April 12, 2016
Hello from the Northern Jaguar Reserve. This month, I was joined by Esteban, Laco’s grandson, on our rounds to check the motion-triggered cameras. We were grateful to see the vaqueros constructing a new palapa at Los Pavos, since it will help to keep us cool in the summer when the temperature reaches 45° Celsius. Esteban and I spent two days at Los Pavos, where some of the plants were beginning to bloom and there were new shoots. We saw butterflies and bees looking for flowers on these plants. Fortunately, we had rain this month, and the arroyos that had been dry are now running again. The natural pools that we find in some parts of the reserve are also full. This will be a great boost for wildlife.
I noticed that birds were beginning to sing near the Arroyo Dubaral. I heard cardinals, northern mockingbirds, and blue-gray gnatcatchers. We frequently see gray hawks and American kestrels, and I hope to see a Peregrine falcon soon. These raptors like to make their nests on the rock formations at La Ventana, which makes sense because they like cliffs or steep areas that are difficult to reach.
One of the most incredible places to visit on the reserve is the Arroyo Babisal, with its crystal clear water and small fish found throughout the year. A few hundred meters up from there is a site known as Mesa del Baile; we appreciate this rare flat area. The reserve’s landscape is generally steep and rugged, and traveling through it can be very tiring. Little by little, we are finding new places that we enjoy a great deal. Both La Ventana and Babisal have many locations with perennial water, thus we see a lot of wildlife during the dry months – including common black-hawks, elegant trogons, lowland leopard frogs, white-tailed deer, javelina, and coatis. If we are lucky, we can see almost all of these in a one-month period.
On the Viviendo con Felinos ranches, we observed 14 deer at Las Cuevas near the reserve’s entrance. They were not all together but resting in small groups in the shade of the mesquite trees. At El Sapo, we heard a pack of coyotes howling nearby. They continued for a few minutes and then stopped.
While we were at Los Alisos, Esteban received news that one of Laco’s sisters had suffered a heart attack. We quickly finished checking cameras in order to return to La Ventana to let Laco know. After that, we returned to finish our journey and check cameras on the other ranches. When we went to Agua Fría, we saw that they were fixing the path in order to reach a site known as el Último Bajío. The rancher told us where there is a water hole nearby, and that we would surely see jaguar photos there.
Until next time,
Javier Valenzuela Amarillas has worked on the Northern Jaguar Reserve and Viviendo con Felinos ranches since 2012. As a jaguar guardian, he maintains an extensive network of motion-triggered cameras, inventories the ecological health of the land and water, and works with ranchers to support local wildlife.