Northumberland Wildlife Trust, Coquetdale branch

Costa Rica
Costa Rica

Members of the Coquetdale branch of the Wildlife Trust were treated to a most interesting illustrated talk by Bob Lickiss on the Wildlife of Costa Rica and Mexico.

Bob had replaced the advertised speaker at short notice, who was unable to attend due to ill health, and the group was very grateful. Bob’s photos covered plants, mammals and reptiles that he and his wife had seen during their six-month stay in Central America.

Costa Rica is a most varied habitat with national parks, rainforests and volcanoes and Bob’s talk took us to each in turn.

There are pyramids in both Costa Rica and Mexico but they take a different form to those of Egypt and are built from stones gathered up from river beds.

As well as the pyramids in the Guayabo Reserve we saw varied vegetation in the lush humid and pristine rainforest.

The canopy was so dense above the head that Bob and his wife needed torches all day in their hut and there were butterflies with vivid blue inside their wings, huge leaves and fungi and flowers and berries with vivid colours.

The Sarapiqui are the lowlands in the east of Costa Rica and are known locally as Frog Heaven.

We saw photos of red-eyed tree frogs, which have sticky red feet and three eyelids.

There are also strawberry poison dart frogs which are just an inch long but their sticky skin contains enough poison to cause a human heart attack.

There is also a black green poison dart frog which burrows in the vegetation, making it hard to detect.

Among the birds spotted were woodpeckers, the widow bird and the clay coloured thrush which is not very colourful but is the national bird of Costa Rica.

Bob had decided that he had seen the female and that probably the male was more colourful!

Howler monkeys were everywhere in the rain forest and there were also alligators and many lizards and iguanas. Pineapples are a prolific fruit in Costa Rica. They take six months to ripen and it was interesting to see them in their immature state.

Up in the Arenal volcanic area it was interesting to see iguanas high up in the trees as well as masked frogs.

The Monteverde Cloud Forest is a temperate area with 12 feet of rain a year. Here, epiphytes, mosses and lichen proliferate as well as stick insects and edible cacti. There are some seeds known as monkey brush seeds and the capuchin monkeys do indeed use these to brush their coats.

Finally in Costa Rica, Bob took us to Manuel Antonio National Park where we saw a golden orb spider, a three- toed sloth and reticulated plant hoppers.

Bob and his wife had seen quite a lot of Mexico during their stay there. When they arrived there was jacaranda in bloom everywhere. They saw three varieties of humming bird, the land of cacti and also pelicans, dolphins, puffer fish and orca whales.

There were swarms of grasshoppers, flamingoes, beautiful butterflies, big bugs, weird and wonderful flowers and the world’s stoutest tree – El Arbo del Tule. There were of course quite a lot of mosquitoes as well!

The next meeting will be on Monday, March 2, at 7.30pm in Jubilee Hall, Rothbury, when Graham Bell will be talking to the group on the subject of Migration.