Costa Rica trip 2009; 25 - 30 April

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Kevin Messenger
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Costa Rica trip 2009; 25 - 30 April

Post by Kevin Messenger »

got bored, figured I would re-post this since it was already ready:

Costa Rica trip 2009; 25 – 30 April

So this April, as sort of a counter-present from my parents (for taking them to China in July 2008) – they were now providing me with a quick 6-day trip to Costa Rica. Much like my AZ trip of 2008 (viewtopic.php?f=2&t=11389), this trip was also a conference for VECCS (Veterinary Emergency and Critical Care Society).

So mom and dad were already down there for a good week, going to meetings and such. I got some friends to cover my lab duties and I flew down on the 2nd to last day of meetings. The meetings were being held in the peninsula of Guancaste province (for those that don’t know, this is the driest region of Costa Rica – on top of the fact that it is also the end of the dry season, so there hasn’t been a drop of rain now since December).

When I got to the airport I rented a car and followed mom’s directions to the hotel.

25 April: Saturday
Arrived at 12:30pm in Guancasta and rented a car:

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Met up with mom and dad at some brand new hotel (had been open for 3 or 4 months) – an incredible hotel! Went for a drive around the hotel grounds:

Howler Monkeys
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Ctenosaura similis
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Hoffman’s woodpecker:
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Orange-chinned parakeet
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Squirrel Cuckoo
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Rufus napped wren
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Brahman Cow
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We road cruised that night but didn’t find anything…

26 April: Sunday
Went to a meeting at 8am on envenomation, the last meeting of the conference. Walked around the hotel grounds getting some more pics:

Great tailed grackle
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Tropical kingbird
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Double striped thick knee
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Groove billed Ani
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Great Kiskadee
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White throated magpie jay
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Cattle Egret
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We left the hotel and mom had arranged for us to stay at another hotel (some kind of discount) in Playa Panama. We stopped and had an excellent lunch:

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(I love food…)

Some other iguanas on the way out of the hotel:
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While talking with the owner we found out that he does tours. We took his card just in case.

Some more birds on the drive over, one of my favorites:

Turquoise browed motmot
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We arrived at the Monarch Hotel around 6pm and I had made arrangements (prior to leaving the states) to meet up with Quetzal around 7:30pm. We talked with him about the plan for Monday.

Afterwards, dad realized he left some luggage at the 1st hotel, a good 2 hours away. Well, this seemed like a prime opportunity to go road cruising! We didn’t see a single thing the whole drive over, not even a DOR. As we approached the hotel “drive way” I see a small snake on the road. We jump out and at first glance I thought “mandarin ratsnake” and of course my better judgment came around:

Trimorphodon quadruplex
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27 April: Monday
We met up with Quetzal at our hotel around 7am, had an awesome breakfast, and left for Santa Rosa National Park, about an hour north of where we were.

A Delicate ameiva (Ameiva leptophrys) on the walk to breakfast:
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At the entrance I saw pics of Crotalus durissus; I would LOVE to see that species. Pics of the day:

Milk frog (Phrynohyas venulosa)
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Phyllodactylus tuberculosus (Yellow-belly gecko)
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juvenile Ctenosaur
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Scorpion
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Scorpion with babies
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Habitat
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Longnose bat
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White faced capuchin
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Rhinoclemmys pulcherrima (Ornate wood turtle)
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Norops humilis
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That night we went road cruising with Quetzal, up near the Nicaraguan border. The 1st snake of the night was this little Porthidium ophryomegas. As we were looking at it, mom said, looks just like a pigmy. I thought this was a very astute observation as I was thinking the same thing (mom isn’t much of a herper, but she still likes to come road cruising ever now and then).

Porthidium ophryomegas
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Nothing else was on that road. We headed back down south and cruised a few more roads, turning up:

Imantodes cenchoa
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Coniophanes piceivittis DOR
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28 April: Tuesday
Today Quetzal said we would drive out east to Alajuela province, to look for Spectacled Caimans and also for a change in habitat, the Atlantic coast drainage.

Heading to breakfast some more lizards:

Sceloporus variabilis (Rosebelly lizard)
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Variegated squirrel
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Scenery:
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Muscovy Duck
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As we were driving, I saw a little creek. I asked Quetzal if he thought this would be a good place to look around. So we stopped and dad and I went to one side of the creek, Quetzal went to the other. Within a minute I saw some movement in a small ditch and spotted a nice sized brown vine snake! I grabbed the snake and at the same time I heard Quetzal yelling. I ran over to where he was, and as I walked over the road he said “I have a surprise for you…” I was hoping for a Bothriechis – I asked him if that’s what it was. “No”… he glanced over as I walked up and saw the Oxybelis aeneus in my hands. “Oh what the hell?! I thought I was gonna have a surprise for you” and he pointed to another vine snake in the bushes. This one had eaten a lizard recently:

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I didn’t want it bother it in fear of regurgitation, plus I already had the one so I could get some shots:

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Driving through the mountains we came across some cool DORs:

Scaphiodontophis annulatus
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While we were looking at this DOR mom walked a few feet away and found this DOR:

Stenorhinna fervermelli
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Later on we found another Oxybelis aeneus (this one dad found):
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Norops limifrons
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We flipped some trash nearby:

Bufo haematiticus
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Bufo melanochlorus
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Gonatodes albogularis
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Later in the day we finally reached our destination, just east of Upala, Cano Nigro or something like that

Female blackbird (redwing maybe)
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Northern Jacana
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Green Heron
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Wood storks and roseate spoonbills
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Black bellied Whistling Ducks
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Caiman crocodilus (spectacled caiman)
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(notice the bottom tooth popping through the upper jaw)

Our drive back was going to be a long one, and luckily we would be going through some good habitat.

The 1st snake of the night was an escapee, we think it was probably Leptodeira annulata (Annulated cateyed snake). Shortly after that sighting we found a very fresh DOR L. annulata.

The next snake was another DOR and a very sad one at that, one I really wanted to see; Oxyrhopus pelota (calico snake)
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Next we found a mouse opossum/ gray four-eyed opossum:
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As we got closer to our hotel we cruised the same roads we had the night before. We found a huge Trimorphodon quadruplex:
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Shortly after we found another Trimorphodon, but didn’t bother photographing this one. That was basically it for the night. Tomorrow would be our last day with Quetzal.

29 April; Wednesday
Today was our last day with Quetzal, we went somewhere close for the day so he could get back on the road and get home (he had a long drive). We went to a nearby Volcano, where there was a little mini-serpentarium.

On the drive out we found another new DOR, Masticophis mentovarius:
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keel-billed toucan (this was the best photo I got. The bird sat there for a good 5 min while I was changing out my lenses, then once I finally pull the camera up, it looks away, I get the one shot off, and it flies off…)
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pale-billed woodpecker
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turquoise browed motmot
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This little guy was one of the ones they had in captivity
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Mom and dad in front of a little pool where we all took a little dip
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After our little outing we headed back into town for lunch and parted ways with Quetzal. He was an awesome guide and I hope I get to come back again and get a chance to herp some more with him. After lunch we headed to another volcano nearby that had some sky bridges that mom and dad had visited before I flew down.

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Elephant fern (the largest fern in the world)
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Smilisca baudinii
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Lepidophyma flavimaculatum (yellow-spotted night lizard)
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That was basically it. We compromised with mom this evening and headed straight back rather than road cruising that evening. She was kind enough to allow us to road cruise every night without saying anything, we figured we should give her a night to relax, back at the hotel. We only had one more day.

30 April; Thursday
Our last full day, on Friday we fly back. Today we called the one guy that we had lunch with on that first day – the guy that also did tours. We met him at his little restaurant and got in his van and drove out east to the Palo Verde river (I think that was the one). Stopped for some pics on the way to the river.

Magnificent Frigate
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Caracara
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Streak-backed Oriole
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howler monkey
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White-nosed coati
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then we found some wild Scarlet Macaws
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(5 birds in the picture)

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male and female Gonatodes albogularis
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Mabuya unimarginata
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Collared anteater
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horse with parasite infection
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Longnose bat
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Once our boatman finally arrived we loaded up (it was just us, our guide, and the boatman) and started downstream.
Bare-throated tiger heron
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Black hawk
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Boat-billed heron
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White Ibis
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Green kingfisher
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Shrimp from the river
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Orange-fronted parakeet
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American Crocodile
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our boatman had some chicken that he fed to one of the crocs
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green iguana getting a drink from the river
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2 greens and one black
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Basiliscus vittatus (Brown Basilisk)
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Then our boatman parked the boat on the shore and started whistling. Within seconds a bunch of white faced capuchins came from the trees and surrounded the boat. Our boatman has been feeding this population banana treats.

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Note the eye contact:
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resting in the mangroves
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That night we went on the last road cruise of the trip, tomorrow morning we would be flying back home (me to WV… mom and dad to Charlotte). We decided to drive up just south of Upala, since the roads in the north weren’t producing much, and up near Upala is where we found the DOR Oxyrhopus

Almost immediately we found a small Leptodeira annulata:
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(he was a pain to photograph)

Then we found a Sibon nebulatus (Clouded snail eater)
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On the way back home we found a DOR Porthidium ophryomegas as well, freshly hit…

A gecko outside our hotel:
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(just a Mediterranean gecko I think?)

We did the best we could for being in the driest part of the country, during the driest time of the year… and for only have 6 days. It was still a great time and I enjoyed it immensely.

Costa Rica fauna list

1. Boa constrictor imperator (Boa constrictor)
2. Coniophanes piceivittis (Cope’s black-striped snake)
3. Erythrolamprus asculapii (false coral)
4. Imatodes cenchoa (Blunt headed tree snake)
5. Leptodeira annulata (Annulated cateyed snake)
6. Masticophis mentovarius (Coachwhip)
7. Oxybelis aeneus (Brown vine)
8. Oxyrhopus pelota (Calico snake)
9. Porthidium ophryomegas (Hognose viper)
10. Sibon nebulatus (Clouded snail eater)
11. Stenorhinna fervermelli (Scorpion eater)
12. Trimorphodon quadruplex [formerly biscatus] (Central American Lyresnake)

1. Ameiva leptophrys (Delicate ameiva)
2. Basiliscus vittatus (Brown Basilisk)
3. Ctenosaura similis (Black tail spiny iguana)
4. Gonatodes albogularis (Yellow-headed gecko)
5. Iguana iguana (Green iguana)
6. Lepidophyma flavimaculatum (Yellow spotted night lizard)
7. Mabuya unimarginata (Bronze-backed climbing skink)
8. Norops humilis (ground anole)
9. Norops limifrons (slender anole)
10. Phyllodactylus tuberculosus (Yellow-belly gecko)
11. Sceloporus variabilis (Rosebelly lizard)

1. Caiman crocodilus (Spectacled caiman)
2. Crocodylus acutus (American crocodile)

1. Rhinoclemmys pulcherrima (Ornate wood turtle)

1. Bufo haematiticus
2. Bufo melanochlorus
3. Bufo marinus
4. Phrynohyas venulosa (Milk frog)
5. Smilisca baudinii
6. Smilisca puma or sordida or sila or phaeota

1. Inca dove
2. White-winged dove
3. Scaled pigeon
4. Magnificent frigatebird
5. Brown pelican
6. Muscovy Duck
7. Black-bellied whistling duck
8. Wood stork
9. White-throated magpie jay
10. Yellow-crowned night heron
11. Black-necked stilt
12. Boat-billed heron
13. Bare throated tiger heron
14. Green heron
15. Cattle egret
16. American bittern
17. White ibis
18. Roseate spoonbill
19. Double striped thick knee
20. Neotropical cormorant
21. Anhinga
22. Solitary sandpiper
23. Green kingfisher
24. Northern Jacana
25. Black hawk
26. Crested Caracara
27. Swallowtail kite
28. Turkey vulture
29. Black vulture
30. Black capped flycatcher
31. Gray-capped flycatcher
32. Social flycatcher
33. Great kiskadee
34. Mangrove swallow
35. Blue and white swallow
36. Red wing blackbird
37. Great tailed grackle
38. Groove billed Ani
39. Gray breasted wood-wren
40. Turquoise browed motmot
41. Streak-backed Oriole
42. Scarlet macaw
43. Crimson-fronted parakeet
44. Orange-fronted parakeet
45. Orange-chinned parakeet
46. Squirrel Cuckoo
47. Keel-billed Toucan
48. Common paraque (goatsucker)
49. Hoffman’s woodpecker
50. Pale-billed woodpecker
51. sparrow, unknown
52. hummingbird, unknown

1. White-nosed coati
2. Northern raccoon
3. Virginia opossum
4. Gray four-eyed opossum
5. Collared anteater
6. White faced capuchin
7. Howler monkey
8. Variegated squirrel
9. Hooded skunk
10. 9-banded armadillo
11. White tail deer
12. Long nose bat
13. Agouti
14. Rabbit, unknown species
15. Rat, unknown species

A link to the next Spring VECCS meeting, Mexico 2010 (Puerto Vallarta, Jalisco): viewtopic.php?f=2&t=1871&p=21315#p21315

User avatar
Mathias Holm
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Location: Denmark

Re: Costa Rica trip 2009; 25 - 30 April

Post by Mathias Holm »

Cool post and nice pictures! :thumb:

AsydaBass
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Joined: January 3rd, 2011, 10:21 pm
Location: Rara Avis, Heredia, Costa Rica

Re: Costa Rica trip 2009; 25 - 30 April

Post by AsydaBass »

I was just reviewing some older Panama/Costa Rica threads when I stumbled on this one.

Your "Erythrolamprus asculapii" is actually Scaphiodontophis annulatus.
Erythrolamprus asculapii lives in South America; the two species found in Costa Rica E. bizona and E. mimus.
Wonderful photos, I was happy to see some bird photographs.

Don

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monklet
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Re: Costa Rica trip 2009; 25 - 30 April

Post by monklet »

Great trip and post Kevin, thanks for putting it back up. :thumb:

Amazed at the size of the feet on the Capuchins.
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Also, what's up with such big eyes on the snail eaters (Sibon) anyway???

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Kevin Messenger
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Re: Costa Rica trip 2009; 25 - 30 April

Post by Kevin Messenger »

I made the changes to the species name. I think that is the 3rd species name I have been given for that photo. I forget what the first one was.

Good question about the eyes. Not sure. Guess maybe just being nocturnal and what not. . .

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Rags
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Re: Costa Rica trip 2009; 25 - 30 April

Post by Rags »

Great post with some amazing shots, thanks.

The pick of the bunch for me was the green iguana drinking from the waters edge. An unusual shot and enjoyed here!

Rags.

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justinm
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Re: Costa Rica trip 2009; 25 - 30 April

Post by justinm »

Herons and Kingfishers are my favorite birds to see, some amazing birds in each group. Your family takes some cool trips man, that's for sure. I'd love to see Porthidium ssp someday, loved those.

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ahockenberry
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Re: Costa Rica trip 2009; 25 - 30 April

Post by ahockenberry »

Superb shots - great trip - thanks for sharing !

jimoo742
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Re: Costa Rica trip 2009; 25 - 30 April

Post by jimoo742 »

that is one heck of a 5 day total

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withalligators
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Re: Costa Rica trip 2009; 25 - 30 April

Post by withalligators »

Bonkers

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Noel Thomas
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Re: Costa Rica trip 2009; 25 - 30 April

Post by Noel Thomas »

Great pictures and awesome way to document a trip man. Costa Rica is definitely a place that I feel like I left a piece of my soul in. The biodiversity both in flora and fauna is unrivaled. Not to mention the herpetofauna. Great post.

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