hi all. we’ve literally been in palo verde national park for a day and already we’ve literally seen so much wildlife it makes me want to cry (no, really, i teared up a little on our way back from our orientation hike). the fun stuff started even when we got off the bus and were just hanging around waiting for our room assignments - we kept seeing Ctenosaurs, or spinytail iguanas. they’d do their head bobbing thing and run around (they have a really funny run!) and hide under the cars parked at the field station.
after lunch we had our orientation walk into the dry forest for the first time, and it was amazing - it took around 15 minutes before one of us (e.s.) spotted this big beautiful owl. professor r was leading us through and talking about important things like acacia tree - ant mutualisms (a reminder to myself to not brush up against one!) but we kept getting sidetracked because we saw so much! we must have seen monkeys at least 5 times, mostly capuchins and howler monkeys (which make such hilarious noises) but once we saw a spider monkey and her baby which was ridiculously cute. we also had a run in with a Norops or anole lizard, which prof. r picked up for us, and which is also s.d.’s assigned “spirit animal” (we all have assigned animals that we’re supposed to yell out in alphabetical order when we get on the bus so that we know that everyone’s on the bus. mine is a gallinule which is a beautiful bird - google it). prof. r also picked up a boa constrictor for us, which we petted and cooed over for a while until s/he got a little pissy (but we did get to see his/her vestigial hind limbs - too cool!).
there was a little clearing where the trail met the road again and prof. r told us that monkeys always hang out there, so that means i’ll be back all the time, naturally. best of all, the road led us to the wetland part of palo verde, and we got to walk out on this dock in the middle of the marsh, where migratory birds were just flocking and being really loud and beautiful and awesome. that was my favorite part of the trip - suddenly being surrounded by all this amazing open space, with marshland stretching out in front of you and mountains in the background and all these birds like jacanas and egrets just landing a few feet away and crocodiles sunning themselves - it was incredible. i am definitely going back out there in my free time, maybe even alone.
we had dinner and a lecture tonight - this is going to be one of our most relaxed nights, so i’m getting as much casual internet time in as i can. we don’t start projects tomorrow yet, but we have more lectures and another hike. we’re going to get into more of a routine now. today was just such an incredible introduction to all the wildlife we were going to see that i felt i had to write a post about it while i had free time!
here’s a photoset for you all - till next time!