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Harlequin heaven


Harlequin toad (c) Andrew Gray, 2016

Having had a short break and enlightening time away its great to come back and see how well our new harlequin toads have now settled into the vivarium. The males are calling and all have acclimatised to their new homes really well. These beautiful neptropical acquisitions herald a new future direction for us, one we are excited and pleased to be embarking on.

Love of light

RainbowI love light. Whether that be sunlight on the face, candlelight on bare skin, the infra-red reflection of light from a frog, or the last rays of the setting sun casting its magic upon whatever they fall. Light has the power to transform, to make things glow, to help things survive, to create life. It also has the power to create shadows, to form contrast, reflections to help mirror, and rainbows to colour grey skies.

I recently got a new camera as a gift from a good friend and it has sparked a new interest in a little more serious photography. It’s something I had forgotten how much I enjoy. Mainly I love to photograph things that are living, catching a moment with someone special, a beautiful creature, an emotion. Light is always a key factor.

P1120072aRather than a living landscape, I have just experienced a very different one. A very hot and mountainous one, where unusual rock formations allow for a very different look through the lens – strange silhouettes, shadows of all shapes and sizes, and beautiful backdrops against bright blue skies. Here’s a selection of pictures just taken, from island shore to its dry core. Click to view.

NB. It seems it can prove more difficult to be able see yourself in a different light!


Childhood revisited


Hyla meridionalis (c) Andrew Gray

Today was another blue sky day, and a great one to go looking for one of the few amphibians found here – the Stripeless Tree frog, Hyla merdionalis. With the various contrasting environments here, ranging from hot coastal areas to high altitude rocky mountains, it means there are not so many areas both hot and wet enough for supporting this amphibian here.

However, following a kind tip off from my good friend Matt Wilson, I headed north to a small lagoon where they had previously been spotted. Sure enough, within 5 minutes of arriving I had found my first frog! What a beauty it was, and what childhood memories it sparked off..

Lacertid Lizards

IMG_5179It seems i’m not the only occasional lounge lizard to thoroughly enjoy the heat of the sun on their back. For as the sun rises here, the reptiles wake and let its rays soak into them all day.

Lizards of the family Lacertidae are no exception and are out basking at any opportunity. Most are small to medium-sized lizards, but some on the islands where I am at the moment can reach almost 50cm!

Copywrite Andrew GrayAll are very similar in the way they look, with slender bodies and long tails, but have highly varied patterns and colours, even within the same species. I have seen many during this trip but many of the larger, rarer species are now highly endangered, due to their isolated restricted populations and through the introduction of domesticated animals, such as cats to the islands.

Most of the lizards are insectivorous but many will also readily eat fruit when available.



Soaring solo

IMG_5134aToday was a good day. Following a boat ride through crystal clear water I arrived. An 8 and half hour hike ahead of me, and not an easy one at that. The gorge was green but my destination was far in the mountains, a dry desolate area to which few ever venture. But I had a reason.

IMG_5132aMid day, high above, and long before the tiny village, I stopped for water and to take a picture. How dead my road ahead looks, void of any life, except the most resilient of plants perched up high on the stony columns I would negotiate.

Then, a call, a single bird flew just overhead, as if to taunt me, or maybe not. Maybe to show me a way ahead was possible. It winged up and down through the beams of sunlight. I watched it mesmerised. perhaps I was dehydrated, perhaps it was a moment to savour.

P1110950aMade it to the village, and on to the far shoreline beyond, just in time to watch the sun set and see the last second of its rays before it disappeared behind another island.

A good day.


Lucy’s Launch

photo[67]The Costa Rican Ambassador has just returned to Costa Rica, and yesterday sent us a lovely message regarding his visit to Manchester and the new Education programme Learning with Lucy, which he launched here last week. It was an absolute pleasure to welcome him, and his wife, to the museum and to show them our extensive collection of rare Costa Rican frogs as well as many other creatures. Everyone who attended the launch event has had only very good things to say about it and it proved a wonderful experience for all concerned. I would very much like to thank all those who contributed to making the evening such a success, and to all those who attended from near and far afield.