Mar 27 2008

Jungle Critters

Published by at 9:44 pm under Amazon Basin,South America

I mentioned in the previous post that we saw a lot of wildlife on our walks and boat rides at Sacha Lodge. Although you can see several examples in our gallery of Ecuador pictures, those have no descriptions so I thought it would be interesting to show more of them with some context.

Many of our walks were on land, hiking on a trail through the forest. The foliage is dense so it’s harder to see wildlife than it was in the open such as in the Galapagos. Much of the time, we needed our guides’ trained eyes to see animals even if they were very close to us.

This Crested Owl was about 30 feet up and very well concealed. His coloring matched the shade he was in very well. I had to brighten the shadows in the image below to make him easier to see.

The Amazon Tree Boa below on the other hand was at eye level right off of the trail. But did we notice him? No, our guide did. It was a juvenile, probably 20 inches long. There’s no sense of scale in the picture but his head is about the size of my thumb. (Everyone knows the size of my thumb, right?)

I mentioned in a previous post how our guide had no problem picking up creatures you and I wouldn’t dare to. But he picked up this very little frog and held it out to us, saying is was a Poison Dart Frog. The natives use the skin excretions from these frogs to coat the darts they shoot from their blow guns. The poison is only effective if it gets in the blood though so handling them for small amounts of time is actually just fine.

There were lots of bugs for the budding entomologists out there. Millipedes on the ground, wasps in the air, lots of ants in the ground. This Stick Insect was right next to the trail a foot or two off the ground and was about 6 inches long.

One of the nicer canoe rides we took was spur of the moment. We were returning from an afternoon trip and crossing the lodge’s lake to return to our room. We heard lots of rustling from the trees to our left so our guides made a quick turn down a narrow creek and into the trees. Immediately a troop (about 40 or so) of squirrel monkeys (below) appeared overhead making screeches and checking us out. They were very curious. They climbed through trees and jumped from one to another as we followed the creek’s path all the way until it opened back up into the lake. This was one of our favorite experiences at the lodge.

The boat rides were probably our favorite type of activity overall. I liked them because being on water meant that you were in a more open piece of the forest so it was easier to spot animals. It also was a lazy way to endure the heat :-). Plus, you’d see animals typically found in the water such as the Caiman Lizard below.

The Amazon Basin in Ecuador is a major destination for birders and one of the activities the lodge offered was to leave the lodge and take a boat down the Napo River to Yasuni National Park so we could see the flocks of parrots there. There are some clay licks (natural, not man-made) where they have set up some viewing platforms. it started out looking like that day was a dud with only 2 or 3 parrots but by the time we left, there were several hundred that we could see, all jockeying for position and flying around. The picture below is just one piece of the whole scene.

Finally, I mentioned before that the lodge had a butterfly house that you could go to anytime. Our guide showed us a moth there whose wing markings looked like huge eyes to deter predators.

You didn’t have to wait long for butterflies to land on you. This one clearly thinks Meredith’s leg is a source of pollen nectar.

That concludes our tour of animals we saw in the forest … during the day. Stay tuned for night-time creepy-crawlies!

– Dave

One response so far

One Response to “Jungle Critters”

  1. Maura says:

    yay! critter pics!! 🙂