Daily Blog Entry 7:
Today was a wonderful day.
We woke up at around 4:40 to go on the Bird Tower hike, and at around 5:20 we started our hike. The hike was pretty steep, and the trail was slippery from all the leaf litter that was wet from the night rain. Many of us fell on our butts on the way up and our way down. The view from the bird tower was spectacular because we saw the mist covering the rainforest canopy while the sun was rising.
Later while we were walking to retrieve our camera traps, I got to focus on ants and got to see a lot of them, hence the pun in the title. We saw the leaf cutter ants, soldier ant swarm, and a different ant that I did not know much about. Scott squished the ants to figure out what type of ants they were. I always see Sam squishing the ants and smelling them, so I’m glad I got to smell them today. They smelled very herbal and mint-like.
In the afternoon we went to two different ant nests. In the first ant nest, we got to see the fungal chamber of a leaf cutter ants and got to touch it. It was moist and soft. We also got to touch the queen ant and it was about 4 cm big. I let it crawl on my hand and I couldn’t believe it. It was way bigger than I could have ever imagined, and I was very shocked.
Then we went to the second ant’s next where a couple of us started digging and we found the dump chamber. Scott said digging these chambers are not that common, so I was very excited. The consistency of the fungus was different- it was dryer and more brittle to the touch.
We finally got to see our camera trap photos and I cannot believe what we saw. We all lost our minds. WE SAW A PUMA AND A FEW JAGUARS!!!! I know my taxonomic group is ants but man… after seeing the jaguar, we all just screamed with excitement because we couldn’t believe how lucky we were. We also saw a lot of collared peccaries, a rice rat (peck em’ owls), a coatimundi, an armadillo, a tapir, a few curassows, and a coral snake. Our photos were incredible, and it went beyond my wildest imaginations. We also saw a few photos of Adrienne being goofy, which made all of us miss her even more. We miss you Adrienne and we all hope you are feeling well!
Scott just caught a leaf cutter ant male, and it was so long. The ant was probably about 4 cm long, and its abdomen was incredibly thin and long. Since Scott was holding it by its wing, the ant kept curling its abdomen back and forth- it was pretty wild. Since it was out flying, it was on its mating flight, so it’ll probably die today. RIP unexpectedly large male leaf cutter ant.