Thursday, April 10, 2008

Costa Rica - La Selva Biological Preserve - real rainforest finally!

This morning we hired a naturalist guide, very $$$, but definitely worth it. He know every bird call and how to find sloths hiding in the canopy. He has also learned a lot about medicinal plants from his grandmother so we talked about that too. Here is a two-toed sloth, sleeping in the top of a tree. We had a borrowed spotting scope so we put the camera on the eyepiece and it worked pretty OK. Not perfect, but OK. These sloths move so slow algae grows in their fur and we could see the green in their coat.

Last night we went on a short night hike by ourselves with our new fancy headlamps. By the research station there is a black light with a white sheet that attracts insects at night and we checked it out. Not too much, but a nice hawk moth and lots of spiders that were waiting for dinner. The next morning (= today) we walked by it and these two Dobson flies were sitting on the white sheet. Look at those jaws! The Dobson flies are at least 4-5 inches long (ca 12 cm) and in the order Megaloptera. Impressive, like dinosaur insects or something.

We have seen two kinds of poison dart frogs. The strawberry poison frog which is red with blue legs, and this one, the Black and Green Dart Frog (easy name!). AREA found it while we were biking. They are smaller than I imagined, but oh so colorful!
We rented two mountain bikes this morning and went on a ride on one of the trails along the river that is over 5 km long and pretty flat. Amazing to have concrete trails through a rain forest. Some other trails are also concrete but narrower (no bikes then), and then there are mud trails too, but it was unusually dry when we were there. Barely any rain at all.
Here is the other sloth species, the three-toed one. He hanged out in a part of the forest that used to be a cacao plantation. Our guide told us this story about how mommy sloths bring their babies down to the forest floor to poop, so they don't do that in the trees. It means it must take them 3 hours or so to go to the bathroom. They are really SSSSSSSSSlllllllloooooooowwwwwwww.

One of the people on the tour yesterday was an ant specialist, so he told us lots about how ants work and collaborate. We saw many kinds, including these army ants that march through the forest in search of food. Here they made a little bridge. We did not get bitten, we made sure we stayed away. Leaf cutter ants are also common, as are fire ants. I found a bullet ant in the forest, with a sting so painful it feels like you are hit by a bullet. NO, I didn't try it.

More spotting scope photos from this morning. This is a black vulture, tanning its wet wings in the early morning sun. Vultures are definitely weird birds, but I find them fascinating.

The area at La Selva is completely infected with colorful birds, and the best birding spot seem to be right outside the dining hall. Here is a marked titara (spelling?). Check out the red face!

Rubber trees are fun! This is not the regular rubber tree, but another species which is used in Costa Rica as rubber. Some sap had dried on the stem and we pulled it off, and it is just like rubber bands! This was probable my botanical highlight of La Selva.


O.K. said...

You must have had a great trip, judging from the pictures. But I'm not jealous, not at all. ;)

LS said...

I can see my brother being blue with envy ;)