Wednesday, 23 April 2014

Spider Update!

I have been in a hospital in Asuncion for about a week now. I have been on a drip since arriving which supplies fluids and various anti-biotics (depending on the time of day). My condition has improved considerably but there is still a long way to go in the healing process.

I have no idea how long I will be here but I’m in the right place as I am receiving expert healthcare and cannot thank the staff enough for their care and patience with my Spanish (When Karina or Joe are not here).

I have my own room which means I can sort of shout at the TV when the footie is on! The food is also good.
I have circulated a photo fit of the spider concerned but there is every chance it is in hiding now and will stay out of the public eye or was squished when I rolled over in my sleep! I will not name and shame on here. Google searches are not always a good thing and I’ve posted before the watershed!

PLT have been truly amazing and I thank them for their continuing support and for getting me here in the first place!

Friday, 18 April 2014

Incy Wincy Spider ouch!!!

Hi all I have been bitten by a Spider and am currently in Hospital in Asuncion....Not sure how long for but I am recovering so no worries there.... PLT have been fantastic and I cannot thank all concerned enough for their help!

Sorry this is so brief but dont know how long I have wifi for...........

Sunday, 13 April 2014

Dull Day but don't forget to duck!!

Saturday 12th April
This weekend is the beginning of Semana Santa which means that there are alot of tourists that spend time at LB. The weather has taken another turn for the worst (coats are being worn!) but this always opens the door for more birds to stop off to re fuel during reverse migration. I completed a Cerrado count during the morning with the Cerradon producing the most species of bird. During an afternoon lagoon watch a couple of Snowy Egret dropped in to the beach.

Sunday 13th April
(Great White Egret)
More low cloud and SE winds bought a Great White Egret down to the beach end of the lake. I decided to take the opportunity to wander round to get some pictures .
(Vermilion Flycatcher)
Once again this paid dividends as I crept around the reeded areas with a Vermilion Flycatcher posing nicely on a post for me. The male was busy hawking insects from this raised viewpoint.
(Brazilian Teal)
A pair of BrazilianTeal were observed in this area but only flight shots were obtained as the pair of birds were flighty. The South American Snipe was also present.

The skies are now blue again but it is still windy with more than a bit of a chill to the air. Like any other place I have ever birded poor conditions will generally encourage passing birds to take a rest!

School Day!!

Friday 11th April

Today was spent at a local school with Becca and Jorge and a cheeky monkey called Matilde! This was the first of a series of visits to a school in Santa Barbera to promote the importance of conservation and introduce the children to PLT and the scientific work that is carried out at Laguna Blanca.

Community outreach work is a key piece of the PLT jigsaw and vitally important if future generations are to be able to look at wildlife in its natural surroundings. De-forestation to cattle ranching and eucalyptus plantation is still a major concern in Paraguay.

The first part of the day was spent in the classroom with a powerpoint presentation on Laguna Blanca and the Capuchin and Howler monkeys that live within the reserve. My role today was photographer with opportunity to practice some Spanish.

The second part of the day was in the form of a game which the teachers and the students became totally engrossed in. The playground was divided into four habitat types (Cerrado, Lake, Atlantic and Transitional Forests) Matilde the monkey would try to catch children before they reached the safety of a habitat. 

A habitat type was then randomly chosen and the children in that area would be asked questions about the habitat and what creatures they would expect to find there.

After a group photograph it was back into the classroom to conclude the day and pass out some goodies to the children. The day was a great success and I can see these visits becoming a regular fixture for PLT.

I had to prepare myself for an incoming monkey at the end of the day!! 

Friday, 11 April 2014

Fall after the storm!!

Thursday 10th April
Today is Para La Tierra’s forth birthday, preparations had began the previous afternoon to cook a whole pig which was wrapped at sat on top of coals in a four foot pit. The pit was layered and then the tin roof was put on top and covered with sand.

The weather was still horrible but a spectacular light display was watched by the gang as the night drew in. The storm continued throughout the morning. I seized the opportunity of a short break in the weather and legged it to the boathouse where lagoon watch ensued.
(Rufous bellied Thrush)
I have not seen a great deal during storms but I believe if you persevere then something will turn up sooner or later and sure enough it did. A Rufous bellied Thrush dropped in right next to where I was sat. Nice one! I cannot remember having seen this species at LB before but have seen it before in Paraguay.

The day moved on slowly with little movement in the skies above. I returned to the Base and waited for the rain to stop. I had a feeling the storm may produce a wader mainly due to the time of year.
(Large billed Tern)
Once the rain had stopped I was out with Matilde like a shot, initially helping her to catch butterflies but in the back of my mind way the potential for something good. My other birding friends Lobo and Acero had to be kepf close which caused some dissention in the ranks but proved to be an excellent move on my part.
(Large billed Tern)
As Matilde and I walked along the beach I spied a Large billed Tern resting on the ground. Lobo naturally wanted a closer look but managed to control himself enough that I could get some pictures of this glorious bird. There were a few odd looks from Matilde but hey a LB tick had been bagged!
(South American Snipe)
We continued to look between the clumps of grass and pools for butterflies and a small wader popped up landing on the shore. A South American Snipe showed extremely well once again the camera caught the moments.
(South American Snipe)
What started as a dreary day took shape with three LB ticks! I bagged a heap of butterflies as well!! There was a pig to be tucked into as well Happy days!!

Cerradon comes to life!!

Sunday 6th April
I went out into the Cerrado to carry out the last of my weeks evening counts. I had the use of the turck which enabled me to cover all the Cerrado types (Campo Limpio – grassland , Campo Susio – Mixed grass and trees, Sensu Strictu – Sparse large trees no grass, and Cerradon - Tall trees and shrubs)
(Suiriri Flycatcher)
The most productive area today was the Cerradon which strangely enough was very quiet when I visited on a morning count. The flies in this area were numerous which probably explained why there were so many birds in this area. A Suiriri Flycatcher was first up and was very obliging posing as it sang. (Thanks Paul)
(Blue tufted Starthroat)
A female Blue tufted Starthroat whizzed into the area had a quick feed and then remained long enough for old slow coach to capture it on camera. Guilded Saphire was another hummer to declare its presence in the area.

Monday 7th April       
The only bird of note for the day was a Barn Swallow that hugged the reed line in front of the beach at the South end of the lagoon.

Tuesday 8th April

Birding had been difficult the previous day and there was to be no change today either. The only interesting sighting was a pair of White barred Picculet that were excavating a nest site near the main track to the reserve.

Wednesday 9th April
Just as I was getting a bit despondent at the lack of bird activity on the reserve, the Arroyito trail got the blood flowing with nearly two lists completed in this area. Two species were added an American Kestrel and Yellow headed Caracara that had set down on the edge of the Transitional Forest for a rest. I think they must have known there was a storm on its way!!

Saturday, 5 April 2014

Dog gone it!!

Thursday 3rd April

I spent the morning watching the Lagoon and the Afternoon in the Mosquito filled Atlantic Forest. The aptly named OFF earning its corn in keeping these nuisances at bay during the walk. I heard the Undulated Tinamou once again but could not tempt it out with playback.

Friday 4th April

Checking the edges of the lagoon is a daily must but there was a school party arrived mid morning which restricted birding around the beach area. I set out early but did not find anything out of the ordinary.
During the afternoon my birding friend (Lobo) and I went into the Transitional Forest starting along the Arroyito trail. Now Lobo is pretty good when I am birding but I think seeing a rarity got the better of him and he raced forward to get a better look at the Yellow Billed Cuckoo which was nicely perched in the middle of a tree. As you can guess the bird did not hang around flying out of view! Needless to say I could not re locate the bird. An early start this morning did not produce a further sighting either!

This reminded me of a similar occurrence last year whilst birding with Sjouke. But two Pale Breasted Thrush were the cause of the Cuckoo’s untimely departure.
(Black throated Mango)
A female Black throated Mango was far more co-operative though. A Scissor Tailed Nightjar was the last entrant completing two lists.

Today is going to be a bit of an emotional roller coaster at PLT...Fasten your seatbelts please!!...It is Sagi’s last day today and Tommy leaves Monday therefore some celebrations and sad farewells are the order of the day as well as a small matter of my presentation this afternoon.. No pressure then!!

Wednesday, 2 April 2014

Pauraque saves the day!!

Tuesday 1st April
The storm had passed over by early afternoon and the sun was burning its way through the cloud. I began a search of the Lagoon for any migrants that may have been pushed down by the storm.  I took the opportunity to complete a count.
(Social Flycatcher)
Earlier on in the day a group of Social Flycatcher had passed through the base. This caused a minor tremor when I saw a rufous edge to the wings (Rusty Margined Flycatcher a recent new bird for Paraguay). The bird had a red crown which confirmed its identity.
I completed my first list easily but the second was not to be completed until 1945hrs when a Pauraque saved the day. Incomplete lists cannot be used for comparison. Juggling a headlamp to keep the bird frozen to the spot and my camera I took pictures of the bird.

Tuesday, 1 April 2014

Wood you believe it...!

Friday 28th I completed my weeks surveys in the Transitional Forest. I had planned to stay out late looking for Owls and Nightjars but did not expect to be out so long. One of the downsides of using the McKinnon method is that only complete lists can be used for comparison and sometimes it can take over an hour to complete a list.

I had just about given up on completing my second list when a Pauraque appeared from its perch from inside the Transitional Forest and after the briefest of hawks sat on the track fifty metres away. I confirmed the identity of the bird and then began the long walk back to the base. I was still a bird short but there was still the prospect of another Nightjar or an Owl.

I had not walked more than thirty metres when a bird swooped past my head and perched itself on a branch ahead of me. A Ferriginous Pygmy Owl stared back at the strange illuminated silhouette walking along the path. Fantastic list complete time to head for the hills!
(Wood Stork)
Saturday 29th I was up early with Joe and off to Nightjar land to carry out some Point counts to show some bird diversity around the areas we have been searching for the White winged Nightjar. I don’t think either of us was expecting a group of Wood Stork to appear. The group were clearly looking for a place to rest but there is a distinct lack of visible water in this area.
(Does this qualify as a group selfie!!)
During the evening it was party time after an esado at Karina’s which honoured Earth hour a few of the gang joined the celebrations at a local wedding. We were greeted with open arms and the biggest piece of wedding cake I have ever seen. I must say it was very sweet but very tasty!
(Taking cover in the rain!!)
Sunday 30th was a recovery day with some horse riding with Sagi and John thrown in. There are two horses that are can be ridden on site, one is more stubborn than the other but I have cracked that small issue now. It was John’s first time on a horse so we took the horses into the pen so that he could get comfortable before John and I went out onto one of the trails. John has been riding since and he has taken to it like a fish to water!

Monday 31st it was time to say goodbye to John. I am due to get my Paraguayan driving licence renewed so took the opportunity and drove John to Santa Rosa so that he could catch a bus to Asuncion. This was also a good opportunity to put some Spanish into practice with the local people. Jorge has been a great help during my stay, he is learning English so a part of each day is spent speaking Spanglish with him!

Tuesday 1st April There was a storm overnight and it is still raining in varying degrees of ferocity! I do hope it clears up enough so that I can carry out a count