Animals of the Amazon

I have included some photos here that were taken by my friend and are copyrighted by Darvinia Amazonia Reserve.  These may not be copied and used without the expressed permission of the photographer.

Martes 19Apr10

The Vampire Bat

As I was dropping off the sleep last night I realized that I had had a beer with dinner and had neglected to use the “facilities.”  I was considering getting up, with the suggested flashlight so that I didn’t step on frogs or toads or snakes (on the raised floor?!) when I heard the flapping of wings.  A large winged creature was flying around my tent.  I envisioned a vampire bat and chose not to get up.  The next morning I found out that 1vampire bats only bleed humans when they’re sleeping, 2you can’t hear the flapping of bat wings, and 3it was a night-flying bird, flying around my tent to scoop up insects, the nightjar.

Nightjars. They have long wings, medium or long tails, and big eyes.  Their small, stubby bills enclose big, wide mouths that they open in flight to scoop up flying insects.  Many species have bristles around the mouth area, which act as a food funnel.

I awoke at 6am to the sound of rain.  (My friends put the toilet pail in their bedroom tent at night, which is what I heard, so I couldn’t have used the “facilities” last night if I had chosen to get up.)  I was sound asleep, in the middle of a dream.  But – no mosquitoes were attacking my tent.  I’d risen before the bugs!

Very little protein for meals.  Breakfast, a plate of cooked plantain, sweet potato, breadfruit, and a plate of sliced papaya, tangerine, orange, banana.  Y café.  Two teaspoons of instant coffee to a cup of agua caliente with condensed milk, which, with a lot of imagination, resembles latte.

We sat around chatting.  Rebecca, the monkey, took papaya from my hand; maybe tomorrow she’ll let me scratch her back.  The mosquitoes showed up.  The netbook’s battery wore down.  Jim found another part for the Xantec solar battery recharger and plugged it in to the portable solar panel (which folds up).

I mentioned that it would be nice if the shower were raised to our level, but not covered, as the water in the black plastic container needs the sun to warm it.  Jim discussed it with Sergio Jr, who is 20, and he agreed to construct it as an appendage to the house, on piers.  (Last night when we returned I needed a shower and had to, in the twilight, go down the steep stairs and crouch under the walkway to the shower tent.  Of course, it steamed up immediately, so that I couldn’t get dry and my glasses were totally fogged.  I wrapped my towel around me, slipped on my blouse and sandals, and repeated the obstacle course to my friends’ tent where I had room to dry and dress, although no privacy, through the mosquitoes, and I had washed off all of my repellant.)

A Photographic Excursion

Our guides, Arturo and Jose, were hunters, but Jim had convinced them not to hunt, as so many animals in La Selva have been killed off, and they can’t get any jobs with tourists because they don’t speak English.

Jose spotted an arboreal anteater.  We boated under low tree limbs to an opening for photos.

Anteater – The Southern Tamandua is largely arboreo.  It has a prehensile tail for hanging about and moving in trees, allowing it to get to hard-to-reach termite nests.  Particular about its food, it doesn’t generally go after army ants or large, stinging ants that might do it harm.  Tamanduas rest in hollow trees or other holes during midday, but are otherwise active, including nocturnally. They forage both on the ground and in trees – good for this flooded time of the year, usually solitarily.

There was a large nest (bees?) on one of the trees.  A dragonfly or two while I discussed the bee nest with Jose – in Spanish – I didn’t know the word for bees, only honey.

A flock of small birds winged by.  A flycatcher with brown wings and a touch of yellow.  A flock of red tanagers.

We heard the raucous calls of macaws.  They were flying in pairs, as they always do, and my friend said that they always “talk” as they fly.  (She said that I’d get along great with them.)

A morpho butterfly, huge and almost turquoise, flitted by (not my photo, it’s from the Web – these butterflies never sit still long enough – this was probably taken at a butterfly farm).  Then a small mariposa black with yellow stripes.  Another morpho.  A tiny white butterfly.

One of the large dark blue river birds, a smooth-billed ani that we saw in two flocks yesterday.

The Anis are of the cuckoo family.  Unlike some cuckoos, the anis are not brood parasites, but nest communally, the cup nest being built by several pairs between 2–6 m high in a tree. A number of females lay their eggs in the nest and then share incubation and feeding.

The anis are large black birds with a long tail and a deep ridged black bill. Their flight is weak and wobbly, but they run well, and usually feed on the ground.  These are very gregarious species, always found in noisy groups. Anis feed on termites, large insects and even lizards and frogs.

I trailed my fingers in the water.  It was so cool and lovely, I would have liked to dive in.  The villagers, of course, drink it, bathe in it, wash their clothes in it.  [When we returned yesterday Sergio Jr was on the steps to the river in a Speedo (nice bod!) with a bar of soap, but after reading Z (see the Iquitos blog), knowing what could be in the river, I would not chance it.  On Sunday on our trip we saw two white guys, no doubt tourists, swimming in front of one of the lodges; who knows, maybe it’s safe there.]

The sun, which earlier had been a fuzzy white orb, had come out and I was glad I had coated the few exposed patches of skin with sunscreen.  I would have liked to photograph that yellow-striped butterfly, but it flitted up and down too much.  A chattering flock of birds flew off from the top of a tall tree.  I knew that they were not parrots because they were not flying in pairs.

I was told that the pink dolphins swim up this far when the river is high, but that they have already gone.  No anacondas.  (Darn!)  Tito has raised two caiman; he’d like to restock the river.

The wood seats in the dugout were very uncomfortable.  Mary had a seat pad but I let some of the air out of my air mattress, folded it twice and it was great. (The guys laughed at me because I was sitting 4” up.)  A stadium seat with a back would have been a good idea.

More of this morning’s animals:

Monkey (photo from the Web – yes that’s his huge tail) –

monk saki Monk Saki monkeys have long, thick hair and nonprehensile tails that are thickly furred.  They wander and feed from the lower canopy to mid levels of lowland forests in the Amazonian region…  You are most likely to see them along streams and lakes as they sit without moving in a low tree, only their long bushy tails hanging straight down telling you that they’re not just another tangle of dead leaves.

Birds –

Lesser Kiskadee- flycatcher

Small slender-billed intimately associated with water; perches low over … relatively sluggish rivers, throughout Amazonia … Usually in pairs… Readily identified by distinctive voice. Calls a dry raspy “dzrEE-bee or dzrEE-bee-bee”, also gives a series gruff “daw” notes.”

Hawk – looks like a plumbeous kite but is a black collared hawk

Squirrel cuckoo with long striped tail

Blue and yellow macaws with pointed tails, flying tandem

Dove here at Ramon’s – black-winged ground dove

Siesta Time

Jim and his men had gone to work all day on his project.  After lunch we women and children sat around somnolently.  Insects continued their scratchy din; one bird sound was a echoey who, one a eheheheheh,  another a dewydewydewytrrrtrrr dewy trrr dewy trrr ch,  The river flowed slowly by, the laundry was drying in the sun above a dancing yellow butterfly and the air was heavy, without a breeze.  The young daughter, Cindy, was resting in the hammock with the baby, Romela, the youngest.

The cousin, Sergio Jr (who is called Tulio by his family), returned down a path with a machete and a tree trunk to start the shower platform.  This morning he and Jim had made plans for it in a small notebook, then he and Nati’s oldest son, Jhonatan (sic), who is 18, discussed it.

After the guys complete the raised shower I think I’ll propose a kluged fan, a palm frond hooked to a crossbeam with a string connected to a foot pedal, so that you could pump it, like a non-electric sewing machine, as you sat at the desk. 

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3 Responses to “Animals of the Amazon”

  1. Lynn Shore Says:

    Great read! Have enjoyed your adventures so much. Hope everything goes well with you.

  2. Jim Says:

    The wildlife around Jeru, the uppermost village along the Rio Tahuayo, is beginning to recover from years of unsustainable hunting and fishing. Unlike all of the other riverside villages downstream, they still have plenty of primeval forest and relatively abundant wildlife. They are making their Achual territory, thousands of hectares, into their own privated bioreserve.

  3. ผิวขาว Says:

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