Will we spot the infamous Red-Eyed Tree Frog?
As I climbed out of the minivan at Arenal Oasis, ready to embark upon our “Frog Watching Night Tour,” two things occurred to me. Firstly, it was dark, very dark. Secondly, we were not alone.! A symphony of insects played their hearts out, all demanding my attention and to be honest, it completely stressed me out! Would it be worthwhile to see the red-eyed tree frog?
Baton down the hatches!
As we walked out into the rainforest, with Kevin, our guide I decided first things first, best to baton down the hatches. I pulled up my socks, buttoned my shirt up to my neck then tucked it firmly into my trousers. My bra can easily conceal an iPhone, 2 credit cards and a room key, so I was in no doubt a couple of frogs could easily take up residence without me noticing!
Kerry on the other hand, apparently unperturbed by the darkness, cacophony of insect chatter or the possibility of being eaten alive or bitten to death. She was frantically, but happily, waving her torch about. I knew how much she wanted to see the famous frog, so thought I better muster up some enthusiasm. Now it had become clear one wasn’t going materialise without some effort, I tried to overcome the darkness and noise and get spotting.
Praise the Lord for rain!
Suddenly, a miracle occurred! It started to rain, well rain would be an understatement… it absolutely poured down! In the UK, torrential rain would mean “game over,” a probable return to base and a cup of tea. But not in Costa Rica, so out came my raincoat. This humble raincoat changed my experience completely! It became my armour, I was zipped up and velcroed in. With my tight elasticated cuffs and a well-drawn in hood, I started to enjoy rather than endure this unique experience.
Kevin, our guide was beyond passionate about all things amphibian, insect and reptile. His childlike enthusiasm was infectious and I really started to “look” at rather than just “see” an amazing wealth of wildlife. I would consider myself a nature lover, but I hadn’t realised that nocturnal night spotting could be so fascinating. With Kevin’s expert knowledge and keenness to teach, I delighted in the fact that I started to be able to differentiate between the “sounds” of the rainforest. Like an orchestra, all had their part to play, it became less of a discordant racket and more of a harmonious performance.
Spotting a “Glass frog”
One of the many highlights of the tour was seeing a “glass frog.” A beyond tiny delight well camouflaged on its leaf. As Kevin shone a torch under its body, it became apparent that this little “guy” was transparent. Perfectly formed, minding his business and not at all bothered by his captive audience.
The main event…
So, I’m sure you are wondering, did we get to see the much coveted red-eyed tree frog? In a word “YES!” It was about halfway through the tour and I was beginning to think this famous frog was becoming as elusive as a sloth… Also, it was starting to feel reminiscent of other “no show” experiences. Once we spent 12 hours in a jeep, whilst on Safari in India and didn’t see a tiger. Another time we hurtled about in Reykjavik, Iceland in a 4×4 for 3 consecutive nights. Did the Northern Lights twinkle? No, not even a glimmer…So Kerry and I are no strangers to the unpredictability and exasperating fact that nature refuses to comply to our demands!
Our first “pair” of red-eyed tree frogs could not have been in a better, more prominent position. Conveniently in a state of “amplexus.” A new word and concept to me – meaning not having intercourse, because that’s not what frogs do, but the male fertilising the female’s eggs. So, there they were on a huge leaf hanging chest height and on our trail! To see these stunning creatures, bright, verdant and very much “alive” was a real treat. We were completely enchanted, Kerry was ecstatic and managed to get some brilliant photos which captured the moment perfectly.
On a role!
After our first pair, we were on a role and got to see 5 more! At one point Kevin managed to carefully scoop one up so we could really admire this resplendent creature. Looking at how its tiny orange feet gripped on to his thumb, perfectly calm and laid back was a wonderful experience. It felt almost dreamlike, dancing about in lashings of rain in a magical, mystical world. Being surrounded by lush tropical trees and a phenomenal plethora of wildlife, illuminated only by torchlight…
Acknowledging the “small stuff” and really “seeing”
Participating in the frog spotting tour has really opened my eyes as to how much I don’t often really take the time to “look.” Of course, most of us are fortunate enough to “see” but I think experiencing life in the dark, when your senses are on high alert, armed with a torch puts things into perspective. This idea was further enhanced by the fact the creatures we were in search of are so small. I began to consider how often we see the bigger picture but don’t always take the time to pay attention to the smaller details. This also could translate into rejoicing in the big “wow” moments but not taking the time to appreciate and acknowledge those “small” moments of contentment…
I hope you enjoyed reading our travel tale about frog spotting in Arenal Oasis. I can’t say that I have been converted into a lover of all things frog, but whilst in Costa Rica, you’ve got to see at least one red-eyed tree frog!