Dier- en natuurbehoud project zeeschildpadden & kustgebied in Mexico
Conservation in Mexico - Monthly Update: November-December 2014
With the year coming to a close we are reaching the exciting time when the Leatherback turtles (Dermochelys coriacea) are visiting our beach to lay their eggs for the season. We have safely protected three nests in our hatchery and are looking forwards to the first one due to hatch in the early part of January. We even had one lucky volunteer see one of these magnificent turtles laying her eggs!
We are still going strong in our Olive Ridley (Lepidochelys olivacea) department, with the total for the year topping 3200 nests. As a result we have been very busy releasing thousands of little hatchlings into the ocean.
Lagoon Bird Biodiversity Study
Our bird surveys on the local mangrove lagoon always become more interesting at this time of year due to the bursting of the banks of the lagoon which releases most of the water into the ocean. We therfore get a lot of mud flats forming, creating a perfect feeding ground for birds such as the Wood Stork (Mycteria americana), Great Blue Heron (Ardea herodias) and brings in the usual sighting of the Black-necked Stilt (Himantopus mexicanus). We also have been seeing the return of the adorable looking Blue-winged Teal (Anas discors) and many hundreds of American Coots (Fulica americana).
We have been seeing a huge increase in the number of Snail Kites (Rostrhamus sociabilis), and the return of the American Kestrels (Falco sparverius), Grey Hawks (Buteo plagiatus), Northern Crested Caracaras (Caracara cheriway) and we have even spotted the incredible Osprey (Pandion haliaetus) on the lagoon too. So for those of you out there that are a fan of Birds of Prey the end of the wet season is a great time to come and visit us!
Crocodile Repopulation Project
We have just spend a long day at the crocodile project checking the health and measuring the weight and size of each of the crocodiles here. This means that we had to first restrain each individual and then, as well as taking measurements, make sure that their identifying individual marks are still evident. This ensures that we can tell individuals apart and make sure that when they are re-measured in 2015 we know how much each one has grown.
Our bird surveys around the lagoon here have managed to produce two more species identified to go onto our growing species list: the White-tipped Dove (Leptotila verreauxi) and the Band-tailed Pigeon (Patagioenas fasciata). This means that we have now positively identified 8 species of Dove and Pigeon in this pretty small area.
The little natural history museum that we are creating for the project is ready to go and we are simply waiting for the print button to be pressed to get our posters out and ready to hang. We have 19 posters with information on the local small spiders and tarantulas, local lizards (including basilisk’s whiptails and iguanas), various bird species, local snake species and even a poster created to inform people what the official difference is between reptiles and amphibians.
Mangrove Re-forestation Project
Daniel, the Projects Abroad staff member in charge of this project, has been doing an absolutely fantastic job here and with the help of all our volunteers we have now managed to collect and protect approximately 1,500 individual saplings of the local mangrove species. This means that in the New Year there will be a few days of great planting with the larger and more stable plants into the deforested areas that need help returning to their former glory.
Even in the greenhouse area we have seen a few new little critters around and about which is great news. This includes the Wandering Garter Snake (Thamnophis elegans vagrans), a few different species of spiders, crabs and passerine birds. Also, although we have managed to keep them out of the greenhouse itself, there is also evidence of the Northern Raccoon (Procyon lotor ) around this area.
Motion Sensor Camera Traps
Our most recent camera trap photos have continued to show us what appears to be a healthy population of White-tailed Deer (Odocoileus virginianus) and White-collared Peccary (Pecari tajacu). This is great news especially since it is the wet season, and a growth spurt of undergrowth which has meant that it is very difficult to find good areas for the camera traps which are clear enough for good photography. At this time these vegetarians tend to use a much wider area and so it is harder to pick a specific spot to find the animals.
We have also seen a good population of birds that are coming into the actual trees to find food, and not just using the lagoon itself. These include the West Mexican Chachalaca (Ortalis poliocephala) and the Yellow-crowned Night Heron (Nyctanassa violacea).
As you can see, our project out here on the Pacific coast of Mexico has been finishing up the year in style and we have been doing lots of work to help the environment. With a continuation of the hard work from all our volunteers and staff, 2015 should be an incredible year too.
Conservation Coordinator, Mexico