Sunday, June 13, 2010

Rainy day monkey watching

From June 13, 2010 (again)

The Ficus is fruiting! Right now (or rather, as I wrote this earlier today), I´m sitting in the gazebo on the lagoon, as the rain pours down in sheets around us. But I can still see the Ficus bursting with ripe pink figs. Every few minutes, I peer through my binoculars, to see a brown ball of fur hunkered down. I know that brown mass contains two monkeys: Adult female Evelyn, and her juvie daughter Elsa. Earlier, when it began to drizzle, they continued foraging, but as it began to pour, they moved lower down in the tree. And there they are, an immobile mass of resting monkeys. There were at least two other monkeys in the ficus, but I´m not sure where they are now. Unaided, I can´t even see Evelyn and Elsa, and if I hadn´t seen them moving to their resting spot, I wouldn´t have known where to find that brown mass in the tangle of branches, leaves, and fruit.

The Ficus is what I call the party tree. I´ve been here twice before when its fruited, and each time for several days the spiders spend most of their days there, moving away only when the capuchins occupied the tree. Often, they´d even sleep there. The spiders and caps gorged themselves on figs, until the tree was fairly depleted or the ripe fruits. Finally, at the end, the howler monkeys would arrive, foraging among the mostly unripe fruits that remained.

It´s still raining, but the downpour is lessening. Evelyn and Elsa are still resting in the same spot. Through my binoculars, I can make out just a portion of Elsa´s face, pressed up against her mother´s fur. Both she and her mother have shifted slightly, though they remain tightly huddled. I love the way spider monkeys sleep. They tend to sit upright, hunch their backs and curl their limbs and tails, either around themselves and their resting partners. They then tuck their heads down, completing the transformation to an immobile, huddled mass of fur. When I did observations in the morning at Brookfield Zoo, there would usually be a small cluster of monkeys huddled in a quiet corner. Occasionally, Evita and Elvis would look up and whinny at me, and then tuck their heads back down.

On the frustrating side, the phone at the station hasn´t been working for a full week now, and it´s VERY frustrating. Some workers came down from the telephone company but they weren´t able to fix it. At least now they´ve identified the problem, but a replacement part is needed to fix it. I´m really hoping they will show up tomorrow with the new part and finally fix it. Everyone is getting sick of hearing me whine about how much i miss talking to my boyfriend, but it´s been a whole week! I can handle the long distance fine when we can talk regularly, but going a week without talking is about my limit.

1 comment:

  1. I'm glad to hear things are going better for you (sans the whole significant other-communication barrier)!

    I really love your insights into your field research and the way you describe how to go about IDing the spider monkeys is just fantastic and extremely helpful. I'm looking forward to reading more about your research endeavors. :)