The Great White Egret, an emblematic water bird of the Yaxha-Nakum-Naranjo National Park
The Yaxha-Nakum-Naranjo National Park is considered a wetland of great importance for nature and human beings due to the diverse ecosystem services it presents. Ecosystem services are given thanks to the roles played by various agents in the ecosystem.
Aquatic birds are an essential part of ecosystems and provide specific ecosystem services, such as:
- Provision of food for predators.
- Provision of feathers as ornament.
- Control of diseases thanks to the fact that some of them are scavengers.
- Control of plant growth by foraging.
- Seed dispersal and pollination.
- Control of populations of fish, crustaceans, insects, etc.
- Aeration of the soil.
Felines you can find in Guatemala
The felines, family Felidae G.Fischer, 1817, are carnivorous mammals with very well-developed senses, especially hearing and sight. They are recognized for being supreme predators and excellent hunters. They have soft fur with colors that help them camouflage, they also have a short muzzle and a long tail.
In Guatemala, besides the domestic cat, there are other 5 felines, which are native.
From genus Leopardus:
- Leopardus pardalis Linnaeus, 1758 – Ocelot
They are the largest feline of this genus with a body weight of up to 16 kg and a length between 65 and 97 cm. The coat on its belly is white and the rest of the body is yellowish or reddish cream with black rosettes. They inhabit tropical forests, savannas and mangroves.
Fresh photos of leaf-nosed bat and blue moth at Yaxha park
Ericka Garcia, student at Universidad del Valle de Guatemala, has been at Yaxha for her first week (to stay the entire month of June). She was invited by the FLAAR Mesoamerica team who are doing research at Parque Nacional Yaxha Nakum Naranjo in cooperation with the park administrators of IDAEH and CONAP.
Fellow student from UVG, Boris Llamas, is now also present and we will introduce his photographs in the coming weeks.
Ericka was able to locate and photograph a leaf-nosed bat in broad daylight. Leaf-nosed bats are commonly pictured in Classic Mayan art, and especially in hieroglyphic inscriptions.
The blue moth is a beautiful insect that I myself have never seen. It’s great to learn what insects are living in the protected park areas.
Since Ericka will also be doing research at night, she and her team will find creatures that the FLAAR Mesoamerica team has not yet photographed (because we are focused primarily on discovering and documenting (with panorama photographs) the biodiversity of different ecosystems in the extensive park). We are especially interested in river and their shore ecosystems, lakes and the plants along their shores, swamps, bogs, and every ecosystem that is not solid forest (since the forest ecosystems are relatively well documented at Tikal to the east and Belize to the west).
Since there are enough orchids, bromeliads, impressive trees, awesome vine systems, and birds of every size and shape, it helps to stay overnight. Hotel Ecolodge El Sombrero is also a perfect place to watch (and photograph) the sunset. We have seen spider monkeys over the hotel many times and 90% of the nights the howler monkeys serenade you in the trees around the hotel.
The nest design of native birds of Southern Guatemala
The nests are multifunctional structures built by mammals, birds, reptiles, fish and insects. Its design and location depend on the genus of the species, however, the main function is the same: create an adequate environment for eggs and hatchlings, when they are born.
|Female oriole (Icterus sp.) is the one that builds the nest.
Los Amates, Izabal
Tapirus bairdii, the only Central American Tapir
The Tapiridae family is made up of a single genus, which includes only 5 species, four from the Americas and one from Asia. Their closest relatives are rhinoceroses, followed by donkeys, horses and zebras.
Tapirus bairdii Gill. It is the only tapir that lives in Central America, except in El Salvador. It can weigh up to 300kg and measure 2.60m long. Their fur is dark brown on top and paler on the bottom, with white stripes around their ears and lips. They are herbivores and it is known that they consume the following species:
Arboreal ant nests along Rio Polochic, Guatemala
Here are photographs of colonies of ant nests in the treetops overlooking the Rio Polochic. This river flows from Alta Verapaz to Izabal and enters Lake Izabal.
We did not have 400mm, 600mm, or 800mm lenses on this field trip of several years ago. Now we have found comparable arboreal ant nest colonies in the IDAEH camp area of Parque Nacional Yaxha Nakum Naranjo. We will present the Yaxha nests in a future FLAAR Mesoamerica report.
King vultures can be seen and experienced and photographed at Yaxha
The king vulture is one of my favorite birds, due to its colorful head and its rarity: I have never seen one in the wild until this February.
One of the park rangers, Teco (Moises Daniel Perez Diaz) has pointed out king vultures circling in the air above the park on several earlier trips (we go to the park once a month, every month). But usually the bird was so high in the sky and so far away that even with an 800mm prime telephoto lens I did not even attempt to capture it.
But in late February the bird was a tad less far away, but focusing on a soaring vulture is tough when you are in a lancha which is swinging from side to side from the waves (even calm Lake Yaxha has wind-blown surface movement).
Photograph of the zope rey, king vulture, Sarcoramphus papa, soaring over the hills at the far west end of Lake Yaxha, Parque Nacional Yaxha Nakum Naranjo, Peten, Guatemala.
Photo by Alejandra Gutierrez, Camera CANON 300 mm, f 2.8, ISO 2,000.
So here we show the first attempts to document this rare vulture. If you wish to see this bird, Sarcoramphus papa, connsider visiting Parque Nacional Yaxha Nakum Naranjo, Peten, Guatemala. This park is a great place for birders, especially if you like water birds, especially shore birds. Hotel Ecolodge El Sombrero is available at entrance to the park.
To get better photos you need to be on land, not in a boat; need a tripod with gimbal, and a 1000mm lens or a digiscope. We do not yet have a digiscope. If you are able to support advancing our project capabilities at Yaxha (by providing a Nikon, Leica, Zeiss or Swarovski digiscope for our Nikon or Canon cameras, donations are appreciated. Donations to FLAAR are tax deductible for US citizens: frontdesk symbol FLAAR.org is our contact. We assume you can join these words with the appropriate symbol to create an e-mail address.
Other equipment we need is any good model Sony mirrorless camera (a7R III or a9) and their special Sony FE 400mm f2.8 GM OSS lens. This would be really appreciated to photograph spider monkeys, howler monkeys, or raptors high in the trees. The Nikon lens, AF-S NIKKOR 500mm f/4E FL ED VR, is another item that could help our entire team of photographers and researchers of plants, mammals, birds, pollinators, and other aspects of Neotropical flora and fauna of the Mayan areas of Central America.
You can also join our team on our next visit to Parque Nacional Yaxha Nakum Naranjo. We go every month, though most of our days are studying insect nests in trees, searching for 3-dimensional lichen, and documenting previously undocumented rain forest ecosystems (every kilometer there is a totally different ecosystem: some are 90% palm trees, some are 90% other trees with almost zero palm trees: we even found a pristine grassland savanna last field trip, the first time an untouched savanna has been photographed and documented for this area of Guatemala.