Thursday, November 23, 2017

Blue-throated Toucanet

The taxonomy of small, emerald toucanets is a mess. I was aware that ornithologists split Mexican and South American subspecies into two species, Northern and Southern Emerald-Toucanets. In fact, nobody seems to know what to do with the dozen or so populations from Mexico to Bolivia. Their ranges almost never overlap, so it is hard to tell if they might interbreed. Consequently, ornithologists recognize anywhere from one to eight species. The “splitters” call the toucanets of Costa Rica, the Blue-throated Toucanet.

High in the treetops a Blue-throated Toucanet watched while we headed back towards Monteverde after our 6 July jungle stroll. Northern Emerald-Toucanets range from eastern Mexico through Central America. They prey upon small vertebrates and eat fruit. They nest in tree cavities. We saw other birds during our morning adventure, but none that we did not subsequently see better. I will cover those in later posts.

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Mountain Flatwing

A few inches away from the Costa Rican Flatwing of my last post, we found a Mountain Flatwing under the same riverbank. These two damselflies are in the same family, but different genera. Thus they are not so closely related. Mountain Flatwings are found in Costa Rica and Panama south to Peru. They inhabit the edges of cloud forest streams, and thrive with high humidity, shade, and cold water (Nadkarni and Wheelwright).

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Costa Rican Flatwing

On 6 July, as we hiked along a dirt road near Monteverde, Costa Rica, we turned around where a creek rushed over the road. Under the overhanging logs and vegetation of the riverbank, we found two species of flatwings. This habitat is typical of flatwings, although occasionally females wander in the forest away from water. These are a family of damselflies that are larger than spreadwings and hold their wings flatter. Usually the forewings are at a different angle than the hind ones.

These photos are of Costa Rican Flatwings. The first photo was taken on 6 July, near Monteverde. The  second was taken a week later, on 16 July,  at Braulio Carrillo National Park. Costa Rican Flatwings are known only from Nicaragua and Costa Rica. 

Monday, November 20, 2017

Chirripo Cora

I found it hard to find information about the Chirripo Cora, Cora chirripa. Finally I happened upon Bill Haber’s web page, Odonata of Monteverde, Costa Rica. On 6 July, not only was that exactly where we were—near Monteverde—but our guest guide was Bill Haber! Haber writes that cora have large eyes and stout bodies. (Later I will show you a photo that shows just how big and strange cora eyes are.) These damselfies perch on leaves and twigs. They are usually found along small, forest streams. Chirripo refers to Costa Rica’s highest peak, which is found in the southern mountains.

Sunday, November 19, 2017

Rusty-tipped Page

Rusty-tipped Pages are among the most common Central American butterflies. They range south to Brazil and Bolivia and north into Texas and New Mexico. We found several during our hike near Monteverde during the morning of 6 July.

They are often found near the ground at forest edges. Like other tropical butterflies, they often gather at pools. They also drink nectar, rotting fruit, dung, and carrion. The caterpillars resemble poisonous swallowtail larva, and so are an example of Batesian Mimicry, where harmless creatures resemble poisonous ones. Rusty-tipped Butterflies are therefore avoided by birds (Knowlegebase).

Saturday, November 18, 2017

Cerulean Dancer

We found Cerulean Dancers along the roadside near Monteverde, Costa Rica, on 6 July. This damselfly is found from Costa Rica to Mexico. Curiously this species has made a rapid range expansion into the southern half of Arizona, where it was first found in 2012. Most of the US records are of males, like this one. Females are rarely found (Pierre Deviche/FaceBook).

Friday, November 17, 2017

Amber-banded Clubskimmer

As I recall, this clubskimmer perched on the rocks near the Mountain Rubyspot on 6 July. The roadside habitat must have suited these dragonflies as they recharge their solar-powered muscles. Dennis Paulson calls this ode an Amber-banded Clubskimmer. Guillon, who writes in French, informs us the English name is Rapacious Clubskimmer—a big descriptor for this little arthropod. Dennis shrugs and reminds me that all dragonflies are rapacious. The New York Times reports that dragonflies enjoy a 95% success rate with prey capture, compared to 25% for lions and 50% for sharks. "they may well be the most brutally effective hunters in the animal kingdom,” writes the Times. By whatever name, this species is widespread from Mexico to Venezuela and Peru.

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Sky-blue Dancer


These damselflies are Sky-blue Dancers, Agria medullaris. I think the first photo is of a female, the second a male. Both were along the dirt road we walked near Monteverde on 6 July. Keys to their identification include their clear wings and the top of the male’s abdomen being all blue. Bill Haber writes that this species is found from 700 to 1600 meters on the Pacific and Caribbean slopes of Costa Rica. These damselflies also range north to Mexico and south to South America.



Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Orange Daggerwing

Orange Daggerwings (Marpesia berania) are common, ranging from Honduras to Peru. Like this one on the road near Monteverde on 6 July, they are often found one at a time. Males do, however, occasionally flock to puddles as the butterflies search of mineral nutrients. Females are usually restricted to the forest canopy and are seldom seen. Both sexes form large nocturnal roosts (Learnaboutbutterflies).

This butterfly is the third daggerwing we have seen. Nearby we photographed a Many-banded Daggerwing. On 20 March 2011, Erika and I found a Ruddy Daggerwing in south Florida.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Highland Rubyspot

Also observed along the Monteverde road on 6 July—a Highland Rubyspot. This is the third rubyspot of our Costa Rican adventure. At least ten species inhabit the country. I never really got a handle on identifying them. Most seemed to be found near streams. One key is the elevation in which they are found. In the mountains, your options are somewhat limited.