Ecuador Day 9: James Bay and Isla Rábida

Palabra del día: piscina de marea 

Once again, we awake just before the alarm bell goes off at 5:45am. This will be our last full day aboard the Samba. The sky is a dreary steel grey, and rain has followed us overnight. We must move to our landing spot, just off James Bay, while we are inside sipping coffee and tea.

By 6:30am, we have landed on Isla Santiago, and the clouds have moved, revealing a small rainbow just off of the port stern. The first tinder sets off from the ship, not realizing that a 1.6m shark precedes them up on the shore, riding the wave at their bow. After storms, the marine life comes in close to the shore to collect any errant prey which may have washed up. They wait for the shark to clear out of the area before disembarking.

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Closer to Home: The Striped Skunk

Ok, I’ll admit, there are some things that I wish weren’t really…well, quite so close to home. In the midwest, there are several species that are known to carry rabies, and in our area, skunks top the list. The three counties we have lived in since moving to this state top the list of rabies cases every year, which gives me even more of a pause when I see these critters.

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Closer to Home: Green Herons

Okay, you caught me. These were at the lake, but they get their own post anyway. Because I said so.

Even though it’s taken a while to share these two comedians, they were pretty funny to watch while we walked around the wetlands. I first walked up on them, frightening them into a tree, where they hid out and shared half-murmured insults about our little group.

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Closer to Home: the Coopers Hawk

On our way back to class after lunch one day, we were blindsided by a small brown missile that shot past us and into the trees by our neighbors’ yard. Of course, I chased it into their yard to see what it was while the Other Half grabbed the camera.

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We only have two pretty common birds that look like this in our area, Cooper’s Hawks and Goshawks.

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Closer to Home: the Differential Grasshopper

Now, the Other Half is an engineer, and I’m a vet student. Where do these two things come together? We both have differentials! I have differential diagnoses while he does differential calculus.

Was that too nerdy for you? Well guess what? Now our yard has differentials! Differential grasshoppers, that is!

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Closer to Home: Mississippi Kites

Remember a few weeks ago I said the waxwings in our trees were scared off? Well, it’s because these came into town and like to hang out in their tree:

The bird above is actually the male in a pair. The female is in the picture below.

You can tell this is a female because her head is a darker grey, while the male’s is a paler grey. There’s also the fact that we saw these two birds copulating, which helps in figuring out their gender.

We’ve been hearing them over the house for the last several weeks, calling and circling. We actually figured out what they were when riding horses at my parents’ house. A pair of kites built a nest across the street, and since my parents’ neighborhood is very friendly, the neighbors were kind enough to both point it out and tell us what was nesting there.

The cool thing about these kites is that they are great at aerial maneuvers. You can see them adjust their wings into different silhouettes to help them fly at different altitudes or into the trees. The precision reminds me of jets changing their wing angles when they’re flying.

They also eat cicadas! You may not think that’s interesting or nice, but think of how much focus it takes to pluck a single greenish-brown bug from a branch in the middle of a forest. I wish I had that much talent…

Closer to Home: Cardinals!

NOTE: The Selman Bat Watch registration opens today for those of you who are interested in visiting Oklahoma and/or Alabaster Caverns this summer. The official page is here. Make sure you register before June 7!

Redbirds are probably one of the most easily recognizable birds in the mid-west, even when they’re not in St. Louis. Especially the males, which like to body slam our front bird feeder so they can spill the seeds all over the place.

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