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Posts Tagged ‘forest’


Today we go birding. We see a Buff-throated Saldator in a cecropia. We also spot several kiskadees loudly calling and flying out of a thicket. We think that it may be a snake, which would cause the birds some consternation.

After breakfast we go to Johnny Diaz’s to work. I ride in the red truck. At one point, the radiator fails. So, Andrus, Oscar, and I hang onto the side of the SUV on our way up the mountain. It seems dangerous, but I believe that it is actually much safer and more comfortable than riding in the bed of the truck. The only problem is overhanging branches, which can, if you do not pay attention, smack you in the face. I feel like Indiana Jones (except without the Nazis). On our way up, we see a Blue Ground-dove, whose light blue coloration is surprisingly pretty.

At Johnny’s place, we chop, shovel, plant, and mark off two hundred trees. The work is exhausting, especially as more and more people seem to be falling victim to a viral infection.

After the work, Johnny takes us to gather some pejibayes. These orange, starchy fruit grows high up in palm trees in large clumps. Oscar climbs what must be 50 feet up the tree and is then handed a long pole to knock the fruit out of the tree. Back by the road, which leads to an absolutely gorgeous vista of the surrounding valley and hillsides, we walk back to the cars. I can only imaginewhat this place must have looked like without pastures and when it was covered by thick, dark, lush forest.

View of the surrounding valley

View of the surrounding valley

We realize that the SUV, which drove ahead, had Mary’s keys. So, we wait for Johnny to catch up to them on his quad. While waiting, we drink coconut milk, which is not as creamy as I expected. Instead, it is a slightly flavored water.

The ride back in the bed of the truck is very uncomfortable as we are surrounded by shovels, machetes, and buckets. Sitting on the edges hurts your tail bone and squatting in the bed kills your knees. On the side of the road, we see two three-foot-long iguanas and what I believe to be a basilisk lizard basking in the sun by the river. The iguanas are a dark greenish-black and have a brownish-red head.

After returning, I go to the watering hole. I wash and sit there like a lizard, warming myself on the hot rocks below and the sun above. While there, I see a bright, lime-green butterfly, a Ringed Kingfisher, and a bird I thought was a Black-crowned Tityra. Upon my return, Andrus thought it sounded like a Masked Tityra. I wish I had my binoculars so that I could see if it had a red bill and facial skin, the distinguishing mark of the latter bird.

Ringed Kingfisher

Back at base, we have a lecture on the causes of deforestation. The main reason the forests here are deforested is to simply get them out of the way of plantations and cattle ranches. Some of the wood is used, but it is largely done simply to clear land so that it can be used “efficiently.” After dinner, I go to sleep.

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Costa Rica Journal


Well folks, if you were wondering where I have been for the past month, let me clear that up.  I have been in Costa Rica for an internship/tropical ecology class/field work.  So, although I haven’t posted in quite a while, I think I can make it up to all of you by posting my experiences from my journal here.  I will add my pictures to that in order to show you the fantastic place I stayed and the wonderful ecosystem with which I fell in love.  Starting tomorrow, right here, I will post a day from the trip each day.  If you have been following this blog for long enough, then perhaps you remember my virtual trips through Africa and South America.  Well, this will be much like that, except it really happened.  I only hope I can convey, to one degree or another, just how spectacular this place is.  I hope you enjoy it.

Also, just let me know what you think of the new setup and tell me if you prefer this one or the old one.

The new one is up now and here is a picture of the old one.

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Well thanks for all the concern about the fall, but it really was nothing.  I’m going to focus on the great day I had before that: snowshoeing Mount Tremper in the Catskill Mountains.

After a two our car ride, our group was ready to move out.  We put on our snowshoes and started up the mountain.  The going was tough, as there was a thin layer of hard crust atop powdery snow.  Often, your snowshoes would get stuck under that crust and you had to literally move backwards to move forwards.  Even though the temperature must have been hovering below freezing, we quickly began to sweat and overheat.  Who can even imagine needing to unzipper your jacket in weather like that. 

Snowshoing on the ridge near the summit.

Snowshoing on the ridge near the summit.

Fortunately, there was little wind and the sun beat down upon our faces through the leafless trees.  We still saw signs of life.  Tracks of rabbits, squirrel, and even a fox crossed our path several times. 

Obviously a canine track.  It was not anywhere near the path, so not domestic.  We thought due to the size and location that it was fox.  Thoughts?

Obviously a canine track. It was not anywhere near the path, so not domestic. We thought due to the size and location that it was fox. Thoughts?

 

Rabbit Tracks

Rabbit Tracks

After about 2 and a half hours of climbing, we made it to the summit.  There, at the firetower, we revelled in the amazing vista.  I may prefer mountain vistas during the winter: the monoliths showing their forms.  You can see every rock; every crevice.  Climbing the firetower was a challenge in and of itself as there was a thin vernier of ice on some of the steps.  It was slow work, but the view was most definitely worth it.   All of the trees around us were coated with a thin layer of ice.  Standing in the sun, the whole area around the tower sparkled and twinkled.  It really looked like a storybook picture.

Artsy with Ice

Artsy with Ice

 

http://photosynth.net/view.aspx?cid=a89b8e3b-59c1-4592-b125-0b81ddec29a9

Only part of the amazing view. For the whole panorama go to: http://photosynth.net/view.aspx?cid=a89b8e3b-59c1-4592-b125-0b81ddec29a9

  The way down was much easier.  It only took about an hour.  I suppose it always works like that.  Soon enough we were at the car and riding home after a wonderful day in the Catskills.

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First Person Ski Crash


I went skiing over the weekend. The front of my skis were jammed into a pothole which somebody must have created before my run. I got down the mountain much faster than I wanted to. I will get around to posting photos later as I am nursing a few wounds right now.

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I decided to borrow this idea from http://blog.rtd13.com/.  Just click on the image for the song.  I actually won a photo contest with this photo, so I hope you like it.

REFLECTIONS

REFLECTIONS

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Well, I promised that I would deliver, so here they are:

The trip was great, we began hiking up around 9:30 am when the air was still crisp and clean.  We encountered tons of blackberries, which we gorged on.  Apparently so did a bear.  And from the looks of it, not too long ago.

Apparently bears do shit in the woods.

Apparently bears do shit in the woods.

We got to the half-way point of the trail, after the initial steep climb, the path gradually flattened out.  All in all, the trail was about 7.6 miles long. 

Half-way there.

Half-way there.

 Finally, after about 3.5 hours of hiking, we made it to the summit, where we saw one of 6 remaining fire towers in the Catskill mountains. 

4100 ft, 2nd Highest Mountain in Catskills, 1 of 6 Firetowers Remaining in the Catskills

The Hunter Mountain Fire tower: Elevation:4100 ft, 2nd Highest Mountain in Catskills, 1 of 6 Firetowers Remaining in the Catskills

 The view from the top was phenomenal.  At 4100 feet above sea level, you could see mountain after mountain. 

Me from the top.
Me from the top.

 After a nice lunch, we headed back down.  All the way back down, we were accompanied by this beautiful brook.  Here I managed to spot an Eastern Phoebe in the brush, but nobody could get a shot of it. 

A little bit of long exposure on the babbling brook at the foot of the mountain.

A little bit of long exposure on the babbling brook at the foot of the mountain.

A wonderful brook at the foot of the moutain.

A wonderful brook at the foot of the mountain.

 The hike was an absolute blast.  I really enjoyed the company of all the other guys.  Note: All photos were taken with a mate I was hiking with Matthias Kirchner.  Thank you very much.  I will also be posting more as more come in.

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On the second page, I describe a berry-bearing shrub.  Can anyone ID them?  Mainly, I want to know if they are edible.  Because WordPress will not let me shrink my scanned items automatically, just click on the image to get a better view.

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