Sunday, May 16, 2010

Yuckie Yuckie

Morning Mist

We chose to stay at the research station last night, so that Eric could wake up at 5 and go directly to get his nets up. That meant no sleep, no shower and no food. The entomologist next door snored all night so sleep was impossible, and then Maya woke up at 4:00AM to go to the bathroom, which is down the stairs around the building to the back with a flashlight. The bathroom is frightful, and I try not to use it if at all possible! The kitchen is dirty and there is no edible food anyway. We brought raspberries yesterday, and Eric had some left over pistachios, and this morning I found some granola cereal to go with the milk we brought, so I am not starving. Eric eats Fruit Loops for breakfast lunch and dinner, so he was fine too. Maya was happy with canned tuna and a tomato last night and eggs and hot chocolate this morning. The last time I was here, I stayed nearby at San Isidro and came over for short visits, but staying at Yanayacu (or Yuckie Yuckie as Eric;s student aptly named it) is an entirely different experience. Scientists come here to do research, and are so focused on their work that the living conditions do not matter. Although it is a beautiful spot and there are wonderful hikes and birds to see, I promised myself that if I come up here again I will splurge and stay at San Isidro.

Walking in the Forest




Moth Emerging

While Maya and Eric set up the nets in the bamboo forest, I took an early morning hike. I heard all sorts of birds including the plain tailed wren, and was hopeful that Eric would be successful in his efforts to catch a pair. I followed a trail uphill which appeared well kept, but ended up petering out in an open field. I saw no birds! Another lesson; if you want to see birds, hire a guide! I enjoyed the walk, and came back to help Eric check the nets every half hour, and finally, after several efforts we took them down. If Eric was to catch a bird, he would need the next 12 hours or so to do physiology experiments. It came to be too late for him. The birds were singing, and he played a recording to draw them near, but they avoided the nets. Two caciques and a hummingbird were caught and he let them go, but the plan tailed wrens stayed away. Eric explained that field work is like that; lots of effort and hours and often little success, or the need for repeated attempts. He is talking about returning in January; perhaps because it is a different time of year, the birds may be more interested in getting caught in the nets.

Maya loves it here. She likes to be a scientific assistant and exploring the forest and the fields. She was eager to wake up before sunrise to be Eric's assistant. She fizzled out by 9, so I took over, climbing over barbed wire, sloshing through mud, bending low through the underbrush, hiking uphill, to check three mist nets. The wrens must be incredibly clever, to be able to avoid the net so successfully. I heard them singing wherever I went this morning, and was sure that we would catch one, but they stayed away, as they have for Eric and his colleague Mel, and Jose from the research station who helped out too. There are few papers about these birds and little is known about them. I know they are difficult to catch!

The weather was warm and sunny although the mist did not entirely burn off. Our drive back was lovely, and we stopped at Papllacta for a dip in the hot springs. I hoped to see Antisana again, but it was hidden behind clouds as it is most days.
Toward Quito

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