Buckeye Herps Blog

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

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Costa Rica 2014: Part 1

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

No comments:

Post a Comment