Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Mammals of Metro Park

I always have been lucky finding mammals in the Metropolitan Natural Park, and yesterday was not the exception. After all, I think that Panama in general is a good country to find mammals... and it seems that I'm not the only one that think this. I have been reading some comments in the web of how easy it was to some guys to find wildlife in Panama (including mammals) and now I even found offerings of mammals trips to Panama. Well, back to Metro Park, most of the mammals species that I found yesterday were at the lookout (that was full of birds too). Surely, the abundance of fruits had something to do with that. The first species that I saw was a Central American Agouti (Dasyprocta punctata) that quickly ran to cover. They are pretty common in the park, and you can find many individuals along the different trails, sometimes in loose herds. Little after that, I heard a noise close to me. I turned back, finding a Variegated Squirrel (Sciurus variegatoides) that was scolding me while eating a seed. These squirrels are very common in all sort of habitats, including urban areas and open forests. This is the common and familiar squirrel of Panama City and many other cities in the country, exhibiting a great variation in patterns and colours among the subspecies. They share the park with the Red-tailed Squirrels (Sciurus granatensis) that I have found several times there (but not yesterday), usually in wetter and/or darker sites, like along La Cieneguita trail. It is always entertained to see these acrobatic creatures to move effortless through the branches. I also found a family group of White-nosed Coaties (Nasua narica), with an adult (surely a female) and three cubs. The males usually wander alone, the reason of their spanish name "Gato Solo" (lonely cat). These racoons-relatives are as happy in the ground as climbing the trees, as you can see in the photo (one of the cubs, the ear and the tail of the other two cubs also appear in the photo). But the stars of the show were the Geoffrey's Tamarins (Saguinus geoffroyi). A troop of nine tamarins got very close to me while making their bird-like calls. These squirrel-like monkeys are fortunately still pretty common in the right habitat, including this park. I even saw a tamarin with a baby on her back. They did not care about the Double-toothed Kite that was following them. In contrast, they overturned all the attention to another mammal that I had left unnoticed: a Brown-throated Three-toed Sloth (Bradypus variegatus) in a Cecropia tree. What can I say about them? These animals are real survivors, a big success of nature. You can see in the photo the three claws of the forearm, and the masked look that distinguishes this species of the Hoffmann's Two-toed Sloth (Choloepus hoffmanni), also found in the park (but again, not yesterday). It was a great day, both for birds and mammals. In my way out I heard the characteristic howl of a troop of Mantled Howlers Monkeys (Alouata palliata) and found this footprint that I'm trying to figure out to whom it belongs. Any idea? (that's my 67mm lens cap for comparison)

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