It is always a joy to return to Laguna del Tigre National Park. And this December is no exception. In fact it is even more so than usual.
After months of planning, and with it almost not happening, I am finally here at the end of 2015. When I was last here, in June and July, the forest was hot, sticky and unusually dry.
The rains had not broken, delayed by El Niño.
Now, later in the year, it has been raining consistently for weeks. The vegetation is lush, trails mud-filled and the river high. After the first few days of cleaning existing trails (vegetation grows back quickly here) and cutting new transects, it was a joy to get stuck into the survey work that will fill the next two weeks.
It may surprise you then to hear that we found no reptiles or amphibians during our first survey. The night forest is quiet at the moment, only ants seem to be active. That did mean, however, that the mosquitoes were quiet too – a true luxury! Even more so as they are currently voracious during the day.
So what is it that is causing low activity levels? Perhaps it is the low temperatures that we are experiencing (a mere 24°C buy levaquin in mexico tonight). Perhaps it is because of this that the humidity is not high enough (in the high 80’s to low 90’s) to encourage reptiles and amphibians out.
A brief spell of sun this afternoon brought the spiny-scaled lizards out, scurrying around the undergrowth of the garden at Las Guacamayas. It seems that reptiles at least had a good breeding season.
Baby spiny-scaled lizards, striped basilisks, coffee snakes and blunt-headed treesnakes have all been spotted over the last few days. Even Bobiches, the local male croc, has company in the form of a baby Morelet’s crocodile that can be seen in the shallows near the dock.
I am left wondering what happened to the amphibian breeding season this year. For sure, in June/July the season had not yet started. It does not seem to be occurring now, and I have not yet seen young amphibians wandering around the forest in search of their insect prey.
Maybe they simply did not breed this year, giving it a miss so as to not waste precious energy creating a new generation that may not survive. Better perhaps to wait until next year’s rains. Time will tell and hopefully this set of surveys will help to enlighten my curiosity.
Rowland, February 2016
Photo above: Crocodylus moreletii