Tuesday, February 26, 2019

King of the Cloud Forest

Cloud forests occur within tropical or subtropical mountainous environments, where the atmospheric conditions allow for a consistent cover of clouds. These forests are very rare and cover only approximately 1% of the world's forests. The rich variety of flora and fauna includes many rare and endemic species.

Monteverde Cloud Forest

Monteverde Cloud Forest

Probably the most famous representative of the Central American cloud forest is the Resplendent Quetzal (Pharomachrus mocinno). This beautiful bird is found in southern Mexico, Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, northern Nicaragua, Costa Rica, and western Panama. The population has greatly decreased due to factors such as deforestation, hunting, and capture of these birds for trade. Luckily, in Costa Rica hunting is forbidden by law and national parks have been set up to protect this endangered bird.
My first observation of a male Quetzal during my trip to Monteverde was breathtaking and filled me with awe! Thanks to the 500mm lens, I was able to capture this unforgettable encounter. After cheking my pictures on the camera screen, I couldn't stop smiling for the rest of the day.

Pharomachrus mocinno - Resplendent Quetzal

After I stumbled during the continuing hike, still distracted by the quetzal observation, I laughed and told my friend Andres, who accompanied me on this trip: "I could fall now and break my leg, it would still be a fantastic day".

Pharomachrus mocinno - Resplendent Quetzal

It is our commitment to protect this amazing bird and its unique habitat. The mystical beauty of the cloud forest and its inhabitants is unprecedented.

Monteverde Cloud Forest


Thursday, February 21, 2019

Tiny transparent treasure - Glass Frog

Members of the amphibian family Centrolenidae (order Anura) appear only in Central and South America. While the general background coloration is primarily lime green, the abdominal skin of some species is transparent. The internal viscera are visible through the skin. That's why they are called glass frogs. Glass frogs are aboreal and measure only 2 - 3 cm (0.8 - 1.2 in).

For a long time I wanted to show the phenomenal details of a glass frog. Now I finally had everything I needed: camera, tripod, plastic lid and most importantly... the glass frog itself. During a night hike along a river I was able to discover a Reticulated Glass Frog (Hyalinobatrachium valerioi).

Since I was traveling alone, nobody could assist me and there was not any well-planned set up. So I had to improvise: I put two thin branches on a root so they could hold a leaf. I put my flashlight under the leaf to take a picture of the shine-through frog.

Hyalinobatrachium valerioi - shine-through

Even more spectacular is probably the abdominal view of the frog. To get this picture, I carefully made the frog climb on a transparent plastic lid. I put the plastic lid on a plant so that I had a clear view of the frog past the leaves. From a low angle, I photographed the transparent frog from below.

Hyalinobatrachium valerioi - transparent

I also took a "regular" picture. Compared to the other two, it was easy to take this one. But it is also very important to show you the beauty of this amazing amphibian.

Hyalinobatrachium valerioi - Reticulated Glass Frog

I had to take the "making of" pictures with my cell phone. This is quite old and therefore the quality is unfortunately pretty low. Very important: I have made all manipulations of the frog very carefully in order not to harm the frog! During the strenuous shootings, I sweated a lot and ate accidentally a dozen mosquitoes, but I am very happy with the result. 

Sunday, February 17, 2019

Two-toed Sloth with baby

The gestation period of the Hoffmann's Two-toed Sloth (Choloepus hoffmanni) is between 11 and 12 months and results always in the birth of a single young. The mother will nurse the baby about 1 month. I was very fortunate to see the caring mother with her cute and fluffy baby:

Thursday, February 14, 2019

Happy Valentine's Day!

I would not call myself a romantic guy and I've never paid much attention to Valentine's Day. In addition, the distance to my girlfriend is currently almost 10.000 km. So there is no fancy dinner, candlelight, and... you know what. Nevertheless, I would like to seize the opportunity to show some happy couples. Frog couples.

Smilisca phaeota - Masked Tree Frog

Smilisca phaeota is a relatively large frog with adult size reaching up to 78 mm (3.1 in). The dark brown patch that starts at the tip of the snout and continues through the eye and the eardrum, along the frog's face, is the reason for their common name: Masked Tree Frog.

Teratohyla spinosa - Spiny Glass Frog

This rarely seen Spiny Glass Frog (Teratohyla spinosa) messures only about 2 cm (0.8 in). It is found in Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Honduras, Nicaragua and Panama.

In most frog species the males are smaller than the females, because when they mate the female carries the male on its back. This is called Amplexus (Latin "embrace"). The sexual dimorphism is particularly evident in this pair of Chiriqui Robber Frog (Pristimantis cruentus). Remarkable how small the male is in relation to the female

To conclude, I want to show you a cool observation of Red-eyed Tree Frogs (Agalychnis callidryas). The female attaches a clutch of eggs to the underside of a leaf and the male is about to fertilize them.

Leenders, T. 2001 A Guide to Amphibians and Reptiles of Costa Rica Zona Tropical
Savage, J. 2002 The Amphibians and Reptiles of Costa Rica

Friday, February 1, 2019

Tlalocohyla loquax - Mahogany Treefrog

The Mahogany Treefrog is a relatively uncommon nocturnal species. This medium-sized frog (approximately: males 39 mm, females 43 mm) occurs in Belize, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, and Nicaragua. In Costa Rica, it is found exclusively in the northeast, at elevations below 1,000 m (3,300 ft). Breeding primarily takes place in deep bodies of standing water.

The scientific name Tlalocohyla loquax refers to their loud calls. They are definitely very loquacious.
Only the males call, in order to attract females. Listen to this:

Tlalocohyla loquax - Mahogany Treefrog calling

Their body is greatly inflated, when they are calling. So they look like little yellowish bubbles.

Tlalocohyla loquax - Mahogany Treefrog calling

In this low angle shot we can see the red coloration around the legs.

Tlalocohyla loquax - Mahogany Treefrog

I like the facial expression! Proud posture with a happy smile. "Did you hear that? That was me!"

Source: amphibiaweb.org, iucnredlist.org