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 Post subject: Costa Rica June 2012
PostPosted: June 15th, 2012, 8:28 am 
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Joined: June 8th, 2010, 3:39 pm
Posts: 371
Location: Concord TWP, Ohio
I recently returned from my fourth trip to the spectacular country of Costa Rica. You might recall my post from last year when Andy Avram and Marty Rosenberg joined me there and we scored BIG! I had toyed with the idea of starting a "tour" of sorts and put out feelers on the forum. I received little/no interest from anyone so this year I was prepared to go it alone. In the end, my nephew Anthony (a NON-herper) decided to join me for a completely out-of-his-element adventure! There are lots of pictures so I will try and keep the dialogue to a minimum.
This has been a strange weather year so far in the US and Costa Rica was no different. Our first destination was Arenal volcano and they have been receiving MUCH more rain than even they are used to for the rainy season. So much so in fact, the road was washed out roughly 15-20 miles before our destination and we had to take a long, brutal detour! Once we arrived, we hit the ground running. Pictures are presented in roughly chronological order of our finds...(As always, I would appreciate any ID corrections.)

The spectacular Arenal volcano.

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Some habitat shots where we hiked often.

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These frogs are ridiculously HUGE! They could eat a bullfrog! We saw a few large adults and MANY small juvis.

Smokey Jungle Frog Leptodactylus savagei

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Craugaster fitzingeri

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Vaillant's Frog Lithobates vaillanti

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This large adult oropel was gorgeous but rather emaciated. We held on to it for a few days and fed it some frogs (which it ate) to help it along.

Eyelash Viper #1 Bothriechis schlegelii

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We saw MANY of these iconic Costa Rican amphibians...gotta LOVE 'em...

Red-Eyed Tree Frog Agalychnis callidryas

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Smilisca sordida (?)

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We saw MANY of these as well...

Lithobates warszewitschii

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These beautiful lizards love to come out in the intense heat of the afternoon.

Amieva festiva

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We saw several of these large leaf bugs. They have a pretty orange wing "flash" when they fly. I was told by the locals that they squirt acid that burns your skin when they are harassed. Not sure which end it is squirted from?

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Love was in the air everywhere...

Smilisca baudinii

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I was ecstatic to find these, having found their larger cousins on the west coast last year.

Hog-Nosed Viper #1 Porthidium nasutum LIFER

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Hog-Nosed Viper #2 Porthidium nasutum

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It is always sobering to see how hyper-alert these guys are, even as juveniles.

Terciopelo (Fer-de-Lance) Bothrops asper

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One of the things I love about this area is it is THICK with these gems...

Eyelash Viper #2 Bothriechis schlegelii(This is one of my favorite pics of the trip!)

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Eyelash Viper #3 Bothriechis schlegelii

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Eyelash Viper #4 Bothriechis schlegelii

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Eyelash Viper #5 Bothriechis schlegelii

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This adult was stunningly beautiful and almost completely striped!!! (I was told striped individuals are not uncommon in this area. More on that later...)

Eyelash Viper #6 Bothriechis schlegelii

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Tlalocohyla loquax

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Love is still in the air...

Red-Eyed Tree Frogs Agallichnis callidryas

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Lovely, large spider.

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We saw several of these nice looking toads.

Incilius melanochlorus

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Tailless whip-scorpion dining on a roach.

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We saw several of these tiny jungle jewels. Pictures do not do them justice; they almost glow with neon color! (There is no photoshop color enhancement on this!)

Dendrobates pumilio

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Eyelash Viper #7 Bothriechis schlegelii

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This was my favorite "good-eyes" spot of the trip. Looking down the slope, about 20 feet off the trail. Can you see it?
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Eyelash Viper #8 Bothriechis schlegelii This fantastic specimen sported two completely unbroken stripes!!!

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These two little fellows were inhabiting a large, hollow, fallen tree.

Long-Nosed Bats

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The people at the lodge quickly learned of the "crazy culebra gringo"! The maid would create animials with our fresh towels and I got several sweet snakes!

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We actually road-cruised this beauty at night.

Green Tree Anole Norops biporcatus

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Eyelash Viper #9 Bothriechis schlegelii

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Eyelash Viper #10 Bothriechis schlegelii

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Small anole sp.

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Hemidactylus frenatus (?)

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We saw only one coati (we had seen NONE last year!)

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This was a beautiful, calm animal with incredible pale blue skin between the scales.

Dendrophidian percarinatum LIFER

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This small snake was nice and placid for the long photo shoot but as I took it to release, it decided to chew on my knuckle!

Coniophanes fissidens LIFER

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They grow 'em big here. (For reference, my tattoo is over 3 inches in diameter!)

Walking Stick

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Wednesday the 6th was to be our last day at Arenal but my friend Miquel wanted us to go out with a bang! We decided to stay an extra day and Wednesday evening we set out for Cerro Chato, a mile-high extinct volcano near Arenal. Miguel's brother and nephew joined us. We hiked up the slope thick with tall grass and uneven terrain until we reached the base. From there on out, it was easily a 45 degree climb using roots as "steps" up through the thick forest. When we started the cliimb, the weather was perfect and stars were everywhere in the sky. Well...about halfway up, seemingly out of nowhere, it started to sprinkle...then to rain...then torrential downpour! Hiking up "steps" that amounted to stepping up on your kitchen counter, with muddy water cascading over them like waterfalls, we pressed on. (I remember turning to my nephew, drenched to the skin, saying "Well, we aren't going to find any f***ing snakes tonight!") After a LONG, very difficult and spirit-crushing climb, we reached the top. The rain began to taper off and we hiked around the rim. As we started our decent, the rain stopped and things began to look up...
Our first snake of the night was one of my favorites (in my mind, a "poor-man's bushmaster!). We noticed the frog in the foreground as I leaned in for pics, a mere 5 inches or so from certain death. The snake seemed uninterested and the frog hopped off to safety.

Mexican Jumping Pit Viper Atropoides mexicanus

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Pristimantis cerasinus

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Next was this 3 foot beauty, right on the trail.

Terciopelo (Fer-de-Lance) Bothrops asper

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My nephew spotted this gentle gem.

Immantodes cenchoa

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Back down to the base, we saw several of these.

Rhabo haemititicus

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I spotted this next incredibly iridescent snake as we walked back through the grass on the base slope. I had seen a DOR of this last year but, despite my initial ID, I was still unsure as their range is not shown to reach where we were. Well, ID confirmed...

Sock-Head Snake Enuliophis sclateri LIFER

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The last snake of the night, I spotted this just before we reached the car!

Leptodiera septentrionalis

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Thursday morning, before we were set to leave for Guanacaste, we were poking around a collapsed building when we got word a man had seen a large snake in his work shop. I ran to the building and after searching a bit, I found this 6 foot gentle stunner...

Bird-Eating Snake Pseustes poecilonotus

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What a great way to end the first half of the trip! Now, onward to Guanacaste.


We stayed at a lodge, right on a small bay, a few miles from the Nicaragua border. The peaks in the distance are in Nicaragua.

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It was incredibly dry here still, despite the fact it was supposed to be the "rainy" season. We had to work hard for every find.

Hemidactylus frenatus (?)

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Mabuya unimarginata (?)

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I flipped this NASTY rear-fanged beauty under some scrap wood. I was pleasantly surprised it actually sat still for photos!

Road Guarder Conophis lineatus

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Flipped under some tin...

Leptodiera nigrofasciata juvi

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These lovely flowering trees were everywhere.

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These guys are as common as our squirrels!

Black Spiny-Tail Iguana Ctenosaura similis

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Saw these LARGE prints...any ideas? (For reference, my snake hook tip is 4 inches long.)

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And yes, love is STILL in the air... This was going on outside our door every night! (Tell me that male is not smiling!!!)

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My ONLY road-cruised live snake of the entire trip!

Leptodiera annulata

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THE absolute heartbreak DOR of the trip was a gorgeous 3 foot C. durissus that had just been hit. :cry:


Saw MANY of these...

Sceloporus variablilis

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These two were flipped under different layers of the same tin pile.

Leptodiera nigrofasciata

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Sceloporus squamosus (?)

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A nice-sized adult.

Black Spiny-Tailed Iguana Ctenosaura similis

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After four visits to this snake mecca, FINALLY on the last day my first boa...
Boa constrictor LIFER

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This majestic fellow started snorting at me as I shot a few pics.

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Aspidoscelis deppii

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Once again, it was a really productive trip to my favorite country in the world! I am already looking forward to returning next year. Thanks for looking...

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Last edited by Dr. Dark on June 17th, 2012, 5:49 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Costa Rica June 2012
PostPosted: June 15th, 2012, 8:37 am 
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Joined: June 8th, 2010, 12:54 pm
Posts: 259
Location: Colorado
You did well, Sir! The striped eyelash vipers and the N. biporcatus are my favorites. Nice job on the lifer Porthidium too. I saw one of those lil sock-headed snakes when i was down there too. Great finds and photos. I'm glad you had a nice trip.


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 Post subject: Re: Costa Rica June 2012
PostPosted: June 15th, 2012, 8:56 am 
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Joined: June 7th, 2010, 5:12 pm
Posts: 1207
Location: Los Angeles County, CA
Dude! thats a great post -- sharp pictures. I also agree, i think the geckos are Common House.


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 Post subject: Re: Costa Rica June 2012
PostPosted: June 15th, 2012, 9:23 am 
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Joined: July 6th, 2010, 1:23 pm
Posts: 241
Location: Arizona
Wow you really killed it down there! Great Pics!

-Brandon-


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 Post subject: Re: Costa Rica June 2012
PostPosted: June 15th, 2012, 9:48 am 

Joined: August 30th, 2010, 10:39 am
Posts: 156
Location: East Coast
AWESOME!! How many nights hiking did it take to see all the Bothriechis? Was it primary or secondary forest? Some impressive animals in there fo sho. Dig that biporcatus too!

Your S. sordida looks like it could be another Tlalocohyla loquax in my opinion. It could just be the angle though... do you have any other shots? sordida tend to have a more slender appearance (below) whereas that flap of skin between the eye and front leg is common on the loquax...


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:beer:


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 Post subject: Re: Costa Rica June 2012
PostPosted: June 15th, 2012, 12:34 pm 
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Joined: July 8th, 2011, 1:04 pm
Posts: 630
Location: King County, WA
Love the post! Makes me wanna visit Costa Rica one of these days.

Some awesome and unique herps. Did not know there was such a thing as a sock-head snake. :shock: The habitat shots look great too. :beer:

Quote:
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That is a big domestic dog track. Blunt claws, relatively symmetrical track overall, triangular metacarpal pad (behind the toes). Looks like a front right.

Quote:
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Looks like some kind of fragipani (plumeria) species. Love seeing and smelling them. They make nice lei's.

And, I gotta say, I dig the Goliath tattoo on the arm. :thumb:


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 Post subject: Re: Costa Rica June 2012
PostPosted: June 15th, 2012, 1:01 pm 
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Joined: June 15th, 2010, 8:51 am
Posts: 114
Location: South Florida
Wow, great post! Love all the Eyelash Vipers but I think #6 and 10 are my favs....
Your photo of the bull reminds me of my uncle: never happy, always grumpy and a tad dopey looking but still cool.

Dave S.


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 Post subject: Re: Costa Rica June 2012
PostPosted: June 15th, 2012, 1:34 pm 
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Joined: June 7th, 2010, 1:32 pm
Posts: 579
Location: Houston, TX
Sweet post. In my three days at Arenal, I found zero eyelash vipers despite them being the number one target, but I did find an Atropoides on Cerro Chato...


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 Post subject: Re: Costa Rica June 2012
PostPosted: June 15th, 2012, 1:52 pm 
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Joined: June 8th, 2010, 3:39 pm
Posts: 371
Location: Concord TWP, Ohio
I appreciate the kind words all!

will lattea - Believe it or not, ALL the schlegs were found during the day!!!
- I went with S. sordida on that frog because it was much larger than all the T. loquax I have seen.
I realize it is a crap photo but he was hanging over a pond and I wasn't in the mood to get soaked for a
better shot!

PNWherper - Bummer about the print! I know jack-squat about mammal tracks but was hoping for something more exotic!
We did see an oncilla on several occasions while road cruising. It always appeared to be hunting and was
always in proximity of or on the road over Arenal Lake dam. They resemble a large gray domestic cat with
dark leopard spots and a ringed tail. Beautiful animals! We also saw howlers, a tayra, a huge armadillo and
a few other critters that eluded my lens...


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 Post subject: Re: Costa Rica June 2012
PostPosted: June 15th, 2012, 2:24 pm 
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Joined: April 10th, 2012, 6:27 pm
Posts: 257
Location: San Francisco, CA
Sweet eyelash pit vipers! Man you must be a magnet for them. I have seen one in Tortuguero and it has to be my favorite snake to date: Bright yellow!!! As for the track, I completely agree with PNWherper. Sadly it can't be one of the awesome cats in costa rica because of the claw marks ( cats have retractable claws so they don't show in the prints ). Lasty, I am super jealous of the oncilla! It must have been epic! Any photos?


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 Post subject: Re: Costa Rica June 2012
PostPosted: June 16th, 2012, 7:13 pm 

Joined: January 3rd, 2011, 10:21 pm
Posts: 280
Location: Rara Avis, Heredia, Costa Rica
Looks like you had a great time down there. This is a wonderful time of year to herp CR, and as you've seen, a great time to find Pseustes. Just a heads up- Your Craugastor melanostictus is actually a common rainfrog (C. fitzingeri). C. melanostictus would have an enlarged supraocular tubercle, enmarginate disc covers, an enlarged heel tubercle, and distinct conical tubercles on the outside margin of the tarsus. It also appears that your little brown guy has lateral toe fringes, which if memory serves, C melanostictus does not.

Best,

Don
http://www.rainforestdon.com
[email protected]


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 Post subject: Re: Costa Rica June 2012
PostPosted: June 16th, 2012, 9:00 pm 
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Joined: June 6th, 2011, 4:03 pm
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Location: Gainesville
Love the Fer de lance! That's one of my dream HOTS to find!

-Jordan


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 Post subject: Re: Costa Rica June 2012
PostPosted: June 17th, 2012, 3:36 am 
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Joined: June 8th, 2010, 2:19 am
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Location: Kuching, Sarawak (Borneo)
Wow. What a trip that must have been. I had no idea eyelash vipers come in so many variations.


Quote:
This large adult oropel was gorgeous but rather emaciated. We held on to it for a few days and fed it some frogs (which it ate) to help it along.

Is there a photo missing?


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 Post subject: Re: Costa Rica June 2012
PostPosted: June 17th, 2012, 4:00 am 
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Joined: June 8th, 2010, 3:39 pm
Posts: 371
Location: Concord TWP, Ohio
Asydabass - Thanks for the ID correction. Frogs IDs can be really difficult for me for some reason!

Hans - The "Oropel" is the all-yellow color phase of the eyelash viper. I should have mentioned that in the post.


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 Post subject: Re: Costa Rica June 2012
PostPosted: June 17th, 2012, 1:13 pm 

Joined: April 23rd, 2011, 6:49 pm
Posts: 242
Awesome post! CR is my favorite country too. I wish they would make it easier to live there legally. The striped Bothriechis schleglii is totally awesome. I bet some some venomous keepers would love to have that thing.
If you wouldn't mind, how long did you stay and what was your total cost? You can PM me if you're not comfortable posting that. I'm planning a trip in December.


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 Post subject: Re: Costa Rica June 2012
PostPosted: June 18th, 2012, 5:15 am 
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Joined: February 6th, 2011, 9:09 pm
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Location: Guilin, Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, China
Absolutely epic trip, mate! You really hit the motherload! I too never knew that there were so many variations of eyelash vipers. I also really like that shot of the green tree anole. Nice looking species.


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 Post subject: Re: Costa Rica June 2012
PostPosted: June 18th, 2012, 9:42 am 
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Joined: June 9th, 2010, 6:38 am
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Location: Canada
Did you ever do awesome on the eyelash vipers! The colour varieties in that area is absolutely amazing, with those striped ones being my favourites. I have never even seen a photo of a striped B. schlegeli before.

Very well done!


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 Post subject: Re: Costa Rica June 2012
PostPosted: June 18th, 2012, 11:33 pm 
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Joined: June 8th, 2010, 10:46 am
Posts: 98
Amazing what difference a political border makes. I was in Nicaragua the past two weeks and only found 3 snakes. And that was with some pretty intense searching. I was told that all snakes are killed in Nicaragua, no matter what species. There is an intense fear there and they aren't as big an ecotourist attraction so there is no real economic force to save snakes/habitat.

If i'm in Nicaragua next June, I'd be down to meet up in CR. PM me if you know any details.


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 Post subject: Re: Costa Rica June 2012
PostPosted: June 18th, 2012, 11:47 pm 
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Joined: June 8th, 2010, 2:19 am
Posts: 2879
Location: Kuching, Sarawak (Borneo)
liucommajames wrote:
Amazing what difference a political border makes.

This is the border between Brunei and the Malaysian state of Sarawak, both on Borneo. Brunei (left hand side), not bigger than Delaware, is per capita the richest country in the world, because they have offshore oil and gas out the wazoo. Malaysia doesn't, so they feel the need to hack down every single tree they can get to, sell it, and replace it with oil palms (right hand side). Brunei's jungles are very pristine...

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 Post subject: Re: Costa Rica June 2012
PostPosted: June 19th, 2012, 4:41 am 
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Joined: June 8th, 2010, 3:39 pm
Posts: 371
Location: Concord TWP, Ohio
liucommajames - Sounds good for next June! Keep in touch...

Hans - The photo is really heartwrenching...all that pristine habitat destroyed...

That is one of the many things I love about Costa Rica...they have an extremely progressive national view on conservation and a significant portion of the country is designated as park or preserve. So too on a local level; all the places I have stayed view the habitat and the wildlife as their greatest natural resource. Even Tabacon, a 5-star resort near La Fortuna, has the gardeners safely capture any snakes found on the grounds and release them elsewhere in the jungle, harmless and venomous snakes alike. Now that's my kind of place!


Last edited by Dr. Dark on June 19th, 2012, 5:33 am, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Costa Rica June 2012
PostPosted: June 19th, 2012, 5:27 am 

Joined: January 3rd, 2011, 10:21 pm
Posts: 280
Location: Rara Avis, Heredia, Costa Rica
If I recall, the percentage of land that is set aside for reserves in Costa Rica (government and private) is 24%; it's the highest in the world. And for comparison the country is approx. the size of West Virginia. Of course, the realization of preserving its natural resources as a staple economic resource has brought about its own slew of social-economic problems, but it is by far the lesser of the two evils.

-Don
www.rainforestdon.com


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 Post subject: Re: Costa Rica June 2012
PostPosted: June 19th, 2012, 7:03 am 
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Joined: July 8th, 2011, 1:04 pm
Posts: 630
Location: King County, WA
Quote:
PNWherper - Bummer about the print! I know jack-squat about mammal tracks but was hoping for something more exotic!
We did see an oncilla on several occasions while road cruising. It always appeared to be hunting and was
always in proximity of or on the road over Arenal Lake dam. They resemble a large gray domestic cat with
dark leopard spots and a ringed tail. Beautiful animals! We also saw howlers, a tayra, a huge armadillo and
a few other critters that eluded my lens...


I think when folks see big tracks like that down there, they all want it to be something really exciting. I would be no exception. A jaguar track would be incredible, right? But, truth is the common stuff is... well... much more common.

An oncilla! Wow, that is lucky! I hope you got some photos of that critter. A tayra is also a pretty elusive predator.

What an excellent trip you had! You definitely had amazing success. Thanks for sharing your highlights with us here. :beer:


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 Post subject: Re: Costa Rica June 2012
PostPosted: June 19th, 2012, 6:55 pm 

Joined: June 10th, 2010, 1:21 pm
Posts: 31
Great post !! Very nice pics..... CR...has been pretty much done to death.
5-10 yrs ago a CR trip excursion would have worked but with hundreds of posts on this forum...most just go at it themselves.....especially herpers. all the info you need is here.
If you would email me.... I have a question for you...... Thanks and great post!
Kenny S
[email protected]


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 Post subject: Re: Costa Rica June 2012
PostPosted: June 19th, 2012, 7:00 pm 

Joined: June 10th, 2010, 1:21 pm
Posts: 31
Ps..... If you see claw marks its a dog.

If the track is taller than it is wider.... Dog

If the track is wider than it is taller ......Its a cat

There are other pad differences but this a good place to start.
Individual observations may vary but once you check pics out....very different!

Once you see a few big cat tracks....... You go Duhhhh!!!!!
Lol!
Kenny s


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 Post subject: Re: Costa Rica June 2012
PostPosted: June 19th, 2012, 8:00 pm 
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Joined: June 7th, 2010, 3:44 pm
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Location: Ventura, CA
Spectacular :shock: Incredibly productive it would appear. :thumb: :thumb: :thumb:


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 Post subject: Re: Costa Rica June 2012
PostPosted: June 20th, 2012, 10:47 am 
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Joined: July 3rd, 2010, 8:05 am
Posts: 222
Location: Phoenix, AZ
Very nice report, I enjoyed it very much. My girlfriend and I have been discussing moving to Costa Rica or Panama in the next couple of years. Who knows, we'll see, but posts like this are certainly influencing the decision.

Michael Cravens


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 Post subject: Re: Costa Rica June 2012
PostPosted: July 5th, 2012, 3:48 am 
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Joined: June 7th, 2010, 9:37 am
Posts: 869
Location: NE Ohio
Dave, finally got a chance to look through your post. Man, I wish I could have swung both trips this year. You had another amazing time down there! Looks like great snake numbers and species diversity, along with a few other sweet wildlife to boot... Oncilla! Too jealous. Also the Coati and Boa were seen just because I wasn't there.

CR in 2013?

Andy


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 Post subject: Re: Costa Rica June 2012
PostPosted: July 5th, 2012, 5:12 am 
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Joined: June 8th, 2010, 3:39 pm
Posts: 371
Location: Concord TWP, Ohio
Yep Andy, wish you and Marty could've been there again too! Hopefully, Costa Rica every year until I die...


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 Post subject: Re: Costa Rica June 2012
PostPosted: July 5th, 2012, 11:15 am 

Joined: April 23rd, 2011, 6:49 pm
Posts: 242
It's nice to see so many others that are fans of Costa Rica and its "ecopolitics" for lack of a better term. Have you guys heard of NatureAir? The "zero carbon footprint" airline based out of CR? They bought up a decent chunk of land to 'offset' the carbon emissions from flying their planes around. Pretty cool stuff. We can't even convince American car companies to make reliable AND gas efficient vehicles.
For those who have visited or researched, how do nearby countries like Nicaragua and Panama compare? I already saw that they kill snakes regularly in Nica. That's a shame. Is the environment as tropical as Costa and Panama?

Dr. Dark: Costa Rica every year til I die is a GREAT motto. I hope I can have such a slogan for myself.


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 Post subject: Re: Costa Rica June 2012
PostPosted: July 5th, 2012, 11:54 am 

Joined: September 8th, 2011, 5:12 pm
Posts: 150
Location: Oxford, MS
Awesome post. Costa Rica has a special place in my heart. I've been traveling there for years, usually bringing student groups to show them the extreme diversity see in such a small country. I am particularly impressed with the Eyelash vipers. I hadn't known that the Arenal area was so good for them (my hot spots have been around the Bocas del Toro area in Panama). I've been to the Arenal area a number of times, but never found one (but then again, that timing of the trip usually corresponds to exams on the student trip). I'm quite jealous of those. I've seen a number of them, but mostly Oropels, which are cool, but seeing the 10th or 20th yellow snake loses its luster when there are individuals like those mossy ones about! I have yet to see one like that (I've seen gray ones and pinkish-brown ones), but that is the color phase I think I'd most like to see. Oropels are pretty cool, but I'm more of a fan of the extreme crypsis the species can show.


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 Post subject: Re: Costa Rica June 2012
PostPosted: July 5th, 2012, 12:10 pm 
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Location: Concord TWP, Ohio
As always, I REALLY appreciate the kind words! Costa Rica holds a special place in my heart...as soon as I am home, I can't wait to get back! As for eyelash vipers, the abundance and variety around Arenal seem hard to top. As for crypsis, this one from two years ago is probably my favorite spot I can recall...somehow spied it from about 30 feet away...it blended into the dead stuff in the leaf fold like it "knew" what it was doing... ;)

Image


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 Post subject: Re: Costa Rica June 2012
PostPosted: July 5th, 2012, 5:16 pm 
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Joined: May 11th, 2012, 4:50 pm
Posts: 72
"See it?"

Sheesh, I don't even see "the trail"!

Image


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 Post subject: Re: Costa Rica June 2012
PostPosted: July 5th, 2012, 5:59 pm 
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Location: Concord TWP, Ohio
Robyn, I am actually taking the pic from the trail, looking down the hillside slope about 15-20 feet. If you look closely, you can just make out the snake slightly to the left of the center of the frame. ;)


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