Tag Archives: Anna

I’m Not Going To Make a Belize/Believe Pun

Going to miss this class and these people!

Wow! This was an amazing experience! I am so grateful I was fortunate enough to take this class and am so happy I chose to! To anyone considering taking it, do it! I learned more in this class than in a semester-long one because this is experiential learning, which at least for me, helps me learn and enjoy it so much more.

I learned a lot about rainforest and coral reef ecosystems.  They are both so diverse and can host such a large range of creatures.  Before, I may have only thought about rainforests as trees or coral reefs as hard corals.  Now, I think of them as the entire flora and fauna body that thrives from its structures.  A lot of their similarities in hosting many trophic webs stems from the fact that they are so diverse.  I think it was easier to notice how diverse the coral reefs were because you could see better all the different creatures.  The rainforest is more dense and larger animals can hide easier, so it was harder to notice this.  Also, both ecosystems are threatened by global warming, pollution, human interactions, or other interferences.  This was more noticeable in the coral reefs as well because you could see all the dead corals and compare to the non-protected site, while you could not see that as easily in the rainforest.

This course was so much better than my expectation.  I was nervous that I may not fully understand everything since I have not taken any other EBIO courses, but it easily laid out how to conduct field research and taught me so much about the ecosystems in play. My favorite part of the course was the comparison of the marine protected area site and the not marine protected area site because it was interesting to see the differences.  I also loved looking for crustaceans and identifying them because they are easier to see up close than birds. OH AND SHARKS. My least favorite part was just how exhausted I was at the end of the day and probably all the bugs, but that is to be expected and is outweighed by all the positives.

The three most important things I learned in this course are how to design my own question and analyze my data, different methods of research (quadrant/transact, camera traps, pitfall traps), and how to make meaningful observations.  I’ve taken labs before (biochemistry labs) but this class really helped me design a significant question and learn how to follow through on it all the way to a poster.  I also had no idea how to do any EBIO methods until this class and it was an interesting contrast to all my normal lab work.  Finally, using my field notebook and taxon cards helped me learn to keep my eyes open and observe what is around me because even small details matter.

The most surprising part of this class for me was how close I became with everyone else on the trip and how much fun we could all have while still learning! TAKE THIS CLASS!!!!

Acknowledgments: Dory, SFS, Turez

 

Day 15- Bye-lize

Bye Belize, bye cold showers, bye scarlet macaws, bye ticks, bye sand flies, bye erratic fear of bot flies, bye random sing along sessions, bye 10 mile hikes, bye rice and beans, bye Turez, bye SFS, bye Dory (again), bye beautiful ocean, bye pseudodiploria, bye ants, bye Apache, bye field notebooks, bye lectures, bye crabs, bye birds, bye trash crab, bye squishy, bye malfunctioning cameras, bye bug bite scars, bye stinky smell, bye unwashed clothes, bye Clivus, bye no internet, bye sharks, and bye EBIO 319.

Well, I am leaving Belize currently, on the plane right now, and that has not hit me yet.  We started traveling from Las Cuevas to the airport early and made a pit stop for a gift shop.  I don’t think any item can describe how I feel for this class.  It has been great, but I guess I’ll reflect on that in my post class blog (coming soon).

This morning I finally woke up again for birding and I saw a scarlet macaw and some plumbeous kites.  However, I was not super focused on the birding.  I just sipped my coffee and talked to everyone because I won’t be waking up with all these people tomorrow.  That’s super weird. I don’t like that.

Leaving Las Cuevas and these people 🙁

Well, I guess I have to come back to normal life at some point :/

On a happier note, still no ticks or chiggers!!!!!! I will have to thoroughly check when I get home, but I think I escaped it.  To future TFBs, IT IS POSSIBLE!

Day 14- Camera Traps Make For Animal Mug Shots

It’s our last day in Belize 🙁 so today we went and picked up our camera traps we set three days ago.  The hike really was not that bad this time and the suspense of discovering what we had on our traps was building.

Sacrificing Scott to the Mayans so we could get a cat on our traps!

We viewed all 14 this evening and while most had nothing, we got a lot of cool species.  Some highlights were 2 ocelots (one of which had a great photo), several pacas, a group of peccaries, a crochet deer, and a great currissow.  The great currisow is this large funny looking bird with a black full plumage on its crest.  Our most annoying camera to place did not get any photos, but overall I am pleased with the results.

On a bird note, I saw several Scarlet Macaws again today, but it’s funny how normalized this occurrence can become. That will be weird not hearing every day now.

AND THE BEST NEWS OF ALLL: ANNA 5- TICKS 0 !!! I also managed to escape the chiggers and I am very proud.  Team parasite free!

Day 13- Pauraque Can Dance

I saw a Pauraque today and they are the coolest birds.  They are most active at night, but we saw them during the day which was cool.  When spotted they will try to distract you from their young by flopping up and down, acting as if it is injured.  We saw it and went over and found two pauraque chicks and they were adorable.  They were fluffy an looked maybe 1-2 days old.  I want to take one home.

Two Pauraque Chicks

We also went into the Las Cuevas cave and it was so much larger than expected.  We weren’t able to go as far in as usual because archeologists are using the site, which was disappointing, but just going into the first two chambers were so cool.  We saw were our water has been coming from, the water at the bottom.

Inside the Las Cuevas Cave

From the cave, we climbed high up to the birding tower.  It had the most amazing view! It would have been better in a post card that I did not have to climb up to, I don’t like heights, but it was cool once I got up there.

View from the birding tower. This picture does not do it justice, it was amazing.

One more real day 🙁

Anna 4- Ticks 0

Day 12- I Spy a Macaw!

I saw a Scarlet Macaw today!!! Actually, I saw seven! At first, I just heard their call which sounds like a distinctive Cawing noise and then I saw a silhouette with a long tail perched.  It was in that moment I realized it was a macaw. This happened twice: the first was just two birds and the second time was five birds!  They were so pretty and colorful and I wanted to freak out, but we aren’t supposed to acknowledge them because it is dangerous for the macaws to be comfortable around humans since that could lead to poaching.

Scarlet Macaws!

Today was a lot less intense than yesterday.  We set up an experiment to determine if Arthropods are more common in the canopy or ground layer and which has more nutrients.  It involved our urine which was unexpected… but it will be interesting to see the results.

We also looked at leaf cutter ant colonies and I think I will have dreams about being swarmed with ants now.  Hopefully not, but I guess I’ll see.

Well, Anna 3- Ticks 0 still! That’s my real victory.

Day 11- Never let me navigate.

So today I got the class a wee bit lost in the rainforest after setting our last camera trap off trail.  This wouldn’t have been as freaky if it wasn’t sunset already. So now GPS is my favorite thing ever.  We walked like at least 10 miles today through various elevations.  I think my feet are going to fall off. That’s okay, I could just become a fish. Team Surf.

I am exhausted and have been up since 4:30 am for birding.  That was nice because I got to see a bunch of birds with people that could help me identify them.  Some highlights: there is a plumbeous kite nest just east of Las Cuevas clearing that can almost guarantee a sighting.  There is also a social flycatcher nest in the gutter pitched on the railing of our building that I can look at.

Social Flycatcher nest on gutter

The real highlight was the keel-billed toucan that briefly ran overhead around noon when we came back from our first hike.  It was so cool to see a real toucan! Now I just have to find a scarlet macaw.

I am exhausted and my legs look like diseased at this point.  There are so many bug bites, injuries, bruises, scrapes, and bumps that I mostly cannot even explain.  I am not diseased I swear, I am just a biologist! A TFB to be exact! Well, I am going to pass out now for like as long as I can. Peace out.  Anna 2- Ticks 0 !!!

Day 10- Anna 1- Ticks 0

We finally made it to Las Cuevas! It seems like for days I have been saying that I am on my way, but now I am finally here! The road trip was pretty fun. We stopped at this waterfall site, Rio on Pools, to go swimming and it was refreshing and beautiful.

Rio on pools swimming break!
The view from Rio on Pools!

Now we are in Chiquibul and the birds are out!  I am going to start waking up at 5 AM to bird watch, so that will be tiring, but interesting to see. I have seen a few bird that I was able to identify.  I saw an oropendulla several times.  It forms these hanging nests and I saw it eat a tree fruit called horse balls.

I also heard a bird call that sounds very similar to a Scarlet Macaw, which have been known to be around Las Cuevas despite their few numbers.  I am hoping to see one while we are here!

So far I have escaped the bugs, but I might be jinxing this right now. oops…

Day 9- Caves Remind Me of Corals

Today we went to a cave called Actun Tunichil Muniknal (ATM).  It was so cool! You swam into it and then you had to climb up and over all these rocks to get to the top part where the Mayan remains were.  There were remains of old pottery and Mayan human sacrifices.  We weren’t allowed to bring cameras in so I don’t have photos, but it was so pretty and interesting inside. One of the floors of it was all ridged and it looked like a giant coral, specifically a Pseudodiploria (@Adrienne I miss Glovers).

Me in front of the coral genus Pseudodiploria, the type of coral that the cave reminded me of

I did not really see any birds today, mostly since I was in a cave where they don’t live.  I saw some chickens on the side of the road, but nothing that exotic or new.

Picture someone took of me asleep on the table at Glovers. Accurately describes how I feel now.

We are staying in an eco-lodge in San Ignacio tonight and it has bathrooms in our own room, so luxurious! We briefly stopped in town and I tried a tiny banana.  It was really good, but really that’s been it for the day. I am tired. Good night.

Day 8- I Want a Tapir

 

Looking back on donkey dung (a type of sea cucumber) and I
Looking back on all our quadrant work

Crying internally because today we left Glovers Reef.  I am going to miss snorkeling and finding random things like a donkey dung, a crustacean, or using my lovely quadrant.

We got to snorkel in mangroves on the way back to Belize City at least and even saw a seahorse and a manatee. I saw one mangrove crab today camouflaged really well, but that was the last crustacean I have seen.

When we arrived at the Tropical Education Center most people went for a hike, but I did not feel great so I slept it off and it was much needed.  When I woke up I felt somewhat better, but I got to see a few birds including a thicket tinamous pitched on a branch about the pond.  Its body shape (and the diagrammed picture of it on the observation tower) were what easily gave it away.

Tapir before we fed him

We went to the zoo at night and I saw a few birds. They were mostly owls including the spectacle and pygmy owl.  The pygmy owl was tiny and adorable and tiny.  This might have been overshadowed by my love of the tapir that we got to feed.  It is just so weird looking and interesting to watch.

I am realizing how buggy the next week is about to be and how little bug spray I have left.  Wish me luck.

Day 7- Darth Vader is a Girl

Yellow line arrow crab!

So today we went snorkeling for the whole morning and I finally saw the coolest crab that I’ve been dying to see.  I saw the yellow line arrow crab which looks like a spider with a top hat and gloves on and I love it.  He was missing a pincer and was a little feisty and resistant to being grabbed but it was still cool.

NURSE SHARK!!!!

I also saw 4 sharks!!!! I think my life has peaked… Also saw a spotted sun eel which was cool but sharks are better.

In the afternoon we dissected lionfishes that Scott and Javier caught.  I named mine Darth Vader so I wouldn’t feel about cutting it up.  Turns out Darth Vader is an infertile juvenile female, but Darth still tastes great as ceviche!

This was out last day at Middle Caye in Glovers Reef Atoll.  This was the most fun day we’ve had by far and I don’t want to leave, but I am excited for the rainforest.  I want to see some cool birds, but hopefully I can identify them… there are a whole lot of birds so we will see.