Leaf cutter ants are all over the place here at the FCRE. Here is a shot of them cutting up a banana leaf to haul off to their nest.
Today I came down the trail from the Mudd Pond to the Basilisk pond and instead of wildlife I found Sabrina Wu (recording data) and Gabriela Ochoa (measuring a spider) working on their spider project. They have a really interesting project this year, and looking forward to hearing their results. And yes, we require snake protection on the lower legs (high rubber boots or snake gaiters) as we have a few too many things here to step on that don't like being stepped on.
While this spider probably has some other common name, it is kind of a general thing that all Phoneutria spiders are called Brazilian wandering spiders. Or Brazilian walking spiders in some places. No matter the name, this genus of spiders is considered to have one of the most toxic bites of any spider in the world (if not the most toxic, but such things are hard to measure). They have a neurotoxin that certainly can be fatal and there are numerous deaths attributed to these spiders.
So if you ever wanted to know what the most dangerous spider looks like, here is a photo of one taken 15 feet from the front door of the Program House at the Firestone Center for Restoration Ecology in Baru, Costa Rica.
There are a multitude of mantids here, and no easy way to figure them all out as we haven't focused on them (yet). This beautiful animal was on one of the ornamental plants right outside my room this evening.
The gray-necked wood rail is a beautiful bird. When this one saw me it headed for some thick cover to hide in. Usually a good move, but in this case there were scads of army ants in that area and after a very short while it took off flying with a rather alarmed squawking call.
This massive character, almost six inches long, was seen crossing the trail this morning on the north side of the Firestone Center for Restoration Ecology. It is a Spirobolid millipede in the family Spirostreptidae, but I have been unable to get a species on it. I'll keep trying, but for now here is a really spectacular animal.
This bat was seen eating a fig while walking in heavy rain at night. Not so easy to get a sure ID on it so I am going to research things before naming it. But pretty cool to see it holding the fruit and all..
On our night walk in the pouring rain, we found that some bats were just roosting in the low vegetation waiting out the rain. This bat is the striped yellow-eared bat and has, as expected, some yellowish coloring on the ears and a mid-dorsal white stripe that is just visible in this photo.
Among the frogs and toads at the Firestone Center, two animals stand out as the biggest and baddest, so... Tonight it was just pouring rain so we decided, ridiculous as it may seem to sane people, to go out for a walk along the Rio Cacao and even up into the off-trail stuff along infeeder creeks looking for glass frogs. Some very interesting thrashing around in steep, slippery conditions yielded no glass frogs, but we saw both of the trophy species of toads and frogs.
First up, the Cane Toad (Rhinella marina). This is an invasive species in many parts of the world, but here it is a native species. And they can get big to the point of huge. This one is not a gargantuan specimen, but would weigh in at over a pound. It was sitting near the Fish Pond on an old hollowed out stump. And just look at those massive poison glands behind the eyes and ears! Grab this guy and you will really need to wash your hands before eating your trail mix.
And the second big boy is the bullfrog. Sadly I can not be exactly sure of the species, but it is in the Genus Leptodactylus and very likely the species bolivianus, but there are two similar really big frogs here and don't want to mis-identify this one.
This frog, like the other photos I am posting or will post from the night walk, was taken in heavy rain, so please forgive the various white circles in the pics as there was water everywhere. For those interested, all photos on this rainy night hike were taken with a waterproof Olympus TG-3 camera.
The tropical bullfrogs are very nice-looking frogs, and amazing (capable of catching and eating things such as bats and snakes). They can get quite large, like 7 inches from nose to butt, and later in the walk we actually saw one pretty darn close to this size and one of the biggest frogs I have ever seen. McFarlane tried to grab it for a photo "in-hand" for some scale to show the sheer size of the thing. And failed. Massive and super strong, plus being slippery as all get out, these are hard animals to catch with a quick grab. And so it goes.
We do not keep a collection of things here like a museum, but document what we do find when we are here. Two things of note this year were:
Tinamou eggs. These are the size of a "large" almost "extra large" chicken egg, and are a pretty blue. They were found on the property a couple days ago by Don McFarlane when he was in the jungly stuff up above the Program house. From the looks of them they were already found by some predator and eaten, since that does not really look like chicks pecked their way out of them.
And then there is this. It is apparently a McFarlane version of a machete, commonly called a "Newbie Wand." A very nice specimen of such a thing.
Keith Christenson - Wildlife Biologist