July 12, 2013
Laqui accompanied me on this trip to the Northern Jaguar Reserve to check the motion-triggered cameras. We started with the reserve’s northernmost location, Los Pavos. We set out on our daily rounds much earlier in the morning than usual to avoid dehydration and discomfort, since the hottest times and most intense sun are between 11:00 and 4:00 right now. Because we started working close to daybreak, we were able to see many bird species that we do not commonly see, along with reptiles, mammals, and insects. When we were able to get close enough, we took photographs.
One evening while we were having dinner at Los Pavos, Laqui heard a sound that turned out to be an elf owl, or “buhó enano” in Spanish. The owl was flying from one tree to another around the ranch house, and we were only able to take a photo from far away. The elf owl’s call is unique and not like other owls. It is very rare to see one, and for that reason, we listened carefully to follow its location. We also saw a pair of military macaws in the Cajón Los Pavos arroyo. First we heard one singing, and in a little while, the macaw was joined by its mate. Last year, we saw a pair of macaws in September, and now they have returned in June – so it is possible there is a nest near the arroyo. We also found two dead birds: a five-striped sparrow (“el gorrion de cinco rayas”) at Los Pavos and a summer tanager (“la piranga rubra”) at La Ventana. Their deaths could be the result of limited water availability so far this summer.
We had another unusual and exciting sighting: We caught a glimpse of a red-tailed hawk running across the road as it was hunting a snake. This happened right in front of our truck and surprised us because it was very close and very fast. The hawk perched on a tree next to the road to eat the snake, and we were able to sit and observe from front row seats. After that, a gray hawk crossed in front of us on the road. We saw it grab a lizard and fly away.
One afternoon while we were at La Ventana, we found a very small lizard that we had never seen before. It was blue with white spots around the mouth. Laqui saw it first, but then the lizard escaped into a hole. We waited a while for it to come out and were able to identify it as a juvenile Eumeces obsoletus at a young stage. During our travels, we also observed many white-tailed deer and a pair of javelina.
On our return from Tésotas, we saw a wildfire near the Agua Fria ranch, which is halfway between Sahuaripa and La Ventana. This area is known as Teópari. There was no rain that night, however there was a lot of lightning. With all of the dry grass in the region, this can be very dangerous. The following day, we learned that there had also been a small wildfire at Babisal near the reserve boundary. We were concerned since the summer rains had not yet arrived. Fortunately, it rained that very night, and the fire was extinguished. Right now, everything is calm, and light rains are continuing.
Until next time,
Daniela Gutiérrez has worked on the Northern Jaguar Reserve and Viviendo con Felinos ranches since 2011. As a jaguar guardian, she maintains an extensive network of motion-triggered cameras on the reserve, inventories the ecological health of the land and water, and patrols the area to keep out poachers.