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.
Some habitat shots where we hiked often.
These frogs are ridiculously HUGE! They could eat a bullfrog! We saw a few large adults and MANY small juvis.
Smokey Jungle Frog Leptodactylus savageiCraugaster fitzingeri
Vaillant's Frog Lithobates vaillanti
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
We saw MANY of these iconic Costa Rican amphibians...gotta LOVE 'em...
Red-Eyed Tree Frog Agalychnis callidryasSmilisca sordida
We saw MANY of these as well...Lithobates warszewitschii
These beautiful lizards love to come out in the intense heat of the afternoon.Amieva festiva
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?
Love was in the air everywhere...Smilisca baudinii
I was ecstatic to find these, having found their larger cousins on the west coast last year.
Hog-Nosed Viper #1 Porthidium nasutum LIFER
Hog-Nosed Viper #2 Porthidium nasutum
It is always sobering to see how hyper-alert these guys are, even as juveniles.
Terciopelo (Fer-de-Lance) Bothrops asper
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!)
Eyelash Viper #3 Bothriechis schlegelii
Eyelash Viper #4 Bothriechis schlegelii
Eyelash Viper #5 Bothriechis schlegelii
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 schlegeliiTlalocohyla loquax
Love is still in the air...
Red-Eyed Tree Frogs Agallichnis callidryas
Lovely, large spider.
We saw several of these nice looking toads.Incilius melanochlorus
Tailless whip-scorpion dining on a roach.
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
Eyelash Viper #7 Bothriechis schlegelii
This was my favorite "good-eyes" spot of the trip. Looking down the slope, about 20 feet off the trail. Can you see it?
Eyelash Viper #8 Bothriechis schlegelii
This fantastic specimen sported two completely unbroken stripes!!!
These two little fellows were inhabiting a large, hollow, fallen tree.
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!
We actually road-cruised this beauty at night.
Green Tree Anole Norops biporcatus
Eyelash Viper #9 Bothriechis schlegelii
Eyelash Viper #10 Bothriechis schlegelii
Small anole sp.Hemidactylus frenatus
We saw only one coati (we had seen NONE last year!)
This was a beautiful, calm animal with incredible pale blue skin between the scales.Dendrophidian percarinatum LIFER
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
They grow 'em big here. (For reference, my tattoo is over 3 inches in diameter!)
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 mexicanusPristimantis cerasinus
Next was this 3 foot beauty, right on the trail.
Terciopelo (Fer-de-Lance) Bothrops asper
My nephew spotted this gentle gem.Immantodes cenchoa
Back down to the base, we saw several of these.Rhabo haemititicus
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
The last snake of the night, I spotted this just before we reached the car!Leptodiera septentrionalis
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
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.
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
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
Flipped under some tin...Leptodiera nigrofasciata
These lovely flowering trees were everywhere.
These guys are as common as our squirrels!
Black Spiny-Tail Iguana Ctenosaura similis
Saw these LARGE prints...any ideas? (For reference, my snake hook tip is 4 inches long.)
And yes, love is STILL in the air... This was going on outside our door every night! (Tell me that male is not smiling!!!)
My ONLY road-cruised live snake of the entire trip!Leptodiera annulata
THE absolute heartbreak DOR of the trip was a gorgeous 3 foot C. durissus
that had just been hit.
Saw MANY of these...Sceloporus variablilis
These two were flipped under different layers of the same tin pile.Leptodiera nigrofasciataSceloporus squamosus
A nice-sized adult.
Black Spiny-Tailed Iguana Ctenosaura similis
After four visits to this snake mecca, FINALLY on the last day my first boa...Boa constrictor LIFER
This majestic fellow started snorting at me as I shot a few pics.Aspidoscelis deppii
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...