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 Post subject: More photos from the Peruvian Amazon
PostPosted: May 6th, 2016, 8:17 am 
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Joined: March 16th, 2011, 11:28 am
Posts: 547
Location: New Jersey
After salivating over the excellent trip reports of Ribbit and others over the course of the past 4 or 5 years, I finally got myself onto the Margarita Tours trip to Peru this winter. Ribbit, who kept detailed notes every day, posted a great series on this year's trip:

http://fieldherpforum.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=2&t=23254l
http://www.fieldherpforum.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=2&t=23295
http://www.fieldherpforum.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=2&t=23381

I tried keeping notes, but by about the second day (and night) of hiking and breathing in air the consistency of hot pea soup, I only had the energy to herp and take photos. As a result, I won't do much storytelling here, and I'm going to try not to duplicate too many of the animals already seen in Ribbit's posts.

I landed in Iquitos on the afternoon of 1/30/16. I arrived too late to join the expedition to the Iquitos Zoo, but I did join the road cruise up the Nauta Road that night. Light rain brought out lots of frogs, and very few snakes.

My first ever Phyllomedusa, a P. vaillantii:
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First live snake of the trip, Pseudoboa coronata:
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The next morning, during breakfast at the local tourist restaurant, I got to see a moth I had always dreamed of seeing in the wild, a Thysania agrippina:
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This is the moth with the longest wingspan in the world, although there are Old World moths that win on total wing area (like the Atlas Moth). This one was pretty puny, at about 8.5 inches across. The record is something like 13.

After a long boat ride and some settling in, we had our first night walk at Madre Selva. I was with Ribbit, so some of these shots should look familiar if you've seen his posts:

Adenomera hylaedactyla:
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Anolis transversalis:
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Amazon Forest Dragon, Enyaloides laticeps:
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Osteocephalus planiceps:
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Sphaenorhynchus carneus:
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S. dorisae:
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Net-casting Spider. These are always cool to see. Later in the trip, we fed one a small katydid and got to watch it throw its "net:"
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Pink-toed Tarantula, Avicularia avicularia:
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The next night, I set up a white sheet and a solar-powered LED spotlight to attract moths. It didn't work so well for the moths, but it did bring in a few frogs, like this Leptodactylus diedrus, to feed on the various other bugs that were attracted to the setup:
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A few cool things from out on the trail:

Collared Treerunner, Plica plica:
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Bolitoglossa sp:
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Oreobates quixensis:
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The following night was a banner night for Matt, Mike, Edvin, Emerson and me:

My first ever live Micrurus, a M. surinamensis (Aquatic Coral) in hunting posture in a small stream:
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Edvin and Emerson are superlative herpers. They scan rapidly, thoroughly, and miss very little. Very often I found myself several hundred meters behind them, running to catch up to see the cool animal they just found. I don't remember who found this frog, but to spot a little green-and-black frog sandwiched between two green leaves 12 meters off the trail was pretty impressive:

Three-striped Poison Frog, Ameerega trivittata, as found:
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Same frog in the light of day back at camp:
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Amazon Forest Dragon:
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I said Edvin and Emerson missed very little, but everyone except Mike, at the very end of our caravan, walked right past this little guy, at knee level literally right next to the trail:

Rainbow Boa, Epicrates cenchoa:
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I think this is the most beautiful snake we saw on the whole trip, personally. Here he is in the light of day, shamelessly posed:
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Edvin and Emerson found a larger, 6-foot Rainbow that same night crossing a stream, but I don't have any photos of it.

Not long after the small boa, this Drymoluber dichrous was found sleeping in a bush about 5 feet up:
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After some in situ photography, Mike and I positioned ourselves to bag the snake. What followed was a classic example of mis-communication - the herping equivalent of two outfielders running to catch a fly ball and then stopping short and watching it fall to the ground. Each of us reached for the snake assuming the other was going to fling it into the bag, and the snake dropped to the ground and promptly disappeared.

There was a brief period of sadness and self-flagellation, but it didn't last long, because soon we were running up the trail to see what our guides had spotted:
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Cruziohyla craspedopus is a canopy dweller, so seeing them down low is always a lucky event. We thought at first this was one frog, and it wasn't until they started to re-arrange themselves on the branch that we realized there were two. This next photo is in situ - I don't think I could possibly have arranged them any better:
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My guess is that these two were fighting up in the canopy and fell down, catching themselves awkwardly on this twig.

Barely 20 meters from the frogs, I spotted another, identical Drymoluber sleeping in an identical position on another bush. At this point, I felt like our good luck was becoming almost comical. Needless to say, this snake went decisively and emphatically into a bag without any further fanfare. Here he is the next morning:
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As we neared camp again laden with bulging bags of snakes, frogs, and lizards, we passed a small pond where Kevin and Ryan had set up a couple metal minnow traps that morning. I thought, "why not check them since we're here," so we hauled them out. The first contained just a few water bugs, but the second had a Brown-banded Water Snake, Helicops angulatus. This photo is from the following morning:
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It was, as Edvin put it somewhat understatedly, "una buena noche." The next noche was pretty buena as well, as some of us took a boat out on the river to look for Tree Boas, Corallus hortulanus. I think it was Ryan who spotted the tiny little pindots of eyeshine that gave this little one away:
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We also saw a larger boa, a few frogs, a Fer-de-lance, and lots of cool birds like Great Potoo, Boat-billed Heron, and Pauraque.

The "water snake" that almost turned our 11-person group into a 10-person group (read Ribbit's account for more info):
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I love animals like this that resemble burning embers. Dendropsophus miyatai:
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Leaf Lizard, Stenocercus fimbriatus:
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After an incredible time at Madre Selva, we boated back upriver, taxied across a town, and boated up another river in a torrential downpour towards Santa Cruz. Our time at this station really started off with a bang. We barely had time to finish dinner before we were running like madmen into the forest to see this:
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This Emerald Tree Boa, Corallus batesii, 20 feet up a tree was an amazing piece of spotting by Edvin, and the highlight of the trip for many. It certainly gave us all an energy boost for that night's herping.

Barely 3 hours later, as I bent down to pick my backpack up from the trail after photographing a frog, I found myself looking at this:
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When I was a very little kid, my mother had this little book of reptiles of the world, with color photos of maybe 130 species or so. To this day I can visualize the Bushmaster photo in that book, and I remember the sense of wonder I had in knowing something so unfathomably exotic as that snake existed in the world. At the time, I had barely seen any wild snakes at all. To finally stare this thing down in the jungle was a pretty special moment for me, as I'm sure it is for most people.

Here he is back at camp:
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I think it was during the Bushmaster photo session that one of the guides brought in this leviathan:
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That's not a tiny kid, it's a massive snake. I believe it turned out to be 8 foot 6.
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Yellow-tailed Cribo, Drymarchon corais:
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More from Santa Cruz:

Gonatodes humeralis:
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Hypsiboas punctatus:
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Phyllomedusa bicolor, the iconic Giant Monkey Frog:
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The much smaller P. vaillantii:
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My favorite small colubrid of the trip, Siphlophis compressus:
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A tiny sheep frog, Syncope antenori, the size of my pinkie fingernail:
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Clown Treefrog, Dendropsophus triangulum:
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On one slow night, I walked off the trail a ways to pee, turning my headlamp off to avoid attracting bugs. When I turned my lamp back on and looked up, this was staring back at me:
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Catesby's Snail-eater, Dipsas catesbyi.

We saw a couple of these mantis nymphs that were incredible ant-mimics:
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A weird twig-grasshopper that Ribbit also photographed:
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Osteocephalus buckleyi next to his breeding puddle:
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Apparently their call is undescribed. These guys were singing away when I found them, but when I returned later with my recorder they were gone.

O. planiceps:
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Anolis bombiceps:
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We saw much more stuff on this incredible trip. I have quite a bit of video as well, showing a lot more of the action involved in some of these photo shoots. Hopefully at some point I'll get around to editing a video to post for you guys.


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 Post subject: Re: More photos from the Peruvian Amazon
PostPosted: May 6th, 2016, 1:11 pm 
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Joined: February 18th, 2015, 11:11 am
Posts: 122
Location: Deerfield Beach, Florida
Sounds like such a great trip! I definitely didn't mind seeing repeat photos of those awesome animals!


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 Post subject: Re: More photos from the Peruvian Amazon
PostPosted: May 7th, 2016, 4:19 pm 

Joined: June 17th, 2010, 4:51 am
Posts: 360
Location: CT
Another great post from Peru! Thanks for sharing. I cant stop looking at that cribo, and I am also very jealous of your Cruziohyla. I wonder why the tried and true method of collecting moths here didn't work out for you there.


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 Post subject: Re: More photos from the Peruvian Amazon
PostPosted: May 8th, 2016, 11:00 am 
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Joined: June 11th, 2010, 5:06 am
Posts: 271
Great stuff, thanks for sharing! Those inverts are as impressive as the herps. Whets my appetite for a trip to the Amazon.


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 Post subject: Re: More photos from the Peruvian Amazon
PostPosted: May 9th, 2016, 4:43 am 
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Joined: June 29th, 2011, 12:56 am
Posts: 792
Location: Belgium
Many thanks for adding to Ribbit's post; yours is surely 100% worth a look as well!

Kfen wrote:
I am also very jealous of your Cruziohyla.

Same here! Definitely the cooler member of the genus, imho. The way it was found makes it even more memorable, I'd imagine. A rare treat!


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 Post subject: Re: More photos from the Peruvian Amazon
PostPosted: May 11th, 2016, 8:39 am 
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Joined: June 12th, 2010, 9:28 am
Posts: 597
Location: Monterey Peninsula, CA
Hi Cliff! It's great to see your photos. I recognize many specific animals but I always like seeing them again, and you got much better photos than I did for some of them, like the "antis" and the leaf-mimic grasshopper. I wish I had been with you on the night of the Cruziohyla and Epicrates. Maybe next time!

John


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