Tag Archives: ocelot

Day 14: Spotlight (5/29/2017)

Three days after setting them up, it was time to retrieve our camera traps. Our morning hike was significantly shorter than Friday’s corresponding hike, taking half as long. A combination of a faster walking pace, increased endurance, and fewer stops to study wildlife accounted for this.

Our afternoon hike was not as seamless, as it took approximately the same amount of time as its earlier counterpart. GPS in hand, I was responsible for leading my class to retrieve one of our camera traps. I faced extreme difficulty in leading, spiraling around the site of the trap, unable to pinpoint its location on the device. My frustration was escalated with the knowledge that twelve other people were watching me and following me through the lignified labyrinth.

After dinner, my class and I analyzed the images from the camera traps. Sometimes our subjects, like the ocelots and the great curassow, bolted from the flash of the camera. Other times, our subjects, like the pacas and peccaries, lingered, unfazed by the flash.

Being the subject of viewership can emote a spectrum of feelings and behaviors. It can drive one to linger to flee or to the edge of insanity.

One set of organisms uninhibited by the spotlight is the scarlet macaws. The macaws made regular appearances around the research site. Today, three of them perched on a Spanish cedar (Cedrela odorata) directly in my class’ line of vision and later moved to a nearby avocado tree (Persea americana). Both of these trees were in an open clearing. The Spanish cedar was large with a pale gray trunk and was primarily leafless. Very little animal activity occurred on this tree, apart from the macaws’ brief visit. The avocado tree had branches that extended laterally and were dense with medium-sized broad leaves.

Deeply saturated with vibrant red, yellow, and blue, the macaws hardly camouflaged with their surroundings. They also call out in cacophonous caws, attracting attention to themselves. These characteristics render scarlet macaws as easy targets of poachers, who sell these majestic creatures into the pet trade.

Two scarlet macaws socializing

It’s heartbreaking that not only the scarlet macaws but also the ocelots, pacas, and many other animals are subject to poaching – One animal, man, exploiting the beauty or resources of other animals for economic gain. No matter how advanced society becomes, avarice triumphs, for both local poachers and wealthy foreign collectors.

In an undisturbed ecosystem, there is balance. There is predation, parasitism, and competition, but there is balance.

Despite how advanced humans are, there is something we could learn from nature.

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!

(Nakian) May 23: Tapir x Ocelot x Bye LCRS

Today is the last activity day at Las Cuevas Research Station. We finally retrieved the camera traps we set on the first day. I was not expecting much because I have heard how cautious wildlife are especially near human presence. But what are the odds, the cameras caught a curassow, a tapir, an ocelot, and a weasel looking animal that was hard to identify. The last camera trap was a blast with a big cat species we all hoped to see. The ocelot’s beautiful pattern was indeed mesmerizing.
The past several days at the LCRS I must say was extraordinary. The morning choir of the distant and closely birds, nocturne of the night insects, occasional cries of the howler monkeys, bustling processions of Leaf-cutter and army ants’ parade, and shimmer of the neighboring planet beside the tropical moon. Having the first-hand experience of the field biology on the crisp bed of fallen tree litters, rejoicing with the unexpected encounter with amazing species, I have never been so one with the nature before.
I still am not sure what my passion in the ecological field will be in detail. But I learned in LCRS that studying to approach ecological conservation of this biodiversity haven in the light of social, political, cultural, and economic perspective that I aspire to take could be a valid path, even one that could be healthy for me. I do not regret my decision to spend my time here.

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Day 7: Oh my gosh a cat

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The people from the other school caught two birds in the morning. One was a Slaty Antwren and the other was possibly a Red Throated Ant-Tanager. Both were very pretty birds.

After breakfast we went out and collected our camera traps. We did the whole 13 mile hike again, and like Scott and Adrienne promised, the second time around was much easier. After lectures, we opened up our camera traps and looked at the images they captured. In the beginning, everyone was super hopeful. There was a small bird that appeared on two close locations. And a Great Curassow on another. Other than that we just caught a lot of pictures of the other group that is here. People. Some more people. We were becoming less and less optimistic. But alas, on one of the last few traps we managed to get a picture of Tapir, which is extremely rare and endangered. Scott seemed really happy. On the last trap, which was mine, there were pictures of an Agouti and an Ocelot. That was really awesome. Scott confessed that he didn’t think the spot I picked was going to yield any good pictures. So i was pretty happy to prove him wrong.

Almost forgot. On the way to collect the traps we actually caught a glimpse of a Great Curassow on the Monkey Tail Trail. it was a lot bigger than I was expecting. All in all, pretty awesome day. Saw some cool birds, got an elusive cat picture. And of course, we got a picture of an endangered animal. How great is that?!


Last day in the Chiquibul

We finished out the last day with another 13 mile hike to pick up all our camera traps. It took us about half the time it did on Thursday and I wasn’t nearly as tired. It’s amazing what your body can adjust to after just a few days. Even though I’m running on less sleep I feel great because of all the exercise and activity.

Checking the photos from camera traps was more exciting than you could possibly imagine. Most of it was nothing but when something popped up on screen we were elated. One of our cameras got a picture of a Tapir (!!!!) and another of an Ocelot (!!!!). Even though we only had a little taste of it I think I am starting to understand how difficult field work can be, but also how rewarding. I will miss the rainforest and all of its colors and scents and noises.

Even though we didn’t see many amphibians out here I didn’t feel too disappointed or bored because it meant I got to bounce around and look at everyone else’s taxonomic groups. The end of the dry season can be tough for herpetology but getting to watch birds, ants, mammals (I saw an agouti this morning), reptiles, and insects made up for it. Not to mention the plants! The diversity was incredible and I saw many more organisms than I was expecting.

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Sophia Streeter


Happy birthday Mom! You too Elena, sorry I missed them.

In Which We Go Back in Time

Today we collected our camera traps, which gave us a chance to do the hike from the first day all over again. 13 miles is still a long way to hike in rainboots, long pants, and long sleeve shirts while the sun is hot and the air is muggy as heck. It was definitely easier than the first day though.

On the hike I learned some important things, like the power of duct tape and the necessity of tiny electrolyte packets you can put in your water. My feet are definitely hot and swollen today, but my blisters are not nearly as bad thanks to duct tape.

I saw one cool spider on the hike as well as a bunch of others scurrying underfoot. The cool spider I saw was sitting with its two back legs splayed and its front legs held together so they looked like one. It was sitting on the underside of a leaf with its red body and black and white legs standing out against the green background.

We analyzed the camera traps at night and saw a tapir in a mud wallow, a great currasow on a road, and an ocelot and an agouti in a leaf cutter ant nest clearing off the trail. Younger Clare would have flipped at seeing a camera trap she helped set up capture an ocelot. Honestly though, present-day Clare probably flipped more. I jumped up and down and squeaked for the tapir and the ocelot.

Adios, Las Cuevas

TFBs on the Monkey Tail Trail of the Chiquibul Forest.

Our final day at Las Cuevas began bright and early as always; we were out the door for our morning hike by 8am. We retraced our steps over 13 miles to collect our camera traps in record time, much more mentally prepared for the trail this time around. Though our picture count was low, we remained optimistic that our cameras had caught some animals (besides us). We also managed to spot what was most likely a Middle American ameiva (Ameiva festiva). I had never come across this lizard species before but was able to identify it using a field guide by its coloration. The lizard was about 12 cm long (which made it too long for an anole) and was a dark brown with white lines on its side broken into spots.

We had to wait until nightfall for the day’s real excitement: our camera trap analysis. The prospects seemed poor as we sifted through endless photos of ourselves or even of leaves flapping in the wind. But our first big find was a giant curassow, casually strolling past our camera in the middle of the road. Soon after, we discovered a picture of a Baird’s tapir, and the group cheered ecstatically at our first mammal sighting. Suspense rose as we tested the final camera; our expectations were low since it was placed in the center of a giant leaf-cutter ant nest. But to our surprise, the very last camera first held a photo of an indistinct rodent, which we guessed was an agouti. As we flipped through the final photos, the characteristic markings of a jungle cat suddenly appeared on the screen. Our final sighting was of an ocelot, one of the elusive large cat species of the Chiquibul.

Though our findings may have been few and far between, just the fact that we were able to capture such diverse species in four short days is incredible. And with that, a week in the Belizean rainforest is already done. Next stop: Glover’s Reef.

Ocelots, Orchid bees, Curassows, oh my! Day 7

Finally I saw a green orchid bee today while we were out collecting all twelve of our traps. We decided to hike the route backwards today, climbing the hardest hills first, which I found was significantly easier today. We also had an early start and it was cool in the morning, so I didn’t think hiking the same 13 miles was as bad as the first time. As we were retrieving our first camera trap, Sam pointed out this beautiful iridescent green bee to me. It was definitely an orchid bee and I can tell you, they are as beautiful as the photos they appear in.

After we collected all the traps, we headed to the classroom after dinner to search through all the photos. Most of the photos were of us and the other group staying at Las Cuevas. We felt pretty sad, until we saw a tapir in one of our photos! We screamed with excitement, and then discovered that we also had a photo of an agouti, curassow, and an ocelot. I had originally just wanted to capture a cat, and so I am happy with the result of our 26 mile hike.

View from the Bird Tower