Tuesday, March 18, 2008

I Like Big Buttresses (and I cannot lie)


While walking a trail at Tikal, in Guatemala, our birding group encountered a GIANT set of buttress roots from a tree that was so tall we could not see its crown through the canopy. Here are Liz, Terry, and Sharon linking hands to show the scale of this huge tree.

On prior visits to Tikal I've always enjoyed communing with an old forest creature I call the Tarantula Tree. It's a huge ceiba tree, right along the main entrance path on the right as you walk in and it is ginormous enough that only the most oblivious of turistas miss it.

Two years ago I photographed a plumbeous kite in its upper branches. Last year I posed at the tree's base with fellow birder Jeff Gordon.

BT3 and Jeff Gordon showing both some scale and some legs at the base of the Tarantula Tree.

Why is it called the Tarantula Tree? Well, check out its bromeliad-covered branches. To me they look like giant tarantula legs reaching for the sun. Then again, the night before I coined that name for this tree, I encountered a large (six inches across) tarantula on the way back to my cabin.

The Tarantula Tree's uppermost portion.

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