Archive for December 2015

Tapiche Report (including rodent ID ?)

December 30, 2015

I went on a week-long trip to the Peruvian Amazon near Iquitos in August. I spent five nights at the wonderful Tapiche O’Hara Reserve (which is described thoroughly in Jon’s trip report), where the highlight was Bald Uakari. It’s a mammal I’ve wanted to see since I watched National Geographic’s flooded forest documentary as a kid. We had to spend long hours hiking through the palm swamp to find them, though the search probably would have seemed easier if I hadn’t been sick (something which happens very rarely on my trips). It seems that the Uakaris are easier to see in the wet season, when they range more widely through the forest. However, unless one is very unlucky, three full days should be more than sufficient to locate them at any time of year. Other highlights included both river dolphins, Tamandua, and Yellow-crowned Tree-Rat. I also photographed this rodent at the boundary of an oxbow lake, which I have been unable to identify:


Does anyone have thoughts on the identification?
After Tapiche, I spent a day birding the white sands forest in Allpahuayo-Mishana with Jacob Socolar (who, on my suggestion, originally posted here about Tapiche in 2013). While birding, we saw Kinkajou and Spix’s Night Monkey, and heard Olingo and Yellow-handed Titi-Monkey. Equatorial Saki is also possible. I was planning to spend most of another day at Allpahuayo-Mishana searching for the Saki and more white sands birds, but there was a strike in Iquitos and I couldn’t leave for the forest.
Jacob also told me about his sighting of a Water Opossum at ACTS near Iquitos:
“In brief, it was in the evening, maybe sometime around 20:00, from a boat heading along the tributary of the Sucusari river that flows past the ACTS buildings, but downstream from the ACTS buildings. I could look up a date, but it was definitely mid-August.  Saw it swimming across the stream.”
P.S. Katoo (who is originally from Brazil) suggested this site in the Pantanal for Bush Dog: “Fazenda Boas Sorte. Km 28 estrada parque from Buraco das Piranhas.”

It’s That Time Of The Year…

December 25, 2015

Hi all,

So it’s about that time of the year, when we recall our mammalian highlights and plans for the upcoming year, and while we’re at it, say how much we appreciate this blog  (and Jon is OK too 😛 )

Well, it was very difficult to top 2014 with the snow leopard expedition.. not just because of the leopard (and wolves and marten and weasels etc.) but also because of the experience and the people. But I think 2015 just about did it with our amazing trip to the Greater Sunda islands. I almost can’t believe I finally went to Borneo and Sumata this year, after having fantasized about going there for over a decade. So, first of all, I want to say Thank You, Jon, for inviting me on this amazing expedition, which was my first to the region! From my first slow loris, to my first wild apes (lesser AND greater), it was really awesome! We even “discovered” a new species of macaque in Northern Sumatra ;-). Aside from Deramakott, where we scored 10-13 species of mammals on every night drive, I think Gunung Leuser was one of the biggest highlights, because it feels so remote, and it’s exactly how I imagined it, with the beautiful forested mountains and roadside orangutans (literally). I know we were just about “mammaled out” by that point, and didn’t spend as much time out at night as we did in any of our previous locations, but we still saw some really cool stuff, including a very friendly slow loris from a distance of 2-3 meters, and a colugo who decided to put on a cirque-du-soleil show for us.
Of course I had my fair share of criticism for Way Kambas, or more specifically for Satwa Ecolodge, but we still had a great time there with Jon and Jean-Michele, between the siamangs and the glimpse of otter civet and pen-tailed treeshrew (the latter, which I can’t really say I saw). And I’m sorry to say this, Jon, but the birdwatching there was especially awesome too… Lol. So really, a great expedition, that will be remembered for years!!!!

Other than that, I also saw some local stuff in Israel including onager, both mountain and dorca’s gazelle, but not yet my most sought-after caracal.

Clearly, my 2015 highlights were: Bornean & Smatran Orangutans, Y-T Marten, Proboscis Monkey, Sunda and Bornean Slow Loris, Siamang, Asiatic (Bornean) Elephants, binturong, banded, malay and otter civet, colugo, giant squirrel of both the flying and non-flying varieties, and the whole experience. Driving by an erupting volcano (Sinabung) was an added bonus for me! I’m sure had we been there in the dark, we would have seen red lava spewing down the mountain.

My 2016 focus is mainly on starting a new job (I just finished my thesis and getting my degree in the next few weeks) and on South Africa, where I’m hoping to get a good portion of the 20-species list I mentioned in that post. I might still try to score a caracal here in Israel prior to that trip, to take the pressure off from seeing that species. And, with my new job and new money, I might try to shoot for a few days in Spain to get the Iberian lynx. And last but not least, I will finally start putting together the plan for Dzangha-Sangha, which so many of you had asked me about J. What are everyone else’s plans for 2016? Cheers and happy new year, filled with the rarest, coolest and most unique mammals!


Western Palearctic Canids

December 22, 2015

A nice article on Wolves, Jackals and all points in between (thanks to Richard Webb for sharing).



Exploiting disaster victims

December 21, 2015

On Wednesday, Thursday and Friday there will be some of the highest tides of the year in San Francisco Bay, so I’m going to look for the northern ssp. of saltmarsh harvest mouse and the black ssp. of ornate shrew at Lower Tubbs Island on Friday. Vagrant shrew and San Pablo Bay ssp. of California vole have been seen there during the previous king tide, and other interesting mammals and birds (such as Ridgeway’s and black rails) are possible. If you’d like to meet there and look together, you are welcome. The high tide will be at noon, but it takes more than an hour for the water to fill the marshes, so plan to stay at least until 1 pm. The trail description is here; it’s usually better to use a bicycle, but the trail might be too muddy this time. Walking from the trailhead to the marsh (the loop part of the trail on the map) takes a bit over an hour. The weather forecast is fairly good so far.

UPD: I’ll be going there on Friday, not Wednesday. Sorry, family obligations.

Vladimir Dinets

Misc. Mammalia

December 21, 2015
  • Details on plans to repopulate a Tasmanian peninsula with disease-free individuals: Devils go to Prison.
  • A population of leucistic white moose in Värmland, Sweden. Source is in Swedish but can be translated in most browsers: Our White Assets

– Leslie Sokolow

Elephant and beaked whale taxonomy

December 19, 2015

A new paper documenting broad hybridization zones between forest and savanna elephants:

On a separate note, a poster presented a few days ago at a marine mammals conference in San Francisco showed that Baird’s beaked whale is actually two species: the larger, more common slaty-gray form and the smaller, more rare black one. The former occurs from Japan to California, the latter is so far known only from Japan, the Aleutians and the Bering Sea. By the way, our trip to Bering Sea Islands next July will be an excellent chance to see both 😉

New Australian mammal finding book

December 19, 2015

A new book on where to find Australian Mammals is now available in Australian bookshops.  It’s by David Andrew, and the layout will be familiar to anyone who has seen the second edition of the Thomas & Thomas bird site guide (for which David was a co-author).  More information including a searchable preview is available at

I’d call this book a site guide, but somewhat confusingly it says “this book is not designed as a site guide”.  I think what he means is that the site description will tell you what species are likely to be in which park, and maybe sometimes which trails to walk on, but it won’t tell you exactly which tree to sit under.

I understand Jon has been promised a review copy.

Murray Lord