My Short-Attention-Span Rainforest Theater

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:

Love nest in the leaves...step by step poison dart frog courtship. Sketched from about 18 inches away, Barro Colorado Island. Watercolor over pencil, S&B Alpha Series.

Step by step poison dart frog courtship, sketched from 18 inches away, Barro Colorado Island. Watercolor over pencil, S&B Alpha Series.

Cool things I saw today in the forest:

  1. A toucan coughing up a fruit pit.
  2. A kiskadee flycatcher coughing up a glittery ball of insect parts.
  3. A field researcher swinging a butterfly net and greeting me with a cheery “Another day in paradise!”
  4. A hummingbird getting a sponge bath, wriggling around in a clump of wet moss.
  5. 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.
Angel bees at the golden hive. Violet crowned woodnymph hummingbird in background. Watercolor over pencil on S&B Alpha Series. 81/2" x 11"

Angel bees at the golden hive. Violet crowned woodnymph hummingbird in background which was drawn someplace else. Watercolor over pencil on S&B Alpha Series. 81/2″ x 11″

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.

Passed this Calithea plant when it was in shade, leaves open and relaxed. Underside of big long leaf is red, upperside green. When I came back the same way it was in full hot sun. Every leaf was rolled up like a mailing tube, red side out. Some kind of sunscreen deal, is my conjecture. Does red filter out UV? What's the deal?  Watercolor over pencil on S&B Alpha Series, 8 1/2" x 11"

Calathea leaves rolled up like a set of mailing tubes, red side out. Some kind of sunscreen effect? Does red filter out UV? What’s the deal? Watercolor over pencil on S&B Alpha Series, 8 1/2″ x 11″

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.

Balsa seed pods look like fluffy teddy bears until they split lengthwise and open out into villainous black claws lined with evil-looking red seeds.

Balsa seed pods look like fluffy teddy bears before they split lengthwise and open wide like alien clawed hands holding evil red seeds.

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About zeladoniac

Debby Kaspari travels the world with sketchbook and binoculars, drawing and painting in wild and not-so-wild landscapes. Norman, Oklahoma is her home base, and she lives there with her tropical ecologist husband and a mackerel tabby named Gizmo.
This entry was posted in Adventure!, Art, birds, Diversions, Drawing, Environment, field sketching, nature journaling, Panama, plein air, rainforest, random speculation, Science, Sketching, Stupid Critter Tricks, travel, tropics, Wildlife and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to My Short-Attention-Span Rainforest Theater

  1. Becky Way says:

    Haha! Love it! Almost like we were there with you! Totally wonderful. Thanks!

  2. scissortailed says:

    Here is an interesting read. Info about red leaves and how the color affects herbivory and photosynthesis/light sensitivity. I hope all is well!!

    http://treephys.oxfordjournals.org/content/26/5/613.full.pdf

  3. Corienne says:

    Thanks! Love your drawings and comments and look forward to them.

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