Corcovado 2/3 – Frogs and spiders at night

Welcome to part two of the three part series about Corcovado and the Osa peninsula in southeastern Costa Rica. On our second night in Agujitas de Drake we did a 2.5h long night tour with Javier from Happy Feet Tours as our guide. He’s a professional Corcovado guide for many years, grew up in the area, and we were lucky enough to not have anyone else join the group, just Javier, Isa and me.

Ten minutes into the tour it became very clear why the rainforest is called RAINforest. It started raining heavily and didn’t really stop for the entire duration of the tour. Although it’s not particularly pleasant to be soaking wet the whole time, it’s also not a big deal with the warm temperatures. And for seeing as many insects, frogs and other small creatures as possible it is even an advantage, as many of them come out during the rain. Only for the phone it’s rather annoying, as you have to protect it from getting too wet, have to clean the camera lense all the time, and fight with the touch screen, which doesn’t work so well when wet.

Let me already say sorry for the low quality of many of the photos. A smartphone is not the best tool to take quality photos at night in the jungle. Given these circumstances, however, they’re actually pretty good. 🙂

Isa with her headlight, and Javier moving on in the background.

Right at the beginning, we found a specimen of the biggest frog species in the rainforest, roughly the size of a hand. There’s countless toads that are bigger, but this one is a frog the size of a toad.

Some stick insect sitting on a leaf. It was really long, at least 10 to 15 cm.

This flower holds a lot of water, so when you tilt it to the side you can see it flowing out. On hot afternoons without rain, birds love to land on it and drink the water.

One of the countless tiny frogs we got to see. This one was maybe 1 or 2 cm in diameter.

A little bug with an intensely red pattern. The photo doesn’t really show how red it is, especially when you’re in the forest at night and all the other colors you see are green, black and brown.

Some big insect, maybe 5 cm, but I don’t remember the name.

The leaves of this plant work like a hook and loop fastener on clothes. You can put them on almost any type of fabric and they will tightly stick to them. When removed, requiring quite some force, they also make a similar sound as when opening a fastener. Also, how the hell did Isa manage to keep the front off her shirt dry until this point? I had to wring out the water from mine every few minutes.

Two crickets mating.

One of the many species of cockroaches that we came across that night.

Only visible when pointing the flashlights directly at it, there’s a little bird sleeping there.

A type of strangler fig growing around this tree. Many ficus trees in the wet tropics grow this way: starting at the top of some other tree, growing their roots downwards around the stem of that tree, and eventually ‘strangling’ it to become a new tree in its place. Sometimes they also coexist.

A very small lizard with a yellow stripe on its back. If you haven’t been there yourself, assessing the size of all these animals is quite difficult from the photos, especially since the size of leaves also varies so much in the rainforest.

On this photo I managed to sneak in my index finger for size comparison. Yes, this thing is big. It’s quite harmless though, despite the terrifying looks.

Not so harmless, but much nicer to look at are poison dart frogs. The most common type of them in this region is this red and green variety. Like all poison dart frogs it is tiny in size, maybe 1.5 cm.

A pretty big spider. Not quite like a tarantula, but still big. I think it was a wolf spider, but I’m not sure anymore.

Another little frog on the ground. A type of rain frog if I remember correctly.

The leaves of this plant were all broken / bent in this way by bats. They intentionally do this to have a protected place to sleep in the daytime, when they simply hang down from under them. As it was night time, the bats were all gone.

A really cute (or stupid?) looking crab on the ground.

I was quite amazed to learn there is also something called tree crabs. And they really live in the trees. This one was walking upside down hanging from the bottom of a big leaf as if it’s the most normal thing in the world (which I guess it is for this crab).

This scary and weird looking ‘thing’ is the larva of a cicada. They spend most of their lives this way, and then only about two days in the beautiful form that I’ve shown in the first post. It reminds me so much of my all-time favorite Ghibli / Miyazaki movie ‘Nausicaä of the valley of the wind’.

To turn into a real cicada, they have to leave the above shell. That shell just remains on whatever they performed their little magic, looking like a live bug.

Do you see the stick insect? It’s just a few centimeters long. Imagine how difficult it is to find them at night on the ground.

According to our guide, this is a wild papaya tree. The fruits are much smaller and grow all along the stem, instead of just at its very top.

Another poison dart frog. We found SO MANY of them. With this color it IS admittedly rather easy to spot them. Being poisonous and showing it to everyone, they don’t have to be particularly afraid to be eaten.

Some spider. What else can I say?! 🙂

Some insect perfectly disguised as a leaf.

A really big type of banana spider, easily covering the palm of your hand when including the legs. As far as I understand, many of the different banana spiders are not even related zoologically, and are difficult to properly identify. Our guide also seemed unsure for many of them (we found quite a number of them). In any case, they are all venomous, and some species can even be dangerous to humans.

A red-eyed tree frog. They are probably some of the most displayed animal when it comes to rainforests. Don’t tell me you haven’t seen photos of this frog species like a hundred times in advertisements, on posters and book covers, on TV and in articles about biodiversity, etc. etc.

It’s so common and widespread in Costa Rica that the first photo in the Wikipedia article about red-eyed tree frogs is from this country, and the second photo in the tree frogs article even is from the Osa peninsula. They are indeed looking magnificent though.

Another rain frog, more medium sized this time.

And towards the end of the night tour finally a toad as well. Not really bigger than that big frog in the beginning, but nice. 🙂

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