A peculiar form of entertainment here on Science Island is going out for a short walk and getting waylaid by natural history. Distraction from head-scratchers to jaw-droppers to warm and fuzzy cuteness will cut you off at the knees, trip you up and make you late for dinner when you walk around in a tropical forest. For starters:
Cool things I saw today in the forest:
- A toucan coughing up a fruit pit.
- A kiskadee flycatcher coughing up a glittery ball of insect parts.
- A field researcher swinging a butterfly net and greeting me with a cheery “Another day in paradise!”
- A hummingbird getting a sponge bath, wriggling around in a clump of wet moss.
- A red-capped manakin feeding a live scorpion to her baby after banging and softening it with her bill. She stuffed it down the baby’s throat, peered quizzically at the stinger extending from the bill, then pulled the wriggling thing out for a second round of banging. Success.
6. A colony of tiny, stingless angel bees, Tetragonisca angustula, with its miniature golden trumpet-nest of wax built on the side of a trailside tree fall. The angels hovered politely, awaiting their turn at the opening, while inches away a devil’s crew of Ectatomma tuberculatum lurked; these are impressive-looking ants that prey on stingless bees, angelic or not.
It’s a high-end distraction fun-house out here, no question. The real question is: how do you focus on anything when you need to buckle down, like drawing, or hiking, or thinking. It’s not easy. Especially when monkeys draw nigh and toucan”kronk” from trees above. More on that some other time. I’m a little distracted right now.