Friday, May 26, 2023


A mutant hampster corners the author in a Kapok tree.  Photo by Isabelle.  

Somehow, this hamster has secretly stows away in my or Mrs. Dr. V's baggage anytime one of us goes off on a trip alone.  This time, I went to put on my boot, and my foot didn't fit in.  I looked, and found that the hamster had stowed away in there.  Luckily, customs did not catch him.

For our last night at Poco Sol, we went on a night hike.  Right as we prepared, the evening rain came as a downpour.  We went out anyhow, cause we are hard-boiled.  We had a phenomenal night of seeing reptiles and amphibians of all sorts.  At our first introductory meeting, one student asked if we would see any snakes on the trip.  Mark said sometimes you do, but sometimes you don't.  It depends on if you're lucky.  I guess we're lucky.  I'm unsure of the total count, but we're up over 10 snakes at this point, including a couple venomous Fer de Lances.  

Everyone's gone to bed and I don't have my notes to identify most of what's on my camera, or who found what, but hopefully I'll at least be able to post this with the sketchy wifi, and then get folks to help me put in the correct names and details tomorrow.

Jenna found a huge cockroach, which we tried to herd till folks could come see it.  Instead, it crawled up my leg...then to my crotch....I was uncomfortable with that, and it went on around to

my backside.  I wasn't comfortable with that either, but I was still ok...till it went up to my neck.  That pushed even me out of my comfort zone.  Olivia kindly picked it off.

I really wish I had notes here.  I believe this is a rain frog, of some significance.  This is the first time this species has been spotted in the Children's Eternal Rain Forest since the great amphibian decline of the 80's and early 90's - a sign that they are repopulating the habitat from other areas.

 This cool little snake was found right in the middle of the trail by Aidan.  It's about the size of a large earthworm.  What's cool is....

That the head glows under UV light.

Now this is something different.  This is a Fer de Lance, an extremely venomous snake.  Marks says that the young ones (like this) are particularly bad because they haven't learned to regulate their venom, and when the strike, they just shoot the whole load into you, unlike an adult that might regulate it and just inject a smaller controlled portion.  I'm not entirely sure how long this snake would be, but his circle shape is about the size of a coffee can.

Dan is sporting his raincoat in the drizzle.


Olivia jumped in the lake and caught this giant cane toad....which rewarded her by peeing on her.  The bumps behind the eyes release a toxic substance that makes predators put it down in a hurry.

Jenna and the crew looking for critters by the lake.

Mark holds another frog.

Aidan kindly shared this photo with me.  When we got back to the field station after our night hike, this snake was busy eating the frog eggs that were just deposited on a leaf above the station's small pond.

Friday morning, we had to pack up and leave Poca Sol to first go hike at Arenal Volcano and then go to La Calandria, our next field station.  Here, Dan is reflecting in his favorite spot.  

Jenna comes to the rescue again with her Athletic Training skills, this time wrapping Danielle's knee for the day's volcano hike.

Standard bus ride with folks looking, laughing, and losing things or trying to find things they lost.

The foreground bit is privately owned land.  The Children's Eternal Rainforest is the forested bit in the background.  You can easily see the difference that conservation makes.

Isabelle is preparing for the hot sun.

Lizard on the trail to the volcano

Dr. Parshall posing for me by this plant which I thought was an Orchid for scale.

Danielle is happy her knee is feeling good.

I'm getting orchid points for posting this picture for my wife.  This flower lasts just one day, so we were lucky to see it.


This orchid has a strategy where it is red with an orange center petal, which acts like a runway for pollinators.  After the orchid is pollinated, that runway also turns red, so pollinators know not to waste their time and energy on that flower.

I'm not entirely sure what this is, but about five inches in diameter.

The crew with Arenal volcano in the background.  We're standing on rock that is just 30 years old...less than how long Mrs. Dr. V and I have been married.  Our marriage is older than rock!  What's interesting here, is how much the landscape has been repopulated by plants from bare, new rock, in just that short time.  Mark explained how most plants that repopulate areas like this have wind-blown seeds, like orchids.

In the other direction, you can see Arenal Lake, which is a reservoir.  We had to drive all the way around the lake to get to the next field station.  All in all, about 6 hours on the bus today, a travel day.

You can see some of the rock slides on the volcano, steam on the top.

Jackson standing by a very big kapok tree (I think).

Jenna with a stick bug.

Lauren, Isabelle, and Will by a VERY big kapok tree.  I really like the huge buttresses on this one.

In between two of the buttresses was a harem of bats.  The male would periodically flap around the females, spreading his scent.

 Mark with still another snake.
After the hike, we stopped at a cafe for tea, coffee, and pastries...and a.....

Huge gullywasher of a rainstorm.

After that, we had a couple more hours of driving, and made it safely to La Calandria Field Station, where we met up with our second guide, Deb.  More on that tomorrow.  It's just almost 12 pm here, and I'm sleepy.
There seems to be a bit of a stomach bug working it's way through the crew, but folks are managing it pretty well.  Hopefully, tomorrow will be the end of that.  Meanwhile....

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