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Day 2 – July 23, 2015

July 23, 2015

group in cave

Our morning began early at 5:45 am with a birdwatching hike before breakfast. Out first treat was a toucan as we enjoyed coffee. We set off and quickly and were amazed by the abundance of bird species we encountered in just a few minutes. Highlights included hummingbirds and tiny nests, red acorn tanangers, a magnificent bat falcon, great kiskadee, great tailed grackles, melodious blackbirds and even a flock of parrots flying overhead. The symphony of songs around us serenaded us on our way to start our day of adventure.

Orange butterfly MPR

Traversing rugged roads, our bus took us to Ruiz Domingo, a cave best described as dark. Entering through its wide entrance we traced the steps of ancient Mayans who once sought refuge there, as evidenced by the shards of pottery left on the floor. Stalactites meeting stalagmites sparkled in the glow of our headlamps, startling bats here and there. Turning off our lights, we learned the meaning of darkness and stillness in this cave.


Annabelee in cave

Our second stop was Rio Frio, and was best described as tricky. Here we ate our lunch next to the coolness of the river. The river flows through an eroded cave about 100 meters long. Knobby rock steps, slippery limestones, and submerged pathways were obstacles on the walk through from one end to another. We witnessed the power of erosion, ascertaining that the large rocks on the edges of the cave were once ledges cut away by the persistence of the river.

helping across river

in waterfall

When we approached the Rio on Pool we could hear the roaring of the water. We all enjoyed the cool water. We could see on everyone’s face excitement to be in the water and under the waterfall. The water was refreshing for everyone. After dinner we sat and talk about what happened on this day, and also talk about what is going on in each other’s lives.

After dinner we gathered for another round of bug and critter searching on our night hike. We saw some favorites from the previous night’s hike, including moths farming fruit, and giant grasshoppers. We also saw a black witch moth, several types of beetles and we encountered scorpions for the first time. We ended our hike by visiting the passive UV light rap Jason and Nathan had set up earlier. There were upwards of 50 bugs who were attracted to the light and we got to observe many species at once.

Many things today reminded us of North Carolina, including red clay, soil, long leaf pine species, waterfalls, a little blue heron and the sounds of grackles and wrens. We’re excited to see what tomorrow brings.

4 Comments leave one →
  1. vdenny2015 permalink
    July 23, 2015 10:08 am

    My music class has been studying the sounds of nature and how it can be compared with the rules of music, i.e.melody, rhythm, patterns, etc.

    Can you describe the sounds of the birds, monkeys and other animals as if they were musical instruments.

    • lizbaird permalink
      July 24, 2015 6:20 am

      The sounds of the jungle are amazing! some birds sound like flutes, woodpeckers like tapping sticks, frogs sing in high middle, and low tones. Some others sound raspy like a guiro. Of course rainsticks make the sound of rain and many insects buzz, squeak, and hum. the Howler Monkeys make a sound all their own, unlike any instrument we might think of, and all of this makes a unique soundscape. From Terry Denny

  2. Kelly Allen permalink
    July 23, 2015 6:18 pm

    Wow! You saw bats? So cool! Can you tell us more? What do they eat? Are they having any issues with white nose syndrome like in the U.S.?

  3. meganchesser permalink
    July 24, 2015 11:43 am

    What’s a bat falcon?!? Sounds super awesome. NCCAT and the teachers were great, as were the Smoky Mountains (though they didn’t offer much respite from the heat…still in the mid 90’s). Soak up all those neat new creatures and plants! Can’t wait to catch up on the blog reading!

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