Monday, March 19, 2012

Odd happenings

  Last week seemed to be the week for odd nature sightings. Consider the Long-Tailed Weasel (Mustela frenata) that ran up to my foot while I was sitting very still. Mark Wainwright's The Natural History of Costa Rican Mammals notes that "Mustelids see poorly, sometimes failing to notice motionless, quiet observers".  What seemed particularly odd to me was that I was sitting inside the library at UGA Costa Rica at the time. There's a lot of wildlife around the campus but I really didn't expect to expect to see an animal that Wainwright calls "shy and rarely seen" inside. Unfortunately it startled me so much that I moved my foot and it left before I had time to really look at it in detail much less take a photo. The plus side of that was it didn't run up my leg. By the way, the weasel is in the Mustelidae family, which includes skunks. Many mustelids have large scent glands. There was an extremely unpleasant musky odor in the library after the weasel left perhaps because it was just as startled as I was.
  Another unusual sighting was a White-Throated Capuchin monkey that was traveling along at tree top level with its troupe of about twenty when it chose to jump to a branch that was just too small. I watched in shock as the branch broke and the monkey fell some 10 meters/over 30 feet. Since there was a lot of brush underneath I couldn't determine its fate but it was quite unsettling to watch it fall.
  To end on an upbeat note, one strange sight of the week was merely amusing. This male Three-wattled Bellbird (Procnias tricarunculatus) had a momentary wattle problem.
 Fortunately he was very soon back to bonking freely.