New Trip Reports: Costa Rica & Panama

Matt and Maureen Hart sent me 2 reports from the end of last year from their trip to Costa Rica and Panama

Costa Rica, 2013: Matthew & Maureen Hart, 1 week & 26 species including Ocelot, Silky Anteater, Kinkajou, Woolly Opossum, Mexican Porcupine and Honduran Bat.

Panama, 2013: Matthew & Maureen Hart, 1 week & 12 species including a strange Sloth and Northern Naked-tailed Armadillo.

cheers

Jon

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7 Comments on “New Trip Reports: Costa Rica & Panama”

  1. tomeslice Says:

    Good reports!

    You guys were SUPER lucky on the ocelot at Sirena… It’s not a given, and in fact, FAR from it.. I think my guide there (Rebecca Quiros) who was an excellent spotter, has guided tours there for over 3 years, and sees all the reasonably observable species on a regular basis (including tayra every few weeks, white-lipped peccary during the right season, and puma when there are individuals in the area) has never seen an ocelot! This may have changed by now, as I last talked to her in February of 2012, but the point is that staying there for 2 nights and seeing an ocelot just leisurely walking through the field was pretty much my wet dream when I was there, and needless to say it didn’t happen.

  2. jasonwoolgar Says:

    I have just returned from Sirena and although I was fortunate enough to see a Tayra there, and also at La Selva earlier in the trip, just missed out on any cats thanks largely to their ridiculous policy regarding spotlighting. As you will all probably know, you are banned from the trails at night at Sirena, which is bad enough in general, but on this occasion a puma had killed a sloth and baby during the previous night but had only taken the young. We therefore had a situation whereby everyone knew that the puma would return the following night to take the adult but no one was allowed to stake out the carcass beyond dusk. It was bad enough for me and I have seen a lot of pumas, but one poor guy had never seen one and was absolutely distraught at having to leave. Sure enough when we returned at 4am the unfortunate sloth had been removed and we had lost the rare opportunity to view such a beautiful animal carry off the prey that it had killed.

    I can understand the officials not wanting tourists randomly exploring the forest at night, as Sirena is fairly wild and many of the tourists who visit are simply not equipped for that type of activity. However, there are so many nocturnal species there that visitors are receiving less than half the picture and I cannot believe that they do not allow a few small groups to go out at night, carefully controlled by experienced guides.

    On a happier note, and this may interest Jon, I took a couple of extended night boat trips in the Damas Mangrove with Milenlli and Maurilio, the husband and wife team who I believe showed both Jon and Fiona Reid their first silky anteaters. In addition to a lot of crab-eating raccoons, common and grey four-eyed opossums, I saw water opossum on both nights and Mau said that they were fairly common in the area. The private night tours cost $115 per person and I have the latest contact details if anyone is interested. I also saw the fabulous silky anteater, a first for me as well, and went back at night in a kayak to photograph it actually awake!

    The puma aside it was a great trip with 34 mammals, excluding bats and a few unidentified rodents and I will let Jon have a copy of the trip report as soon as I finish the website that I am working on.

    Jason

    • Jon Hall Says:

      Thanks Jason … look forward to the report. That’s really great information on the Yapok. I am going to try for that species in Nicaragua next month but if that doesn’t work then sounds like those Mangroves are a great place. Its a species I would love to see. Can you send me their contact details too please… someone was asking for them just the other day. cheers jon

    • Matthew Says:

      The night policy is crazy, but the whole guiding industry around Sirena just seems so haphazard and amateur that I’m not surprised the authorities have just decided to take an absolute approach. On hearing from another guide that we had just missed seeing a young otter outside its holt, our guide splashed across the creek and tried shining a torch into the hole. Hmmmm.

      Anyway, SO wish we had known that Milenlli does night tours! : )

      • jasonwoolgar Says:

        Agreed re the guides at Sirena, and at Manuel Antonio for that matter, and any night walks would have to be conducted by rangers operating out of the station. We also went out early each morning but with very little luck except for a lot of tapirs wandering about at first light.

        I don’t know what others think but I find that spotlighting in the morning is never as productive as just after dusk, when you get that initial rush of nocturnal creatures waking up and moving about. On one night walk in Monterverde between 5.20pm and 6.30pm, starting at the hummingbird gallery and moving on to a local farm, we encountered olingo, two mexican porcupines, two hooded skunks, well beyond their accepted range, common opossum, several two-toed sloths and kinkajous, a nine-banded armadillo and a grey fox!

        We also got lucky with the night tours at Damas, as they arranged them for us after I had initially said that I wanted to go back that evening in a kayak to see a slightly more active anteater. We spent about an hour wading through the mangroves in the dark and getting bitten to pieces to get some nice shots of the anteater before going out in one of the larger boats until gone midnight. We did the same the following night and they are going to run these private night trips for anyone interested in seeing the water opossum. Not a given of course, but they were the first species that Mau mentioned when he offered the night tour and we saw them on both occasions, which is fairly incredible given that I have only seen one previously. just outside of Emas National Park in Brazil.

  3. Jon Hall Says:

    Matt and Maureen, after checking with Fiona Reid who is one of the world’s top bat experts, she says that your mystery bats are
    1 Artibeus jamaicensis
    2 Phyllostomus hastatus
    3 Carollia (probably perspicillata but impossible to be 100% sure w/o measurements)
    4 Peropteryx macrotis

    Good pictures too!

    jon

    • Matthew Says:

      That’s brilliant! Please, pass on our thanks to Fiona. And if anyone visiting Sirena wants to find that roost, they’ll probably need to ask their guide if they know of the sea cave on the way to La Leona because I couldn’t possibly provide directions!


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