Saturday, March 31, 2012

To my dear friends

Dear Friends,

The time has come to let you know that this is my last post, and Belize Field Notes has come to an end. After more than 25 wonderful years in Belize, Bruce and I are returning the USA. It is a difficult decision, more than a year in the making.  Advancing age, health and family issues, and research opportunities  have all contributed to to our decision.

I want you to know that I have loved writing this blog and sharing my love of Belize, its wildlife and the Gallon Jug Estate and Chan Chich Lodge with you. Many of you have visited and I've met you personally. You know the places, people and animals I have highlighted. Other readers are planning to visit. I am sorry I will not be able to meet you in person as that has always been a special pleasure. We've made some wonderful friends over the years in this way. 

The main take home message I want to leave you with is that Gallon Jug Estate is a very special place.  Thanks to the excellent protection and responsible ownership that this property has enjoyed during the past nearly 30 years, wildlife flourishes.  Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for so many heavily human-impacted places in Belize, in the region, in the Americas, in the world.  Our grateful and sincere thanks go to the memory of Sir Barry Bowen and Lady Bowen for making Gallon Jug and Chan Chich possible and viable, for so many years.  And to think -- we were lucky enough to live here.

Thank you for your interest in Belize's wildlife and its wildest place and for joining me at Belize Field Notes. Do please, visit Chan Chich Lodge. We hope to get back from time to time, and who knows, we may yet meet!

With warmest wishes from Gallon Jug,

Friday, March 23, 2012

Back to Back Cats

Our one remote camera came up with these nice images of an ocelot and a puma walking a trail in the Gallon Jug Estate.  It's wonderful to see these cats as they go about their nightly business and know that the Gallon Jug Estate harbors so many of these magnificent animals.  That makes another reason why our area is unique!

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Hatchlings on the Way

This is a basilisk lizard (Basiliscus vittatus to be precise).  A female -- readily determined since she lacks the spectacular crest of the male.  Common in the tropics and Gallon Jug, well known as "the Jesus Christ" lizard for its ability to walk on water. Here she is in the gravel, right next to the staircase of our house.  And what, you may ask, is she doing?  If you look carefully (picture on the right) you can see she is poised over a hole she has excavated and is depositing eggs.  Within a hour or so, she'd apparently finished.  The area was completely covered over and you'd have no clue that there was a hidden nest.

The interesting thing is, since 1997, a basilisk lizard has excavated her nest cavity here at this exact -- so far as I can tell -- spot.   Is it the same female lizard?  Do they live that long?  Or do the hatchlings return to their nest site to dig their own nest hole?

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Bats' Night Out

Last week was "Spirit Week" at the Casey Community School here in Gallon Jug.  It was kicked off on Monday, commemorating the second anniversary of the accident which claimed the lives of beloved teachers, Mike and Jill Casey, their two children, Makayla and Bryce, and Sir Barry Bowen, the owner of Gallon Jug and Chan Chich. Dear friends all and sorely missed.

The week was filled with fun activities for the students, including  Pajama Day and Dress Like a Wild Animal Day on Wednesday.  Wednesday also included a lecture from Dr. Bruce Miller about bats and why they are important.  That evening, the students accompanied Bruce into the field for a night of "batting" and the opportunity to meet some bats "up close and personal."  They listened to bat echolocation calls recorded via special equipment and were able to see a few small  bats, captured and released from the harp traps (see above; two tiny bats are clinging to the canvas capture bag).

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Struttin' His Stuff

 Spring is definitely here ... and the Ocellated Turkeys are courting.  Watch as this male struts his stuff, before a bevy of seemingly disinterested females.  This sort of display -- fanned tail, stomping and vocalizing -- goes on for weeks.  The males seem indiscriminate in selecting their object of affection, displaying to people and vehicles alike that pass by.  When you visit Chan Chich Lodge, you will have no problem finding these beautiful turkeys -- they are common and readily seen, right around the cabanas.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Shower of Gold

The skies are clear, the sun is shining with gentle easterly breezes.  Yes, dry season is a upon us and it is one of the nicest times to visit Belize and Chan Chich Lodge.  And the Shower of Gold orchid is blooming! This particular one was photographed in our back yard. Since this was a "rescue orchid" found on the forest floor, we tucked it in the crotch of this spanish cedar tree.  It's taken hold quite nicely and just beginning to flower -- a great sign of "spring."

Thursday, February 16, 2012

More Fun with Time-lapse

Here's one of our hummingbird feeders and you can see it is doing a brisk business.  We have five species that use it, though not on a regular basis.  The Rufous-tailed Hummingbird and the White-belled Emerald are year-round users.  The Green-breasted Mango and the White-necked Jacobin are seasonal, appearing sometime after Christmas and staying until October or thereabouts.  Finally, the Ruby-throated Hummingbird, familiar in many parts of North America, is an infrequent seasonal visitor.

When we first put out the feeders 20 years ago, we had no takers.  We dumped out the spoiling nectar weekly.  It took a Ruby-throat, familiar with feeders in North America, to show the way.  It's amazing that a tiny bird on migration recognized a feeder, but it did.  Once the Rufous-tails saw the Ruby-throats cleaning up at the feeders, they were quickly on board.  And from there it just grew and grew.  These days we often go through a quart of nectar daily ... and that is conservative!  If we kept the feeders constantly topped up, it would be twice that!  When they are ready for more nectar, the hummers fly to the doors ... or the windows ... or bombard us to make sure we get the message!