Saturday, March 22, 2014

Vignette #4: A Kinkajou's tale. Part 1: Attack of the monkeys!

So remember how I mentioned that the monkeys could be bullies sometimes? Well this one time we found a kinkajou. On a side note I would like to express my sincere hope that you are all appreciating as much as I do the wonderful names that Latin American wildlife seems to have. Yesterday, I would like to remind you, we had Caracaras and Great Potoos. You're welcome.

Anyway, here is the little rapscallion.

Cute, I hear you say. Decent photos, too. Not as nice or in focus as some of the other gorgeous pieces of work we've seen on this masterpiece of a blog

Oh, stop it, you.

...but let's be reasonable here. Maybe Ed was drunk when he took that one.

Did I awkwardly shoehorn in that sentence solely so I would have
 the opportunity to show you this photo again?

Well, first of all, how dare you. That would be unprofessional.

And secondly, if anyone was drunk, it was the kinkajou. Drunk on fear. Most of the photos I took turned out more like this...


... on account of that little dude being relentlessly pursued by some of the most adorably vicious creatures on the planet. Here is is in glorious moving picture format. I apologise if the shakiness is off-putting, he really was jumping all over the place.

The noises the monkeys are making are called mild vocal threats, or squeak threats, code AVO.

They let him go after a while, but not before they'd called him fat and given him a wedgie. Nature is cruel.

Friday, March 21, 2014

Vignette #3: Ornithology, or, PRETTY BIRDS

Disclaimer: I am a terrible, terrible ornithologist

I enjoy birds, I do. I love it when people point out cool birds and tell me what they are. But unless it's a penguin you've just seen that's inexplicably migrated to Costa Rica, odds are I'm going to carry on staring at the baby monkey that's sticking its tongue out at me.

As a result, while I have, I believe, enough bird photos to warrant its own mini-post, anyone expecting a full run-down on the birds of Costa Rica, their feeding habits and migration patterns, may be disappointed. Seriously, I have, like, five birds here. Anyway, here we go.

So amongst the most common birds around here are the back vultures. These smelly creatures just ooze evil, I mean look at them:

I am darkness

I bring you death

After nap-time, I will bring you some more death

We live around farm-lands, and there are lots of cattle, horses, and even a pig-farm not too far around river. Sometimes, these things die. Always, they get surrounded by these creepy death-pigeons and slowly torn to shreds even as they decompose in the most horrifically smelly way imaginable.

I do not like them in a boat. I do not like them with a goat. That is all  I have to say.

 This kingfisher, which is definitely not recycled material, is known for being pretty and for rescuing drowning monarchs.


Now, we come to some of the photos I am genuinely pleased about. This little guy, apart from being very uncommon, also has without a shred of doubt the best name of any of the birds you will ever read about in a monkey-themed blog. It seems to be stolen from a Terry Pratchet, or at least a mediocre children's magician.

Ladies and Gentlemen, the Great Potoo:

For my next trick, I will sit around here for hours and hours
 on end because apparently that is all I ever do
This little guy is a Long-Tailed Manakin

Distinguishing features:
1. Teeny-tiny
2.  Bum-antennae

Now these photos I'm genuinely proud of. These are of a Caracara, a bird of prey seen here chin-wagging with a horse:

Here playing with a stick:

 And here getting mobbed by smaller birds:

Sorry for the horn-tooting but... come on. This is cool.

Ok folks. Thems are all the birds.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Vignette #2: Harvey Dent lives!

!!!Warning!!! Potentially disturbing photos 

Spoiler: There's a happy ending

So a while back, I was out with Flakes, minding my own business, when I come across 3 monkeys appearing rather subdued in a tree. Intrigued, I moved closer and noticed that one of them was a very small howler. The two juvenile capuchins were crowded around it and sort of poking it. It wasn't really responding, just sort of shaking its head a bit.

Now capuchins love harassing howlers. Its one of their favourite pastimes. Generally they will chase one for a few seconds while it plods off, occasionally producing a few harumpfs of outrage. All in good fun, not nearly as vicious as the bullying they submit other animals to, such as kinkajous (see upcoming vignette) - but all the same, enough to bait a reaction from the howlers. 

This little guy, however, seemed completely oblivious. I say guy, by the way, not because I was able to tell its sex, but because future events made it necessary for him to be male for the wonderfully apt name I gave him to be gender-appropriate.

So I take out my camera and snap a few shots. And on closer inspection, I become completely horrified.

You may have to click on these photos to see the full extent of the wounds.
But then, you may not want to.

It was clear that he had been severely mauled by something much larger than himself. Most of the right side of his face was ripped open, his eye was oozing pus, and his emaciated body suggested he had not been able to eat properly in days.

I enquired as to the possible culprits. One possible cause is attempted infanticide by an unrelated older male. This would serve the purpose of making his mother fertile again. You see this in capuchins a lot when a new alpha takes over a group, because nature is cruel and monkeys don't care about human sensibilities, apparently.

Pictured: horrible, horrible nature.

Other possibilities included predatory birds, or (but I refuse to believe this) overenthusiastic capuchins.

In any case, I left this nameless little bundle of sadness to die in peace. I had several powerful photos, but no way was I ever going to blog about this. I was trying to be funny, damn it!

 I would mourn alone.

Cut to - 








Approximately one month later, and we are out with the monkeys again. The monkeys pursue a howler, who half-heartedly moves out of the way. This one is particularly small considering there are no others in sight; as a rule it is only adult males that roam alone. I take out my binoculars, and almost immediately fumble with them in disbelief.

It's about the same size, and looks similar. The right side of its face is highly scarred.

But this monkey appears... well-fed, almost fat! And although its right eye is clearly useless, its still manoeuvring around with a degree of ease I would never have foreseen from the pitiful state of the monkey I saw just a few weeks ago.

And yet there was no doubt. Its the same monkey, now moving around, eating, and basking in the sun.

A mess, certainly, but on the up and up.

Undaunted by its lack of depth perception, it seemed to face life head on, with aplomb, looking adversity in the eyes and saying: "Sod off, adversity." It was a completely different beast from that other howler monkey that seemed so insecure when I called it boring.

I am bloody majestic

Anyway. I called this monkey Harvey Dent after it's physical afflictions (note to parents, etc: google is your friend). May the resemblance be one of appearance only.

We came across Harvey once more after this. His condition appeared further improved, although I did not have my camera on that occasion. I have instructed everyone here to keep a lookout for Harvey whenever they wander into Flakes' territory in the future. I wish him a long and fruitful life, and I'm sure you all do too.

Godspeed, Harvey. Godspeed.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Vignette #1: New Monkeys

So my time with Flakes group is over! All the wonderful monkeys you have come to know and love over the course of this blog (you did grow to know and love them right? right??) will now have to fend for themselves, robbed of my loving gaze every day.

However, I am now spreading the love to many of the 9 other monkey groups out there. It turns out, each of the groups is rather different in their own way (remember what I said about the cultural traits). So anyway, here are some new monkeys for you to consider.

Part One: Alpha males.

You may vaguely remember that the Flakes alpha is called Quijote, and not much else about him. In fact, he is rather unremarkable in appearance compared to some of the other alpha males. 

Take a look at:



Twilo (bottom)


Pitufo (look closely)
Oh yeah. Power comes with a price tag. Pitufo has a Facebook page by the way.
You may also be interested to see...

Part Two: Adorable babies

Actually this one is pretty ugly

Part Three: There is no Part Three

Part Four: Miscellany

Hannukah will eat your babies and laugh

Please, sir, I want some more

Its mango season by the way. We just eat them off the trees.
(smugness intensifies)

All right that's enough. See you tomorrow.