Costa Rica is in Central America, squashed between Nicaragua to the north and Panama to the south. As a country it’s relatively small being 2.5x smaller than the UK. However, contained within this small area is 4% of the world’s biodiversity. 4%! What a perfect place for a Bioscience field trip…
Our group of 32 students arrived in San José a little jet-lagged from the extra six hours we managed to gain on the flight, but we were all very excited to finally be here after so long planning this fortnight.
Having travelled the 4 hours to the biological research station at La Selva, we went on a quick walk before lunch to familiarise ourselves with the wildlife. We didn’t actually manage to make it into the forest because we got so distracted by the Peccaries roaming freely, the Strawberry (or Blue Jeans) Poison Dart Frogs beneath the trees, insects galore and so many bright and colourful birds (including Tanagers, Flycatchers and Black-mandibled Toucans). We even managed to see a two-toed sloth on our passes over the bridge.
In the afternoon we did manage to make it into the forest, and we saw an Agouti and talked about the importance of light gaps and pioneer species. According to our local guide, a tree falls in the same place every 100 years, making the race to get to the all important light even tougher.
Although our time at La Selva was brief, it was a lovely way to get to know Costa Rican species and things we should look out for on the rest of our trip.
From La Selva, we travelled to Tirimbina which became our own private base camp. With no wifi and no phone signal, we really were in the heart of the rainforest! However, to get there we hiked from one side of the reserve to the other, taking around 4 hours (unless your group got lost!). We all made it (in case you were getting worried) and that evening went on a night walk spotlighting for species.
We found so many frogs of all different species, different colours, different sizes, ranging from Red-Eye Tree Frogs to Smokey Jungle Frogs, and I think about 6 Caiman in the end! It’s amazing how much you can see just by walking out the door.
The next day was spent learning census techniques and a line transept exercise to get our minds in gear for the projects we will do at Monteverde (our next stop). In the evening we went bat-netting, and the first group managed to see a small fruit-eating bat, but due to the rain, this was the only one we saw.
Our next stop is Monteverde, and I will be sure to keep you updated with our progress (in shorter posts!).
sh540 January 8th, 2016 Costa Rica archive