November 24th, 2010 by Marc AuMarc

So, I’m actually not sure what it’s really called, but the ravine leading down the mountains through Colombier is awesome. At Cripple Gate it runs through a manmade section that is planted with reeds. I believe it is designed to clean the water, at least some of which is probably waste water from Colombier. At any rate, I stopped by the stream yesterday and found quite a few interesting things, including crayfish, really big guppies, what seemed to be a blenny and a variety of beautiful freshwater snails.

Of course, questions remain. Does it continue to run during the dry season? How darn hard is it to take a photo of a water strider? Is it clean enough to snorkel?

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November 23rd, 2010 by Marc AuMarc
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November 22nd, 2010 by Marc AuMarc

Sunday is a great day to go places where you normally might not be allowed, because no one works on Sunday. Yesterday I explored the fields in what will eventually be a new development across from the Grand Case airport. There were quite a few cool things, like a fly eating a tiny leafhopper. I am also ready to admit, that although they aren’t as diverse as insects, spiders are pretty fascinating. I also took a couple photos of an antlion larva, which is something I’d been meaning to do for a while.

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November 22nd, 2010 by Marc AuMarc

It’s been almost a whole year since we first move to Grand Case, so I’ve finally had a chance to see the full cycle of the seasons. Of course, the seasons aren’t too pronounced at this latitude. Right now, the rainiest part of the year is just over, so the hills are mostly green, particularly the trees and shrubs near the tops. The tall grass is starting to yellow and much of it will dry out in the coming months.

It was the perfect time to head back out to Bell Point, but isn’t it always? A few days ago I took my old-school route, hopping the fence across from Grand Case Beach Club and headed up to the peak just out from Goat Mountain. One interesting find was a honeybee that was caught in a spider’s web, wrapped in silk. You can see the hole where the spider was sipping the liquified insides.

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A couple days later, I headed out to the end of the point along the coast line. There were loads of great southern white caterpillars on the shrubs. This species lays eggs in groups, almost always on the newest leaves. The young caterpillars are often found in clusters on single leaves. In a small, man-made water hole, probably built for use by goats, I am pretty sure I saw guppies. It was nowhere near any other source of water, so I have no idea how they got there. I also think it probably dries out during the driest months, making their presence even more improbable.

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November 21st, 2010 by Marc AuMarc

The other day I was on the dive boat doing surface support (i.e., if the boat floats away, at least there’s someone on it) near the satellite island Tintamarre, so I took a few photos while I was bobbing around. It’s a good vantage point to see the eastern side of Saint Martin, as well as nearby St. Barths and Statia. There were quite a few brown boobies fishing in the water near the beach. In fact, it seems like there are a lot of brown boobies around here in general right now. I’ve been seeing lots in Grand Case Bay, too.

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November 20th, 2010 by Marc AuMarc

The Sucrerie Saint Jean was a sugar mill between Marigot and Grand Case. Now, the well-preserved ruins of this 18th century complex are quite overgrown. Although sugar production was not as prominent on St. Martin as it was in many other Caribbean islands, the remains of several sugar mills may be seen on the island.

If you walk up the hill behind the Sucrerie Saint Jean, be advised that the grassy hill extends all the way to the back walls of the buildings and it would be easy to fall right in because they have no roofs. Actually, it’s probably also worth noting that, although there is a sign marking the historical site at the roadside, you have to hop a fence to actually get to the site.

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November 7th, 2010 by Marc AuMarc

To be fair, a couple of these photos were taken during the day, but mostly they’re photos of insects taken at night on our veranda. Some of these were taken after I realized I could throw a +4 diopter that I had on my 85mm macro and capture tiny stuff four times as close. I was quite intrigued by the small, green, mosquito-like insect. Apparently it may be a midge.

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November 6th, 2010 by Marc AuMarc

Although turtles are still nesting for a little bit, the sea turtle tracking season has come to an end. Below are some photos from my last two survey trips to the beaches at the northeast corner of the island. On October 27th, I found some hawksbill tracks and what looked like an unfinished nest. On November 3rd, I didn’t see any tracks.

On the 27th, I didn’t take a lot of photos, but I did get a few of a gigantic robber fly that was about an inch long.

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On the 3rd, I couldn’t resist taking a few photos of pelicans at Baie de Petites Cayes. I also saw a painted lady butterfly (Vanessa cardui) for the first time since I’ve been here. This species is highly migratory, so the sighting doesn’t necessarily mean they breed here.

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November 6th, 2010 by Marc AuMarc

I recently went back to Bell Valley, which is one of my favorite spots because it is both close and interesting. A cow tried to eat my backpack, but I was able to chase it away at the last minute. There were many beautiful things to see, like a lynx spider eating a honeybee, some small yellow wasps with bodybuilder legs, some wrinkly caterpillars and a swarm of cottonstainers.

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November 5th, 2010 by Marc AuMarc

After returning to St. Martin, I had to drop some documents off in Marigot for translation and took the opportunity to walk back to Grand Case via Pointe Arago and Friars’ Bay. Although it doesn’t seem too popular, it’s quite a nice walk.

Things started off well when I spotted an American kestrel at the small dump near Galisbay. Like the pelican, this is a bird I can rarely resist photographing. Having had a fair amount of rain, the grass and scrub was quite green and lively with small creatures of all sorts. One highlight was a sugar cane skipper laying eggs on blades of grass. I think I may have seen here before, but I hadn’t gotten a photo.

Back at Friars’ Bay, many of the small wading birds that had spent the summer where the salt pond meets the beach were gone. I would soon notice that the laughing gulls had left for the season as well.

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