Giant moth at 8:30 pm, Guatemala City
Posted July 5, 2017
Went outside to see if the pregnant opossum was still wandering around (it was gone). But much to my surprise saw a giant moth “the size of a small hummingbird.”
If flew so fast there was no way the camera could focus on it (or even keep the month in the viewfinder). The photos are blurry but eventually we would be able to identify it.
I estimate it is a pollinator? Time will tell. It had more color and beautiful design than I expect for a moth.
Bees pollinate at least this species of Heliconia
Posted July 4, 2017
Over and over again biologists emphasize that some species of heliconia are pollinated “only” by hummingbirds. So much to my pleasant surprise we found dozens of stingless native local bees buzzing around several of the Heliconia collinsiana in our Mayan ethnobotanical garden overlooking Guatemala City. There are plenty of hummingbirds elsewhere in the garden, but I must admit I have not yet noticed them running after any of our four species of local native Heliconia flowers.
I estimate we have minimum of three species of stingless bees happily flying around our garden, plus some much larger bees (with stingers) which are attracted to the Brugmansia flowers (very common garden flower, but not documented to be native specifically to Guatemala).
I would not rule out hummingbirds pollinating heliconia out in the wild, but we have all kinds of pollinators happily flying around our garden, and so far have seen only bees working away at the Heliconia flowers.
Pregnant opossum wandering around our yard (Guatemala City)
Quetzal birdwatching and bird photography, Alta Verapaz, Guatemala
Posted June 20, 2017
Quetzal came to the Cecropia (Guarumo) tree for food, 5:10 pm, Ranchitos del Quetzal, June 15, 2017.
Photo by Nicholas Hellmuth, Nikon D5, AF-S NIKKOR 400mm f/2.8E FL ED VR lens on Gitzo tripod with Wimberley WH-200 gimbal tripod head II), overcast sky. Pure sunlight (almost no flash would reach as far away as this bird was).
This is cropped down since a 400mm lens will simply not capture a view of any bird at this distance. We hope to have a 600mm lens by July, but frankly I estimate that the only way to photograph a bird this far away would be to use a Swarovski digiscoping system.
The quetzals come to feed on the guarumo treetops about 5 to 6 am and 5 to 6 pm (the worst possible times of day for “sunlight” photography in a rainy cloud forest).
Photography tips for birdwatchers, water birds, Guatemala
Posted Jun 22, 2017
Versión en Español
We are working on preparing tips and suggestions How-to do bird photography, or better titles, how to improve your bird photography. We will be working on this the entire year.
Today we offer a set of fine art giclee quality images of the tricolored heron, Egretta tricolor, photographed along the Canal de Chiquimulilla, near Monterrico, Guatemala, Central America. We list the camera, lens, ISO, speed, and f.stop used for freezing the bird in flight.
For many years we have cooperated with the pleasant and knowledgeable team at CECON in Monterrico. Alex Cuellar and other capable guides from Monterrico have taken us in boats so we can photograph Neotropical flowers, crabs, birds, tule swamps, and mangrove swamps.
CECON is a university institute dedicated to protecting the fragile eco-systems of several different parts of Guatemala.
Finding Yellow-winged Cacique birds of Guatemala (especially their impressive hanging nests)
Posted June 20, 2017
During the last 8 months we have focused our field trips on finding and photographing all birds of Guatemala which construct long hanging woven nests.
Montezuma oropendola nests are the most impressive, but we want to find every other genus and species with similar pendant woven nests. After finding many Chestnut-headed oropendola nest colonies, we then found many Altimira oriole nests.
Then two weeks ago we found lots and lots of hanging nests of cacique birds, thanks to the local knowledge of Axel Cuellar, CECON guide, Monterrico, Guatemala (on the Pacific Ocean coast of Guatemala).
Now we will be looking for hanging nests of all other oriole species (since we already have found Altimira oriole in many different locations). Of course some orioles have basket-shaped nests: these we are not looking for.
We hope that a zoology (or industrial design) student can be inspired to do a MS thesis or PhD dissertation to create a 3D video of how these birds weave such impressive nests. We will give such a student all our information on where to find each tree in Guatemala that has this kind of tall hanging woven nest.
Birdwatching is popular worldwide, and we recommend you come to Guatemala and visit Monterrico for more than the beaches. Enjoy the amazing birds and then explore the nearby Canal de Chiquimulilla.
Photos of Membracis mexicana, periquito de nanche,
leafhopper, by Erick Flores, FLAAR Photo Archive
Posted March 16, 2017
The FLAAR philosophy is to document that most insects are not harmful to humans. We understand that many people don’t like insects. But spraying pesticide, insecticide, and other poisonous chemicals in your garden or home can potentially cause eventual cancer or other expensive diseases to YOU and to your CHILDREN.
The insects we show here I found on the seed pods of the yellow-flowered Cassia tree which grows next to our house. This Cassia fistula is not native to Guatemala, but is a common garden tree. Until I can get seeds of the gorgeous lavender flowered Cassia grandis plant of Peten, Belize and other areas of the Mayan forests, we keep the Cassia fistula.
Membracis mexicana, periquito de nanche, leafhopper. They are known to like avocado trees: there is an avocado tree 2 meters away, plus in the yards of houses on both sides of our yard. They are listed as a plague for nance trees; there is a nance tree 3 meters away. So these insects are happy in our tree area, 1500 meters above sea level, in the hills of Zona 15, overlooking several volcanoes on the horizon.
I love learning about how these insects go through their growth stages: how they change color; how they interact with the ants.
Of course you should get rid of mosquitos and insects which can spread diseases which are worse than pesticides. But in general, thousands of kinds of insects are part of our eco-system, and we should not simply exterminate them (especially not with pesticide and insecticide).