Archive for October 2013

Cheetahs’ Iranian revival cheers conservationists

October 30, 2013

Asiatic cheetahs, a subspecies of the fastest animal on earth, are extinct everywhere except in Iran, where they are considered to be critically endangered. But marking a rare success, conservationists at the Persian wildlife heritage foundation (PWHF) have spotted a group of five Asiatic cheetahs (also known as Iranian cheetahs) – a mother with four cubs.



Reliable site for Red-faced Uakari, Peru

October 28, 2013

I recently returned from the private Tapiche O’Hara Reserve, a reliable site for Red-faced Uakari.  This site is reached in less that a day’s river travel from Iquitos Peru, and it appears to be straightforward to made daily observations of the Uakari.
While there are other accessible Peruvian lodges with the Uakari, sighings are generally rare (maybe a sighting every few weeks, even at research stations with active primatologists).
Tapiche O’Hara is, to my knowledge, the only Peruvian site with reliable daily Uakari sightings that is accessible in less than a day’s travel from a commercial airport (Iquitos).

This is one of the most intact easily accessible mammal faunas in Loreto (I work as an ornithologist all around this region).

Details at

Jacob Socolar

In pictures: Giant armadillos provide for other animals

October 28, 2013

Some interesting photos from the Giant Armadillo project in Brazil I was lucky enough to visit in August though they left out the most exciting picture in my opinion – a Bush Dog!


Elephant vs Hippo

October 25, 2013

This is fun (unless you were the hippo)

The comments thread has some suggestion that teh photos aren’t real. I once saw a hippo chased by an Elephant out of – and around – a water hole in Hwange NP so I can believe such behaviour is quite possible. But I don’t know enough about spotting a faked picture to know if the pics might not be legit….

Anyone have any thoughts?


Florida Bonneted Bats

October 25, 2013

Does anyone have any recent information on where to see this species, preferably roosting, while I am in Florida over christmas. It seems – from Google at least – that they are extremely rare with very few records in recent years. Does anyone know different?



Trip Report: A long weekend in Quebec

October 24, 2013

Gaspe Sunset

I’ve visited Quebec several times and I think it is fair to say I have mixed feelings. The scenery is hard to fault and there ought to be some good mammals to see. But it’s a hard place for a mammal watcher to be successful in – or has been for me. Moreover, there can be strangeness about the people there that is quite discomfiting: there’s a fine line between trying to keep one’s cultural identity intact when surrounded by an English world and turning into North Korea. And Quebec is in danger of falling the wrong way. The absence of people who can speak a word of English, or the absence of people who know – or admit to know – anything about the local wildlife, is positively odd. So while not yet North Korea it might well be North America’s answer to Albania. Check out this brochure from a whale watching company. You’d think someone knew someone who could speak English?

I visited for a long weekend in the middle of October which coincided with Canadian Thanksgiving. The very end of summer for some Canadians, though it felt more like the beginning of winter when I was on the Gaspe and the temperature at night was -4C.

I’d organised the trip at short notice and had two goals: Atlantic White-sided Dolphins and Fishers. I didn’t see either.

Most whale watching along the St Lawrence had shut up shop by mid-October but when I spoke to whale watching operators in Perce they said they’d still be running trips over thanksgiving and that White-sided Dolphins were common. Neither was true. Trouble was I only found this out after making the 10 hour drive from Montreal to Perce. Boat trips were still happening, but only hour long circumnavigations of Bonaventure Island. And no one had seen White-sided Dolphins for several weeks (apparently they are around only from mid to end August in this area). It was also clear that the operators didn’t really know what they were talking about – one telling me that the dolphins were all in south Florida by now. I did see a lot of Minkes as I was driving along the St Lawrence shoreline as well as some larger whales, which were Fins I suppose though I didn’t look at them well because I was rushing to catch the boat.

I gave up on the dolphins and returned to Parc Du Bic near Rimouski, which I’d been told was a hotspot for Fishers. I visited here in the late winter of 2013 and hadn’t come close to a Fisher but wanted to check this out in warmer weather and without my complaining kids. But I was stopped by the police after just 20 minutes spotlighting in the park. Although there were no signs to the contrary, people are not allowed to visit the park after dark unless they are camping, they told me. There “had been problems with vandalism” they said.

But after checking my identity the police were, at least, quite friendly albeit clueless on the wildlife, telling me they’d never seen a Fisher during their night patrols. So I gave up on this park as a Fisher hotspot. It may have been in 2009: but, I suspect, is not now.

I finished the trip with a whale watching cruise out of Tadoussac along the St Lawrence. I took the trip thinking White-sided Dolphins might be an outside chance, based on various websites of whale watching operators, though I gave up trying to talk to someone knowledgeable on the phone. When I got on board the ship’s naturalist told me the dolphins are extremely rare around Tadoussac. It took her 10 years to see them. But, remarkably, they’d seen a pod the day before on (13 October) – the first of the season. And I then heard they were still around on the 14th as another boat had seen them (but we didn’t, not helped by fog). I stayed on the boat for a second cruise (no need to pay if you stay on board) but we weren’t lucky. The naturalist also told me that Harp Seals are also common in the river, but only in the spring.

A disappointing trip. Which coupled with a cancelled flight out, a speeding ticket and a delayed flight home means I am not in a hurry to return.
I did see Beluga, Humpback and Minke Whales, Harbour Porpoise, Grey Seals, and White-tailed Deer. And I ate too much poutine.


voling season

October 22, 2013

If you are in NE USA, don’t miss the current dry weather spell, as it makes finding small mammals by sound really easy. Southern red-backed vole is abundant right now along Red Maple Swamp Trail in Trustom Pond NWR, Rhode Island. We saw three yesterday in less than two hours. We also saw a Southern bog lemming at the lakeside end of the main runway in the nearby Ninigret NWR. Both species were active in broad daylight.