overload. Agalyctnus saltator
    has to be my favorite, although many close seconds.

  2. Amazing. Herp overload indeed. I cannot get over your photography. Stunned.