Wednesday, January 13, 2016

1/13/16 4/cuatro (in fact actually 1/08/16) (Cahuita National Park, CR)

Waking up in the morning was a chore as none of us really wanted to leave our air-conditioned room for the Heat from Heck. But we did and I for one was the happier for it. Right next to the lovely pool in the center of the hotel's courtyard was a bush and on this bush was a rhinoceros beetle. I cannot even begin to describe how cool this beetle is and how much I love it. I think it should be said, now when I'm mentioning my first insect, that I am passionately interested in insects. I love them. The bigger the better. I hate parasites though. Nasty little suckers. Unless they're plants. Those are really interesting. Anyhow, the rhinoceros beetle stuck around for the whole time we where there. I went and stared at it every chance I had. It's carapace was soft like suede but hard. I loved that bug.

We went on a wildlife spotting walk after breakfast. We ended up spending half an hour outside the park we were headed to because we found a thicket with an abundance of birds in it. Several of my professors are avid birders and pointed out different species. They were all beautiful but my favorite was a small bird with a black face with a blue ring around it that changes to a golden neck then a black back with blue on the wings and a golden belly. It was stunning.

From there we headed into the park for our real wildlife viewing experience to begin. We saw howler monkeys (with babies on their backs!) as well as monos cariblancas (also carrying their babies on their backs!!). We saw three vipers, two bright yellow and up in the trees and a third grey one on the ground next to a stump. Boat billed herons, golden orb spiders, leaf-cutter ants (a personal favorite as they don't eat the leaf bits they harvest very exactingly, they use them to farm fungus. You read that right, they cultivate a very specific species of fungus. All of the different species of leaf-cutter ants farm one specific species of fungus. It is theorized that the fungus is carried from old burrows when the ants move. You can always tell when leaf cutter ants are near by as they have specific trails they follow and they keep them pristine. Even on the sandy, groomed human-path I could tell where the leaf cutter ants paths were), a tree with peeling red bark covering a green photosynthetic trunk; the 'Naked Indian' (or, my preferred name, the Tourist Tree), blood trees for which the area was originally named (Cahuita is the indigenous name of these trees), a blue morpho, more butterfly's, more insects and more animals. It was wonderful. You would think that that was the end of our day. No, it was just the start.

Below are photos of the rhinoceros beetle, the ave de siete colores, a viper, a sloth and a leaf-cutter ant trail.

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