May 17, 2019
Per usual, my day started at 5:00 am bird watching. It was a clear morning and the birds we saw were absolutely spectacular. The forest came to life as the Plumbious Kite took its regular perch and parrots flew overhead, two even landed in a tree right in front of us. The Melodious Blackbirds hopped onto the ground and the Social Flycatchers were chirping away. The highlight of morning was the sighting of two toucans. Their bright colors were absolutely stunning, with red and white tail feathers and a green eye ring. Another exciting event was the Plumbious Kite soaring down and catching an unfortunate moth.
After breakfast we devised an experiment utilizing pitfall traps, traps that an arthropod can fall into but not get out of. We’re comparing the nitrogen limitation, limitation of an environment to provide useable nitrogen to its organism, of the forest floor and the canopy as well as the arthropod species abundance and diversity. At each site we placed four vials, which were vials containing nitrogenous liquid in a tree and the floor and vials with just water in them. On the way we came across a shaft that led into a cave system right in the middle of the path! Looking down and imitating bat calls (kiss the top of your hand to create a high-pitched nose) we saw bats fly up almost out of the shaft. Since I’m the mammal taxon specialist, I tried to identify but to no avail. I couldn’t get a good picture and they wouldn’t let us me them long enough to identify them. They had light brown bodies and large dark brown wings and seeing them was absolutely amazing.
We returned to the station for lunch and then went to explore Las Cuevas Cave. The cave has a large entrance and is covered in bat guano. The ground is littered with Mayan Pottery, and there is a cenote (sinkhole exposing ground water). There, we had three presentation. The first was on Butterflies and Moths, the next was about Crickets, Katydids, and Grasshoppers, and lastly I gave my lecture on Cave Life. It was a very cool experience, especially to see a few things (like stalactites forming) that I had researched in real life.
After exploring the Mayan ruins above the cave and dinner, we ended the day with a night hike. We saw so many spiders and small critters that we hadn’t seen before and it was very eerie to hear all of the noises in the darkness.