I finally made it to bird-watching today! I saw two scarlet macaws perching on a high tree branch. At 8AM, we went out to the rainforest to collect our urine tubes. Upon analysis of these urine tubes back in the lab, we found ants, beetles, crickets, flies, and arachnids!
After lunch, we headed to the Las Cuevas Cave, which is about a 5 minute walk from the station. The entrance of the cave was massive- we looked down from a Mayan built platform and there was a 50 foot drop to the bottom. This cave had 9 chambers, each assembled by the Maya for ritualistic purposes. Due to archaeological excavation, we were only able to see the entrance of the cave and the first chamber.
The first chamber of the cave was dark, chilly, and mystical- a perfect place to present on amphibian and reptile taxon groups! Afterwards, Damien presented on tropical diseases back at the station. Then, we headed out on a 45 minute hike to the Bird Tower, an observation deck 300 feet in the air that oversees all of the Chiquibul Rainforest. The view was breathtaking. Everywhere I looked there were mountains, rolling hills, and deep rock crevasses. The research station was also visible from the Bird Tower- it was a small speck of clearing and really put our isolation to the rest of the world in perspective. Turiez topped everything off with an amazing presentation on her defaunation research in Gabon and the Amazon.
Bottom half of the Bird Tower
On the way back to the station was the self-proclaimed night hike. I saw a wolf spider (Hogna spp.), a tailless whip scorpion (Paraphyrnus raptator), and 2 Florida bark scorpions (Centruoides gracilis)! The wolf spider was motionless on a leaf while both the tailless whip scorpion and 2 Florida bark scorpions were found after Scott chipped some bark away from a dead tree.
Tailless whip scorpion
Florida Bark Scorpion
All in all, today felt very productive and I’m glad we had the chance to see all of these sights because tomorrow is our last full day at Las Cuevas :(.