Wednesday, August 10, 2011

News from Camp One

Once the team moves from one site to another, everyone sits down and reviews the finds of the previous site. Its a way for everyone to share their discoveries and learn from one another. This post was written after the team moved on to camp two. 

An oxbow lake and the blackwaters of one of the tributaries of the Santiago River
Photo: A. del Campo

Written on 6 August 2011
If you had sat down for dinner under the smoky kerosene lamps tonight, here’s some of the news you might have overheard:
  • Renzo was bird-watching peacefully when a curious short-eared dog (Atelocynus microtis) – the quintessentially elusive Amazonian carnivore – wandered over to have a look at him.
  • In the streams that drain the hills above camp Max and Roberto have turned up a couple of genera of catfish that are almost exclusively Andean.
Waterfall in the Kampankis mountains
Photo: A. del Campo

  • In a single eventful minute on the trails today, Isau spotted a black jaguar (Panthera onca), watched a river otter (Lontra longicaudis) eat a fish, and flushed a trumpeter (Psophia crepitans).
  • Roberto cut his knee (but not badly), our cook was stung by a scorpion (but shrugged it off), and Vladimir fell down a hill (and got seriously muddy).
  • Crossing a stream, Kacper and Gustavo were startled by an ornate hawk eagle (Spizaetus ornatus) that swooped by with a big ground bird in its talons.
  • Camilo heard two gunshots yesterday, which suggests that there’s a hunting party farther up the valley. Hunters on the Morona and Santiago rivers sometimes visit the Kampankis range in search of large birds, monkeys, deers, and peccaries, but the healthy populations of all those animals here suggest that hunting trips are few and far between.
A molting cicada
Photo: A. del Campo
  • The ornithologists have chalked up 18 range extensions – amazing but not unexpected, since range maps for birds tend to show a question mark hovering over this region of Peru.
  • A band of stinging ants has swarmed the plastic sheeting over the botany lab, from which they rain down on the botanists pressing plants below. Botanists are a patient race, and in the botany lab you hear muttered conversations like this:
Isau (scribbling a number on a sheet of newspaper, slapping at his neck): “Those ants – are they biting you?”
Camilo (tying up a stack of pressed plants, slapping his hand): “Yes.”
Isau (moving on to the next sheet): “They’re biting me too….”
  • The Peruvian ichthyologist and the Colombian geologist like to sing Cuban folksongs after dinner.
  • The botany team has collected and photographed about 350 different plant species in the first four days of work – essentially everything we’ve seen with flowers or fruit.
  • The herpetologists have found a bushmaster and are delighted.
  • Isau and Camilo have collected a bright red bromeliad inflorescence that’s bigger than a boombox.
  • The mosquitoes aren’t bad, but the ticks are fierce.

Looking west onto the Santiago River and the Reserva Comunal Tutanaim
Photo A. del Campo

Post by Nigel Pitman, Conservation Botanist

No comments:

Post a Comment