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From frogs and lizards to snowy blizzards :)

For the past 20 years I’ve had a print of a favourite painting, carried with me from place to place. It depicts the most incredible garden imaginable, a contrast of rainforest, horticultural splendour, and Costa Rican animals that are ingrained in my soul – tropical birds, insects, and of course some of the most unusual amphibians on the planet! I now see it on my wall as I go down stairs each morning, the picture is a part of me.

Well, last week I was shocked to see the original.. hanging on a wall at the very place it depicts.. Wilson Botanical Garden. The incredible garden is owned by the Organisation for Tropical Studies and is part of Las Cruces tropical field station in Costa Rica. Its somewhere I’ve really wanted to visit for a long time and it certainly lived up to my expectations.

Set 1200m high on a pacific coastal mountain range in Costa Rica, Las Cruces is just 5km from Panama. The array of tropical plants in the collection here was just incredible, surrounded by a rainforest dripping with ferns, mosses, palms, and bromeliads.

The temperature was a little cooler than I am used to in Costa Rica, but the topography allows for high diversity of flora and fauna – including an estimated 2,000 species of plants, more than 400 birds and 113 mammal species. Getting there took a little longer than expected but negotiating the Cerro de la Muerte (‘Mountain of Death’) road was well worth it – not least providing the most amazing close up view of a beautiful rare Quetzal and some absolutely stunning hummingbirds.

The special visit also provided a great opportunity to find an interesting rare and endangered tree frog that only occurs in very few places – Ptychohyla legleri.

Ptychohyla legleri (c) Andrew Gray

I was lucky enough to see an adult pair, and also their tadpoles, which live in only the cleanest natural spring water. Here they stick to the rocks with their sucker-like mouthparts and never stop feeding, hungry day and night. I kind of know that feeling.. maybe I was a Leglers tree frog in another life! 🙂  One things for sure, on reflection after just returning to a snowy UK, that mid-elevation rainforest in Costa Rica really didn’t seem that cold after all..

If you go to Costa Rica I highly recommend visiting Las Cruces and the Wilson Botanical Garden, you certainly won’t be disappointed. If you are a student interested in ecology, this is the place for you. OTS offers some wonderful opportunities to study at its research stations supported by leading biologists and top zoologists.


One Response

  1. 😁

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