Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Costa Rica - Arenal Volcano

One of the typical "must see" destinations in Costa Rica is the famous Arenal Volcano.
Not only because of the perfectly shaped volcano, but also because of the biodiversity, the national park is worth the trip. You can comfortable drive (4x4 recommended)  to a viewpoint to admire the volcano. Hopefully clouds do not block the view. So you do not have to be in a good physical condition to see the volcano, you only need luck with the weather. Of course there are very nice hiking trails as well.

At the viewpoint this pretty bird welcomed us. A White-throated Magpie-jay (Calocitta formosa)

White-throated Magpie-jay - Calocitta formosa

Here you can see the map (I colored the yellow and green trails). At the end of the main road (red X) is the viewpoint. There is a small trail on the left, connecting the two parking lots. The yellow trail is pretty sunny and partly surrounded by bamboo forest. It ends at another, more adventurous viewpoint. From there you can see the volcano and the lake. The green trail winds through secondary rainforest and is mostly shady.

Eyelash Viper - Bothriechis schlegelli

I found this Eyelash Viper (Bothriechis schlegelli) quite at the beginning of the yellow trail. What a start - amazing! Some Howler Monkeys jumped around in the bushes, but I didn't get any pictures of them. 

Central American Whiptail - Ameiva festiva

The Central American Whiptail (Ameiva festiva) is common in the national park. The juveniles can be recognized by their blue tail.

Barred Forest Racer - Dendrophidion vinitor

Barred Forest Racer (Dendrophidion vinitor), found somewhere on the "green trail".

Arenal Volcano

Lake Arenal

Another great find on the green trail was this beauty: Parrot Snake (Leptophis ahaetulla).

Parrot Snake - Leptophis ahaetulla

The animals surely don't stay in the boundaries of the national park, so in the area around La Fortuna we were able to observe some cool stuff. The advantage outside the np is the opportunity to look in the dark for animals... perfect to find some of the numerous nocturnal species.

Northern Cat-eyed Snake - Leptodeira septentrionalis

Northern Cat-eyed Snake - Leptodeira septentrionalis

The Northern Cat-eyed Snake (Leptodeira septentrionalis) is very common. It was the first snake we found at night. They mainly feed on frogs and their eggs.

Hourglass Treefrog - Dendropsophus ebraccatus

This handsome Hourglass Treefrog (Dendropsophus ebraccatus) is calling for love...

Hourglass Treefrog - Dendropsophus ebraccatus (in amplexus)

...while this one already found a female for breeding. To me, the Hourglass Treefrog is one of the prettiest frog species in Costa Rica. A nice looking Tropical Orb Weaver (Eriophora fuliginea) built it's web next to the trail. The orange coloration of their underside is amazing, still I wanted to get a glance at it's back. Therfore I had to crawl underneath the web. I am not really afraid of spiders, but doing this (in the dark!) was somehow quite thrilling.

Tropical Orb Weaver - Eriophora fuliginea

Tropical Orb Weaver - Eriophora fuliginea

The Warszewitsch's Frog (Lithobates warszewitschii) is well camouflaged. He fits perfect with the leaf litter.

Warszewitsch's Frog - Lithobates warszewitschii

To show it's beauty and the pointy snout, here is another specimen. The name is kind of hard to pronounce and I assume I mess it up pretty bad, but I really like this frog.

Warszewitsch's Frog - Lithobates warszewitschii

The "Cutie-Award" goes to this juvenile Blunthead Tree Snake (Imantodes cenchoa).

Blunthead Tree Snake - Imantodes cenchoa

Blunthead Tree Snake - Imantodes cenchoa

Last but not least, a beautiful Leaf Litter Toad (Rhaebo haematiticus)

Leaf Litter Toad - Rhaebo haematiticus

Saturday, April 16, 2016

Good newts, everyone!

I was never really satisfied with the process of catching newts out of the water during their aquatic phase and putting them on moss covered stones, or something like that, to take pictures of them.
Most pictures doesn't  look very natural and they hardly show the beauty of the newts.

So I did not have to reinvent the wheel, by simply putting them into a small aquarium.
It should be very narrow for a good and efficient result. The newts swim around in their temporary home a little, I get some nice "underwater" shots and as a reward for their cooperation I like to feed them some mosquito larvae, or whatever I have at hand. Newts aren't picky.

That's my aquarium on a fancy little stool... to make it even more comfortable

Palmate newt - Lissotriton helveticus
Palmate Newt - Lissotriton helveticus

Palmate newt - Lissotriton helveticus
Palmate Newt - Lissotriton helveticus

Alpine newt - Ichthyosaura alpestris, larvae
Alpine Newt - Ichthyosaura alpestris, larva

Alpine newt - Ichthyosaura alpestris, male
Alpine Newt - Ichthyosaura alpestris, male

If you don't have a waterproof camera, this is a good way to get nice pics anyway. Of course you can also take pictures of fish, tadpoles, or any other water creature you can find... and catch. Make sure to release the photo models at the same place where you caught them.