Gossamer Tapestry

Reflections on conservation, butterflies, and ecology in the nation's heartland

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Blogging in the Tropics

The lizard on the veranda

Blogging from the tropics is tough. I walk out on the veranda, fire up the laptop, and something invariably comes along to distract me. For about a day we had a Jesus Christ lizard hanging out with us. These lizards get their name because they can skitter across small pools and streams, apparently walking over the water. Last night, while downloading pictures from my digital camera, I was joined by a most curious creature called a hammerhead fly. Its eyes sit out at the ends of outrageously long stalks. I don’t know what purpose they serve. A quick Google search turns up nothing useful. I’ll go out on a limb and guess that it’s more a result of sexual selective pressures than a feature that offers a direct survival advantage. They’re still pretty cool.

Hammerhead fly

The last few days have offered a couple of additional tours. We took a snorkeling and sunset dinner cruise on a sailboat on Wednesday. As part of that we saw several whales and a pod of dolphins. The scenery was delightful, and the snorkeling super. John and Michael purchased an underwater camera, however it’s film rather than digital, so we do not have underwater photos to post. Dinner on the boat was some of the most delicious fish that I’ve had down here.

View from the sailboat

Our fellow snorkelers

We'd like to believe that the humback whale sighting was more than just a fluke.

Evening view of shore

Sunset from the boat

On Thursday, we went to Manuel Antonio National Park. A guide approached us and offered his services. My initial response was to be lukewarm to the idea, but we hired him and it proved to be well worthwhile. Through him we found longtailed and tentmaker bats, lots of birds and lizards, a bunch of two- and three-toed sloths, and a troop of coatimundi. He had a spotting scope and it was really interesting to be able to take photos through the scope.

Manuel Antonio National Park

Yellow-naped woodpecker

Tentmaker bats

Long-tailed bats

Male three-toed sloth

Coatimundi getting out of Dodge

One of the things that he told us about was something completely new to me. Here in the tropics, there are nocturnal cicadas. They have bizarre filigreed structures growing from their abdomens. After he showed them to us, I began noticing their sounds within the jungle night chorus that begins around sundown each day.

Nocturnal Cicada

The trip is winding down. Sop and Someone leave for San Jose later this afternoon. Unfortunately, Spo has been unwell for the last 36 hours or so and it’s really slowed him down. Leon is also under the weather- in his case it may be sunstroke from too much body surfing at the beach Thursday afternoon. He seems well on the mend at the moment. Tomorrow John and Michael will accompany us on the journey back to Chicago. I’m not looking forward to the return trip. I think that, at heart, I’m a creature of the tropics. Unfortunately, I don’t think that Leon would ever live here, so tomorrow it’s back to winter for me.

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At 17:24, Anonymous Mark H said...

ANYONE would want to stay in the tropics with you as the tour guide. You'd be guide, teacher and friend. Your friends were lucky and we'd LOVE to sit for 2 hours and watch the sloth. Sorry about the illnesses, but then, just like the pioneers, not everyone made it, eh? Sounds like a fabulous trip.

At 13:04, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hope you all made it back well. You are in for a real shocker!

Love the pics, makes me glad I wasn't there sometimes! :)

At 14:17, Blogger rodger said...

That cicada is gorgeous! Thanks for keeping us in the loop and sorry you have to return to such chilly temps.

At least we won't have to hear anymore about you laying about naked all day. I was getting...jealous...yeah, just jealous.

At 23:32, Blogger Laurie said...

What wonderful photos and descriptions. It's almost like being there myself, well without the sun, and the water, and the live foilage.

Thank you for sharing your wonderful adventure!

At 16:34, Blogger Ur-spo said...

you still take some of the best photos there are on line Doug .

At 19:06, Blogger steve'swhirlyworld said...

Great pictures! I love the Jesus Christ Lizard - are then kin to the Jesus Christ Scorpian and Jesus Christ Roach?


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