Saturday, December 23, 2017

Cahuita National Park

Cahuita National Park is located along the southern coast of the Caribbean side of Costa Rica.
Here you have the opportunity to observe a lot of wildlife. In addition to monkeys, sloths and others, there are a variety of reptile species. The famous Eyelash Pit Viper (Bothriechis schlegelii) is very common in this area.

White-headed capuchin - Cebus capucinus

The White-headed Capuchin (Cebus capucinus) is abudant in the park.

Also abudant and by far the most common reptile is the Four-lined Whiptail (Ameiva quadrilineata).
You can see many of these pretty lizards, but it is still not easy to get nice pictures of them.

Although I was focused on wildlife watching - especially herping - I was able to enjoy the beautiful beaches of the Park as well.

This is a very nice and uncommon coloration of the Eyelash Pit Viper (Bothriechis schlegelii).
The Caribbean coasts of Costa Rica are the perfect place to look for these snakes!

I saw many hermit crabs close to the beach, but it took me quite some time to get a decent picture.
They are either moving around or hidden in their little houses.

Ghost Anole - Anolis lemurinus

This Ghost Anole (Anolis lemurinus) was actually hard to spot. With a very low angle I was able to get a nice background in the picture.

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Two-toed Chewbacca

Matching the cinema release of the new Star Wars Movie "The Last Jedi", I was able to observe an animal that reminds me of this franchise. An amazing creature that looks a bit like a small version of a climbing "Wookiee": The Sloth! To be more precisely: Hoffmann's Two-toed Sloth (Choloepus hoffmanni).
I was really lucky to meet this arboreal animal during the day and this close. Hopefully everyone who is not into Star Wars can still enjoy this post due to the photos of this interesting mammal.

Two-toed Sloth - Choloepus hoffmanni

Two-toed Sloth - Choloepus hoffmanni

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Nature is art

Today I noticed this interesting tree trunk. It is a nice proof of the headline. Coloration and pattern are simply amazing. Luckily I had my macro lense and my tripod with me.

Enjoy the beauty of nature!

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Watch where you sit

just a very short post to encourage you to check the chair, before you sit down.
Especially in a garden in the tropical part of our planet: As you can see, the chair is wet! ;-)

Saturday, November 25, 2017

Eat or be eaten

During my last night walk in the rainforest, I saw only the species I already found the nights before.
When I spotted a Leptodeira septentrionalis from a distance, my first thought was like "ah... another one, kind of bor... wait what?!"
After I got closer I recognized it was eating a frog. It's my first observation of an eating snake in Costa Rica. I took some pictures and then moved a little further. Didn't want to disturb too much. (Ok, I assume the snake didn't give a sh*t though)
While I was waiting for the snake to swallow it's food, I seized the time to take some pictures of luckier frogs. After some minutes I returned to the scene and watched the frog disappear completly into the snake's mouth.

Common species, but pretty nice timing. Talking about timing: Maybe two minutes later, the rain got very heavy and I had to put away my camera.

Monday, November 20, 2017

Nocturnal neighbors

At night you can see many animals right next to our station. Especially when it rains, there is a lot of "traffic" around our ponds. I took the following pictures within a 5 minute walking distance to my room.
Still at the building this Turnip-tail Gecko (Thecadactylus rapicauda) was looking for food. With approx. (12cm, 4.7 in) it is the biggest Gecko of Costa Rica.

Turnip-tail Gecko - Thecadactylus rapicauda

Turnip-tail Gecko - Thecadactylus rapicauda

The Northern Cat-eyed Snake (Leptodeira septentrionalis) is abudant near the ponds here.

Northern Cat-eyed Snake - Leptodeira septentrionalis

As well as the Hourglass Treefrog (Dendropsophus ebraccatus) and the famous Red-eyed Treefrog (Agalychnis callidryas)

Hourglass Treefrog - Dendropsophus ebraccatus

Red-eyed Treefrog - Agalychnis callidryas

I also saw some Plain Blunt-headed Tree Snakes (Imantodes inornatus).

Plain Blunt-headed Tree Snake - Imantodes inornatus

Plain Blunt-headed Tree Snake - Imantodes inornatus

I look forward to the next observations. I am still waiting for a Boa...

Monday, November 13, 2017

Welcome to the Jungle!

Today I arrived at the biological station after a long flight, a long taxi drive and a long bus drive.
There were three unhappy babies around me in the plane, a traffic jam around San Jose and no air condition in the bus... 

But now I am in the jungle of BriBri, working at a biological station.

Although I was tired from the journey, I immidietly started to look for some cool critters. My first photo model was this cute Strawberry Poison Frog (Oophaga pumilio). I think this is the perfect start.

Strawberry Poison Frog - Oophaga pumilio

Monday, July 10, 2017

Yellow-bellied beauty

Not every human influence on nature is harmful. Stone walls, quarries, artificial waters and some others can be the habitat for many animals. Just like this abandoned clay pit in Rhineland-Palatinate, Germany. Here you can find something that has unfortunately become much too rare in Germany: flat and fish-free ponds.

Rare amphibians such as the yellow-bellied toad depend on habitats like that.
The open, sunny areas are also the perfect place for reptiles.

When I visited this place for the first time, I was amazed by this view. Really nice landscape.

The big, blue pond is the eyecatcher for sure, but the small and warmer ponds are the right place to search for the Yellow-bellied Toad (Bombina variegata). They messure about 4 cm (1,57 inch) and are well camouflaged.

Fortunately, I found the first toads after a few minutes. It was a warm, sunny day and they were very active.

Yellow-bellied Toad - Bombina variegata

Some Pool Frogs (Pelophylax lessonae) enjoyed the sunshine as well. They got used to my presence and were not shy at all.

Pool Frog - Pelophylax lessonae

Yellow-bellied Toad - Bombina variegata

Yellow-bellied Toad - Bombina variegata

Apart from the coloration of the belly, Bombina variegata scores with additional characteristics. They are very appealing as they always seem to smile...

Yellow-bellied Toad - Bombina variegata

...and the heart-shaped pupil is a really cool feature too. You just have to love the yellow-bellied toad!

Yellow-bellied Toad - Bombina variegata

A pretty Grass Snake (Natrix natrix) was hunting in one of the ponds. 

Grass Snake - Natrix natrix

Grass Snake - Natrix natrix

I spent some hours in this habitat, most of the time lying on my belly to get this low angle and to almost drown my camera. 

Yellow-bellied Toad - Bombina variegata

Yellow-bellied Toad - Bombina variegata

Sand Lizard - Lacerta agilis

Some Sand Lizards (Lacerta agilis), basking near the ponds, completed this nice day trip. 

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Treasure hunt

I have planned to explore a new destination somewhere not to far away. I used the help of Google Earth. After searching in the vicinity of my home, I found something promising in the distance of approx. 1 hour.

The X marks the spot... so I drove there without any further information and I was not disappointed.


The habitat proved to be very beautiful and so I was able to start the search for critters. A pretty semiadult Common Toad (Bufo bufo) made the start. Followed by a young Slow Worm (Anguis fragilis).

Common Toad - Bufo bufo

Slow Worm - Anguis fragilis

At the end of the day trip I discovered gold: this magnificent Barred Grass Snake (Natrix helvetica). It was my first encounter with this species! 

Barred Grass Snake - Natrix helvetica

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Paraguay - Chaco

In April, I had the opportunity to go with my parents on a trip to Paraguay. It was not really a herping trip but of course we took some time to check out the paraguayan nature. The west of Paraguay (regiĆ³n occidental) is part of the Gran Chaco, a region characterized by dry forests and thorny bushes. The whole area is sparsely populated. Large areas of untouched wilderness are habitat for numerous animal species. Deforestation is a big problem though. Hopefully the people of Paraguay will be able to preserve this natural treasure!

The waters of the chaco are the kingdom of the Yacare Caiman (Caiman yacare). As a small and medium-sized crocodilian, most adult males grow to roughly 2 or 2.5 m (6.6 or 8.2 ft) in length. Females are much smaller, at an average of 1.4 m (4.6 ft).

Yacare Caiman - Caiman yacare

Jabiru - Jabiru mycteria

The Jabiru (Jabiru mycteria) is a large stork found from Mexico to Argentina, except west of the Andes. It is the tallest flying bird found in South America and Central America.

Disappointingly, I could not photograph a living snake in the Chaco. Two snakes crossed the road: A large Indigo Snake (Drymarchon corais) and some kind of racer... no chance to catch or take a picture - good that they could cross the road safely. Two dead snakes we found had less luck, another indigo snake and a Tropical Rattlesnake (Crotalus durissus)... very sad, but unfortunately the fate of many animals in the Chaco.

Indigo Snake - Drymarchon corais DOR

So without success with snakes, frogs had to save the day! And they did - we found some cool species. My favorite frog was the Orange-legged Monkey Frog, also called Earless Leaf Frog (Phyllomedusa azurea).

Orange-legged Monkey Frog - Phyllomedusa azurea

Orange-legged Monkey Frog - Phyllomedusa azurea

The Warty Snouted Treefrog (Scinax acuminatus) is very well camouflaged. It looks like a piece of wood.

Warty Snouted Treefrog - Scinax acuminatus

Warty Snouted Treefrog - Scinax acuminatus

The smallest frog we found was this little Menwig Frog (Physalaemus albonotatus). Very cute little guy!

Menwig Frog - Physalaemus albonotatus

Menwig Frog - Physalaemus albonotatus

The Shovel-nosed Chamber Frog (Leptodactylus bufonius) has evolved an incredible adaptation for overcoming the challenges of living in mostly dry conditions. With their shovel-like noses, they dig a chamber in the mud and then top it with a mud cone. Because no water can penetrate these chambers, the frogs produce a foam nest from the female's albumin secretions to keep the tadpoles moist.

Shovel-nosed Chamber Frog - Leptodactylus bufonius

Shovel-nosed Chamber Frog - Leptodactylus bufonius

Shovel-nosed Chamber Frog - Leptodactylus bufonius

There is an interesting fact about the Paradoxical Frog (Pseudis paradoxa): Its name refers to the very large tadpoles, which are up to 25 cm (10 inch) long, and in turn becomes an ordinary-sized frog, only about a quarter of its former length.

Paradoxical Frog - Pseudis paradoxa

In conclusion I want to show you another specimen of my favorite frog.

Orange-legged Monkey Frog - Phyllomedusa azurea

Orange-legged Monkey Frog - Phyllomedusa azurea

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