Wednesday, May 30, 2007

11. La Selva Excursion (5/30/07)

Wednesday, May 30, 2007
This morning we joined the Selva Verde naturalist, Lenin, for a 6:00 AM birdwalk. We looked in the trees around the dining hall, then made our way across the street to the botanical garden on the Selva Verde grounds.
Crossing the street where kids were on the way to school
Selva Verde Botanical Garden
Brynne at the Botanical Garden
All kinds of heliconias and strange plants here! At the gate to the garden was a huge Golden Silk Orb Weaver Spider (Nephila clavipes).
Golden Silk Orb-weaver (Photo by Kent)
Saw Brown-hooded Parrot (Pionopsitta haematotis), Red-lored Parrot (Amazona autumnalis), Mealy Parrot (Amazona farinosa), Violaceous Trogon (Trogon violaceus), Collared Arcari (Pteroglossus torquatus), Black-cheeked Woodpecker (Melanerpes pucherani), Streak-headed Woodcreeper (Lepidocolaptes souleyeii), Black-capped Pygmy Tyrant (Myiornis atricapillus), Masked Tityra (Tityra semifasciata), and Black-crowned Tityra (Tityra inquisitor).
Birders (Photo by Kent)
We spent more of our time with the plants before heading back for breakfast at 7:00 AM. Across from the dining hall is another meeting place, and today a woodcarver from the community was set up with his wares. He couldn't speak English except to say what his items cost. Later found out he used Mexican Cedar (Cedrela odorata) for his carvings.Next boarded the bus to drive to nearby Estacion Biologica La Selva (La Selva Biological Station), a research station for the Organization of Tropical Studies equipped with laboratories, experimental plots, herbarium, and library. Founded in 1963 to provide leadership in education, research, and wise use of tropical natural resources. It includes 3,737 acres of pre-montane wet forest, much of it undisturbed.
We were divided into two groups and our La Selva guide was Rodolfo. He showed us where floods had reached nearly up to the reception building.
Posts mark flood levels of different years
(Photo by Kent)
Birds were spotted in the trees around the reception building, then down by the river, even before we crossed the suspension bridge. Brynne found an inchworm.
Inchworm on Brynne's finger
Rio Puerto Viejo
We crossed Rio Puerto Viejo and on the other side were cabins and other buildings. Near a garden plot we saw two Collared Peccaries (Tayassu tajacu).
Collared Peccaries (Photo by Brynne)
Someone asked about snakes and Rodolfo went searching along the edge of the woods where one was seen recently, but no snake today. We came to a board which is lit at night to attract insects, and a couple still remained: a large Black Beetle
(Photo by Kent)
and a Dobsonfly (Corydalus ignatus).
We headed into the forest which had markers at the corners of a grid work that allowed scientists to accurately locate specimens. Of course, now they have GPS. The area was once a Cocoa (Theobroma cacao) plantation and cocoa trees can still be seen with flowers and pods on the trunks and branches.
Cocoa flowers
Immature cocoa pod
Over-mature cocoa pod (Photo by Kent)
Spotted a sloth way, way up in a tree.
Many trees have buttress roots, woody extensions of the trunk that reach outward for a more stable hold in shallow soil and for a greater area for roots to obtain water and nutrients.
Buttress roots
Some palms develop stilt or prop roots which elevate the stem above the forest floor and also act as water conduits and for improved root aeration.
Walking Palm (Iriartea deltoidea)
As new roots develop and old ones die, it is possible that the palm can move, thus the name "Walking Palm" (Iriartea deltoidea).
The Strangler Fig (Ficus sp.) sends down roots towards the ground, and this one took a detour!
Brynne near the root arch
Our guide Rodolfo shows us a leaf from
the Autograph Tree (Clusia rusea)
on which you can scratch a message
We came across many trails of Leaf-Cutter Ants (Atta cephalotes) everywhere we went. They not only cut pieces of leaves, but also flowers. What we noticed in La Selva was how they actually clear a pathway through the leaf litter.
Leaf-cutter ant path
Brynne holds a Monkey Comb (Apeiba membranacea ) seed pod
Many, many Strawberry Poison-dart Frogs (Dendrobates pumilio) along the paths. We also kept moving aside to allow men on bicycles with attached carts full of stones to pass. Busy, busy.
Strawberry Poison-dart Frog
Strawberry Poison-dart Frog
We also got a quick look at a Bullet Ant (Paraponera clavata), but kept our distance from the beetle-sized ant whose bite is painful for at least 24 hours.
Crossed an open area which is normally covered with water, but was now just grassy. Here we saw a Crested Owl (Lophostrix cristata), White-collared Swift (Sireptoprocne zonaris), Orchid Bees (Apidae euglossini), and some strange insect that was dripping large amounts of water.
As we headed back to the entrance (and gift shop!), Rodolfo showed us an abandoned hummingbird nest.
Hummingbird nest
We purchased a t-shirt from the gift shop.
Good thought
Found a bird nest with hatchlings in a hanging plant on the reception-area patio.
(Photo by Brynne)
Lunch was salad, beefsteak with an egg cooked in a hole in the middle, chicken fajitas, beans, mashed potatoes, zucchini, and fried plantains.
Next: 12. Pineapple Plantation Tour.

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