Sunday, August 14, 2011

July Herping in Costa Rica

I recently spent 2 1/2 weeks birding in Costa Rica in the middle of July. Being the mild but very humid wet season, reptiles and amphibians could not be ignored. It's a great time for birding, but if you're looking for herps, this is the perfect time to visit!

While enjoying a sunny morning near out hotel in the San José area, we spotted a Green Spiny Lizard, Sceloporus malachiticus.

I was then joined by by friend Diane for a scouting trip to Bosque del Rio Tigre on the Osa Peninsula. It rained during our entire time here, but we still saw great birds, such as the endemic Black-cheeked Ant-Tanager, as well as Yellow-billed Cotinga and Mangrove Hummingbird on the way out. Herps here were:
Common Tink Frog, Diasporus diastema

unknown tink frog, possibly Pristimantis cruentus?

Masked Treefrog, Smilisca phaeota

Narrow-headed Treefrog, Scinax elaeochrous

Smoky Jungle Frog, Leptodactylus pentadactylus

Then on the birding tour I was leading, I managed to take pictures of a few cool herpes. At Rancho Naturalista was this Pug-nosed Anole, Norops capito.

Tortuguero National Park was very wet, which was good for frogs, such as this Strawberry Poison Frog, Oophaga pumilia.

This Spectacled Caiman was along the flooded forest trail at night.

We heard a lot more frogs, but when the sun shone, lizards came out.
Green Basilisk, Basiliscus plumifrons

Green Iguana, Iguana iguana

Stream Anole, Norops oxylophus

We progressed to Maquenque Ecolodge near Boca Tapada, and there were some great things here.

American Crocodile, Crocodylus acutus on the Rio San Carlos.

Green-and-black Poison Frog, Dendrobates aureus was along the trails.

Our second Pug-nosed Anole, Norops capito of the trip was very different in color.

We had two Rainforest Hognosed Pitvipers, Porthidium nasutum along the trails. The first was very small, and I apparently stepped on it, making it move so it was spotted by the participant in the trail behind me.

I went out on my own late one night and found a few cool things: Red-webbed Treefrog, Hypsiboas rufitelus

Boulenger's Snouted Treefrog, Scinax boulengeri

Rough Coffee Snake, Nothopsis rugosus, a very strange colubrid snake with a boid-like head and a very stiff, non-reactive behavior when I picked it up.

Our final lodging was at Celeste Mountain Lodge on the slopes of Tenorio National Park. They have a tiny pond here which was home to:
Hourglass Treefrog, Dendropsophus ebraccatus

Red-eyed Treefrog, Agalychins callidryas

and Forrer's Leopard Frog, Lithobates forreri.

On a branch above their forest trail was by far the prettiest snake I've seen in Costa Rica: the big-headed Eyelash Pitviper, Bothrops schlegellii.


  1. Awesome pictures! Looking forward to reading about your adventures in Brazil.

  2. Hi Deb! I'll be posting some about Brazil to too, and don't forget to check the WINGS home page "from the field" reports!

  3. Really enjoyed the herping pics--makes me want to visit Costa Rica!

  4. I was at Bosque about 3 days after you left (according to Liz). We got a break with the weather.

    Got a nice coral snake while I was there birding. First time I had seen one.

  5. Awesome pics of Costa Rican herps! I have to find more time to look for herps in Costa Rica. Volcan Tenorio seems to especially good for snakes- have seen more than one on every visit to those beautiful forests.