Archive for July, 2008

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Jungle diaries – 14th May

July 30, 2008

A very disappointing colpa – plenty of birds around, but they were nervous and didn’t come onto the clay. The lack of a telescope and getting stung by a STUPID bee that had crawled up my trouser leg and then got stuck didn’t help matters either! There were a couple of beautiful flashes when the birds got spooked by a vulture and a muscovy duck (neither of which predate macaws…) We also saw violaceous jays, orupendulas, a nun bird and heard a flycatcher.

Orupendula

Orupendula

After a well needed shower and breakfast we had an hour to doss about and I got talking to some Aussie tourists and had a look at their photos. They don’t seem too hacked off that there are 20 kids ‘ruining’ their dream holiday, which is great really!

We then went to the bowl with Harry to look for caymen. We found them, but couldn’t catch any! We saw some other great wildlife on the way there and back. The battle between the Golden Orb Spider and a random wasp for the corpse of the dragon fly was enthralling – a rare sight indeed. In the end the inevitable happened and the spider, irritated past endurance by the wasp, shot some silk at it and wound it up to save for postre… We also got very close to a couple of curious dusky titi monkeys and came across fresh evidence of anteater activity.

Golden orb spider

Golden orb spider

At the bowl itself, besides the myriad of dragonflies, damselflies, sandflies and other miscellaneous fly-type things, we saw a pair of tiger herons, some Spinx’s guan, a lizzard, and what may have been a cardinal bird. We also saw a beautiful orupendula and a pair of bright green, small birds that were a gorgeous metallic colour and are as yet unidentified. Perhaps a green kingfisher or a honey creeper. I favout the latter, Harry the former…

Dusky Titi monkey

Dusky Titi monkey

On returning to the lodge I spotted a largeish (30 cm mas o menos) lizzard under the boot removal place. It ran as soon as it saw us, but was pretty non the less.

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Jungle Diaries – 13th May

July 28, 2008

The 0445 start for the Colpa made last nights decision to do the night walk seem very foolish – still, it was worth it to see the tarantulas…

The colpa was good – not as sunny as last week, but pleanty of good views, and as the kids weren’t that interested I got to use the telescope a lot and saw loads of different birds including; mealy parrots, dusky headed parrots, orange cheeked parrots (which are absolutely beautiful) and a couple of woodpeckers and a flock of orupendula.

After breakfast I went out with the mammals group looking for mammals or signs thereof (and socretea trees – the group’s project was to see if there was any relationship between the perimeter of the roots and the height of the tree. You see – it is a science trip and not just a great holiday…) We didn’t see any mammals (although some peccaries saw us and scarpered before we got to them 😦 ) but we did find some trumpeter birds, some dung beetles and LOTS of socratea trees.

Trumpeter birds

Trumpeter birds

After lunch I fell asleep in the hammock. I woke up to find all of the kids had gone on their second activity so I went to bed and woke up about half an hour before dinner, just in time to download some of my pictures onto Harry’s laptop before eating.

Weird caterpillar

Weird caterpillar

After dinner I went out to look at the insects and saw a couple of species I hadn’t seen before including a beautiful white moth, only about 2 cm across, that looked like it had been edged with gold leaf! Nature throws up the most amazing things really when you think about it!

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Jungle diaries Day 10

July 12, 2008

Today I made a small error, but nothing too major! The geography kids who do standard level biology left with Geoff and Henry and I was left with the remaining kids who were all filling in their booklets. I went off with 2 of the giudes and 2 of the kids to try using the climbing gear – it was good fun, but VERY hard work. I was glad I only had to go 5m off the ground and didn’t have to go to the top of the tree to check on the macaw nest like the guide did! We also saw a mixed flock of tanagers (Thraupidae family) which included some Paradise tanagers (Tangara chilensis) which are stunningly beautiful, multicolored birds! There were also a couple of curious spider monkeys watching us climb (and presumably laughing at how bad we are at it…)

tree climbing
Me tree climbing

Me tree climbing

tree climbing

After lunch I deceided to let them rest until 3 when we were going to go off on a walk to cut a trail through an area that had become overgrown. We thought the others would be arriving at 6 ish, but they arrived at 3, just as we were about to leave. The guides continued without us, leading to the second problem. We needed the kids to go out in their groups and look for potential design projects. The lack of guides meant that I had to lead one group out for a while to get ideas. It wasn’t too bad really and they came up with some great ideas, but I was constantly terrified that we would come across a dangerous snake or an enraged herd of Peccaries or something dangerous! As it was, we didn’t see much wildlife at all! Just before we set out the taira appeared and 2 of his offspring (cubs, kits? not sure what you call baby taira!) came out of the undergrowth for long enough to get a good look at them – que lindo! We also glimpsed a couple of saddlebacked tamarind in the trees next to the lodge, excellent.

Taira

Taira

I got to practice a bit of spanish with the local staff today which was nice – typical touristy stuff – job, family, do I like the food in Peru, do I like the jungle etc. but they understood so my accent can’t be too bad! The dynamics are very different now Harry is back, the kids ADORE him and I’m very much 3rd choice (Loki is here now too!)

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Jungle diaries day 9

July 12, 2008

I can not believe the kids here! I am the first teacher up at 0630 and there are some kids up and working! Amazing! Less amazing are their manners – they take a LONG time to tidy everything away for meals and you have to ask them about 20 times before they do anything. It was amazing how much faster it was when we said they weren’t getting any food until they’d done it properly…

We had a good walk to the palm swamp and back this morning, the group were MUCH better that yesterday and I had plenty of time to talk to the guide, which was lovely. I was still too much of a wuss to go up the tower though. On out way to the swamp we saw a tiny lizard eating a small insect it had just caught, which was nice.

Aguaje palm in the palm swamp

Aguaje palm in the palm swamp

The main species of palm in the palm awamp is the aguaje palm (Mauritia flexuosa) which has tasty fruit liked by the blue and yellow macaws that nest in the trees and also by monkeys. More recently humans have developed a taste for them and have been cutting down the trees to get to the fruit. One of the local projects has been to teach local people how to climb the trees and harvest the fruit sustainably and provide them with the climbing equipment they need to do it. Isn’t conservation wonnderful!

We got back about an hour and a half before lunch, ample time to shower, change, and play a few rounds of cards with Geoff before they all went to do a LONG transect and I did some marking (see – it was work, not a holiday…) to the deafening sound of “Macaw Wars” going on in on of the trees – at least 4 pairs of scarlet macaws were fighting over a nest hole in the tree behind the lodge. As I’m used to the sound of screaming macaws while I’m trying to work (there are some in the mini zoo behind my classroom) I managed to
get my marking finished just before it got dark and the geography kids returned.