Tuesday, April 16, 2019

Amphibious welcome in Germany

After three marvellous months in Costa Rica, I am back in Germany. Of course it's great to finally see my girlfriend, family and friends again. But the temperature drop was enormous and unfortunately I am not surrounded by that much nature here as I was in Costa Rica. Luckily there are still some beautiful amphibians around. Shortly after my arrival in Germany I was able to see some of those. For example the Barred Fire Salamander (Salamandra salamandra terrestris) and the Alpine Newt (Ichthyosaura alpestris). Like most amphibians they are nocturnal, so I keep doing night tours... unlike in Costra Rica, here in Germany I don't need to watch out for venemous snakes like the Fer de Lance (Bothrops asper). 

Salamandra salamandra terrestris - Barred Fire Salamander

Ichthyosaura alpestris - Alpine Newt

Wednesday, March 27, 2019

Tenorio Volcano NP - Rio Celeste

Volcano Tenorio National Park is located in the north of Costa Rica. The 11,900 ha of the park include rain forest and primary cloud forest. Many different species of animals live in this park, for example the rarely seen Tapir. The main reason for a visit is the beautiful river Rio Celeste and its waterfall. What makes Rio Celeste so unique is the name-giving color: Bright turquoise-blue!

Typical "I was here" pic, next to the NP sign.
The trails can be muddy, slippery and steep... so I would recommend hiking shoes or boots (at the entrance they have boots for rent). Meanwhile, the Tenorio National Park is quite popular, so if you don't want to hang around with many tourists, you should arrive early in the morning. Especially at the waterfall, it gets quite crowded later in the day and there might be "selfie-jams". Swimming is forbidden, which protects nature and is beneficial for landscape photography.

Stairway to the waterfall
Rio Celeste - Waterfall
Surrounded by this amazing landscape, it can be hard to focus on the search for reptiles. It was funny to see almost all the other visitors walking past this small venomous snake, without seeing it. I showed the snake to people who politely asked me what I was photographing.  Also I gave them some quick information about this interesting animal.

Bothriechis schlegelii - Eyelash Viper
Eyelash Viper (Bothriechis schlegelii)
It was way easier to spot the curious White-nosed Coati. Feeding wild animals is prohibited in the national park. Some people still do it anyway, so the Coatis often come close to humans, begging for food.
Nasua narica - White-nosed Coati
White-nosed Coati (Nasua narica)
Rio Celeste
Spilotes pullatus - Tiger Rat Snake
Do you see this gorgeous creature?
My favorite observation of the day was this -at least 2 meter long- Tiger Rat Snake (Spilotes pullatus). It was climbing elegantly in the trees at a height of about 4 meters. This snake is non venomous and diurnal.

Spilotes pullatus - Tiger Rat Snake
Tiger Rat Snake (Spilotes pullatus)
Rio Celeste
Rio Celeste
The landscape with its fantastic river is a very good reason to visit the park. There is also the possibility to observe some animals. I was very happy about the sightings of the snakes! But I can reassure those who want to enjoy the landscape without seeing any snakes: if you don't look for them, it is very unlikely to see any. Of course they are around - that's the jungle.

Saturday, March 23, 2019

The sixth leg

They may not be very popular in general, but I think they are extremely interesting and photogenic: Insects.
Here is a little insight into the insect world of Costa Rica. I took all these pictures with my 100mm f2.8 macro lens.

I will start with the most popular one, a butterfly. The Rosita Patch (Chlosyne rosita). Both pictures show the same animal. I especially like the looks of the underside of the wings.

Chlosyne rosita - Rosita Patch

Chlosyne rosita - Rosita Patch

I am not entirely sure about the ID of this one, but I assume it's a Leafhopper (Paromenia auroguttata). During a night-time search for Glass Frogs along a stream I found this little "false alert" creature underneath a leaf. 

Paromenia auroguttata - Leafhopper

This Lubber Grasshopper (Taeniopoda sp.) can occur in very high numbers. It was a little windy while I took the picture, so it was the best to focus on an individual on the ground, instead of the other ones shaking around in the vegetation.

Taeniopoda sp. - Lubber Grasshopper

A very pretty, golden beetle: The Shining Leaf Chafer (Pelidnota strigosa) 

Pelidnota strigosa - Shining Leaf Chafer

Most katydids are herbivores. The Rhinoceros Katydid (Copiphora cultricornis) feeds on plants too, but thanks to its mighty jaw, it is able to prey also on animals. The diet includes insects and invertebrates and even small frogs or lizards.

I don't know what species of grasshoppers those are, but they make sure, there will be offspring.

Mating Grasshopper