Scales, Feathers, and Spines

Today’s big excursion was a boat trip down the Tempisque River, a brackish tide-influenced river that provides a home to many dinosaur-descendents: birds and reptiles, egg-laying, feathered or scaled, and all nesting at this time of year.

We saw wood storks:

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Iguanas bathing in the sun and attracting females, careful to keep their tails out of crocodile-reach (apparently about a meter out of the water… which was considerably higher than the edges of our boat, but nobody seemed too worried…):

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And the big beasties themselves, both in the water and hauled out on the bank, watching us with teeth prominent and eyes narrowed:

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From my favorite precarious perch, I saw three more crocs of ascending size stalking prey in the swamp as the sun was setting. Here’s the tower again, from whence I think deep thoughts and track big lizards and birdies while letting myself be actually alone for a brief period:

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And one of my similarly-pensive friends down in the swamp:

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My last picture for today was from a short hike Molly and I took up the hill, toward the bluffs and through the dry forest. Tropical dry forest is one of the most endangered ecosystems in the world… very little of it is left and what is left is constantly threatened by poachers, invasive species, human development, and of course the changing climate. Though it’s not the forest you imagine when you think of a jungle, or a tropical forest, or even Costa Rica, the dry forest is crazy cool- deciduous but tropical trees tower in a canopy overhead while agoutis, coatis, three species of monkey (find them all in previous posts!), ctenosaurs, jaguars, tarantulas, and hundreds (thousands?) of other species scamper about below. Today I saw a huge tree with peeling tan bark and hints of startling green underneath- this tree actually photosynthesizes (makes its own sugar out of sunlight) with its chloroplast-filled bark, and is known as “el indio desnudo” or the tourist tree because of the bark’s resemblance to peeling sunburns… and nestled below that tropical gem was this little baby. Don’t you just want to cuddle it?

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