Monday, September 17, 2012

When Darkness Falls on the Forest

Most visitors see Costa Rica only in the daytime, exploring forest habitats with the hope of spotting the endemic wildlife that makes this country so famous. However, at Jalova we have recently begun conducting forest surveys following the fall of darkness with the hope of seeing the rare creatures of the night. Last week the jungle delivered a special treat.
As night-time fell across the jungle, Josephine, myself (Ben) and interns Rachel, Jessie and Michelle silently crept down Kingfisher Trail with the hope of catching and examining amphibian species.
However, it wasn’t long before a rustling in the canopy directed our lights towards the tree-tops. There we saw two eyes staring back at us which we quickly identified as a kinkajou (a member of the Racoon family), sometimes known as the Night Stalker.
Following countless minutes of excitement, we continued deeper into the forest. Only minutes later, our torches were again drawn to the rustling foliage overhead. This time it was a species that had never been sighted at Jalova. The mexican-hairy porcupine, with its stunning yellow tipped hairs, was glowing in the torchlight. 

Mexican-hairy porcupine

All smiles, we didn’t think the night could get any better. We were wrong! Shortly afterwards the Central American woolly opossum was spotted foraging playfully in the trees. With our eyes now focused on the trees, our fourth major sighting came when Josephine lit up an adult and juvenile great tinamou, a large forest bird more often heard than seen not to mention photographed!

 Adult and juvenile tinamous

While reluctant to turn back, a fantastic night was had by all with the addition of stunning frogs and arachnids. This night was undoubtedly a highlight of everyone’s time at Jalova.

- Ben, 6-month intern