All text copyright  Eitan Grunwald.  All photographs copyright  Eitan or Ron Grunwald  except photographs by others are copyright per photo credits.  All rights reserved.  Terms
COSTA RICA
July 2003
4 of 7
COSTA RICA
July 2003
4 of 7
       
The following day we take photos of some snakes we found the night before.  After the Fer-de-Lance we had made the unexpected find of a Rainbow Boa crossing the road.  Although not considered rare, they’re nowhere as common as their cousins, the Boa Constrictors.  Even Quetzal was surprised and delighted! While hiking earlier in the evening we had picked up a pair of Sibons, each a different species.  These thin, nocturnal, arboreal snakes with rounded heads and big eyes have specially adapted jaws designed to scoop out snails from their shells, earning them the attractive name, Snail Suckers.   . On the drive back to Dominical we see a woman standing alone by the side of the road, staring up into the dense canopy of trees that cover the coastal mountainside.  We pull over to ask what she is watching, and she points to some dark shapes that are shaking the leaves.   Nearby, a large male Iguana moves along a branch, too obscured by leaves for a photo.  Curiously enough, this is our only Green Iguana for the entire week.  Although extremely abundant throughout Costa Rica  we saw dozens on our last trip  this time we just happen to be in places where they aren’t.  Ironically, spotting these common critters leads to our sighting of another creature that’s not so easily seen.   High above the monkeys and the lizard, in the very uppermost branches, I glimpse a gray, rounded shape that looks like a giant cocoon.  At first I think it’s some kind of nest, but through the binoculars it appears more like a crested fur ball.  When it stretches out a misshapen limb, I realize that I’ve accidentally discovered a sloth! That afternoon we experience our first tropical downpour, three hours of torrential rain that washes out bridges, floods low ground, and blocks highways with tree-felling mudslides.  We learn that virtually every village, no matter how small, has its local bulldozer and driver.  In a matter of hours debris is cleared, mud moved aside, and roads are restored.  Just a routine day in the rainy season. That night we go for a brief hike up a slippery mountainside.  Army ants are on the move, transporting larvae as the colony travels bumper-to-bumper, whizzing past a leech in the slow lane.  Smokey Jungle Frogs wait by their holes, hoping to ambush something bigger than an ant and smaller than a herper. Up in the trees herps are either sleeping or having sex.  Well, at least what passes for sex between consenting amphibians.  In the case of frogs and toads there’s no actual intercourse, just a tight embrace called amplexus.  The much smaller male climbs on the female’s back, gives her a squeeze, locks his arms in position, then holds on for hours   (sometimes days!).  As the female lays her eggs, the male deposits his sperm externally and the two ingredients mix together for fertilization.  Usually this is done in water, but some species of tree frogs lay their eggs on leaves above the water, where the emerging tadpoles will drop in to begin their aquatic existence.  Or maybe this unidentified romantic couple is just looking for some variety?     A herp of the sleeping kind.  This lizard has the longest tail of any Anole I’ve ever seen, and transitions beautifully from lime green in the leaves, to rusty green in our hands. Next morning Ron and I are on our own for a few hours, so we cross a swinging bridge and take a short hike down a local streamside trail.     Not too many critters to report, just the usual sights of anoles and ants, but in Costa Rica the commonplace is unusually beautiful and interesting.  Here lizards hide bold, bright colors beneath their throats, ants carry leaves, and walls drip with foliage and flowers.     We linger and look out over the rainforest, its rushing water still fleeing from yesterday’s monsoon, then turn from the jungle and make ready for our trip to the north, to the dry forests of Guanacaste.
Rainforest Anole Norops polylepis
Rainbow Boa Epicrates cenchria
Mottled Snail Sucker Sibon nebulatus
Slender Snail Sucker Sibon dimidiata
Green Tree Anole Norops biporcatus
Howler Monkeys
Dwarf Rain Frog (?) Eleutherodactylus ridens