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Costa Rica: Cabo Blanco Nature Reserve

Posted by on Nov 15, 2013

This is the first of many blog posts from new RTPI Affiliate Sean Graesser who carries out several active research and education initiatives in Central America along with RTPI President Twan Leenders. See more information about all of our tropical research and conservation work in the link above.

Leading up to my departure to start our research season I thought I would introduce you to our sites and some of the work from the past field season. The three sites we conduct research at are: Cabo Blanco Nature Reserve, Refugio de Vida Silvestre Curu , and Finca Pura Vida. I will introduce each site and tell you a little bit about them in the next few weeks before the trip.

Kentucky Warbler (Geothlypis formosa)

Kentucky Warbler (Geothlypis formosa)

Cabo Blanco Nature Reserve is located at the southernmost point of the Nicoya Peninsula and is a 1,270 hectares reserve of mixed forest types. The majority of the reserve is made up of secondary growth with an average age of 60 years. There is a small portion of primary forest at the highest points in the reserve. This staggered age in the forest offers a very interesting look at species diversity and habitat preference. Due to the deforestation on the peninsula a lot of the diversity of species found at this site is very unique. It is also a site that, while it has been around for a long time, has seen a recent lack in research being conducted. In our two field seasons we have already documented a few avian species not known to the site or the peninsula. We see a different variety of species at this site versus our other sites due to its large tracts of secondary forest.

Mantled Howler Monkey (Alouatta palliata)

Mantled Howler Monkey (Alouatta palliata)

Dead-leaf mimic Katydid (Tettigoniidae sp.)

Dead-leaf mimic Katydid (Tettigoniidae sp.)

When we were originally choosing our sites we tried to pick areas that could offer us quality comparisons of species with preferred habitat niches. We also looked to target areas that could offer an abundance of neo-tropical migrants.  We’ve banded over 100 neo-tropical migrants encompassing eleven different species. Our most common neo-tropical migrants at this site are Kentucky Warbler (Geothlypis formosa) , Worm-eating Warbler (Helmitheros vermivorum), and Swainson’s Thrush (Catharus ustulatus). The site has over 180 species of resident birds. Some of the unique habitat-specific birds include Grey-headed Tanager (Eucometis penicillata), Red-crowned Ant Tanager (Habia rubica)Stub-tailed Spadebill (Platyrinchus cancrominus), Northern Barred Woodcreeper (Dendrocolaptes sanctithomae), and Bright-rumped Attila (Attila spadiceus).

Grey-headed Tanager (Eucometis penicillata)

Grey-headed Tanager (Eucometis penicillata)

Those are just a few of the species we have observed and banded at the reserve. It also boasts a rich diversity in mammalian, herpetological, and entomological fauna and you can expect to see photos of wonderful bird species and other wildlife this year. Next I will talk about Refugio de Vida Silvestre Curu, so stay tuned.

 

Sean Graesser
RTPI Affiliate

Photos © Sean Graesser