Monday, March 31, 2008

Posted by Bejat

Shawn has climbed the same tree twice, one we call the Bob tree, in honor of our friend Bob Winters who assisted us not too long ago and climbed this very tree. Shawn installed his data loggers and checked them to see if they were working. We enjoyed our time with our dear friends, the sweat bees; it has been a long time since we have all gotten together like that. Sweat bees are truly annoying little creatures that are attracted to sweat and just smoother you by licking the sweat out of your pores. It’s been awfully hot with very little rain. We have had some wonderful sightings like the Amazon Land Tortoise, Saki monkeys, Woolly monkeys, Golden Mantled Tamarin Monkeys, Capuchin monkeys, Squirrel Monkeys, Dusky Titi Monkeys, Pygmy Squirrels, Amazon Red Squirrel, Fishing Bats, Harlequin beetle, Tapir butt, amazing orchids in bloom and lots of beautiful snakes. We have caught the arboreal fer-de-lance, Bothriopsis billineatus, twice now (photographed above). I even caught my first snake, a 5 foot Chironius fuscus. We could not find Shawn, so since I knew he was not poisonous and I even knew his genus, I caught him. What an adrenaline rush. I was so excited I even forgot I left my camera on the trail. It wasn’t until Dr. Kelly Swing, the co- director and founder of TBS, reminded me about it that I retrieved it.

We had the most amazing opportunity to meet Dr. Terry Erwin. For those of you who do not know, he is an entomologist famous for his research here at Yasuni National Park. He is a chair at the Smithsonian and continues his research both here at TBS and also at the Catolica Research Station. (Flag-legged bug pictured at left caught by his wife, Grace.) He gave the most amazing presentation about the operation/repair manual for the planet. His numbers on insects are absolutely phenomenal. I love the fact that Kelly Swing and Terry Erwin are here because we are learning so much about insects! Kelly is a professor at Boston University (BU) and Universidad de San Francisco de Quito. He teaches the Environmental Ecology class for the students studying abroad from BU.

The station has internet now, wow, not like we are using it that often, but it sure is helpful for Shawn contacting his assistants, professors, etc. and even applying for more grants. So, send us emails and let us know how ya’ll are doing out there. If you have any questions, feel free to ask. I must admit that we may not respond immediately, but we will respond in time.

I have been using our new video camera, learning how all its buttons function. At some point we should be uploading some footage. Just the other day I was fortunate enough to capture footage of the Golden Mantled Tamarins. They have so much character, definitely my favorite monkey here in the forest. They are so inquisitive and give you these looks like “what do you want?” They go up and down the trunks of the trees bobbing their heads around to peek at you chirping all the way. It’s absolutely fascinating to watch them, especially when they captured an enormous cricket and bit it’s head off. Since they are so very small, a large insect looks enormous in their little hands.

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