November is the peak of the rainy season here in Osa, an ideal time for staying in, curling up with a good book and listening to the sheets of rain pelt the tin roof. Not so for the OC staff and our brave visitors and volunteers who have been working rain and shine to help us with various conservation projects! This month we’re finishing up the Sea Turtle season and will be saying our goodbyes to our amazing Research Field Assistants that have made the program possible. Sai, Emily, Bre and Katie, we are incredibly grateful for your dedication and contribution this season. Thank you also to Katharine, Jamie and Alyssa, our field assistants who joined us for the first half of the season and all of our volunteers.
During this past July, while walking through the Cerro Osa forest, Agustín Mendoza, one of the most charismatic members of Osa Conservation’s conservation and land management team, heard sounds and a great deal of activity at the top of the canopy. As he came closer to the site, he realized that the clamor was coming exclusively from a Zapote tree (Pauteria Sp). This tree was full of juicy fruits characterized by an exquisite orange color and a sweet scent that invaded the monotonous serenity of the forest. In the top of the tree he found a complete troop of spider monkeys that jumped from branch to branch, 35 meters in the air, taking advantage of the sudden abundance of this unusual feast.
If you’ve ever spent the night in the rainforest you know how deceptive sound can be. Unlike the intriguing daytime peeps, flaps, buzzes and calls that inspire one to explore deeper into holes, hollows, and underbrush, the haunting sounds that pierce the blackness of night cause the uninitiated like me to wholeheartedly question their disbelief of ghosts, goblins and spell-casting forest witches. Nighttime at Piro has a way of transforming torrential downpour into slowly approaching footsteps, guttural howler calls into sinister forest cries. Especially haunting is one sound that I really would have sworn was a ‘bruja’ laughing slowly and eerily into a wooden whistle repeatedly throughout the night.
By Katie Mascovich
No two night patrols on the Osa are the same, but they usually have the same rhythm. Every now and then, however, something unexpected happens that makes the whole night worthwhile.
On November 3, I had one of these experiences. But to fully understand it, I have to tell you about the patrol I had on October 21. That night I was patrolling Pejeperro Beach with Emily, another Research Field Assistant. It was one of those long nights where we knew we would not be back to the station and in our beds until dawn.