The day starts with a surprise with the confirmation of another new record for Madidi, the Yates little big-eared bat (Micronycterus yatesi) previously known from the tropical dry forests of southern Bolivia. Dr. Lizette Siles ought to know this species as she recently described it in 2013, but this record represents a significant northern range extension. Another registered bat is perhaps the most visually striking to date for Identidad Madidi, the white-throated round-eared bat bat (Lophostoma silvicolum) with extraordinarily elaborate ears. Our ichthyologist team returns from the Ubito River with at least nine previously unregistered species pushing the total number of vertebrate species registered at this site so far to 220 including at least 15 new records for the park.
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A black-eared opossum (Didelphis marsupialis) is photographed near camp, a species that has now been registered at both study sites. Another camp visitor is a cane toad (Rhinella marina). Native to Madidi and much of South America, this enormous amphibian is a voracious predator and is one of the most problematic introduced species in Australia. Registered fish species also increases including the peculiar chocolate-colored whiptail catfish (Rineloricaria lanceolata).
The world works in mysterious ways. Our botany team stumbles across an owl in the early morning – it turns out to be the buff-fronted owl (Aegolius harrisii) - a new record for the park. In the evening our entomologist puts up a white screen with lights to attract invertebrates allowing photography of a diversity of incredibly intricate moths.
Another day, another snake and another new record for Madidi - a Bolivian coral snake (Micrurus obscurus)! The reptiles of the park deserve further efforts to increase knowledge about a diverse group that is difficult to observe and has few studies to date. The ichthyologists return from a day on the Machariapo with an incredible fish - the tube-snouted electric knife fish (Sternarchorhynchus sp.)!!! They hunt by poking their highly specialized snout into soft mud and between rocks and aquatic vegetation searching for benthic invertebrates that they detect and capture with electrogenic abilities.
Another new record for Madidi: a brown vine snake (Oxybelis aeneus) with spectacular adaptations for a life among the vines of the canopy and understory of the dry forest. Exceptional camouflage helps the non-venomous serpent avoid predators but also helps it hunt small vertebrates in dense vine tangles. We also document a magical metamorphism with photographs of a tadpole as well as the frog of a beautiful amphibian - the red-rimmed leaf frog (Phyllomedusa boliviana)!
The colors and textures of dry forests are extraordinarily beautiful, but as the team begins to explore this forest we have to be careful about spines, however intricately patterned, as well as ticks that are particularly abundant in this habitat. Already the team has registered 100 vertebrate species in just two days. At the moment birds dominate this list as the ornithologists sample different types of dry forest at different altitudes.
A day spent cleaning and packing up equipment in preparation for transfer to our second study site in the dry montane forests of the upper Tuichi valley. Members of the team take the opportunity for a last walk in the grasslands and gallery forest immediately around camp.