Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Out of Commission

One of the fun things about the remote cameras is how immediate they are. That is, you check the CF card and "just last week," or even a few hours ago, an animal has been recorded going about its daily, or nightly, business.

Well, I'm sorry to report that the camera I've been using is out of commission. It hadn't been functioning very well over the last couple of months -- shooting through a lot of pictures with "nothing" in them. I think I mentioned that the recent tapir series was just plain lucky -- out of 8000 "nothing" images, fortunately this magnificent animal was in a few of them.

We had some correspondence with the camera company, tried some troubleshooting, and bottom line, we have to send it back for repair. This might be a trivial task if you are based in, say, North America. Here though with the slower postal system (and not to malign anyone, it is a very reliable postal system), and the inevitable customs, duty, and importation bureaucracy, this is going to take some time.

Fortunately, the Chan Chich cameras are still operating, so we'll just concentrate on them in the meantime. And, for your viewing pleasure, above is a female ocelot from July, near Chan Chich Lodge.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Pond Visitor

Here's a surprise: a coatimundi drinking from our pond yesterday! Now understand, our house is about 400 m from the forest. In order to get here, an animal would have to traverse open pasture and roads. Not the best scenario for secretive forest animals.

But then, the coati is not especially secretive nor that dependent on high quality forest. In fact, this species does fairly well in secondary growth and disturbed areas, so perhaps our visitor wasn't all that big a surprise. Related to the raccoon, this is a White-nosed Coati (Nasua narica) also known as "pizote" or "quash."

We've let the hill we live on come back in second growth vegetation and put in a small pond for the birds. Over the years, a lot of other interesting creatures have stopped by, and the coati was somewhat unexpected. Or maybe not. Our small dog had been "telling us" for a week that some new and unusual animal was on our hill. Now I think we finally know what it is.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Tiny Toadlet

This might look like an ad for Burt's Bees, but I swear I don't work for them, I really don't. But I did use their lip balm to show scale. When Bruce saw this image, he said: "You better circle the toad because no one will be able to find it!"

Well, I didn't circle it and in the event you haven't found it -- it really blends in well with the caliche road -- the tiny toadlet is in the middle-right of the image, less than an inch below the red cap of the lip balm that I used to show scale. This is a real little fella, less than the size of a pencil eraser.

I think it is more than likely the common Gulf Coast Toad (Incilius valliceps, formerly Bufo valliceps). There were dozens of them, probably hundreds of them, newly emerged from the roadside puddles where they'd been developing tadpoles.Gulf Coast toads are common throughout Gallon Jug Estate, Central America and the southern United States.

Friday, September 17, 2010

More July Jaguars

Apparently, July 2010 was a good month for jaguar activity at Chan Chich Lodge. The above photos are of the same male first on 28 July and then on the 30th of July, photographed at the same location not far from the Lodge. Now ... the question is: is this the same male from 09 July (see 13 September post)? It could well be. Jaguars tend to stay in an area for several days to a week or so before moving on. These images depict the left profile of the jaguar allowing them to be matched to each other, while the 09 July images (previous post) depict the right profile of the jaguar.

In a perfect world, I'd have cameras on either side of the trail so the jaguar photographs both sides of itself at the same time!

Monday, September 13, 2010

We have a match!

You may think that I am reaching ... but I believe we have a database match of jaguar images! The top two black-and-white images are part of a blurry series taken near Chan Chich Lodge on 09 July 2010 just before midnight. The quality is so-so but there are some areas on the animal where the pattern is distinct. So it was without a great deal of hope that I went through the jaguar photo database comparing images to the new photos.

I was stunned to get a match with the color photo above! So how did I do it? In the far left image, the extended right rear leg matches nicely with the color photo, as does the inside left rear leg. In the top right image, both the forelegs match nicely with the forelegs in the color image. In the top images, the body pattern is quite blurred but you can still make out a general spot pattern, which to my eye, looks like a fairly good, though rough, match to the lower photo. It is the distinct leg patterns that made the match possible.

And now for the fun part ... what do we know about this jaguar? Well, it is an adult male, evident by the robust build (in the lower photo, you can just see the scrotum). The color photo was taken during my jaguar density study on 04 April 2005 at 3:49 PM. So this animal is probably more than 5 years old given that it appears to be an adult in the color photo. Even though the top half of the animal was not photographed, the photo has proven its data value since it has allowed a match. The color photo was taken about 12 km east of Chan Chich Lodge, along the southern property boundary by the lower escarpment.

The color photo was the ONLY photo I had of this individual and thanks to the recent images, it is nice to know that this male jaguar is apparently healthy and still roaming the Gallon Jug Estate.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Too many Turkeys ... and a Tapir!

It's been a bit of a rocky start getting my one and only camera back up and running near Gallon Jug. I let it go for a week and retrieved the CF card, only to find there were close to 8000 images recorded!! The first 40 or so were Ocellated Turkeys (Meleagris ocellata) promenading back and forth, then a lot, a whole lot, of blank photos.

Then I got lucky. This nice sequence of a tapir (Tapirus bairdii) appeared just a couple nights ago, about 8:30 p.m. Tapirs aren't all that common in Gallon Jug so it was a real delight to see this one. She was near Peterson Creek, east of Gallon Jug community about 10 km. Seeing this animal made going through the 8000 images all worthwhile!

Friday, September 3, 2010

Casey Community School

We're back in Gallon Jug after 2 months in the USA. It was our annual visit "to buy socks and underwear," visit family and friends and attend to medical matters. But it hasn't exactly been a smooth reentry since our computers have made it clear that they don't "like" being shut in a hot and humid room for 8 weeks. This isn't exactly a news flash for us as it is always touch and go whether they'll boot up or not after an absence. The climate simply isn't computer-friendly and aside from leaving them running, or operating the AC for 2 months, we just take our chances. Bruce will eventually get it sorted out (parts are in the mail) but it does mean we're off to a slow start.

So, back in Gallon Jug and ... back to school. Formerly known as the Gallon Jug Community School for the past 20 years, our local school has been renamed the Casey Community School. The new name honors former teachers Mike and Jill Casey who were killed in a plane crash in February, along with their 2 young children, Makayla and Bryce, and Gallon Jug property owner, Sir Barry Bowen.

All are sorely missed here as the new school year begins.