Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Iguanas and Mirages

Each year in early March, we start to see nesting activity of female green iguanas.  They dig large holes in the sand and come back to them every day for weeks as they dig and explore and test out various locations.  We have seen as many as 7 females at a time working on nests on our south lot.  Sand flying in all directions! Last year, I noticed that many of the nests got trampled by our workers as they wheelbarrowed sea grass from the shore.  Not mention the bad dog who dug up nests, with help from raccoons.  We saw only 4 hatchlings last year as a result.  Of course there probably (I hope!) were more that we missed seeing.  This year, we decided to try to protect the nests.  We got what is locally known as hog wire fencing which we stapled to palmetto posts to make enclosures around 3 areas in which the iguanas were digging.  Since iguanas come back day after day, we left an 8 inch gap along the bottom to give the iguanas clearance.  That worked really well, with the iguanas totally ignoring the presence of the hog wire and proceeding with their digging activities.  Now, nothing is going to keep a determined raccoon away from delicious iguana eggs, but I think putting a small barrier in their way minimized the "crimes of opportunity" since we noticed only one incident of raccoon predation this year, unlike the almost nightly forays of years past.  The fences also kept Barnie out, but we did have to keep her tied up for about a month while the females were active.  Don't worry - I took her for walks every day, more than an hour every morning and then for about 45 minutes in the late afternoon.  Once the female iguanas stopped nesting activity, Barnie was free most of the day and all night.  The only nest she bothered was one that was not inside the enclosures.

Late one afternoon as Barnie and I returned from a walk, some movement caught my eye.  I saw 4 baby iguanas running toward the jungle!  I called to Dennis and got my camera (which had only returned from repair 2 weeks earlier) and was able to get a few shots in the fading light.
Little iguanas, reaching the light of day.  You can see the gap along the bottom of the hog wire.
Aren't they the cutest?  You can also see the collapsed nests from which the hatchlings emerged.


We watched for close to an hour as iguanas emerged and then ran off in groups of 3 or 4 toward the jungle to our west.  I estimated that 40 to 50 hatchlings emerged that evening.  Over the next 3 weeks, other nests hatched and we had the occasional hatchling show up on our veranda to hang out before disappearing into the wild.  We are very pleased with the success of iguana nesting this year.  We will keep the enclosures in place and put more sand inside them.  Since iguanas can't resist nice piles of sand in which to dig, there is an excellent chance they will return to the same spots next year.

For something completely different - this morning we had the perfect atmospheric conditions to see the mountains of Honduras.  It really takes a particular kind of mirage to see them distinctly here - a superior mirage. As explained at this website, this is what happens:  "The superior mirage occurs under reverse atmospheric conditions from the inferior mirage. For it to be seen, the air close to the surface must be much colder than the air above it. This condition is common over snow, ice and cold water surfaces. When very cold air lies below warm air, light rays are bent downward toward the surface, thus tricking our eyes into thinking an object is located higher or is taller in appearance than it actually is."

So here are mirage photos of the "tall" mountains across the bay in Honduras.  We normally can't see these on clear days.
Heavy clouds overhead trapping the cold air below. You can see the mountains behind Little Monkey Caye.
A slightly better view from out on our dock.
Clouds on the water with mountains behind.

Another magical dawn.


10 comments:

  1. What amazing images and how I would love to help iguanas hatch! Beautiful, Wilma. Thank you for sharing pictures, words, and your life.

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    1. Thank you, Mary, for your kind words. So happy to share this wonder.

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  2. So cute! Hope most of them survive.

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    1. It would be great to have an increase in the iguana population around here. In nearby Monkey River, there are very few iguanas because their eggs are prized for making Easter cakes and the iguanas themselves are considered "good eating" by village residents, in fact by most Belizeans.

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  3. Kudos to you for protecting the iguanas in your area!
    The views of the Honduras mountains in the distance are breathtaking!

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    1. Hi Duta and thank you for your comments. We enjoy watching the iguanas as they climb the trees in search of a safe spot in the sunshine. They get to be very long - more than 5 feet from nose to the tip of the long skinny tail. The mountains of Honduras look like mystic, floating out at sea.

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  4. Such magic and beauty in all of this!

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    1. Always something intersting, magical, exciting, beautiful, or funny to see around here. Not as much plaid as you see, though.

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  5. A tough pick, Wilma, between the thrill of the iguanas and the mountains.

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    1. Thanks, Joanne. Good thing we don't have to pick.

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