It is currently September 21st, 2017, 11:41 am

All times are UTC - 8 hours




Post new topic Reply to topic  [ 8 posts ] 
Author Message
 Post subject: Peruvian Amazonia 2016, part 2 of 3: Madre Selva
PostPosted: April 4th, 2016, 9:00 pm 
User avatar

Joined: June 12th, 2010, 9:28 am
Posts: 569
Location: Monterey Peninsula, CA
As mentioned in my two recent posts, I recently visited Peruvian Amazonia with MT Amazon Expeditions for the third time. I first spent two days in Panama and then one day in Iquitos before leaving civilization for nine days at two field stations in the Amazon rainforest.

The first of the two destinations was Madre Selva Biological Station, several hours by speedboat downriver from Iquitos. Madre Selva is owned by Project Amazonas, a nonprofit organization dedicated to helping the people who live in Amazonia and to preserving the forest. Any (small) profits that MT Amazon Expeditions makes from its ecotourist business are used to support Project Amazonas.

Madre Selva encompasses a number of structures hand-built with local materials. Only the building containing the kitchen/dining area/general gathering spot sports electricity, and then only for a few hours each day when the generator is running, around mealtimes. The huts where we slept (called "tambos" locally, a word whose origins seem to be lost to the fog of time) were equipped with mosquito-net-enshrouded beds (generally two people and two beds per tambo) and a little bit of furniture and space on the floor on which to pile our stuff. It was very hot much of the time, very humid all of the time, pouring down rain occasionally, and generally swarming with mosquitos everywhere except under the mosquito nets. In other words, perfect herping conditions!

Image
Our luxurious accommodations


Image
A delicious dinner and the local staff: Edvin, Julio, Emerson, Raul, Cesar


Image
A bedraggled bunch of herpers, after a few days in the forest


Local people, often small children, would visit Madre Selva by canoe to bring us critters they had caught in exchange for trade goods we had brought along for this purpose. The trade goods collection mostly comprised t-shirts, candy, and a few hats. Often the local people who dropped by would be wearing t-shirts obtained on earlier herping-group visits. We would hang onto the critters for long enough to satisfy everyone's photo desires (but not longer than a day or so) and then release them.

Image
Ryan holds a small anaconda while its capturers look on and Cliff documents the occasion


For reasons perhaps understood only by my subconscious, I am generally not interested in taking photos of animals that I didn't personally see in the wild, so this anaconda is the last such animal that will be included in this account. This silly behavior of mine also means that some of the finest animals we collectively saw at Madre Selva won't be pictured here, because they were found only by other groups of people when I was elsewhere. (Corallus hortulanus! Epicrates cenchria! Cruziohyla craspedopus!) You'll have to beg the other trip participants if you want to see photos of those.

Madre Selva has a well-maintained, though not always well-marked, set of trails through the forest. The standard ones are known as The Short Trail (half an hour or 45 minutes or so at typical speed), The Medium Trail (an hour or two), and The Long Trail (at least two or three hours). I hiked each of those multiple times, by day and night, along with one traversal each of The Deliberate Extra Long Trail (includes most of The Long Trail plus another long not-so-well-maintained chunk intentionally chosen by Julio) and The Accidental Extra Long Trail (includes all of The Long Trail plus a good-sized dead-end extra piece unintentionally chosen by me). My apologies to Cliff and Tom for subjecting them to the latter on the very first night, especially since Cliff had underestimated how much water he should carry. Fortunately Tom had a LifeStraw that came in extremely handy that evening.

Image
A typical view of a forest trail


Image
Michael and Tom navigate a bridge over a small forest stream


Image
The forest is full of fungi


Invertebrates of every size, shape, and color pattern occupied every nook and cranny in the forest. I love me some nice bugs, but with all the potential herps to find I couldn't devote too much time to them. Even so, I ended up with a decent collection of Cool Amazon Bug photos, so I thought I'd toss in a few of them here.

Image
Image
Colorful short-horned grasshoppers (family Acrididae, anyone know the genus or species?)


Image
Not so colorful short-horned grasshoppers (family Romaleidae)


Image
Not all Amazon grasshoppers have such standard grasshopper shapes. This is a "jumping stick", in the genus Apioscelis.


Image
Female jumping sticks get much larger than males


Image
A dead-leaf mimic katydid (family Tettigoniidae, tribe Pterochrozini)


Image
Another style of dead-leaf mimic katydid: a Peacock Katydid (genus Pterochroza)


Image
Image
Stick insects, a.k.a. walking sticks, a.k.a. phasmids. I like the name "phasmids" best. This group of insects was very numerous; it would be easy to find dozens each night if that's what you were looking for.


Image
Tiger beetles (subfamily Cicindelinae) clustering on leaves at night. Each beetle in one of these clusters would be facing in the same direction (more or less), and all would be equally spaced (more or less) from each other.


Image
A green-on-green leaf beetle (family Chrysomelidae), on green


Image
A tiny, beautiful plant hopper (superfamily Membracoidea is as specific as I can get for this one)


Image
A medium-sized, weird-looking Wax-tailed Planthopper (Pterodictya reticularis)


Image
A large, extremely weird-looking Peanut-headed Bug (Fulgora laternaria). This won the trip award for Weirdest Insect.


Image
On each of my earlier visits to Madre Selva I had seen an amazing leaf-mimic mantid. I didn't see any of those this time, but I did see a few fine specimens of Bark Mantis (Liturgusa sp.) like this one. I don't know enough insect anatomy to decipher the species definitions in the overview of this genus to tell whether this particular mantis is the one named after the Kratt Brothers (Liturgusa krattorum) or the one named after Al Gore (Liturgusa algorei), both of which are specifically reported from Madre Selva in that overview.


Image
I neglected to deliberately photograph any mosquitos, though many of my photos of other animals include bloodsucking hitchhikers. I did decide to record some evidence of their aftermath, as shown here. Fortunately this was the only type of evidence of their presence that I experienced. (Three trips to the area, and still no botflies, woo hoo!)


Image
I still think of scorpions as desert denizens, though I should definitely know better by now


Image
A net-casting spider (family Deinopidae) awaiting a prety item to ensnare by quickly lassoing it with extra-strong webbing


Image
A Tailless Whip Scorpion (order Amblypygi) shedding its skin


Image
A brightly colored Land Planarian (order Geoplanidae) on the prowl


Image
Large Armored Millipedes (family Polydesmidae) were a common sight


Image
I don't know the details of how millipedes reproduce, but I'm pretty sure only two are required


Mammal-wise, I don't have much to offer photographically. We saw gray and pink river dolphins, but each sighting was extremely brief as the dolphins exposed only a small portion of their bodies. No photos there. We also saw some monkey activity, which is always entertaining, but the monkeys were way up high and I didn't bother taking any photos since they would have been oh-so-crappy. I saw an armadillo one night as it scuttled across the trail, but didn't get a photo.

The most commonly seen mammals were opossums. In the U.S. we just have the one species that managed to migrate north long ago. But South America is rife with opossum species. I saw a decent number of opossums, but only got decent photos of two of them:

Image
Mouse Opossum (Marmosa sp., perhaps Marmosa murina)


Image
Grey and Black Four-eyed Opossum (Philander sp.)


Enough of these furry creatures; let's see some herps! I will start with the frogs and toads, which were by far the most plentiful herps in the rainforest.

Easily seen both day and night were the Crested Forest Toads a.k.a. South American Common Toads, Rhinella "margaritifera". The quotation marks hint that this is widely considered a complex of closely related species that nobody has figured out yet. And it is easy to believe that multiple species are involved with this group of significantly different-looking toads.

Here is a teeny tiny metamorph. The tiny ones tend to be quite colorful if you get close enough to notice.

Image
Crested Forest Toad (Rhinella "margaritifera")


Some adults have the namesake large crests on their heads. This pointy-nosed fellow has pretty big crests, though it's nowhere near the extreme. One of the characteristics of this species is a triangular-ish head, in the manner of a viper. You can see that here.

Image
Crested Forest Toad (Rhinella "margaritifera")


This is my favorite leaf-litter camouflage look. No crests on this one, but you can see that the way the jowls kind of bulge out to the side, making that triangular-ish head.

Image
Crested Forest Toad (Rhinella "margaritifera")


Some individuals have a ridge of pointy tubercles down their backbone.

Image
Crested Forest Toad (Rhinella "margaritifera")


One species in this area, the Sharp-nosed Forest Toad, has already been split out of the "margaritifera" complex. I am not great at telling them apart, but I think the combination of smooth dorsal skin, upward-pointing snout tip, and lack of triangular-ish head identify this one as R. dapsilis.

Image
Sharp-nosed Forest Toad (Rhinella dapsilis)


But then you get ones like this. The skin is much less smooth than the previous toad, and the snout doesn't have an obviously upward-pointing tip, but it has no significant crests and I see no sign of triangular-ish head. I'm leaning towards "margaritifera", but only the toad's mom knows for sure.

Image
Crested Forest Toad (Rhinella "margaritifera") ?


Smooth dorsum, but pretty big crests and the big jowls. I'm guessing "margaritifera" here also.

Image
Crested Forest Toad (Rhinella "margaritifera") ?


Very smooth dorsum, no big jowls, but no upward-pointing snout tip either. Darn these toads! I'd like to call this one dapsilis, and who is going to stop me?

Image
Sharp-nosed Forest Toad (Rhinella dapsilis) ?


Very smooth dorsum, head doesn't look triangular-ish to me, and the slightest hint of an upward-pointing snout tip. I'll call this dapsilis and hope that someone reading this understands these toads better than I do and speaks up. (Jeroen, are you listening?)

Image
Sharp-nosed Forest Toad (Rhinella dapsilis) ?


Okay, now here's a toad I can identify without hesitation. There are no parotid glands like Cane Toad parotid glands This monster was certainly six inches long, and perhaps seven or eight. And it was probably wider than it was long.

Image
Cane Toad (Rhinella marina)


Dendropsophus is a genus of small Central and South American treefrogs that is well represented in Amazonia. Many of them look similar, but a few are quite distinctive. Here's one of the distinctive minority. The parallel longitudinal ridges with some dark highlights and the long skinny shape make this undeniably a Many-lined Treefrog.

Image
Many-lined Treefrog (Dendropsophus haraldschultzi)


The two white spots on the upper lip is the best field mark for this Short-nosed Treefrog, though the blunt snout is obviously a clue also.

Image


Another Short-nosed Treefrog I think, though a less obvious one. That second white spot on the lip is hardly more than a smudge.

Image
Short-nosed Treefrog (Dendropsophus brevifrons)


This next one is certainly a short-nosed treefrog, but I'm pretty sure it's not a Short-nosed Treefrog (see the importance of capitalizing common names?). It's only got one white spot on the upper lip! That, along with the darker banding, makes me think this is an Orange-shanked Treefrog.

Image
Orange-shanked Treefrog (Dendropsophus parviceps)


When Matt and I found this amplexing pair, we recognized them right away as Dendropsophus but we weren't sure about the species. It seemed like they would be easy to identify, since we had good photos of both the male and the female, and the white flanks and inky black patches on the female were so distinctive. But the first few references I consulted had no matches. Eventually I found a potential match for the female in a poorly reproduced photo of Dendropsophus allenorum in Duellman's fabulous book "Cusco Amazónico: The Lives of Amphibians and Reptiles in an Amazonian Rainforest". Followup Googling revealed that Dendropsophus allenorum had recently been synonymized with Dendropsophus timbeba.

Image
Dendropsophus timbeba (I haven't found any common name for this little-mentioned species)


The charmingly named Hatchet-faced Treefrogs are generally found in or very close to ponds, but on the first night hike at Madre Selva we saw two species, both resting on foliage five or six feet high, and neither near a pond or even particularly close to a stream.

Image
Pygmy Hatchet-faced Treefrog (Sphaenorhynchus carneus)


Image
Spotted Hatchet-faced Treefrog (Sphaenorhynchus dorisae)


This next little treefrog is reminiscent of the Hatchet-faced Treefrogs, but its face is significantly less hatchet-shaped. It only allowed me one blurry photo before leaping away.

Image
Slender Treefrog (Scarthyla goinorum)


Rocket Treefrogs are one of the most commonly seen large treefrogs in both of the two field stations we visit. This year I only got photos of one from Madre Selva, but it was a particularly fat one.

Image
Rocket Treefrog (Hypsiboas lanciformis)


The Convict Treefrog is so named for the distinctive "prisoner stripes" on its flanks.

Image
Convict Treefrog (Hypsiboas calcaratus)


Osteocephalus is a genus of medium to large treefrogs with impressive leaping abilities. Here's one in the typical "about to leap really far away from you" pose.

Image
Flat-headed Bromeliad Treefrog (Osteocephalus planiceps)


Here's another O. planiceps in a more stable position. This was the first one I had seen with rosy limb stripes.

Image
Flat-headed Bromeliad Treefrog (Osteocephalus planiceps)


I believe this larger, blunter-snouted frog is the closely related Giant Bromeliad Treefrog.

Image
Giant Bromeliad Treefrog (Osteocephalus taurinus)


On our last night in Madre Selva I was on The Deliberate Extra Long Trail with Emerson and Julio when we heard a very loud, distinctive frog call. Emerson and Julio recognized it as the call of the Amazon Milk Frog, and we all fanned out to try to track it down. Julio found the frog, calling from a water-filled tree hole about five feet off the ground. I attempted to photograph it in the tree hole, but the angle was such that I could barely see it and getting a decent photo was basically impossible. I did manage to capture evidence of the frog's existence, but that's about it.

Image
Amazon Milk Frog (Trachycephalus resinifictrix)


The most commonly seen and most difficult to identify group of frogs in Peruvian Amazonia is the genus Pristimantis. Every night I saw at least a few of these, and most of them could only be even tentatively identified by comparing details of the photos with the species descriptions from various publications. This process is complicated by the ever-growing number of species in this genus, which already contains more species (470+) than any other genus of vertebrates, and by a series of revisions that split or lumped or re-split or re-lumped species definitions, and by the fact that many species are extremely variable in appearance. Also, some of the distinguishing characteristics involve the color and pattern of the frog's bellies and other hidden areas, and I generally tried to avoid disturbing the frogs too much so I didn't get photos of these areas. So a lot of these identifications are at best educated guesses; I've marked the ones that I am the least confident about with "(?)". If you think I've gotten any of them wrong, please let me know.


Image
Carabaya Rain Frog (Pristimantis ockendeni)


Image
Carabaya Rain Frog (Pristimantis ockendeni)


Image
Carabaya Rain Frog (Pristimantis ockendeni) (?) (Those eyes look awfully large...)


Image
Carabaya Rain Frog (Pristimantis ockendeni), juvenile (?)


Image
Amazonian Rain Frog (Pristimantis altamazonicus) (?)


Image
Malkin's Rain Frog (Pristimantis malkini)


Image
Santa Cecilia Robber Frog (Pristimantis croceoinguinis)


Image
Marti's Rain Frog (Pristimantis martiae)


Image
Diadem Rain Frog (Pristimantis diadematus) (?) (My first guess was P. ventrimarmoratus, but someone pointed out that the tympanum should not be visible in that species.)


One type of Pristimantis whose ID has been eluding me for years is small, generally light-colored, with an at-most barely visible tympanum and a dark-edged "W" mark on the shoulders. I have seen these on all of my visits to Peruvian Amazonia, but hadn't been able to come up with a decent guess as to their identity. I finally have a good idea, though it wouldn't greatly surprise me if I'm completely wrong. The "short" version of the story is: at one point these would have fallen under P. ockendeni, which was later determined to be a species complex. A study of Ecuadorian frogs split out three additional species: P. kichwarum, P. achuar, and P. altamnis, which had three distinct ranges in Ecuador, with the range of P. achuar coming close to northern Peru. Another study later determined that the species P. luscombei had inadvertently been described from a type series that contained specimens of two different species. The type specimen itself retained the name P. luscombei and was redescribed/clarified, and the other species in the type series, which has a very distinctive appearance, was described as the new species P. miktos. Pretty much all photos of P. luscombei older than this recent reclassification (2014) are of the distinctive appearance that identifies them as P. miktos, so it's hard to find photos of the new definition of P. luscombei. However, the P. achuar that had been earlier split from P. ockendeni was then determined to be a junior synonym of the now-clarified P. luscombei, and it's relatively easy to find photos of P. achuar from Ecuador. These photos look very much like my mystery frogs, so I believe these to be P. luscombei. Got that? There will be a short quiz at the end of class.

Image
Luscombe's Rain Frog (Pristimantis luscombei)


Image
Luscombe's Rain Frog (Pristimantis luscombei)


Image
Luscombe's Rain Frog (Pristimantis luscombei)


Image
Luscombe's Rain Frog (Pristimantis luscombei)


Image
Luscombe's Rain Frog (Pristimantis luscombei)


Image
Luscombe's Rain Frog (Pristimantis luscombei) (?) (The coloration here is somewhat different, with the "W" mark present but not completely dark-edged.)


Another irksome group of rainforest frogs is the group of small Leptodactylus sometimes referred to as "the Leptodactylus wagneri complex". They are distinguished by a set of qualititative characteristics, such as the smoothness of the dorsum, the completeness of the dorsolateral fold, the prominence of the lip stripes, etc. My best guess for these two, which were found near each other, is that they are both Peter's Jungle Frogs, but your mileage may vary.

Image
Peter's Jungle Frog (Leptodactylus petersii) (?)


Image
Peter's Jungle Frog (Leptodactylus petersii) (?)


So many frogs, so hard to identify them. This area of Peru is home to a pair of closely related frogs in the genus Adenomera. They are distinguished primarily (or maybe only? -- this seems to be a point of contention) by call and habitat preference. I did not hear them calling, but both of these were found deep in the forest, which "should" make them Adenomera hylaedactyla rather than Adenomera andreae.

Image
Forest Chirping Frog (Adenomera hylaedactyla)


Image
Forest Chirping Frog (Adenomera hylaedactyla)


Harlequin Toads (genus Atelopus), are the unwitting poster children of amphibian decline in the New World. Many of the species of beautiful frogs in this genus have been wiped out nearly or entirely in recent decades. Most blame is put on the devastating chytrid fungus, but habitat destruction has clearly also played a significant role. Any sighting of these frogs in the wild is a wonderful but bittersweet event. One particular stream crossing on the trails of Madre Selva has been a reliable location for the local Atelopus species, and one morning when I hiked the Long Trail by myself I was lucky enough to spot this mostly diurnal frog.

Image
Common Harlequin Toad (Atelopus spumarius). The English name is certainly a misnomer these days.


Later, when I hiked The Deliberate Extra Long Trail with Emerson and Julio, I saw another one sleeping in the vegetation at night. This was a good distance away from the stream crossing location, which is a hopeful sign.

Image
Common Harlequin Toad (Atelopus spumarius)


The most commonly seen poison frogs in the area are two very similar looking species that were once placed in the same genus but these days are placed in different families (at least according to the taxonomy used by the American Museum of Natural History).

Image
Spotted-thighed Poison Frog (Allobates femoralis), family Aromobatidae.


Image
Spotted-thighed Poison Frog (Allobates femoralis)


Image
Pale-striped Poison Frog (Ameerega hahneli), family Dendrobatidae.


The largest poison frog in the area is the striking Three-striped Poison Frog. On my two previous visits I had missed out on seeing any wild ones, but this time I was lucky enough to see three. I was having camera troubles when I saw the third one, but here are photos of the first two.

Image
Three-striped Poison Frog (Ameerega trivittata)


Image
Three-striped Poison Frog (Ameerega trivittata)


And one of the smallest poison frogs in the area is the Uakari Poison Frog, even more beautiful than the Three-striped. These are closely related to the poison frog we saw on the grounds of the Iquitos zoo that was pictured in my previous post, but can be distinguished by some differences in the striping and coloration. I managed to come across four or five of these little gems at Madre Selva.

Image
Uakari Poison Frog (Ranitomeya uakarii)


Image
Uakari Poison Frog (Ranitomeya uakarii)


Image
Uakari Poison Frog (Ranitomeya uakarii)


At least three species of salamander can be found in the area, all in the neotropical genus Bolitoglossa. They all look similar and have similar lifestyles. They are found climbing on wet rainforest leaves at night, often in a near-vertical position, using their cute little padlike feet. From the length of the tail, I believe this one to be the Peruvian Climbing Salamander.

Image
Peruvian Climbing Salamander (Bolitoglossa peruviana)


This one has lost the most important clue as to its species. However, the parts that remain are so similar to the previous salamander that I am reasonably confident it is the same type.

Image
Peruvian Climbing Salamander (Bolitoglossa peruviana)


Skink-wise, this area offers only a single fairly nondescript species, the South American Spotted Skink. It is easy to find along trails and in treefalls and in other open areas of the forest when the sun is shining.

Image
South American Spotted Skink (Copeoglossum nigropunctatum)


Forest Whiptails shared the sunny patches with the skinks. I often saw the two species just a foot or two away from each other. This is a very young lizard, at an age when their colors are brightest.

Image
Forest Whiptail (Kentropyx pelviceps)


Microteiids a.k.a. Gymnophthalmids are a family of small lizards typically found scuttling through leaf litter or alongside forest streams. A number of species are in the area, but I only saw one at Madre Selva this time.

Image
Elegant Eyed Lizard (Cercosaura argulus)


Also scuttling through leaf litter are the awesomely camouflaged Western Leaf Lizards, which have a body plan very similar to Sceloporus but with colors and strong-edged patterns that provide them near invisibility when resting in dead leaves on the forest floor.

Image
Western Leaf Lizard (Stenocercus fimbriatus)


However, camouflage only works with the right background. One afternoon we came across two Western Leaf Lizards in quick succession that had apparently not figured this part out. These are both in situ, believe it or not.

Image
Western Leaf Lizard (Stenocercus fimbriatus)


Image
Western Leaf Lizard (Stenocercus fimbriatus)


Various anoles inhabit the forest. Mostly we would see them sleeping in the foliage at night, but occasionally we'd see one during the day. This is not at all similar to the anole situation in, say, Florida. The night-sleepers would usually notice our presence quickly and open their eyes.

Although there are only seven or eight anole species in the area, it is still not always easy to identify them. For example, female A. trachyderma look very similar to female A. fuscoauratus, and A. chrysolepis can easily be confused for A. bombiceps without a careful look at the dewlaps. So I probably have some of these wrong.

Image
Common Forest Anole (Anolis trachyderma), awakened by our photography


Image
Slender Anole (Anolis fuscoauratus), ditto


Image
Another Slender Anole, or perhaps an Amazon Bark Anole (Anolis ortonii)


Image
Baby Blue-lipped Forest Anole (Anolis bombiceps) on the forest floor by day


Image
Juvenile Blue-lipped Forest Anole (Anolis bombiceps) on a previously rainy night


Image
Baby Amazon Green Anole (Anolis punctatus), formerly asleep


Image
Banded Tree Anole (Anolis transversalis), ditto


Image
And another


Amazon Forest Dragons are another reasonably common diurnal species that I've encountered mostly as they rested at night. On my three visits together I have seen at least a dozen individuals, but only one by day.

Image
Young male Amazon Forest Dragon (Enyalioides laticeps)


Image
Another young male


Image
An adult female.


Only a few species of geckos live in the area, which has always surprised me. By far the most commonly seen are two species of diurnal Gonatodes, none of which I managed to photograph in Madre Selva this year. The one big gecko is the Southern Turnip-tailed Gecko, which is most often found on the field station buildings. As usual, at least one individual patrolled the bathroom building interior walls as entertainment for us. Another one guarded the building where the "photo studio" (a couple of tables with big leaves scattered on them) was set up. We detained this one for a day so people could get good photos. I had failed to get an in situ photo when the gecko was on the building, so I took a couple of shots when it was in the building instead.

Image
Southern Turnip-tailed Gecko (Thecadactylus solimoensis)


My favorite lizard of the trip was perhaps the tiniest, a species that I hadn't seen before and has been encountered only rarely on these trips. I spotted this inch-and-a-half long Amazon Pygmy Gecko resting on a dead leaf on the forest floor on the first night at Madre Selva, and it was kind enough to remain on the leaf long enough for me to get two photos before ambling into the leaf litter. We tried to rediscover it since we knew other people would want photos, but it had made its escape.

Image
Amazon Pygmy Gecko (Pseudogonatodes guianensis)


Finding snakes in the rainforest is rarely easy, but we got off to a particularly slow start at Madre Selva. On the first night, the group I was with took The Accidental Extra Long Trail but still didn't see any snakes, and if I recall correctly neither did anyone else. On the second night, I did The Long Trail with a set of people including the local guide Edvin, who is the best snake spotter in Peru as far as I can tell. Still, we came away with only one snake, an Aquatic Coralsnake that was perched on the exposed part of a submerged log and drinking from the stream.

Image
Aquatic Coralsnake (Micrurus surinamensis)


I don't remember what other hiking groups saw on the second night snakewise, but it wasn't much if anything.

On the third night, about half of the people went out in a boat to look for Amazon Tree Boas and caiman and to check out the goofy Fujimori Sidewalk (goofy in that there is extremely little practical purpose for a paved path in this area, and there is no actual road for it to be a sidewalk for; it had been a bit of political pork by former Peruvian president Fujimori designed to attract votes). The other half took The Long Trail. We boat-going people had yet another weak snake night; we did manage to see a couple of the local water snakes (Helicops angulatus) along the Fujimori Sidewalk, but we didn't find any tree boas. And I personally didn't even see the water snakes, so I don't have any photos of them. The Long Trail people had much better luck: they ended up seeing seven snakes, including two gorgeous Peruvian Rainbow Boas.

On the fourth night, I hiked The Long Trail with Emerson, Edvin, Matt, and Tom. This time we were sure we'd have some good snake action, since the previous night had been so fruitful. But alas, the only serpent we encountered was a single Blunt-headed Tree Snake. I definitely love Blunt-headed Tree Snakes, but they have been the most commonly seen snake on each of my visits to Peru so it was not the very most exciting find.

Image
Common Blunt-headed Tree Snake (Imantodes cenchoa)


The following morning I was out on The Long Trail again, this time with Matt, Cliff, and Kevin. Our primary objective was to find Atelopus spumarius at their usual spot. We had reached that location and spread out to search for the frogs when I heard Kevin shout out "Snake!" followed by much crashing through vegetation as Kevin chased the snake down an embankment and into a stream. The stream was three feet deep at most, so Kevin was undeterred and continued to splash noisily in hot pursuit of the hapless serpent that was swimming rapidly downstream. Matt called out "What kind of snake??" and Kevin yelled back "I think it's a water snake!". I was on top of the embankment on the other side of the stream and could now see the snake and Kevin fairly clearly. I shouted out "I think it's a Fer-de-Lance!". Kevin shouted again "I think it's a water snake!". I replied with "I'm pretty sure that's a Fer-de-Lance!". Now Cliff could see it also and he too joined in with "I think it's a Fer-de-Lance!". Kevin had gotten close enough to the speedily swimming serpent that he could have grabbed it by the tail, and he was considering doing just that, but something in the voices of me and Cliff (perhaps it was the actual words) slowed his hand, and he chose not to make contact. This was wise, as it was most definitely a Fer-de-Lance. The snake swam to the far side of the stream and hunkered under an overhang in the bank. We all hurried over. Kevin and Matt wrangled it out into the open with tongs, and we got a few photos with the snake in the water.

Image
South American Fer-de-Lance (Bothrops atrox)


Matt then wrangled it out of the water and up to a fairly open spot on the trail, where we encouraged it to coil for more photos before we let it slither off back into the forest.

Image
South American Fer-de-Lance (Bothrops atrox)


That evening was our last at Madre Selva. I was determined to find some more snakes, so as mentioned earlier I joined Emerson and Julio on The Deliberate Extra Long Trail. We got off to an auspicious start; no more than fifty yards from the start of the trail a bit of color caught Julio's eye and in an instant he was extracting a bright red-and-black snake from a root tangle. I wanted to get a photo of the snake in the forest where it was found (though no longer in situ), but it would not cooperate quickly and I didn't want to hold up Emerson and Julio for long since we had an Extra Long Trail ahead of us. So I gave up quickly and we bagged the snake for photos the next morning. This is the best shot I got in the forest:

Image


At the time we found it, I thought the snake was another Amazon Scarlet Snake like the one we had seen on the Nauta Road on our day in Iquitos. But counting the scale rows revealed that it was instead a lookalike species, the Amazon Egg-eating Snake a.k.a. Black-collared Snake. Here's a photo I took the following morning before releasing the snake back where it was found.

Image
Amazon Egg-eating Snake (Drepanoides anomalus)


Five minutes later, Emerson spotted a small black-and-white snake near the ground. I recognized this one from an earlier trip as a Banded Calico Snake. Emerson had picked it up before I had the chance to tell him I wanted to get a picture in the forest, so he let it coil around a stick so I could get this award-winning photo (not).

Image
Banded Calico Snake (Oxyrhopus petolarius)


Not too long later, I noticed another Blunt-headed Tree Snake. This night was shaping up well, snake-wise!

Image
Common Blunt-headed Tree Snake (Imantodes cenchoa)


We then hit a snake dry spell for a couple of hours, and had gotten deep into the Extra part of The Deliberate Extra Long Trail. We had seen a fine collection of frogs, bugs, and opossums along the way, so I was quite satisfied with the night's hiking. But I became even more satisfied when a coiled Green-striped Vine Snake caught my eye. We had found a DOR Brown Vine Snake back on the first part of our trip in Panama, and Ryan in particular had been dying to see a live vine snake ever since. So I knew this one would bring some smiles onto faces back at camp, and indeed it did. The next morning there was much vine-snake-fondling by Ryan and others.

Image
Green-striped Vine Snake (Philodryas argentea, formerly Xenoxybelis argenteus, formerly Oxybelis argenteus, back to Coluber argenteus in the days of Linnaeus)


No more than ten minutes later, another sleeping colubrid stopped me in my tracks. I recognized this one right away from earlier trips as a Tawny Forest Racer.

Image
Tawny Forest Racer (Dendrophidion dendrophis)


So I ended up seeing five snakes on my last night at Madre Selva, which is a fine haul for the Peruvian rainforest. (I must admit that I was especially proud to have found three snakes that both Julio and Emerson had missed, because they don't miss much.) The snake diversity was starting to heat up. The next day we headed to our second destination, Santa Cruz Forest Reserve, which has been a good spot over the years for finding Bushmasters. Would we be so lucky this time?

I'll tell you soon, though it might not be extra soon because I'm currently on a road trip with my wife and our numerous dogs. Hopefully it will be pretty soon though.

John


Top
 Profile WWW 
Reply with quote  
 Post subject: Re: Peruvian Amazonia 2016, part 2 of 3: Madre Selva
PostPosted: April 4th, 2016, 9:48 pm 
User avatar

Joined: June 9th, 2010, 9:57 pm
Posts: 467
Location: Ohio, then Arizona, now South Australia
I DO love reading your trip reports John. My fav snakes - the Green-striped Vine Snake and the Banded Calico Snake. Thanks for the vicarious vacation - I am looking so forward to your next installment. :beer:


Top
 Profile  
Reply with quote  
 Post subject: Re: Peruvian Amazonia 2016, part 2 of 3: Madre Selva
PostPosted: April 5th, 2016, 2:06 pm 

Joined: December 23rd, 2014, 11:32 am
Posts: 20
Man that's a lot of frogs.


Top
 Profile  
Reply with quote  
 Post subject: Re: Peruvian Amazonia 2016, part 2 of 3: Madre Selva
PostPosted: April 5th, 2016, 3:06 pm 
User avatar

Joined: June 7th, 2010, 4:13 pm
Posts: 160
Location: NE Illinois
Looks like a great trip. You certainly saw a variety of critters and your photography is excellent. I really enjoyed your narrative as well, explaining how to ID various species and also some natural history. I'm looking forward to the next installment.


Top
 Profile  
Reply with quote  
 Post subject: Stunning - absolutely stunning.
PostPosted: April 5th, 2016, 5:39 pm 
User avatar

Joined: June 10th, 2010, 4:57 pm
Posts: 52
Location: Portland/Vancouver
Count me as one of many who TREMENDOUSLY love your posts, and who love to "travel" vicariously to remote, exotic places with you - in spirit.

Many of these places are locations which most persons may never have a chance to visit. Plus, most photos of places like Amazonia are usually of tourist spots, or of locales along the well traveled rivers. Your photos, in contrast, show the "nitty gritty" of the plant & animal life present, and take us deep into the actual forests!

Each one of your posts is not only enjoyable for me, it's a significant education in global travel & ecology.

Thanks again - fellow herper, for sharing your tales of the road - especially of those roads less often traveled.

Desert Don
Vancouver, WA

1.0 Lampropeltis getula floridana Florida Kingsnake
0.1 Lichurana trivirgata trivirgata Sonoran Desert Boa (Mexican Rosy Boa)
0.1 Boa dumerili (formerly Acrantophis dumerili) Dumeril's Boa

1.0 Terrapene carolina carolina Eastern Box Turtle
1.0 Terrapene carolina triangus Three-toed Box Turtle


Top
 Profile  
Reply with quote  
 Post subject: Re: Peruvian Amazonia 2016, part 2 of 3: Madre Selva
PostPosted: April 22nd, 2016, 12:54 pm 
User avatar

Joined: June 29th, 2011, 12:56 am
Posts: 774
Location: Belgium
It took me a while too :oops: but I cannot believe this has not received more replies!

Ribbit wrote:
(Jeroen, are you listening?)

Certainly! Obviously! Always! :lol:

I'd say the skin looks fairly rough for dapsilis, but I'm not going to bet anything on it.

Thanks again for brightening my day with images of a place I think of getting back to at least a couple of times each month. On a harsher note, I am very unhappy with the lack of Cruziohyla photography ;) - one of the most epic frogs in the world by my book & so much cooler than its Central American congener...

I've been naughty and looked at Matt's website (because I couldn't survive without seeing that Cruziohyla), so I know already in part what's to come, but I'm still more than excited to read your (always excellent) story that goes with it.


Top
 Profile WWW 
Reply with quote  
 Post subject: Re: Peruvian Amazonia 2016, part 2 of 3: Madre Selva
PostPosted: April 22nd, 2016, 3:12 pm 
User avatar

Joined: June 12th, 2010, 9:28 am
Posts: 569
Location: Monterey Peninsula, CA
Thanks everyone! It's very nice to hear that each of you enjoy my posts. I try to get across the feelings I had from my travels, and not just the photos by themselves, and it's gratifying to hear from people who appreciate that.

I'm getting close with the last part. I'm still on the road, but writing bits and pieces when I can find time.

John


Top
 Profile WWW 
Reply with quote  
 Post subject: Re: Peruvian Amazonia 2016, part 2 of 3: Madre Selva
PostPosted: May 2nd, 2016, 9:16 pm 
User avatar

Joined: June 12th, 2010, 9:28 am
Posts: 569
Location: Monterey Peninsula, CA
I have finally finished the last part: http://fieldherpforum.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=2&t=23381


Top
 Profile WWW 
Reply with quote  
Display posts from previous:  Sort by  
Post new topic Reply to topic  [ 8 posts ] 

All times are UTC - 8 hours


Who is online

Users browsing this forum: Exabot [Bot], Google [Bot] and 29 guests


You cannot post new topics in this forum
You cannot reply to topics in this forum
You cannot edit your posts in this forum
You cannot delete your posts in this forum
You cannot post attachments in this forum

Search for:
Jump to: