Thursday, May 24
Woke up after a wonderful night's sleep at Hidden Valley Inn. Misread my clock and arrived for breakfast one hour early. They already had the coffee made so I drank a few cups while admiring the landscaping around the lodge. Lovely. Enjoyed the continental breakfast of fresh fruit, yogurt, granola and pastries right out of the oven. Delicious!
Morning was all on the 7,300 acres of the Hidden Valley Inn property. We checked two cameras at each of three sites. While at each, we made measurements of the vegetation and took numerous photographs as additional documentation.
It will take weeks to review all of the photographs. I selected four from the area near Butterfly Falls to give you a sense of what the photos show.
Many are of vegetation moving in the breeze. These are motion-activated cameras!
They have LED lights that flash brightly at night, dawn and dusk. These lights are invisible but can be used by the sophisticated camera to produce black-and-white images, such as this one of a Crested Guan foraging as near sunset:
This particular trail gets a lot of visitor traffic. This visitor is prepared for the most dangerous animal of the tropics, the mosquito, with a ready can of DEET:
That spray should keep them OFF!
Many people are afraid of this animal, but they shouldn't be. They are fearful of humans (and rightly so). There are no documented attacks of jaguars on humans in Belize. They avoid us, and so even when you are in the same area, you are extremely unlikely to see one of these big cats:
Lunch was a big salad back at the HVI lodge. We picked up an HVI guide to show him how we check cameras. We set off for the southern portion of the Mountain Pine Ridge where the trees are bigger:
Visible between the trees there is Victoria Peak:
I love the tropical pine forest, with its tall pines and understory of evergreen oaks and Silver Palmetto, a Belizean endemic:
I tested out a tablet computer for field use:
I then handed the tablet to our friend from HVI and asked him to film an unscripted YouTube video. We may delete this later, or at least edit it, but for now, here it is (2'35"):
It was a long day with a lot of data collection, memory card swapping, camera repair and adjustment, vegetation sampling and photographing. We got back after the sun was down:
I ordered another huge meal at HVI but was tired tired to finish it and had to take some back to my cottage as a bed-time snack.