The road up to Rara Avis looking up to the mountains, including the volcano Cacho Negro.
I have made somewhere around 15 trips to Costa Rica. Sometimes strictly as a vacationing tourist, sometimes teaching, sometimes doing herpetological fieldwork, but almost always trying to photograph as I go along. Costa Rica is a fantastic opportunity for those interested in reptiles and amphibians. The country boasts near 400 species of herps. Over the years I have seen over 150 of those species in the wild and maybe another 20 or 30 in captivity. Where I have spent much time and have had great success is Rara Avis reserve northeast of the capitol San Jose, and bordering the amazingly wild Braulio Carrillo National Park. At around 700 meters elevation you get panoramic views of the Atlantic plains of northeast Costa Rica to the east and just behind you the mountains rise up punctuated by volcanos. Just below the reserve is clear-cut pasture on rolling hills. The lower reaches of the reserve are mixed with secondary growth forest and much of the remaining forest is primary growth. Rara Avis is perfectly placed to receive a mix of animals from lowland forests, mid-elevation species, and the occasional upper-elevation, or cloud forest, species. Somewhere near 130 species of reptiles and amphibians are known from Rara Avis. Most of this information is due to the fieldwork conducted by Twan Leenders who has spent around 20 years working here. I have been fortunate in having spent a considerable amount of time working with Twan in this region, and elsewhere. A quick look at my notes reveals that I have seen well over 90 species of herps from the Rara Avis area alone.
Much of the lowlands is now clear cut pasture with little of the original growth intact.
The purpose of this most recent trip was outlined in a previous blog entry along with some documentation of the vegetation of the area. When I sat down to prepare the reptile and amphibian portion of the blog entry I realized that I didn’t want keep doing simple tally lists with accompanying photographs. At best I would just be supplying herpers some eye candy. So the reptile and amphibian portion of Costa Rica will be extended to cover animals from numerous trips. But I decided I wanted to separate the entries into taxa. This should allow greater photographic coverage, keep new material coming into the blog, and supply some educational information about groupings of these cool creatures.