Cristalino Jungle Lodge Nightlife
Yes, another blog about Cristalino Jungle Lodge – sorry! I just love this place and miss it. I’m leading two tours there later this year and am really looking forward to my return, even if only for a few days each time, rather than 10 weeks like I did last year.
In this blog I’ll show a few photos of what you might see in a typical night foray, first starting with boat trip right at dusk, drifting down the peaceful Cristalino River as darkness falls. There are at least two species of small caiman on the river, hiding by day and revealed at night by their eyeshine. First, the widespread Spectacled Caiman, named after the ridge between its eyes that remind one of the bridge of a pair of spectacles.
Next is the more range-restricted Dwarf Caiman. Note the mottled jaw, lack of the ridge between the eyes, and different scalation. It’s actually in a different genus, but both are in the family Alligatoridae.
If you look a little more closely at the overhanging vegetation, you might get the eyeshine of a frog. The taxonomy of this group is still in disarray, and it’s hard to even tell the genera apart. This one appears to be a treefrog in the genus Osteocephalus.
Once back at the lodge, we like to take quick look at the white sheet which as an ultraviolet light in front of it from dark until the power is turned off at 10:00. The mix of species – moths and many other orders of insects – is different every night. Here are a couple spectacular moths in Saturniidae, the silk moth family.
Then a short walk down a trail might result in an owl, but more likely you’ll find a katydid, small native roaches, or a spider. This was a lucky spot – a very small jumping spider on a tree trunk, shortly after it had ambushed a moth.
Back at the lodge, one can always count on the Tropical House Geckos to be entertaining. If not dashing after hapless moths on the screens of the dining hall (a sport we called “gecko TV,” and groups of ecotourists would cheer as if watching a football game), then they might performing other kinds of interesting acts.
Photo at top: Ladder-tailed Nightjar can be found on particularly quiet stretches of the Cristalino River, such as at the big bend by the lodge.
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