Monday, December 20, 2010

Tis the Season

Tis the season for ... carolers! Here are members of the Casey Family Community School, and their teachers, after a rousing round of Christmas carols on our hill, here in Gallon Jug. We may not have snow, but there is no lack of holiday spirit!

Friday, December 17, 2010

Foggy Morning in Gallon Jug

Photo copyright 2010, Alan Jeal

It's not quite like snow, but we've had some chilly weather here in Gallon Jug. We've had night time temperatures in the mid-50's. While that might not seem too bad, keep in mind, our houses here are not well sealed or insulated. It's that weather system that's kept the US at low temperatures so unseasonably early this year pushing down the cold weather into tropical latitudes. This shot is a typical foggy morning in Gallon Jug, from our neighbor and friend Alan.

Friday, December 10, 2010

What do Toucans and Bats Have in Common?

Our friend and neighbor, Alan, here in Gallon Jug, sent over these great images of a Keel-billed Toucan in flight, and then perching in a "hurricane downed tree" tree. It's fun to see the classic "in flight" image of this bird. While this is a fairly common and readily seen species, it is a bit out of character for this toucan to be in the open farm areas of Gallon Jug Farm. It's mainly a frugivore (fruit eater) so I have to wonder whether it is still a bit disoriented from Hurricane Richard and seeking new food resources. Many trees, while still standing, were stripped of leaves and fruits, thanks to the high winds.

We're seeing something similar with certain bat species. What do toucans and bats have in common? Fruits comprise an important part of the diet of toucans and many bats. We've had two reports of fruit bats flying in daylight including a video of bats swarming around a fruiting tree. Could it be that food resources are so limited that they are risking daytime flight -- and exposure to predators -- in order to find fruit?

On my afternoon walk yesterday, there were two fruit bats in flight before the sun had even set. Since it'll be a while before the trees recover, I hope all the frugivorous species can hang on.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Changes in Latitudes

Not only did we thoroughly enjoy the Turtleman's House, we spent a couple more days in San Pedro town on the southern part of Ambergris Caye. It had been some years since we'd been there, and yes, it has changed. A lot more traffic on the narrow streets, for one thing. But coming from quiet and remote Gallon Jug, we enjoyed the lively change of pace.

Our friends Cindy and Renita, at the B&B, Changes in Latitudes (, put us up for a couple nights (note the cute toucan gate handle, above). What a great spot ... a block from the beach and close to town. Convenient to everything. Great breakfasts. We spent an enjoyable morning riding bikes all over San Pedro, from north to south. And then we enjoyed a little pool time at the Belize Yacht Club next door and an evening with friends.

All in all, Ambergris Caye provided a really great "working vacation" for us.

Friday, December 3, 2010

The Turtleman's House

I normally post exclusively about Chan Chich Lodge and Gallon Jug Estate ... but I couldn't help myself. We've just returned from Belize's Ambergris Caye where we did a short bat survey and then took a couple days to relax.

The Turtleman's House (above) is named for biologist Greg Smith, "the Turtleman," who has lived on northern Ambergris Caye for well over 20 years. The house over the water, pictured above, is where we stayed. It was like something out of Swiss Family Robinson, put together with driftwood and other found objects. Most would call it "rustic" but we were completely comfortable and extremely well fed thanks to the excellent fresh-caught fish prepared by both Greg and his wife Rosemary.

I'm not a fan of long boat trips to crowded snorkeling spots so the fact that we could wade out from the house over the water and enjoy snorkeling in 5-6 ft. water at our leisure, was a real pleasure. Greg was on hand, along with the 3 knowledgeable Smith children, to answer any marine questions and identify the myriad fish species for us.

The Smiths enjoy having guests, but do keep in mind that you need to be a hearty adventurous sort. Most tourist accommodations are designed to offer an "experience." Turtleman's House and the Smith family are authentic, the real deal. Check them out here:

And as for us, the trip was a big success combining a little slice of paradise with a short research project.