Skip to content

Seasonal changes

July 13, 2014

The forest canopy over the reserve provides requirements for niches of numerous plant and animal species. We’re frequently straining to spot a small bird calling high in the foliage or admiring a tree festooned in a hanging garden of epiphytes. Walking along the trails, particularly in previously disturbed forest, we are sometimes stopped suddenly as something big crashes through the leaves overhead – a monkey, a guan? Falling down through the layers of forest it is a cecropia leaf 60cm across, palmate like a hand, with a long heavy stem that makes the leaf plummet like a stick. The plants and animals become familiar to us.

Cecropia tree

Cecropia tree

Looking up

Looking up

Heliconia leaves

Heliconia leaves

Melastome

Distinctive melastome venation

Aroid or triffid?

Aroid or triffid?

Over the canopy from the entrance trail

Over the canopy from the entrance trail

In June we recorded 132 mm of rain, less than one fifth of the quantity that fell in May. As the season changes many canopy trees and vines, epiphytes, shrubs and herbs are flowering more prolifically than they did the month before. This reproductive effort is a boon to insects and birds whose niche includes collecting payments of nectar from flowers in return for pollination services. This month the hummingbirds have found more nectar all over the forest so the feeders at the front deck of the cabin are relatively less attractive to them. The regular rush of this bar’s happy hour that Jo records at the end of the each day has been quiet, a little bit lonely.

Nambillo River rapids bonier than last month

Nambillo River rapids bonier than last month

Heliconia bracts

Heliconia bracts

Rūb in flower with pollinating wasp

Rūb in flower with pollinating wasp

Delicate gesnarian flower

Delicate gesnarian flower

Evening light

Evening light

One morning Jo found clear cat prints along the beginning of the Quetzales trail. Our guest Danielle later found more of the same prints treading up and down new steps at the top of the trail in the freshly disturbed soil. After some research they concluded that the prints belonged to either an ocelot or a jaguarondi – quite big cats! Exciting. On our next visit to town we bought a chicken leg for bait and a stack of D-sized batteries to power up the reserve’s boxy camera trap with its bright flash and motion sensor. Every evening for about two weeks I put out the camera and the increasingly foul-smelling chicken leg. The results: no cat. Only gangs of tank-like scarab beetles chomped great holes in the chicken leg and they were joined at the feast by primitive carrion beetles, large butterflies and of course, flies. Scarabs have become favourites among the insects at the reserve with their animated antennae, shiny VW exteriors, trundling progress when walking and surprising flight. Amongst the most entertaining characters were a tiny dung beetle in metallic-green rolling a ball of precious poo along a trough of corrugated iron and a massive 41 mm beetle who had hidden on the forest floor. As for the cat, it wasn’t so surprising that it didn’t show for the photo shoot given that they range over a large territory. Jo found more of the same prints several weeks later on the other side of the reserve.

Cat print

Cat print

Scarabs on drumstick

Scarabs on drumstick

Giant scarab beetle

Giant scarab beetle

July is holiday season both in Ecuador and in the USA, so Mindo and Reserva Las Tangaras will become busier with keen bird watchers. Dr Dusti Becker will bring a team of birding volunteers for two weeks from the middle of the month. We’re looking forward to learning masses of ornithological facts and bird-researching skills from these avian enthusiasts as well as chatting about their experiences of home and travel. It promises to be a great month at Las Tangaras.

Advertisements
2 Comments leave one →
  1. Tom Lord permalink
    July 13, 2014 3:05 pm

    Hi guys, great blog! Always great to hear updates from Las Tangaras.

    Those pug marks are really interesting. I wouldn’t say ocelot though! The orientation of the pads, being grouped together and quite far forward suggests a pesky hound to me! I think I can see claw marks on the right and left pad too? Generally cats would have claws retracted when on the ground. I seem to remember the pug marks being ‘cuter’ on the ground too, although we were probably looking at a smaller cat species when we were there.

    Hold on to your hats for the bird ringing group! It’ll be a whirlwind, hard work, but you’ll have a great time. It was a real highlight for us sharing the place with so many enthusiastic guests.

    Keep the blogs coming!

    Tom (March to August 2013)

    • August 18, 2014 12:38 pm

      Hi Tom!

      Good to hear from you. We’ve had a look through the mammal guides at the reserve and compared what we saw to Efren’s dog’s prints so we stand by our guess though we’re not experts! The prints didn’t have separate claw marks, just the point on the end of the pad.

      Bird banding was great – it was really helpful to read about your experiences in the diary to prepare us for what was ahead so thanks for that!

      All the best,

      Hamish + Jo.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: