Friday, July 16, 2010

Hummingbird moths and muddy roads

A new Earthwatch team joined us here in Tarrazú yesterday; we kicked things off with our customary hike through the Fundacion Nubotropica, a protected area in the forested watershed high above Santa Maria. Among the highlights of our first day were repeated sightings of "hummingbird moths" pollinating the shrubs near the meeting/eating hall. These moths, lepidopterans in the Sphingidae family, look and behave very much like tiny hummingbirds - but upon closer examination their six dangling legs give them away! Their close relatives in the Old World, in fact, fill the niche that would be occupied by hummingbirds (which are restricted to the New World, and thus absent in the Old World) and are a common sight in the summer gardens of many countries in Europe.

We got caught by some pretty heavy rain in the field this morning - had a spot of trouble driving out of the steep muddy road leading to the farm, in fact....tomorrow when we return to the farm to harvest the hymenoptera in our yellow pan traps we'll likely have to leave the Land Rover on solid ground and walk the 1-2km down into the coffee farm in order to avoid getting stuck - the joys of doing fieldwork in the rainy season here in Tarrazú!

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