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Day 7: 10 Miles and Several Mammals Later…

Blog Post #7

Day 7: 10 Miles and Several Mammals Later…

Written May 22ndat 6:25 pm

This post was meant to be for yesterday (May 21st), but you are about to find out why I haven’t written it until now.

I think we were told to make a scary/confused face

We started the morning at 4:45 am. We wanted to wake up and reach the Bird Tower around early morning light, but the hike up there is extra steep. So we set our around 5:15 am and headed to the trails. Probably one of the steepest (and slipperiest) hikes I’ve ever been on.  I had hoped to see some amphibians since it had rained last night, but unfortunately, none were out. The rest of the day wasn’t successful either, so today’s blog post will just report on my general day.

But the view from the top was gorgeous–the pictures below don’t do it justice. We also climbed into two chambers of a cave along the way 🙂

Then we came back down for breakfast, then went on a 5 mile hike to collect our camera traps. We didn’t view the photos right away because we wanted to wait for nightfall to get the best contrast with the screen.

So in the afternoon, we went to excavate some leaf cutter ant nests (Scott’s favorite) and brought along a few of our new Southern Miss. friends. First, we excavated a one year old nest after much digging on Scott’s and Zach’s (Southern Miss student) behalf. They had a small fungi garden, and we were able to find the queen! (See pic below) She lives for 25 years and all her babies only live for about one, so think of all the millions of eggs she lays in her life (after just one mating flight with stored sperm nonetheless!)

Claire needs to become a hand model 🙂

Then we went to a 15-20 year old nest slightly off trail in the woods. Scott started digging and we all took turns trying to shovel, but the ants just couldn’t seemed bothered. Turns out, we had dug up a dead fungi garden chamber and dumping ground. It was super weird; this was only the second time that Scott dug that up in his entire 17 years of ant experience!

That night, we checked out our camera traps. It was so AMAZING. On the first card that we looked at, there was a tapir taken one night and a jaguar the next night as the immediate next picture!! The shouts and hollers were amazing. Unfortunately, I don’t have access to those pictures right now, otherwise I would include them. For the rest of the pictures, we snapped a coatimundi, a 9-banded armadillo, 2 puma, several peccaries, male curassow, female curassow, and a coral snake. Apparently, this was the best luck in all of TFBs history.

We went to bed pretty late for a 4 am wake up call to leave Las Cuevas… Stay tuned!

Day 3: Surrounded by Green

Blog Post #3

Day 3: Surrounded by Green

Written on May 17that 9:31 pm


DISCLAIMER: Las Cuevas was supposed to have internet—right now, it isn’t working. All LCRS posts from the rainforest will be posted after the fact!

On our first full day at LCRS, we started our first project! We were given a method (camera trapping) and were tasked with creating a question, testable hypothesis, and a full methodology. After much discussion, tweaking, and organizing, we decided to ask about human impact on mammal traffic. We measured this by setting camera traps in pairs—one on the trail facing the trail, the other off trail facing away from the trail. We hope to catch some great cat (like jaguar) shots!

With all the details figured out, we left for to set up the first three pairs. We went from the station, down Monkey Tail Trail, and turned onto Saffron Trail. This broad daylight hiking was different than yesterday—the sun rays glowed through the trees lighting up the forest canopy with all shades of green. Most notable canopy spotting today was a large termite nest in the Y of some branches; it had to be at least 5 ft in diameter!

I sadly did not spot any amphibians today—I think this is because it is the end of the dry season, and not that many rains have come yet. Also, most of the Belizean frogs are nocturnal and we’ve just been hiking in daylight or dusk thus far. The tree frog from yesterday was really a treat!

Somewhat related to amphibians are boa constrictors! We actually had the incredible opportunity to spot one in the wild while hiking off trail to set the camera trap. The boa was directly in front of a 30 ft wide leaf cutter ant pile, so we were all having a field day with this nature sightings. The snake, on the other hand, was very nervous but never lunged—it just followed any moving person with its eyes.

When we returned from our hike, we had a chance to shower then hear from the Director of Friends of Conservation and Development Raphael. He explained to us that (in a nutshell) his NGO is responsible for patrolling the border with Guatemala and other high-risk areas to protect the wildlife. All in all, today I learned to appreciate the rainforest, and even more, the colors and battles of the rainforest of today really made me appreciate being in the rainforest.