Archive for November, 2014

Happy Turkeys at MTCF

Thursday, November 27th, 2014



Our turkeys here at MTCF, sstill very much alive, wish you and your family a happy Thanksgiving.

The Bug Wall

Tuesday, November 25th, 2014


Lyra and Caitlin were absolutely dazzled by the entomological diversity at MTCF during the week that Albert Thurman was here with a group of entomologists. Following Albert’s visit the girls decided to adorn the front wall of the Bellbird Lodge with murals of some of the moths, butterflies and beetles that were seen here during the month of August.



bug wall








John Mcdonald and Albert Thurman trying to ID some elusive Arctiid Moth


lc pinning
Lyra and Caitlin pinning specimens.

New Moon Black Night

Saturday, November 22nd, 2014

lodge with stars

The rainy season is slowly winding down and the first clear nights bring out all the stars. We turned off almost all the lights in the lodge and went out on the deck to watch the milky way stretch from Cassiopeia all the way past Orion with the Seven Sisters at the zenith of the sky. A few shooting stars. This whole valley is dark, no electricity save for what we generate, zero light pollution and Volcan, which only has a few street lights, is a distant 20km.

These two pics were shot with a D90 camera, 25 second exposure.


All in an Afternoon

Saturday, November 15th, 2014

set 1

Sat on the deck of the Bellbird Lodge as the sun started to set with an ever shifting light, mist, rainbows and sun. It was glorious and went on and on for 90 minutes.







Tsilandia Bromeliad ?

Monday, November 10th, 2014

tsilandia 1

On a ridge top at the edge of a pasture an old dead tree blew down and we found this spectacular bromeliad on the trunk. This is the first of this species collected. I think it is in the Tsilandia genus. Any Bromeliad specialists out there please let us know. Since it was doomed on the ground we took this specimen and are taking care of it on a dead tree display we have off the deck of The Bellbird Lodge

tsilandia 2

tsilandia 3

Bananaquit at 1900m

Monday, November 10th, 2014

Today we had a Bananaquit Coereba flaveola foraging in front of the Homestead on a tree. First time to see this bird here and it is listed as rare in the highlands. This is a very common bird in coastal areas with a large range in the neotropics. Surprised to see this bird here at Mount Totumas.

Bird Friendly Shade Grown Coffee

Saturday, November 8th, 2014

shade coffee 1

Our coffee is shade grown and the predominant shade tree is a native Inga sp. It is nitrogen fixating and the crown of the tree spreads out providing an ideal dappled light for growing Geisha and Tipica coffee. At 1850m elevation our coffee wont be ready to harvest until mid February.

We were birdwatching the area and the late afternoon had that magical oyster light that happens often here, we were looking down on top of the crown of an Inga tree and we saw foraging together a Flame-Throated Warbler and Blackburnian Warbler. A resident and recent arrival. We just hung there in that space with the warblers for about 10 minutes, the highlight of our walk.

shade coffee 3
We are planting baby Inga trees as future shade trees in the area of old pasture were we are expanding our coffee plantation.

shade coffee 2 Catuai coffee tree full of unripe beans.

shade coffee 5 White-Faced Capuchin monkeys often forage in Inga trees. They eat the sweet fleshy fruit surrounding the seeds in long bean like pods.

shade coffee 4 Here is an Inga sp. tree at the edge of the forest.

Ouch. Don’t touch me …… Automeris sp. Larvae

Monday, November 3rd, 2014

automeris 4

Stinging spines on this caterpillar is a defense against predators……and curious humans. You don’t want to brush against or handle these larvae. This specimen belongs to the silk moth family (Fam. Saturnidae). Genus is Automeris.

automeris 1

automeris 2

The adults of this larvae have brilliant eye spots on the underwing. Below adult specimens collected here at Mount Totumas Cloud Forest.