You know you’re at a tropical field station when a live baby gecko plays hide and seek under the plates at the dinner table to exclamations of delight, and the dinner conversation turns to spider monkey aggression and vine snakes eating antbirds. It’s a fine place to hang out and learn, either in the forest or at mealtime. More good news: the dry spell seems to have broken with a bang, and there have been bucketing rainstorms for the last two or three days, with the result that insects are flying and mating and there’s just a lot of happy hell breaking loose out in the rainforest. Emphasis on the word rain.
A few days ago I sketched in the quiet creekbed of Donato Trailhead, with the water that normally pours through the boulders dried to a few small pools where agoutis snuck in for a sip when my head was turned the other way. I felt guilty doing my drawing in such an important watering hole and possibly keeping away thirsty critters, so I didn’t stay too long. While I drew, a bright-rumped attila (a kind of flycatcher) flew down onto a slim liana just above the water and looked at it (like Narcissus) until it made up it’s mind to take a drink and a bath. It was kind of a poignant moment and a few days later, when the rains had begun, I went back and set up my easel to draw the scene, sketching in the attila from memory.
With an umbrella in my left hand and a pencil in my right, I was able to do this one in about four hours. This time I wasn’t worried too much about the birds being thirsty. There was water everywhere.
Tomorrow I head off-island to the Canopy Tower Resort, a resort in Gamboa that’s set up for birders to go nuts birding in tropical comfort, up in a beautiful part of the forest. I’ll be there one night- back tomorrow with pictures!