Eyelash Vipers at La Selva

We have encountered more than 10 species of snakes during our travels around Costa Rica.  The Eyelash palm-pitviper is closely related to Bothriechis lateralis.  The adult snake has remained in the same location for 4 days, patiently waiting about 4 inches above the ground, waiting for a small bird, mammal, reptile or amphibian to come close enough to strike.  The juvenile snake moves to a new location each night, and finding it each morning is a fun challenge.  I wonder if there are multiple juvenile snakes in the area, and we only find one at a time.
B. schlegelii juvenile, La Selva Biological Station
B. schlegelii, La Selva Biological Station
Young eyelash viper moving at night

This trip to Costa Rica is drawing to a close, but I have lots of great memories and a few good photos to share.  I've fallen in love with this country and can't wait to come back.  If the people of the world valued nature the way many people in this country do, we could all be a lot better off.

Northern Ghost Bat

Diclidurus albus, Tiskita Lodge

Frogs in Ballena, Costa Rica

We had a couple more productive night hikes in the rain forest with some of the students.  The more humid climate makes for a good diversity of amphibians.  I find myself with a constant dilemma: stay up late for the nocturnal wildlife, or get up early with the birds.  Typically, I do both.

I've had limited internet, so I'm running a few days behind, but there are great birds to come!  Also, I'm blogging with a 3 foot long iguana at my feet.  Pura Vida!
Glass Frog Species
Red-eyed leaf frog

Whale Watching!

We went whale watching in Uvita on Friday January 13th
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I give you Bothriechis lateralis, the Side-striped palm-pitviper
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Playa Nancite

Students guard endangered Olive Ridley Sea Turtle hatchlings from birds as they crawl towards the Pacific

We packed our gear in Santa Rosa and hiked 10 miles through restored tropical dry forest and mangrove swamp to Playa Nancite, one of the few remaining arrebata beaches in the world.  Several times a year, thousands of endangered sea turtles lay their eggs in the black sand in the course of several nights.
A hatchling sea turtle scrambles toward the surf, Playa Nancite, Costa Rica
Most of the turtles hatch at night, and are drawn towards the reflected light of the surf.  In the morning the entire beach was covered by baby turtle tracks, with only an occasional patch of undisturbed sand.  Some turtles hatch too early or too late, and are vulnerable to daytime predators, especially birds.

Frigate birds eat turtles that hatch during daylight hours

We picked up turtles that hatched during the day and helped them make their way across the treacherous sand, shooing away dive bombing birds.  I carried about 30 in a punch in my shirt.  The turtles that make it to the surf still have a low chance of surival, hatching attracts numerous predators that wait just offshore.  At one point students wanted to go swimming, but one of the Costa Ricans who works with the turtles advised against it.  With my incomplete Spanish I understood that there was something in the water that could bite, and it was not a shark or other fish:
'Toasty' the crocodile doesn't care that his snacks are endangered and cute
Development of coastal areas has been catastrophic for sea turtles.  In developed areas, instead of crawling towards the ocean, hatchlings crawl towards electric lights to their death.  Seeing such uncommon and beautiful animals in huge numbers was a surreal experience.  Playa Nancite also had some pretty awesome insects, some welcome others not as much:
Tropical stink bug (Pentatomidae)
This stink bug (yes it is related to the brown marmorated stink bug) stands guard over its eggs - kicking its legs at my lens (or any would be predator).  Parental care is uncommon in insects and we were really excited to find this species here.

The kissing bug feeds on the blood of sleeping humans, and can transmit Chagas disease.  This one was in the student bungalow.

After an uphill hike from Nancite we all had a good night's rest before heading to the beautiful Monteverde cloud forest, which I will post about soon.

Bienvenido a Costa Rica

I am in Guanacaste National Park, on our second stop in Costa Rica.  Today I saw more new insects than my brain could process, a number of neat warblers, many lizards, white faced capuchins, and spider monkeys and howler monkeys eating in the same tree.  Tomorrow we hike to the isolated playa nancite where we will spend 2 days that I am sure will be delightful.  Here are a few photos:
packing and getting excited - I brought too much stuff

Spider monkey - usually they are up higher in the canopy and harder to photograph
one of two really cool Pentatomid bugs from the day
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