April 26, 2013
This month’s trip was different from other outings because we enjoyed so many sightings of deer, we geo-referenced feline tracks, and we took several scat samples from different species (mostly fox) at the Northern Jaguar Reserve. At Los Pavos, we increased the number of cameras and put an extra camera at Arroyo Los Pavos where we had seen many feline footprints along the trail. This location has great potential for wildlife observation because of the amount of vegetation as well as a large population of white-tailed deer.
We had some excitement and a tense moment walking through the Arroyo Los Pavos, observing a javelina at very close range. We were startled as this individual came out from its resting place very quickly and making a lot of noise. We were sure that there were more javelina in the vicinity, and we heard them running away through the undergrowth. What made us apprehensive as we stood still was that this one javelina stayed there staring us down. It is known that javelina can become aggressive when cornered. Although it was probably just a few moments of standing there and observing each other, it seemed much longer. Finally, the javelina turned around and ran toward the mesquite trees where it had been hiding. Later on, when we came to a site called La Pista, we noticed the remains of what could have been a javelina. We were not completely certain, since we only found the hindquarters and part of the spine, yet the bones were more or less the size of an adult javelina.
We recently began monitoring a new site at Dubaral. It includes a pond where we have found many feline markings along with mountain lion and deer photographs. We are happy to see these results showing a balance between predator and prey, and thus suggesting a healthy ecosystem.
We noticed an increase in the bird populations this month, and in the mornings we can now hear many different types of bird calls as part of the spring mating season. It is the beginning of migration for some birds, and the arroyos are full of bird life. We were able to observe a vermilion flycatcher in courtship flight, puffing up its wings and fluttering while he sang. We also noticed gray hawks roosting in the trees and calling out to their mates. What really made an impression on me was seeing bald eagles in a small arroyo at La Ventana. We saw two individuals perched on rocks near one of our motion-triggered camera sites. When they realized that humans were nearby, they flew away.
Without a doubt, the most exciting thing that happened this month was finding a jaguar photo at Diego Ezrré’s ranch, a participating ranch in the Viviendo con Felinos project. We have not been able to identify it from previous jaguar photos and think that this is a new individual. We hope that we are able to get more photos of this jaguar in the months to come since our primary purpose is to secure jaguar habitat so that the population continues to grow.
Javier Valenzuela Amarillas has worked on the Northern Jaguar Reserve and Viviendo con Felinos ranches since 2012. As a jaguar guardian, he helps to maintain an extensive network of motion-triggered cameras on the reserve and ranches, inventory the ecological health of the land and water, and patrol the area to keep out poachers.