Iconic Reflections Costa Rica's frogs leap to the forefront of my 2016 expedition

This year's photo tour to Costa Rica in conjunction with Worldesigns, LLC was a frog fiesta! Normally visitors to Costa Rica search in vain for the elusive Costa Rican icon, the Red-Eyed Green Tree Frog. The casual traveler encounters them at a reptile house, known as a 'serpentarium' or, occasionally, a Ranarium. Rana, being the Spanish word for frog. The frog is normally nocturnal, limited to certain habitats and its visibility is highly-dependent upon the recent rainfall.

There were so many frogs, each photographer separated from the group to photograph their own!

3 nights into the 15 day tour, we found ourselves on a guided night hike with one of my favorite and most productive Costa Rican guides. The rain, which had fallen for several consecutive days continued. I lead our small army of head lamp-bearing, plastic-bag covered photographers along the trail to a small pond. I had relatively little hope for a great frog experience with the weather thwarting us and a many-year history of scant frog sightings dogging our steps. Boy, was I wrong! Within 10 minutes of arriving at the pond, several frogs had been sighted. There were even enough for each photographer to separate from the group and photograph their own frog! Taking turns holding umbrellas the group became quite successful at photographing the Red-eyed Green Tree Frog in the dark jungle night.

A few of us returned a second night to see if the frogs were still hanging around. The rain had stopped and our ponchos and baggies were no longer needed. The frogs were still there! It was a much more comfortable shoot the second night and we got some great images. I've included these in the short glide-show that follows.

A small guy in the pond

Shiny leaves are frog mirrors

Nicely posing

I love these guys on stems

I don't think our tour participants realized how lucky they were. Wild Costa Rican Red-Eyed Green Tree Frogs two nights in a row is an incredible find. I feared we might have spoiled them too early on in the trip…

On to our next stop: Yes, frogs are there too!

Our next destination would have been my top pick for seeing any special rain forest frogs. I'd been there many times before and had literally to watch not step on the many frogs. These frogs were different than the rain-soaked frogs of the night. Rain wasn't key for these frogs - neither was darkness. They were a group that preferred sunshine more open plantings. The next destination featured the famous poison dart frogs…

Blue-Jeans Poison Dart Frog

Poison Dart Frogs, of which Costa Rica has three varieties, are daytime frogs. They like the sunlight and, in general, the dryer weather. They are a much easier quarry for the casual photographer than are the more elusive tree frogs. At our next destination, you can find the Blue Jeans Poison Dart Frog as well as the Black and Green Poison Dart Frog. Rumor has it they also have the two-striped Yellow Striped Dart Frog but I have never seen one-yet.

The Black and Green is a fairly large frog (though not as large as the Red-Eyed Tree Frog) while the Blue Jeans Frog is very small (about the size of my thumbnail). Both were present in good numbers once you knew the locations they frequent and the times of day where they were most prevalent. In addition, the Blue Jeans Poison Dart frog has a distinctive call which allows you to zero in on its location by sound. I've included some of my favorite photos of our daylight frog hunting for these two amazing species.

In mid-croak

Tiny Juvenile

Typical Habitat Shot

Adult Black and Green

Next Stop: More Frogs!

Down the road an hour or two we stumbled into even more frogs. This time we were in a more garden environment. That meant we could add to our species count and work with frog experts on getting good photographs. The environment, while beautiful, was even more challenging. No flash photography was allowed with the animals and the light in their protected area was dim - meaning photography was double difficult. Add to that the other 'tourists' eagerly vying for position and it became a challenging shoot.

We were able to photograph our three previously captured species but also added the Hourglass Frog, the Tiger Frog, the Flying Frog, the Golden Eye and a few others to our Frog List. Exact species names remain elusive. Often the guides identifying the frogs are confused, use common names and lump families of different species into a single generic name. Add to that the language translation between Spanish and English and you get the picture. The following glide-show contains some of my favorites from the next location.

Classic pose

On Heliconia

This guy would jump on you!

Hourglass - adult


Really good climber and jumper

Golden-eye on Heliconia

Barred or Tiger Tree Frog

I love being up-close

Iconic frog in iconic flower

Juvi Hourglass

Barred (Tiger) Tree Frog above and below

Into space

In Bromeliad

Walking Black and Green

Hiding in Shadows

Black and Green in Bromeliad


Ready to leap

Some cool extras we found along the way…
Red-eyed Green Tree Frog Eggs
A Costa Rican River Frog from one of our night hunts
Perhaps my favorite pose…

All in all it was a frog-filled photo tour. After photographing elusive Costa Rican frogs for many years, I found that this trip produced my best and favorite images. In addition to a robust species count, I found the posing much more varied and the interactions much more satisfying. My confidence level for these unique subjects has grown and I find them filling my mind with future possibilities on my next photographic expedition.

What lies beneath
Reflections rule!
Created By
Rikk Flohr

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