January 2: Getting Oriented

Steven Dutch, Professor Emeritus, Natural and Applied Sciences, University of Wisconsin - Green Bay

At 5:30 we got up for a dawn hike.
Below: the tree roots here are wonderfully massive and intricate.
Ribbit. A leaf frog

Actually, Dan Meinhardt, our herpetologist, expressed wonderment at where that sound comes from, since no frogs actually do it. Humphrey Bogart never said "Play it again, Sam," either.

A ravine a few hundred meters from the station is spanned by a small suspension bridge.
A dead tree visible from the suspension bridge was one of three scarlet macaw nesting sites we saw.
The floor of the ravine. These rocks are all siltstones, redeposited as alluvial gravels. The whole area around the station is mantled by gravel interbedded with clay.
Dan Meinhardt trying for a good macaw shot.
Left: buttress roots.

Below: a spectacular liana. "Liana" is no more a species of plant than "tree," it merely describes a woody vine. This one comes down from above at center, makes a circular loop and then a hairpin turn.

Above: a small bridge over a dry stream bed.

Left and below: strangler figs.

Just to put icing on the cake, a couple of toucans put on a show at the station.
This butterfly obligingly perched on a plastic bag for a long time.
Inch-long beetles were common. They're harmless but startling if they land close by - or on you.
This butterfly spent the vast majority of his time with his wings closed and rarely opened up.
Views on the road next to the station.
Left: this "89" butterfly perched on my hand, but getting good shots one-handed wasn't easy. Below: more butterflies.
Welcoming sign at the beginning of the trails.
Although most of the rock hereabouts is siltstone, there was a nice basalt boulder near the trail entrance.
Below: more leaf cutters.
Lance's hangout. This is the tree the fer-de-lance we saw on January 1 was apparently hiding under.

Below: buttress roots.

The understory
This cup fungus looked so artificial I had to look carefully to be sure it wasn't a cast off piece of plastic.
Bracket fungus.
These little white mushrooms captivated everybody. The largest are maybe a centimeter across. They reminded me of the Chinese Dance in Walt Disney's Fantasia.

And if you're going to complain that that scene in Fantasia was racist or ethnocentric, take it to someone who takes that sort of rubbish seriously.

Left: an interesting mushroom.

Below: root and stem of an understory palm.

Where leaf cutter ants get their cuttings.

Below: Strangler figs start out as epiphytes up where there's light, but then encase their host tree so tightly it dies. the fruit, however, is important to birds and mammals. This particular tree had a wonderfully intricate network.

Below: why you look before grabbing things.
The sheer mass of epiphytes can be awesome and contributes to the fall of trees during storms.

Below: Arboreal cacti (the light green hanging stuff.)

I was surprised to learn most of the forest trees are legumes. Not surprisingly, they have bean-like or pea-like fruit. This is a pod casing to a so-called monkey's comb.

Below: Looking up at the canopy.

Below: there is almost no organic soil in the tropics apart from a few inches of fresh detritus. All the available nutrients are in the biosphere.
Termite nests like this are common.

Below: strangler figs.

Below: the principal permanent stream in the accessible area is Quebrada Bonita (Pretty Ravine).
It took going to the tropics to find Scheffleria bigger than the one my wife had me lug in and out of the house for a number of years.
Up at the director's house. Previous trips ate here, but this year the food was ferried down to the station half a mile away. Below: digging in. At left, Lindsey Provenzano loads up. At right, Sarah Glaeser gets a turn while Melissa Franson waits.
Left: chowing down.

Below: evening discussion and preparation for another night hike.

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Created 18 January 2008, Last Update 11 June 2020