The Save The Frogs Eco-tour to Belize came to an end on July 20th… and wow! What a trip! From birds, to bats, to bugs, we saw many fascinating species in Belize. Frogs were the target and we were able to see 16 species! We stayed at the Tropical Education Center, Blue Creek Rainforest Lodge, Toucan Ridge Ecology and Education Society, and at South Water Caye. Will you accompany us next year? Find out how here!
Even though frogs were the target on this tour to Belize, we had to get some culture in as well! We were able to visit two amazing Maya archaeological site at Xunantunich and Lubaantun. Xunantunich is a sacred site to the Maya and it was a privilege to learn about this beautiful monument. Below is a photo of the west frieze at Xunantunich.
Life flourishes at these Maya monuments! This adult male Black Spiny-tailed Iguana, Ctenosaura similis, lives in a burrow underneath one of the monuments at Xunantunich.
On the 12th, we traveled south to the remote village of Blue Creek, which is located in the Toledo District. Blue Creek is inhabited by a community of mostly Mopan Maya. From the road we hiked a third of a mile to the Blue Creek Rainforest Lodge. The road to the lodge is paralleled by the aquamarine creek from where the village gets its name. The lodge is located in old growth rainforest.
We stayed at Blue Creek for three nights. By day we explored the rainforest and the cave systems that are scattered throughout the area.
SAVE THE FROGS! Executive Director Kerry Kriger jammed on some bamboo flute at Blue Creek and quickly drew a crowd of adoring fans!
At night we set off into the forest to search for nocturnal wildlife. The diversity of life is incredible at Blue Creek, but the animals are hard to find! We found a few species of frogs, geckos, and many different types of invertebrates.
Toads are quite common at Blue Creek and we found two species: Marine Toads (above) and Gulf Coast Toads (below).
On the 16th we left Blue Creek and visited another Maya archaeological site called Lubaantun. This site is known as being a spiritual center for the Maya.
On the way out from the site our bus braked for this gorgeous Vine Snake, Oxybelis fulgidus, which was slowly crossing the road. I jumped out of the bus and moved it safely off the road.
As we were photographing the snake, about 30 villagers congregated around us to see what all the commotion was about. Snakes are highly feared in Belize and many are killed indiscriminately. They all received a lesson about snake ecology and conservation. Save The Snakes!
At the Toucan Ridge Ecology and Education Society we were given the special opportunity to mist net for bats. Our first bat of the night was quite a special one! With a two foot wingspan, the Greater Fishing Bat, Noctilio leporinus, is the second largest bat in Central America. It was such a joy to find this beautiful bat in our net. It turns out that this individual is a mother and had a baby somewhere off in the Belizean forest! We processed her quickly and let her go on with her life.
We also netted some interesting invertebrates, like this Forest Cockroach. It was huge!
The frogs are quite abundant at TREES and they have many rare species that live on the property. We found a gorgeous Mottled Chirping Frog, Eleutherodactylus leporus, which is a threatened species in Belize.
It is currently the wet season in Belize and many species of amphibians are breeding. This Painted Frog, Tlalocohyla picta, emits a loud buzz call to attract a mate.
Other species breed during the dry season, like this Vaillant’s Frog, Lithobates vaillanti. We found a few adults, but there were many juveniles that had metamorphosed a month or so before we arrived to Belize.
One of the rarest amphibians to see in the rainforest of Central America is a salamander. This cryptic creatures tend to move on wet nights and live high in the canopy. With luck we were able to see one!
This species is Bolitoglossa rufescens. There are only three species of salamanders in Belize.
One night at TREES we found a large, adult female Blunt Headed Tree Snake, Imantodes cenchoa.
These slender snakes are frog specialists and love to eat frog eggs that hang from leaves in the forest canopy.
What luck! We found the rare Maya Mountain Frog, Lithobates juliani! This species is endemic to Belize.
What a beautiful frog!
We also found a juvenile far from the stream in a lime orchard. This frog is poorly understood but with more research hopefully we can unravel the secrets behind this amazing frog!
Want more information about how to sign up for the Summer 2014 Eco-tour to Belize? Visit here: www.savethefrogs.com/trips See you next year in Belize!