Friday, 14 June 2013

Camera Trap Results!

While I have been at REGUA I have been using my camera trap to monitor the mammal species using the reserve and hopefully help to plan a stake out.

The first location I set the camera was overlooking a patch of forest Steve had baited with fruits. This location proved to be very fruitful!

I recorded over 100 videos of 3 different pacas, including a juvenile, as well as black rat, large-headed rice rat and a third so far unidentified rodent species plus unidentified fruit bats and even an owl swooping down on the rodents.

The second location that I chose to place the camera was overlooking a tree that was being used by a female puma as a scent marking tree. Unfortunately she appears to have left the area currently and is probably completing a routine check up on her terrorist that can be up to 1000 km2. Talking the guides, Steve and officials in the state park it appears pumas are well distributed in the area, but are at a low density so their home ranges are likely to be large as there is less competition.

However since the departure of the female, several species of smaller carnivore have decided to use the tree to scent mark as well. Each species appears to smell the others and still wants to leave their mark.

I have captured 2 different ocelots (you can see from the thickness of tail and markings), tayra, crab-eating fox and south american coati all using the tree. (Below is a Tayra)
 
For more videos are images please visit:
http://www.flickr.com/photos/ian_loyd_wildlife/sets/72157634100644789/http://www.flickr.com/photos/ian_loyd_wildlife/sets/72157633380184746/
http://www.flickr.com/photos/ian_loyd_wildlife/sets/72157634100644789/

Thursday, 13 June 2013

Mammals!

When I arrived at REGUA I met Steve Morgan, who is a well known fellow mammal watcher from the UK. He had also heard about REGUA at the Birdfair last year and decided to volunteer to undertake a mammal survey of the reserve. He spent 8 weeks using camera traps, setting small mammal traps, baiting and looking for tracks and signs. He had a great time and established the presence of a reasonable diversity of mammal fauna, but that the numbers were very low.

The reasons for this are that the remaining forest near to REGUA are not completely joined up and thus creating a habitat barrier to many species. The other reason being the forests around REGUA have a long history of severe hunting by locals and many species are close to local extinction level in some areas. This means there is no population pool for many species to recolonise newly created and protected forest.

Despite this the populations of many species are recovering and it is great to see that top predators such as puma are returning.

I have so far seen the following mammals whilst searching the reserve:
Brown howler monkey, South-eastern common opossum, large-headed rice rat, capybara, paca, brown-throated three-toed sloth, Guianan squirrel, greater fishing bat, fringe-lipped bat, greater spear-nosed bat and several unidentified bats as well as the introduced white-tufted ear marmoset and black rat.


The most exciting encounter was trying to see the paca, which is a very elusive forest species of agouti that has been coming an area of forest that Steve had been baiting with fruit. We could see from our camera traps that they were visiting every night so wet organised a stake out.

We sat in the forest on a very steep slope well into the evening in complete silence as we knew they would be very skittish to any noise or movement. It was pitch black and all we could hear were rustling and bats flying over and sometimes hitting us. Eventually we could hear a noise that sounded just right and Steve carefully covered the torch enough for us to see but not scare the paca away. We only had about 10 seconds viewing but the views it was only about 3 meters away. A fantastic experience!

Shrike-like cotinga

I was fortunate to see a pair catching caterpillars from the undersides of a branch on the Sao Jose trail one morning and have also had sightings on the green and red trails further up in the forest. Like so many of the species in the Atlantic Rainforest it has a very limited distribution and sites to see them are very few. The reliability of the birds at Regua, may make it the best site in the world to see this beautiful species.





One of the reasons that there are so many endemics in the Atlantic Rainforest is because it has been isolated from the only other area of similar habitat (The Amazon basin) for so long, that species have evolved separately. However many of the endemics now are isolated to just a small area of the forest because it has become so fragmented.

Some scientists have proposed that the Atlantic Rainforest is actually more bio-diverse than many parts of the Amazon because of its diverse range of topography, altitude and wide distribution along the South American coastline that passes through different climatic regions.

Red Trail

On Saturday 31st May and Thursday I joined Adeli and a guest at the Guapi Assu lodge on a trip to the highest trail in the Reserve, the red trail. It reaches a higher altitude than many of the other trails through the area. Near the top, the forest changes character from tall secondary growth into bamboo thickets and eventually elfin woodland. The elfin woodland is a mixture of stunted trees, palms and dwarf ferns with an abundance of lichens and mosses growing on the floor and there is an increase in miniature bromeliads and orchids.



This different habitat offers a different food and habitat source to many specialist birds such white-bearded antshrike, black-billed scythebill white-bibbed antbird, greenish Schiffornis, grey-capped tyrannulet, golden crowned warbler and ferrugionous antwren. All of which we saw very well.

The trail can be very steep in places and that makes looking up in the canopy very difficult whilst moving but we managed to see an extensive range of mature forest species such as rufous-breasted leaftosser, ochre-breasted, black-capped and white-eyed foliage gleaners, pale-browed treehunter, sharpbill, white-throated, planalto, olivaceous, scaled and thrush-like woodcreepers, star-throated antwrens, red-necked, green headed, brassy-breasted, white-bellied, brown, red-crowned ant, flame-crested, olive-green and black-goggled tanagers, black-throated grosbeak and rufous-capped anthrush.

Near the top of the trail on Thursday I came across two frog species, both requiring full identification still, but one was particularly spectacular as I immediately noticed it had obvious horns on it's head.

I am currently building a showcase of amphibian and reptile pictures that when I get a chance will thoroughly go through to identify them. There is very little help on the Internet to help with identification.





The wetlands at REGUA

I have been at REGUA (Reserva Ecológica de Guapiaçu) for 2 weeks now and have settled in well and have been busy helping to show visitors to the Guapi Assu Bird Lodge the birds and wildlife around the reserve.





The main habitat that I am spending most time in is the restored wetlands close to the conservation centre. The habitat is mostly open lakes with islands, causeways and reed fringed edges to create a suitable nichies for a mix of species.

The bird life around these wetlands is fantastic and a great place to introduce yourself to many of the South American bird families.

Some of the regular species include; white-faced whistling duck, Muscovy duck, Brazilian teal, purple gallinule, capped, striated, cocoi and rufescent tiger herons, great and snowy egrets, wattled jacanas, white-headed marsh and masked water tyrants, wing-banded horneros, social flycatchers, smooth-billed and greater anis, creamy-bellied thrush and tropical kingbird.

I am starting to learn good spots to find certain species such as yellow-lored and common tody flycatchers, chestnut backed antshrike, slaty-breasted wood rail and rufous-sided crake.

There is also an impressive cattle egret roost on the main lake every evening with around 400 birds jostling for the best positions amongst the branches of the islands.

There is a group of around 30 capybara regularly around the wetland and there are currently several youngsters amongst the group. Broad-snouted caiman are more difficult to find around the wetland but I usually see at least 2 every visit. This species was new for me as it only occurs in Eastern and southern south America. It can grow to around 3 meters but most of the individuals here are about 1-2 meters long. 

I have started a special set of pictures on Flicker for my time at REGUA.
http://www.flickr.com/photos/ian_loyd_wildlife/sets/72157634100644789/

Or alternatively scroll through the various Overseas albums to see some new pictures.