Two days away. Can I panic yet?
The whole group did the Cacao Trail this morning – Andreas joined us at least for the first part, but at some point, he wants to walk faster than the mushroom seekers, so Sebastião accompanied him to the boat while Susanne and her students and I looked for mushrooms. I did find at least one – this Ophiocordyceps curculionum, a common pathogen on weevils.
I was drawn more to spiders this morning. Another Micrathena, another species. This one turns out to be the relatively recently (2011) described Micrathena yanomami.
This very odd and very small crab spider (Thomisidae) was being cryptic on the bark of a small tree at eye level next to the trail.
This is a jumping spider in the distinctive genus Lyssomanes. Note how the forward-facing pair of eyes are green.
This butterfly looks at first glance to be one of the clearwings, and the dark understory is the perfect habitat for one. You’ll find dozens of species with very similar wing pattern, but none match perfectly. Then you’ll notice that it has six functional legs. It’s not even in the family Nymphalidae, all of which have greatly reduced first pair of legs and stand only on four. This is Moschoneura pinthous, a mimic in the family of whites and sulphurs, Pieridae.
The big mystery fungus on this trail was found by Susanne last week, and we came to see how it has developed. Whatever it is, this species forms a sclerotium, and we’ve probably been walking past it in plain sight for years. It looks like a mossy rock or clod of dirt, but there aren’t any mossy rocks or clods of dirt in this part of the forest, as our guide Jorge had pointed out. It turns out that the mushroom growing next to it was actually growing out of it. It’s apparently something like a tuber – a storage organ simply made up of super dense myscelium. During the rainy season it grows out into the leaf litter to consume it and, apparently once in a great while, sends up these creamy fruiting bodies.
Back at the lodge for lunch, I went to check up on the Horned Suriname Frog, Ceratophrys cornuta I found a few days ago just two minutes down the trail from the dining hall. It hasn’t moved. It’s small in the middle of the first photo, which just shows how well camouflaged it is.
By the laundry I had to try to capture the beautiful green, blue, and purple iridescence of this Eumolpus sp. leaf beetle.
This orchid is a Maxillaria sp., by the cabins. I’m guessing one of the guides had found it on a trail, and one of groundskeepers wired it to the tree.
In the afternoon we went to Tower 1. I’ve been here a full week now, and I hadn’t yet been up to one of my favorite spots at Cristalino. The view always takes my breath away.
We saw a few birds, though afternoon is never quite as good as the morning. This Yellow-backed Tanager was a good find, not always seen so well.
The biggest tree next to the tower has countless epiphytes, but during the dry season you wouldn’t know about the orchids. They are lush and green now, and two blooming side by side. This is another Maxillaria sp.
This is the widespread Prosthechea fragrans, though I couldn’t smell it from here.