Thursday, May 31, 2007

16. The Night Hike (5/31/07)

Thursday, May 31, 2007
After dinner we planned to take a night hike, and a guide was provided by Selva Verde. It was Lenin again. However, most of our group opted to do a night hike with Linda & Jerry. But because they were going to stay on the walkways, we decided, along with Joel & Kathy, to "revolt and follow Lenin."
First we were advised to wear rubber boots (there might be snakes...) and these were provided.
Boot rack
No one could find the light switch for the boot depot, so we felt our way through several sizes of boots. We all had our flashlights as we walked around the frog pond near the dining hall. Found a couple pairs of courting Red-eyed Tree Frogs (Agalychnis callidryas). The tiny male sits on the back of the larger female. After this romantic interlude, the female climbs the tree to deposit eggs on a leaf. Supposedly the male follows to fertilize the eggs. Also saw some fat Marine Toads (Bufo marinus) on and around the lily pond.
Lenin spoke about not taking flash photography of the rain forest frogs due to their sensitivity to the environment. He told the story of the golden toads in Monteverde.
All around us we could hear the loud and distinctive "dink" or "tink" sound of the Common Dink Frog (Eleutherodactylus diastema). We kept trying to find one, and it was Joel who finally found this tiny almost-transparent frog that makes a sound so much bigger than its size!
Lenin found two different types of walking sticks (now how is that possible in the dark?!) and a centipede and millipede. Also a type of click beetle, the Fire Beetle (Pyrophorus noctilucus), with two bioluminescent spots on its back.
Lenin showed us a glowing piece of wood with phosphorescent microbes. Some of us saw a marvelous caterpillar, but the line of hikers was too spread out to let the others know.
Saddleback Caterpillar (Acharia stimulea)
We returned along the walkways, and some of the group were able to see a forest rat in the adjacent plants. Very cool hike!
Lamp on walkway
Next: 17. Jungle Cruise.

15. La Paz Waterfall Gardens (5/31/07)

Thursday, May 31, 2007
After lunch we were on our own for several hours. But there was plenty to do at Los Jardines de La Catarata La Paz (La Paz Waterfall Gardens). Located on the wooded slope of Poas Volcano along the Rio Paz, this nature park has a 2-mile trail. We didn't start at the beginning at Trout Lake, but did go in the brand new aviary.
La Paz Aviary
 Macaws peeked out of huge birdhouses. Got close-ups of several tropical birds.
Crested Guan (Penelope purpurascens(Photo by Brynne)
Blue-and-yellow Macaw (Ara ararauna) (Photo by Brynne)
Keel-billed Toucan (Ramphastos sulfuratus) (Photo by Brynne)
Chestnut-mandibled Toucan (Ramphastos swainsonii)
(Photo by Brynne)
Emerald Toucanet (Aulacorhynchus prasinus)
(Photo by Brynne)

The aviary also housed some Common Marmosets (Callithrix jacchus).
(Photo by Kent)
The exit of the aviary brought us directly into the Butterfly Observatory, the world's largest, with an on-site laboratory.
Display of butterflies in entry
Lots of plants and butterflies,
Blue Morpho (Morpho peleides limpida) with wings open
Blue Morpho (Morpho peleides limpida) with wings closed
(Photo by Kent)
Doris Longwing Butterfly (Heliconius doris)
(Photo by Brynne)
Zebra Butterfly (Heliconius charitonius)
(Photo by Brynne)
Thoas Swallowtail Butterfly (Papilio thoas)
(Photo by Brynne)
Banded-orange Butterfly (Dryadula phaetusa)
(Photo by Brynne)
Cyan Bluewing Butterfly (Myscelia cyaniris)

but also many dead butterflies and pieces of butterflies lying around. Some feeders had drowned butterflies in them.
Drowned butterfly
A bit unsettling for such a beautiful place. But hundreds of butterflies fluttered about including the famous blue morpho.
Along one wall were displays of all types of butterfly chrysalises pinned up in neat rows.
Blue morpho chrysalis
Some new butterflies were emerging.
(Photo by Brynne)
Doris Longwing Butterfly (Heliconius doris)
(Photo by Brynne)
The collection included metallic-looking chrysalises and metallic-looking beetles.
Gold Beetle (Chrysina cupreomarginata)
Blue morpho following Vonnie (Photo by Kent)
Found a Palm weevil (Rhynchophorus palmarum)
on a 
Heliconia wagneriana
Our next stop was the Hummingbird Garden with feeders all around. A constant humming and thrumming of the tiny birds flying from feeders to surrounding plants and back. Not all the birds were hummingbirds. 
Saw several new species of hummingbirds such as White-necked Jacobin (Florisuga mellivora), Brown Violet-ear (Colibri delphinae), Green Thorntail (Discosura conversii), Fiery-throated Hummingbird (Panterpe insignis), Black-bellied Hummingbird (Eupherusa nigriventris), Magnificent Hummingbird (Eugenes fulgens), and Long-billed Starthroat (Heliomaster longirosstris).
Green Violet-ear (Colibri thalassinus) (Photo by Linda)
Brown Violet-ear (Colibri delphinae) (Photo by Linda)
Rufous-tailed Hummingbird (Amazilia tzacatl)
(Photo by Linda)
Black-bellied Hummingbird (Eupherusa nigriventris)
(Photo by Linda)
Green Thorntail (Discosura conversii) (Photo by Linda)
Green-crowned Brilliant (Photo by Brynne)
Purple-throated Mountain Gem (Photo by Brynne)
Red-tailed Squirrel (Sciurus granatensis)
(Photo by Linda)

Next was the Orchid Garden which appeared a bit neglected, with dead plants in some of the planters. There is such a variety of orchids, some of which are epiphytes and others not. (See photos under Plants of Costa Rica.)
The Serpentarium could exhibit 30 snakes, but not all the spaces were inhabited. Huge Tropical Rattlesnake (Crotalus durissus) and equally large Bushmaster (Lachesis muta) looked appropriately dangerous. The Fer-de-lance (Bothrops asper) looked less threatening, but is. The Central American Coral Snake (Micrusus nigrocinctus) and Tropical Kingsnake (Lampropeltis triangulum) were displayed next to each other so you could tell the difference in the placement of the red, yellow, and black rings.
A gorgeous hillside of plants below another restaurant in the complex.
Hillside at La Paz
Farther on was La Casita de la Paz
Brynne at La Casita (Photo by Kent)
with its outbuildings to display life as it was 100 years ago. The reproduction barn and house were built using only the tools available to the average farmer a century ago. Two oxen were harnessed to a Sarchi cart and ready to go.
(Photo by Kent)
Inside the house a young couple in period dress sat at a table, but did not try to interact with us. There were sticky corn tortillas to sample (not the tortillas we know, but something almost like cornbread).
La Casita interior
Wood pile
Out back was a cow in need of being milked
The cow
and then in front we found a calf in an open stall.
The calf (Photo by Brynne)
Hidden behind this stall was the Ranarium/Frog-ium. We looked and looked in the terrariums and couldn't find any frogs. In the next room they had marked where frogs could be found lying on leaves in a natural open setting.
Leaf frog
They certainly blended in!
Next we followed the trail along the Rio Paz (Peace River)
Rio Paz
Kent & Brynne
The park includes 70 acres of both cloud and rain forest.
The first waterfall is El Templo.
Tamiko & Brynne (Photo by Kent)
Another view of El Templo
Here we crossed the Rio Paz to the other bank.
Crossing the bridge
Rio Paz (Photo by Kent)
We continued down the steep and narrow gorge to cross the river again
Waterfall drop-off
just above the tallest falls, Magia Blanca at 132 feet.
Down more stairs to stand almost beneath these falls.
Brynne & Kent
Magia Blanca Falls
Water was cascading down everywhere, the stairs, the gorge walls, etc.
Very wet
Next was the Encantada, and parallel to it was the smaller Escondida falls.
Encantada, and Escondida
The trail to the shuttle bus that returned you to the La Paz reception area was just above this pair of falls. Kent & Brynne decided this was as far as they were going.
I went down to the La Paz falls, but the trail ended at the top of these falls.
La Paz Falls from above
For a view of the most famous of these falls, you had to be on the road where we had first seen the waterfall.
See the road?
Note collapsed wooden bridge below the steel bridge
La Paz Falls from the road
So I climbed back up to the trail to the bus.
Tamiko on the stairs (Photo by Brynne)
The trail put you first in a gift shop, and we took advantage of a deal to get a half dozen bags of coffee and chocolates. Took the shuttle bus back up the hill to where we had started at lunch, and explored the gift shop there.When everyone was gathered together, we climbed into our tour bus, and headed back. We stopped for a scenic view overlooking a large steep valley.
(Photo by Brynne)
(Photo by Kent)
Seemed totally uninhabited to the right, and to the left was some agriculture along the winding road.
(Photo by Kent)
Stopped at Vista Cinchona, an informal coffee shop, museum, and hummingbird feeding station
(Photo by Linda)
with a view across the valley to the San Fernando Waterfall.
San Fernando Waterfall
It was a great place to see hummingbirds.
Green Thorntail
Violet Sabrewing (Photo by Brynne)
Food to attract birds, and squirrels!
(Photo by Brynne)
White-tailed Emerald (Elvira chionura(Photo by Brynne)
A young girl was carrying around this tarantula
On the ride back to Selva Verde, saw Crape Myrtles (Lagerstroemia indica) in the lowlands and a Del Monte truck.
Typical home landscaping
Cannot see Poas Volcano today
Made it back in time for dinner. Vegetable cream soup, salad, fried rice with beef, chicken with mustard sauce, fish nuggets, carrots, and a multi-layered cake for dessert.
Next: 16. The Night Hike.