Saturday, April 22, 2017

Paraguay - Chaco

In April, I had the opportunity to go with my parents on a trip to Paraguay. It was not really a herping trip but of course we took some time to check out the paraguayan nature. The west of Paraguay (región occidental) is part of the Gran Chaco, a region characterized by dry forests and thorny bushes. The whole area is sparsely populated. Large areas of untouched wilderness are habitat for numerous animal species. Deforestation is a big problem though. Hopefully the people of Paraguay will be able to preserve this natural treasure!

The waters of the chaco are the kingdom of the Yacare Caiman (Caiman yacare). As a small and medium-sized crocodilian, most adult males grow to roughly 2 or 2.5 m (6.6 or 8.2 ft) in length. Females are much smaller, at an average of 1.4 m (4.6 ft).

Yacare Caiman - Caiman yacare

Jabiru - Jabiru mycteria

The Jabiru (Jabiru mycteria) is a large stork found from Mexico to Argentina, except west of the Andes. It is the tallest flying bird found in South America and Central America.

Disappointingly, I could not photograph a living snake in the Chaco. Two snakes crossed the road: A large Indigo Snake (Drymarchon corais) and some kind of racer... no chance to catch or take a picture - good that they could cross the road safely. Two dead snakes we found had less luck, another indigo snake and a Tropical Rattlesnake (Crotalus durissus)... very sad, but unfortunately the fate of many animals in the Chaco.

Indigo Snake - Drymarchon corais DOR

So without success with snakes, frogs had to save the day! And they did - we found some cool species. My favorite frog was the Orange-legged Monkey Frog, also called Earless Leaf Frog (Phyllomedusa azurea).

Orange-legged Monkey Frog - Phyllomedusa azurea

Orange-legged Monkey Frog - Phyllomedusa azurea

The Warty Snouted Treefrog (Scinax acuminatus) is very well camouflaged. It looks like a piece of wood.

Warty Snouted Treefrog - Scinax acuminatus

Warty Snouted Treefrog - Scinax acuminatus

The smallest frog we found was this little Menwig Frog (Physalaemus albonotatus). Very cute little guy!

Menwig Frog - Physalaemus albonotatus

Menwig Frog - Physalaemus albonotatus

The Shovel-nosed Chamber Frog (Leptodactylus bufonius) has evolved an incredible adaptation for overcoming the challenges of living in mostly dry conditions. With their shovel-like noses, they dig a chamber in the mud and then top it with a mud cone. Because no water can penetrate these chambers, the frogs produce a foam nest from the female's albumin secretions to keep the tadpoles moist.

Shovel-nosed Chamber Frog - Leptodactylus bufonius

Shovel-nosed Chamber Frog - Leptodactylus bufonius

Shovel-nosed Chamber Frog - Leptodactylus bufonius

There is an interesting fact about the Paradoxical Frog (Pseudis paradoxa): Its name refers to the very large tadpoles, which are up to 25 cm (10 inch) long, and in turn becomes an ordinary-sized frog, only about a quarter of its former length.

Paradoxical Frog - Pseudis paradoxa

In conclusion I want to show you another specimen of my favorite frog.

Orange-legged Monkey Frog - Phyllomedusa azurea

Orange-legged Monkey Frog - Phyllomedusa azurea

Indication of source:

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Paraguay - Ybycui

The Ybycui National Park is located 150 kilometers from Paraguay's capital Asunción. It is a small (approx. 5,000 hectares) but beautiful park and protects a sample of the westernmost extent of the Upper Parana Atlantic Forest. 

There are many waterfalls in the park. The summer in Paraguay begins at the end of December and ends at the end of March. Very high temperatures (48°C / 118°F) and little rain have caused a low water level. 

Glittering Sapphire - Lasaia agesilas

Countless butterflies were seen on the rocks along the river. Very striking was the Glittering Sapphire (Lasaia agesilas), also called Black-patch Bluemark. I have never seen an animal with such an intense blue color before.

Rococo Toad - Rhinella schneideri

I was not the only one who was interested in the butterflies. This huge Rococo Toad (Rhinella schneideri) was hunting them. A rather rare observation for me to see a toad this active in bright sunshine. With this opportunity I tried to get the habitat into the picture.

Can you spot the dreaded beauty, hidden in this picture?

Here it is up close, patiently and curled up: the venomous Jararaca (Bothrops jararaca). In Paraguay this snake is called Yarará. It is a very well camouflaged ambush predator.

Godart's Numberwing - Callicore pygas

The Godart's Numberwing (Callicore pygas) was probably my favorite butterfly of the trip to Paraguay. It was actually hard to take this picture and I had to crawl on the rocks for quite a long time.

The Brown Leaf Lizard (Stenocercus caducus) is very well camouflaged. This little reptile was sitting motionless in the vegetation. So I was able to get a nice macro shot.

Not as shiny blue as the Glittering Sapphire, but still a very nice looking Weevil. I don't know the exact ID  of this cool insect, so maybe you can help me...

Lichtenstein's Green Racer - Philodryas olfersii

Lichtenstein's Green Racer - Philodryas olfersii

Lichtenstein's Green Racer (Philodryas olfersii) was a great sighting at the end of the day. This snake is venomous and there have been reports of serious bites causing local and systemic effects requiring medical treatment.