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thomasbarbin thomasbarbin

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Thomas Barbin  I'm a naturalist who likes to photograph animals of all sizes! Photos free for education or scientific use (with permission).


Just outside of the Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve there is a small cafe called Cafe Colibri. Around the outside of this cafe are Hummingbird feeders which attract an absurd number of hummingbirds. Cafe Colibri is definitely an appropriate name.

When I arrived first thing in the morning the cafe wasn't open yet and the Hummingbird feeders were all completely empty. I think that they thought that I had come to fill up their feeders. I had hummingbirds landing on my lens, whizzing past my head, and at one point one tried to drink out of my ear.

Despite there being so many hummingbirds, and it being so chaotic, there was one species that instantly stood out from the rest. The Violet Sabrewing. This Hummingbird is much larger than the others, and the males are a brilliant purple. They were well aware of their size advantage and used it to boss around all of the other species. Light was very low and no flashes were allowed so getting decent photos was tricky. I had so much fun photographing the hummingbirds here, this was definitely a highlight of the trip.

#Campylopterushemileucurus #VioletSabrewing #CafeColibri #MonteverdeCloudForestReserve #MonteverdeCloudForest #Monteverde #CloudForest #CostaRica

A female Costa Rican Tropical Night Lizard photographed in La Fortuna. This is a very cool lizard that is endemic to Costa Rica and Panama.

You may wonder how you can tell that this is a female. You can tell that this is a female because all known Costa Rican Tropical Night Lizards are female, there are no known males. This is one of the very few vertebrates that reproduces parthenogenetically.
Parthenogenesis occurs when a population can reproduce without requiring a fertilized egg. This leads to a unisexual population because males are no longer necessary for reproduction. Some may be thinking that this sounds like a pretty good system, there are cons though. Without sexual reproduction heterozygosity becomes low. This isn't a problem in a constant environment, but in a changing environment (which is most environments) the heterozygosity that results from sexual reproduction becomes a huge advantage.

I saw two of these lizards while in La Fortuna, both at night of course. The first was on the side of a tree overhanging a large drop, so I couldn't quite get the angle I was hoping for (second picture). The second individual let me get three shots off before scurrying into some tree roots. You may notice in the second photo the she is missing her front left foot.

#Lepidophymareticulatum #Lepidophyma #CostaRicanTropicalNightLizard #TropicalNightLizard #parthenogenesis #parthenogenetic #LaFortuna #Arenal #CostaRica

A Black Vulture soaring over the cloud forest in Monteverde.

Black vultures feed on the carrion of a wide range of animals. Unlike Turkey Vultures, their sense of smell is not great. They rely on their sight instead to spot carcasses. Black Vultures also keep their eyes on the Turkey Vultures and will follow them down if they find a carcass. - info from allaboutbirds.org

#Coragypsatratus #BlackVulture #Monteverde #CloudForest #CostaRica

A Cicada molting it's old exoskeleton on a tree in Monteverde. Insect exoskeletons are not very flexible. In order to grow they have to shed their exoskeleton and grow a new, larger one. This is referred to as molting. I found many empty cicada exoskeletons attached to the sides of trees, but didn't actually find that many living cicadas.

In La Fortuna there were lots of cicadas hanging out in the tree canopy. Like birds, the males sing to attract females. The cicadas singing may have been the loudest noise I've ever heard come out of an animal. There were times where I would leave an area I was photographing in because it felt like I was damaging my hearing. It's not exactly a nice song either, more like a buzzing chainsaw.

#Cicada #Cicadidae #Monteverde #Molting #CostaRica

A Ruddy Ground Dove in La Fortuna. These birds are mainly seed eaters and are quite common.

The first two nights we spent in La Fortuna were right downtown. It was a few days before Costa Rica's Independence Day and we were staying right across from a local school. This means that from 7am to all day long we got to listen to their band rehearse their version of Despacito for the celebration.

I'll be putting some more random photos from the trip in my story. As I continue editing I'll keep posting a bunch in my story.

#Columbinatalpacoti #RuddyGroundDove #LaFortuna #CostaRica

An Emerald Glass Frog peering over a leaf.

Glass Frogs get their name from their transparent underside that allows you to see their digestive tract and bones. Males are very territorial occupying a a roughly 3.2m area. They will defend their territory by wrestling with intruding males while hanging upside down on the underside of leaves. The loser will fall down into the leaf litter and show submission by flattening his body, then leaving (amphibiaweb.org). Photographed in La Fortuna, Costa Rica.

#Espadaranaprosoblepon #Centroleneprosoblepon #EmeraldGlassFrog #LaFortuna #CostaRica

A Steller's Jay perched on a mossy branch as it starts to rain.

We've had six or so Steller's Jays visiting our bird feeders daily for awhile now. This was a good opportunity to take a break from editing Costa Rica photos and get back to taking photos.
Coincidentally, since the Steller's Jays have started coming to the feeders there has also been a strange increase in the number of funny sounding Red-tailed Hawks in my yard. 🤔

#Cyanocittastelleri #StellersJay #Highlands

I take a lot of photos of some pretty neat animals, but very few of them are any good. This leaves me torn between posting less often, and only photos that I feel are my best, or posting more often including photos that aren't necessarily my favourite. Since you're the ones who have to scroll past my posts, what do you want to see? More photos or less photos?

This is a Crested Guan perched high up in a tree one morning in La Fortuna. The next door neighbor to the place we were staying let me know that these birds are called Tree Turkeys. The name made sense since they were always perched up in the tree tops, and I didn't know any better so that's what I started referring to them as. It wasn't until I got home and bought a field guide to the birds of Costa Rica that I learned Tree Turkey is not their appropriate name. These birds have a pretty cool song that they sing at dusk.

This trip was a bit spontaneous, so I didn't actually buy a field guide to the birds of Costa Rica until after I got home lol

#Penelopepurpurascens #CrestedGuan #TreeTurkey #LaFortuna #Arenal #CostaRica

A Blue-gray Tanager.
These birds were quite common around Costa Rica. For how common they were, they were quite shy making it hard to get a decent photo.

Photographed in San Gerardo de Dota.

#Thraupisepiscopus #BluegrayTanager #SanGerardodeDota #Savegre #CostaRica

A Talamanca Hummingbird photographed in the foothills of the Talamanca Mountain Range.

Earlier this year the American Ornithological Society decided to split the Magnificent Hummingbird into two separate species. The two new species are the Rivoli's Hummingbird, which ranges from southwestern U.S. to northern Nicaragua, and the Talamanca Hummingbird, found in the cloudforests of Costa Rica and western Panama.

#BirdingAbroad #Eugenesspectabilis #TalamancaHummingbird #MagnificentHummingbird #BatsuGarden #SanGerardodeDota #CostaRica

A Leaf-mimicking Katydid on a leaf. One of my favourite things is mimicry. There are many types of mimicry, in this case the katydid is visually mimicking a leaf to avoid predation.
At night these large green Leaf-mimicking Katydids were quite common. It made me wonder where these things were hiding during the day. Probably in the tree canopy, everything seemed to be hiding up there and that's where all the cool noises were coming from.

#Tettigoniidae #LeafmimickingKatydid #Katydid #LaFortuna #Arenal #CostaRica

An Eight-spotted Flea Beetle sitting on a leaf at night.

Flea beetles get their name their enlarged femora of their hind leg. This allows them to jump away when threatened, sort of like a flea.

#Omophoitacyanipennis #EightspottedFleaBeetle #Coleoptera #LaFortuna #Arenal #CostaRica

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