Crudo a la Redonda

I’ve been looking back at pictures from Redonda to get some inspiration for writing up a short “one year later” natural history manuscript and I’ve come across some pictures and video I haven’t shared yet. I’m going to queue up a few for fun.

First, is the answer to a riddle the lizards had given us. As per our usual, we were interested in figuring out what the lizards on Redonda were eating. We flushed stomachs last year too, so this year, for just about every lizard we caught, we pumped their stomachs full of water to make them regurgitate whatever they’d eaten over the last day or so.

Flushing Tools

Most of the stomach contents were pretty straight forward – turns out the anoles were eating a lot of ants still. Quite a few of the ground lizards though had eaten oddly translucent animal flesh. Occasionally we even found a few fish scales.  Now, you remember that Redonda is surrounded by immensely tall cliffs so there’s no way that the lizards are clambering down to eat dead fish that wash up on shore, let alone catching their own fish! What I’d forgotten though is that the lizards don’t need to fish for themselves, their birdly neighbors are adept at doing so!

The source of this lizard carpaccio buffet was made abundantly clear when I accidentally surprised a large brown booby (Sula leucogaster) as I was walking around a corner high up in the cliffs. The bird, leaden with too big a meal (we all know the feeling) couldn’t take off to escape and so promptly disgorged a rich (and ripe) haul of fish right next to its eggs. It promptly thereafter careened off the cliff edge. I’m not sure which it was sorrier to leave behind, the proto-offspring or all those delicious smelts (I’m not sure what type of fish they were and so just opted for another pun – if you know, I’d appreciate herring from you in the comments).

Bird stomach contents.jpg

I promptly moved on after taking this picture because I didn’t want to disturb the nest any more than I already had, but given the odor emanating from the fishy bolus I suspect not a few lizards were eager to swoop in while the getting was good just as soon as I cleared out. I wish now that I’d moved a ways off and recorded the feast but then, not only would I have put you off your breakfasts but probably also ruined your lunches.

I’m not sure if I should be more apologetic about the gnarly photo or all the fish puns. But don’t be afraid to let minnow in the comments.

Closeup on the fish for ID:

IMG_8887.jpg


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