Archive for February, 2011

Guest Photos from Franky Bossuyt

Sunday, February 20th, 2011

Franky Bossuyt and Ines Van Bocxlaer visited in February. Franky has a PHD in herpetology and is a professor at the Vrije Universiteit in Brussels. Ines is a post doc at the same institute. On their climb to the top of Mount Totumas they discovered a frog species we haven’t seen before as shown above and below.

Here are a few more great images Franky shot during his visit.

This Magnificent Hummingbird is covered with yellow pollen on its bill and face.

Violet Sabrewings are favorite photo subjects here at MTCF

Another stunning photo up at the peak of Mount Totumas in the oak bamboo forest.

Thank You Franky and Ines

Begonias of Mount Totumas Cloud Forest

Friday, February 18th, 2011

Here are some images of the rich diversity of Begonias found at MTCF.


Forest species found from 1600-2000m


A small shrub found on the upper slopes of Mount Totumas at around 2300m


Above two images of climbing vine in the dark understory found at around 2000m on the slopes of Mount Totumas

Above two images were taken at the summit of Mount Totumas at 2600m. This Begonia was growing as an epiphyte on the trunk of an oak.


Above two images of a small understory plant also found at around 2200m on the upper slopes of Mount Totumas.


This species thrives along streams and is growing on a rock surface at the falls at 1800m


Found along streams between 1600-1900m.

Green Palm Viper, Coffee Harvest and Hotsprings: all in a day at MTCF

Friday, February 11th, 2011

Bothriechis lateralis Green Palm Viper, endemic to western Panama and Costa Rica. This viper was 5 feet off the ground in a coffee tree at the small grove we have at the entrance of MTCF. We spotted him while harvesting coffee. An incredibly beautiful snake.

The following images are of the coffee harvest today on the dozen or so old coffee trees that make up the small grove at the entrance of MTCF

After 2 hours of harvesting we walked 200 meters down to the hotsprings for a some fun and a soak

Field Notes January

Wednesday, February 9th, 2011

Resplendent Quetzals are common at Mount Totumas Cloud Forest between March and November. They are seasonal altitudinal migrants and they become scarce between November and February when the majority migrate over the continental divide and feed on lower elevations in Atlantic forests. This year a few individuals have remained on site through December and January. A pair (the male in spectacular breeding plumage) was seen hanging around for a week mid January at 1900m feeding on the fruit shown here, a member of the avocado family.

The first male Three Wattled Bellbird was heard calling February 1st and during the past week more individuals have arrived as males can be heard calling in the forests between 1850 and 1950meters. It will be interesting this season to do a survey of breeding males. They nest in a very narrow elevation range.

There is a small tree in border areas of pasture and forest. It is shown here. Simple opposite leaves with smooth margins. Eugenia sp.? The locals here call it Arayan but this common name refers to a huckleberry species which this is not.

This tree is currently fruiting and is attracting a lot of birds. Right off the deck of the house there is one fruiting and attracting Mountain Thrush, Blue Grey Tanagers, Flame Throated Tanagers, Summer Tanagers, Common Bush Tanagers, Silver Throated Tanager, Northern Oriole, Red Crowned Woodpecker, Mountain Elaenia, Dusky Capped Flycatcher, Emerald Toucanet. We also came upon two Black Guan feeding on this tree in the pasture about 50 feet from the forest. Instead of flying away they initially tried to hide in the thick foliage in the upper canopy of the tree. We were able to observe them from only 20 feet away until they exploded out of the tree giving us a great view as they dashed into the forest.

A Silver Throated Jay was spotted at 2600 meters on the Peak of Mount Totumas. This is the first record of this bird here.

Green Violet Ear Hummingbirds are breeding. Males are calling incessantly and we found a female on her nest about 12 feet high up a small tree.

Northern migrant warblers are regularly seen; Blackburnian, Wilson’s, Black and White, Black Throated Green Warblers. A single individual Golden Winged Warbler. Summer Tanagers and Northern Orioles.

The orchid species Oncidium carinifera is in full bloom throughout Mount Totumas Cloud Forest In suitable habitat. Here are a few images.



A new species of orchid was photographed in bloom in mid December and is shown here below

A Violet Sabrewing showing off its long tongue………

Rubus sp.

Monday, February 7th, 2011

There are two varieties of Rubus here in the open pastures, one more rounded like a raspberry and the less common one elongated like a blackberry. They are abundant at the moment especially since we stopped clearing the upper pastures having removed for good cattle from these areas. A nice fringe benefit .

Trails MTCF

Wednesday, February 2nd, 2011

We are finalizing the six marked trails at Mount Totumas Cloud Forest. This will allow guests to go off on self guided walks starting from the homestead in all the major habitats available on site. Trails lead to water falls, riparian zones at lower elevations, upland cloud forest locations and also to the scenic upper edge habitats where pastures border cloud forest. There is a detailed description available at the homestead for each hike with highlights and wildlife most likely to be encountered. Trails are marked with painted dots and directional markers. We plan to eventually ID major trees along the trails and put up benches in scenic spots.

There are several trails like the hike up to Mount Totumas Peak which are not marked. These trails are simple game trails and require a guide to find your way.

Depending on the season of the year and which trees are fruiting any of these trails can yield spectacular views of birds and mammals.