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Bioblitz 2013: Arima Valley

Basecamp for the 2013 edition of the T&T Bioblitz was perfectly chosen as the Asa Wright Nature Centre. Nestled within the lush rainforest, there was no denying that this was going to be more productive than the previous year’s event. Birding is easy from the verandah at the Centre, and the “easy species” were soon checked off, such as this Purple Honeycreeper.

purple-honeycreeper-male

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Not to be outdone, his mate flew in close for a good look.

purple-honeycreeper-female

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I remember it getting dark swiftly that day, it took me by surprise as a matter of fact. Nighttime presented its fair share of creatures, however. The scorpion group was having a particularly fruitful night, scorpions were everywhere. After all, looking for them with UV lights sure made it easier than with regular white light. These prehistoric creatures fluoresce under UV light, and no-one can say for sure why they do this. In any case, it sure makes for an otherworldly image.

scorpio

 

 

 

 

 

 

Even more ghostly was this wispy looking caterpillar at the top of the nearby Morne Bleu. By this time, I was experimenting with a different lighting arrangement – a torch in one hand, my camera’s flash unit in the other hand, and somehow between those two hands I was also holding my camera. I really enjoyed the final product, though. The caterpillar seems to glow from inside! Or maybe it was actually glowing…

caterpillar

 

 

 

 

 

 

Also close by, clutching a leaf in the chilly mountain breeze was a Dwarf Marsupial Frog. So named for its diminutive stature and that lump on its back – that’s an extra flap of skin that acts as an incubator, keeping its eggs until the tadpoles emerge.

dwarf-marsupial-frog

 

 

 

 

 

 

On the slow walk back down Morne Bleu, someone in the group spotted some movement on the ground. A small snake was crossing the path. The fact that it didn’t seem bothered by our presence soon made sense when we realized that it was a young Fer-de-lance, Bothrops asper, also known as the Mapepire Balsain. What luck! Many people may not agree with me on the luck part, but I definitely prefer to be the one finding the snake and not the other way around. There’s a picture of me crawling dangerously close to this snake with a ridiculous grin on my face somewhere on the internet. If anyone finds it feel free to share, always up for a laugh!

fer-de-lance

 

 

 

 

 

Back at basecamp, I wasn’t ready to tuck in for the night yet. Too much excitement. I decided to check the folks inside and see what they had found. In one of the first containers I saw a creature that I used to read about when I was a small child. One that existed with the dinosaurs themselves – a Velvet Worm. I had never in my life thought that I’d ever see one of these prehistoric creatures! A generous soul offered to take it out to me, after all, it wasn’t going anywhere in a hurry, and so I ended up photographing the most interesting animal on the entire Bioblitz. This image eventually was used as the cover of the following edition of the TTFNC’s Quarterly Bulletin.

velvet-worm

 

 

 

 

 

 

Of course, everyone was up before the crack of dawn the following morning, and there was one thing on my mind: getting to the top of Morne Bleu asap. And it was not in vain – one of the first sights was this immature male Hepatic Tanager before the clouds lifted.

imm-hepatic-tanager

 

 

 

 

 

I showed you a rear view of a male Collared Trogon here, and I now present the head-on view. These high elevation birds are almost guaranteed at Morne Bleu.

collared-trogon

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bioblitz 2013’s total: 772 species! Check out T&T Bioblitz on Facebook here for more information.

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