James Lowen 


26 Nov 2016  Ecuador herps

One of the special treats of the Ecuadorian Choco is 'herping', ie going out at night, mainly, searching for amphibians and reptiles. I indulged on both evenings at Septimo Paraiso and did single sessions at both Mashpi Lodge and Maquipucuna. Sadly, exhaustion prevented all-nighters; the mind was willing but the body... was that of a forty-something.

I haven't yet found a suitable source for identifying everything yet - yes, I know there are Lucas Bustamente's guides to Mindo herps and, indeed, I was fortunate to spend time with Lucas at Mashpi - but I have not yet purchased. (Hurry up, Chirtsmas.) This means I am posting the images without names, and will add them as I identify them. This in itself offered an interesting lesson. Whilst naming (identifying) something enables me to have a stronger relationship with it, I can still enjoy observing creatures to which I cannot put name. They are still wondrous and wacky, cool and challenging.

So here are some amphibians. Brilliant, wondrous, varied, noisy, cold-blooded creatures.

Final pic. This is what I mean when I suggest that when things look this good, you don't need to know their name to enjoy watching them. What a crippler. And it's common too!

One that I can identify is arguably the most intriguing of those seen: Mashpi Torenteer was described (new to science) from Mashpi in recent years. It has subsequently been found at localities nearby, but that does not make seeing it at Mashpi any less special. Here is a female, chanced upon in streamside vegetation at about 1,000 m altitude.I say 'chanced upon'... but Carlos Morochz and Lucas Bustamente had taken me to a decent site for it...

Oranges aren't the only fruit. And amphibians aren't the only herps. So here are some reptiles. Again (bar one) nameless, at present. 

I can partially manage to identify these as well: a type of glass frog, conveniently featured in episode 3 of Planet Earth II, which aired last weekend. These bizarre critters are effectively translucent. All photographed at Mashpi Lodge.