For the past few months, Nicola Roncen visited Costa Rica from Italy. He is a researcher of the World Biodiversity Association (WBAonlus) a non-profit organization for the investigation and preservation of biodiversity around the globe. Nicola’s objective is to produce the photographs that will be used on the first butterflies of the Osa Peninsula handbook, a collaboration between The Insectopia Insect Museum of Costa Rica and the WBAonlus.
I have guided Nicola a few times during his stay. Taking him to see the wonders of Corcovado National Park and most recently the Playa Nicuesa Rainforest Lodge trails.
Nicuesa’s rainforest is surrounded by the Piedras Blancas National Park inland and right out front by the waters of the gulf. I was already excited after scheduling our monthly visit with their awesome Sustainability Manager, Yajaira Concepción (everyone at Nicuesa is amazing).
A few days prior to our monthly field trip to Nicuesa, Nicola and I were chitchatting when I mentioned how excited I was to be headed back to Nicuesa and being able to walk their trails at night. To my surprise, Nicola hadn’t been on a night walk in Costa Rica yet, and with his trip almost ending, I said he had to come with me.
The day came, and early in the morning Jim, Nicola and I went to the port and waited for one of Nicuesa’s captains to come to pick us up, which is the only way to get to this amazing lodge. After a boat ride crossing the gulf, we were in paradise and continued the morning by re-exploring the trails with the team. Everything changes, there were so many fallen trees after the heavy rains and strong winds.
That night we presented Insectopia’s project to Nicuesa’s guests and showed them some of the pictures that Nicola had taken during his time here. We also shared a delicious dinner with all the guests and sang happy birthday to one of them, Luis. We took a little rest after dinner while we waited for the rain to stop and off we went.
My favorite has always been night walks, the scenery is the same but different performers come into action when the lights go off. We enjoyed the sightings of some insects, a couple of cat-eyed snakes and a few tree frogs. As we headed back to the lodge, I was looking at ground level hoping to find a “fer-de-lance”.
I started to slow down and then Nicola passed me a bit for a couple of meters to look ahead. Right then between a tree and some branches, I saw the hind leg of an animal passing by, pretty much right next to me but only separated by a layer of trees. I thought for a moment that it was something smaller, but then I saw the tail. I whispered “Nicola, puma… puma” while looking around to check if it was alone, which it was. As Nicola came back, the cat turned a bit away but still, just a few meters from us continued to sit and stare at us for a while. Nicola described the moment as “so intense that they won’t even let you think about what you’re doing and how to set correctly your camera to take better pictures”.
Still, Nicola took such amazing pictures and let me share it with all of you. The moment was perfect, Nicola and I almost laid down on the ground to appreciate it better. Eventually, the cougar walked a bit more and stared at us again before disappearing into the night.
I am still hyped that I got to share a wild cat with a nature lover and researcher from a biodiversity preservation institution. Eventually, I will be sharing more of Nicola’s pictures of the wildlife he got to photograph while hanging out with me.
See you in the next update!