Excerpts from Jim Conrad's
Naturalist Newsletter

Satellite image of area around San Andrés Tuxtla and Catemaco, Veracruz, Mexico

notes from the May 3, 2015 Newsletter describing a camping trip above San Andrés Tuxtla, Veracruz, México

On my return trip from north of the border, I camped in the volcanic mountains north of San Andrés Tuxtla in southern Veracruz state. The adventure of getting into that area was described in our last Newsletter, archived at http://www.backyardnature.net/n/15/150426.htm.

Above, you can see a Google Earth satellite image of that area. In that image, the large, bluish area at the lower right is the northern part of Laguna Catemaco, or Lake Catemaco, an important tourist destination in that region. The white blob on the lake's western shore is the town of Catemaco. To reach the hydrological reserve I bused into the white blob at the image's lower, left, which is the town of San Andrés Tuxtla.

Flowering plants profiled during trip:

The image shows a long, slender finger of dark greenness extending from dark, mountaintop forests at the picture's top. The finger is a kind of corridor inside which runs the road I took from San Andrés to the reserve. To me it had seemed that the trip upslope took place in a largely forested zone, but now I see that the forests were just along the road. If you look closely at the above image you can see numerous small volcanic craters throughout the area, and a tall one in the top, left corner.

The reserve was 1186 acres (480 hectares) in extent, and the air was refreshingly cooler than the very hot lowlands just below, though the elevation was only about 4000 feet (1200m) high. Last week I noted the presence around my tent of Spider Monkeys, Keel-billed Toucans, Montazuma's Oropendulas, Horned Guans, and lots of fireflies and mosquitoes. Tree trunks in the reserve were so heavily covered with mosses, ferns, liverworts, bromeliads, orchids and peperomias that the forest could be considered borderline cloud forest. An isolated, mountaintop island of Sweetgums lived there. I photographed some of the most interesting plants and will be profiling them as time permits.