Friday, December 30, 2011

Christmas Count Turkey

With the 112th Christmas Bird Count underway across the Americas, and the Gallon Jug 21st Christmas Bird Count coming up this weekend, I thought this bird would be an appropriate subject.  It is, of course, the Ocellated Turkey (Meleagris ocellata).  This colorful species has become something of an icon at Chan Chich Lodge, where a dozen can be seen at any given moment, and dozens more found in Gallon Jug.  On average, we record 119 each Christmas Bird Count.  The least we've counted was 37 (way back in 1990). And the overall best count for this near-threatened, endemic species in our count area  is 236 (see below).

Clearly, good management on the Gallon Jug Estate has helped the Ocellated Turkey thrive in Gallon Jug/Chan Chich.   Wonder if we'll break the record on Saturday?

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Jingle Bells -- Gallon Jug Style!

Every year we look forward to the Casey Community School Christmas carolers as they make the rounds in Gallon Jug and Chan Chich.  It's the official kick-off of the holiday season for us. And while it is true that there is no snow or ice, they lack nothing in holiday spirit. 

This year, teacher Miss Debbie composed a more "relevant" verse for the familiar favorite "Jingle Bells."  Listen carefully!  Those of you familiar with Belize's normal modes of transport will get a chuckle out of this one.

With Season's Greetings to Belize Field Notes readers from sunny Gallon Jug!

Friday, December 16, 2011

Sneak Peek

We finally got a good "hit" on our single camera. We'd placed it at a junction near Laguna Verde over the past week.  Any idea what this animal is?

This is a tayra, Eira barbara, taking a sneak peek at the remote camera.  The tayra is a large member of the weasel family and in my experience anyway, is not often photographed.  It's a common diurnal animal, very curious and bold and frequently encountered.  Tayras seem always to be in perpetual motion and it is my guess that they move so fast and frequently that the remote camera is just too slow to catch them.  In this case, there were several "blank" photos (after an image of its departing backside) indicating it was still in the immediate area.

Pretty clear than animals notice what's new in their environment, even if it is camouflaged!

Friday, December 9, 2011

Sure to be Counted

 This time of year, our thoughts turn to the annual Christmas Bird Count (see my November 18 post).  Pictured here, thanks again to Frank Buck, is a bird that will almost certainly be recorded on the Gallon Jug count: the Chestnut Woodpecker, Celeus elegans.   It is a species that, with a little effort, can be seen on any given day here in our neck of the woods.  This particular bird appears to be a  male with its red cheek patch -- females lack this.  Otherwise, the sexes appear alike.  They are richly chestnut in color, even orangish in brighter light.  The Chestnut Woodpecker is fairly large in size.  It prefers dead trees for nesting and foraging in good quality tropical forest which the Gallon Jug Estate and Chan Chich Lodge are fortunate to have.  Join us, if you'd like to see this attractive species.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Nocturnal Visitor

So we had this hole in our downstairs door.  And after a while, there was a sort of well-worn path to it.

Finally got the remote camera up last night ... and here's the culprit: an opossum.  We have a few different opossum species in Belize but so far as I can tell, this is the common Virginia opossum (Didelphis virginiana).  Found not only in Virginia, and the eastern half of the US, this adaptable creature's range extends all the way through Central America as well.  It is fairly frequently seen here in the Gallon Jug Estate. As you know from personal experience, this is a creature that often raids the garbage.  Fortunately for us, it so far has left our garbage untouched.