Thursday, February 21, 2008

Los Animales y Pajaros y Insectos...

One of the reasons we bought the house we did was the yard. The yard is full of mature trees and palms and ornamentals that offer a wide variety of forage and shelter for birds and bugs and stuff. I don't know what this bird is, but there were two of them in this palm picking the palm fruits and dropping them to the ground. They did this for a day or two only - probably a weird mating ritual!

We were quite excited when we saw this bird, because we mistakenly thought it was the endangered yellow-shouldered blackbird (most have been tagged). But no, it is a Puerto Rican Oriole. I have spend many hours watching this bird build its little hammocks in a huge palm we have near the balcony. It straddles the ridges of the leaves with its legs and does stuff with mud. Then it weaves this hammock (actually several) suspended across the palm leaves.

Our upper property is under construction - major vine pulling, raking, cutting of stumps and mini trees. The vines crawled up anything with elevation and the result is "ghost" trees - they look almost like topiaries. When the vines have fruit or seeds on them it brings in the birds - in this case an Ani.

At night I make my rounds with a flashlight trying to figure out who is making what noise. The Puerto Rican Screech Owls sound like monkeys, the doves sound like they have microphones and the insects? I swear some of them have maracas and maybe even percussion instruments! Just like the coquis though, when you step near them all the sound stops and you can't locate them. This looks like a grasshopper - not sure.

This spider makes odd funnel type dimensional webs under banana leaves so watch when you are picking fruit.

I absolutely love the coquis and they seem to be many kinds on our property. The eyes are different, there are lines on their heads, coloring is different, and they don't all make sound. Some of them seem to have a favorite "regular" spot on a palm leaf or in the stalk of cut down banana trees. I don't ever see them in the daytime despite going out early in the morning looking.

My absolute favorite animal though has got to be the rooster. There is one that thinks he lives here with his little bitches (4 or 5). It is the first thing we hear in the morning and the last thing (sometimes mingled with dog) before falling asleep. They are responsible for my bizarre dreams. They are the reasons I investigate down by the breadfruit trees or the avocado numerous times a day - sounds like people walking around. I can count on them to be where ever I worked last in the yard. They set up a spa (dirt bath holes) in my flower bed. Sometimes I set up decoy areas to keep them out of the "good" spots - I chuck bananas to head them in another direction and to watch the rooster toss back his head and do the urr urr urr to keep the bitches close. And for fun I sometimes send the rooster and two of his group in a direction away from the other two. Then I get to watch and hear the commotion as he rounds up the gals again. Yes, I love chickens.

Photographing at night is creepy which is why I like it. After seeing a few spiders (and getting my face close to photograph them) I have decided to wear tennis shoes and long pants. There is the temptation to get really close and to touch them when their hairs look like this. The little fangs however kept me back.

This bug is a big noise maker. There was one on our screen making a huge racket until I walked up to it. Then it stopped. As soon as I turned my back it started again. The body on this insect is patterned just like a leaf. The color is just like a leaf. The eyes could be mistaken for fern spores. They are kind of creepy in a good way.
Here's another one sitting atop a flower in the yard. Part of the fun of living here is discovering what plants do (had no idea this marginally interesting plant would flower like this) and figuring out about all the wild things. Here's another spider. Is it the same type as the hairy darker one? Maybe an alter ego in blond? I am ignorant as to the names of most things yet but have a personal mission to learn the "real" names and local names of things. I'm having a hard time though since things aren't what they are. There are weeds related to poinsettias (or maybe they are poinsettias) that are called Leche Bane. The Momordica balsamira vine is called Gundeamor... it will be fascinating to find out the names of all the critters in our yard. I'm going to start a sketch book to inventory things (plant and animal) and of course take photos and hopefully piece together this interesting puzzle!


Aimee said...

Oooh, those spiders are all creepy looking. Fun, but creepy! What a great menagerie of wildlife you have. :) Love the little frog especially.

Fran and Steve said...

Hi Katrina,
My hub and I will retire to my native PR in about 2 years. We have land in Maunabo and a condo in Ceiba. We will live in the condo while building in Ceiba (we're following Summer and Stefan's big construction adventures). Since Steve sails and hikes, and me not so much, I will be learning about the flora and fauna, and probably growing things. I know next to nothing about tropical plants, but I hope to have the usual mango, guayaba, pana, limon, and aguacate trees, as well as tomates, calabaza, melones, reacao, etc. I will be checking your blog frequently as you discover and hopefully post your findings! I heard there are no poisonous snakes or spiders, at least not poisonous enough to kill a human. We saw a Puerto Rican Boa in Maunabo with a throathold on a cute lizard. It wasn't as big as most boas, certainly not big enough to constrict a human, but it could probably kill a small dog. We didn't stick around, but I'm pretty sure the snake won. I don't think they're on the west side of the island though. I love your feral chickens and cats! Blogs like yours and the CA2PR one make us want to give the goodbye speech at work and turn into jibaros! ;)