Bat Findings & Other Surprises

June 13, 2008

Three U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service field biologists were joined by Juan Carlos, Eric, Craig, Turtle, and two college students from Hermosillo on a trip to the Northern Jaguar Reserve in early June – the hottest and driest time of the year.

Their mission was to locate bats, and while they didn’t find a resounding quantity of bats in their mist nets, the diversity of species was overwhelming. From a lactating lesser long-nosed bat, which was unexpected in this area at this time of year, to the pallid bat with its overly large ears and skunk-like smell, they recorded 11 different species in just four nights of observation at locations throughout the reserve.

During the daylight hours, the group occupied themselves taking in the vastness of the area. Animal encounter highlights included fish from the longfin dace to the Yaqui catfish, amphibians like the Tarahumara frog and lowland leopard frog, reptiles including Sonoran spiny-tailed iguanas and a Mexican lyresnake, and more than 50 winged species.

The real surprise was at a stock tank in-between an area dubbed “Kitty City” and Rancho Los Pavos. There in the mud at water’s edge were numerous jaguar tracks – footprints that were presumed to belong to a female and her cub. Motion-triggered cameras were set up at this location without delay.

The outing’s last hours on the reserve coincided with Rancho Zetasora’s previous owner rounding up and moving out the last of his cattle. Following the cows out of the reserve and closing the gate on sheer wilderness behind proved to be a perfect and satisfying end of the trip for everyone.

Photo by Jim Rorabaugh