Monday, February 28, 2011

One Year Anniversary

This past weekend, the Gallon Jug community remembered those lost in the plane crash that took the lives of Sir Barry Bowen, teachers Mike & Jill Casey, and their two children, Makayla and Bryce, on February 26, 2010.

The Gallon Jug school has been formally renamed the Casey Community School. On Friday, the flag was raised to half staff. There was nary a dry eye as the students remembered their beloved teachers with original poetry, the Rainforest Song (see post on 9 March 2010), posters and Mike's favorite "chicken dance."

In San Pedro, Sir Barry was fondly remembered:

Although a year has gone by, Sir Barry and the Caseys are sadly missed, gone but never forgotten.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

A Suddenly "Common" Puffbird

As I mentioned in an earlier post, here is a recently "conspicuous" species: the White-whiskered Puffbird (Malacoptila panamensis). I say that because prior to Hurricane Richard last October, this was a species that, with a little effort, could be seen along the forest trails near Chan Chich Lodge on most days. When we conducted the Christmas Bird Count in late December, it was suddenly "everywhere." We counted more than 30 puffbirds that day ... and our previous record had been 9.

This species is a "sit and wait" insect and small vertebrate predator. Interestingly, it excavates a burrow in order to build its nest. I have seen motmots excavate their nest burrows, but not the puffbird.

Since the hurricane, there is evidently something this bird "likes" about the modified forest that makes it seem much more common than previously. Frank Buck grabbed this nice photo of the puffbird in December -- my thanks for sharing it.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Canopy Cat (even more)

Is this not an absolutely fantastic spotted cat photo? I told Stewart that their experience with this margay is even more unique than the experience everyone seems to want ... and that is seeing a jaguar.

Margays are sometimes confused with ocelots. One field mark is the significantly longer tail of the margay, no doubt helping it balance in the canopy tree tops. That longer tail is evident in this image. Ocelots have a shorter tail (appearing to hit somewhere knee length) and are larger in size than margays (but nowhere near as large as a jaguar).

This lovely image was taken just moments before it scampered down the tree and into the forest. Thanks to Stewart Greisman for sharing these with us.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Canopy Cat continued

Here's the margay a minute or so later on a tree on the Chan Chich road. It appears to be thinking about coming down, not too sure with people near the base of the tree. Since margays are nocturnal, it is also interesting to have caught this one with the morning well under way (8:15AM). This species is one of only two cats to have the ankle flexibility to climb head-first down trees (the other is the clouded leopard, not found in the New World). Another great image coming up ...

Friday, February 11, 2011

Canopy Cat

Recent Chan Chich Lodge guests, Stewart Greisman and his wife, came across this gorgeous margay cat (Leopardus wiedii) in the tree canopy while walking with premier Chan Chich guide Gilberto (aka "Jack"), a little after 8AM on 28 January. Some Belize Field Notes readers will know the exact spot: on the main road, between Chan Chich Lodge and the Bridge, directly across from the Frog Crossing sign.

Since the margay is a mainly arboreal cat, it is no surprise to see it in the treetops. But a day time picture of this secretive animal is a surprise. Margays do come down occasionally as I have recorded them on the camera traps from time to time. But that is infrequent, so this series of photos is extra-special ... Stay tuned, more margay to come.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Young Ornate Hawk-Eagle

After a few wonderful days of a "cat blog-fest," with the Chan Chich pumas, it's time to get back to the Ornate Hawk-Eagles again. This excellent photo, contributed by Lodge guest Frank Buck, shows a young ornate still in juvenile plumage. As you can see, its signature crest is already fully developed. The young will attain full adult plumage by its third year: its head will become rufus and it will develop complete barring along the belly and legs.

Love the intense golden stare of this very impressive bird!

Friday, February 4, 2011

More Cats! Continued (4)

Gorgeous portrait of a fully engaged cat, aware of the photographer, not hostile, only curious.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

More Cats! Continued (3)

I think this image shows how really slim wild cats are ... if you've seen a lot of zoo images, captive cats, no matter what the species, all seem to be overweight with massive bellies.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

More Cats! Continued (2)

Something about the Chan Chich signs was interesting. Now this young puma notices the photographer.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

More Cats! Continued ...

What is so interesting about those Chan Chich signs?