Thursday, July 17, 2008

Posted by Bejat

Today we climbed another tree. Kaya
is doing a
wonderful job and has been of great assistance with the tree climbs and bromeliad work in the lab. She is so helpful, caring and kind. We feel blessed to have her as an assistant. This is her first time to the Amazon rainforest and she has dreamed of this moment since she was a child. Everything is new and exciting to her. It is like seeing the forest through new eyes when with her as I witness the amazement she has when observing the beauty of the Amazon rainforest's vast diversity. She is a bit timid of things at times, but this will pass as she is a strong individual.

This tree climb was a quick one. But, as we were pulling down the climbing rope to go back to camp, the rope got hung up around some branches. After pulling, tugging and hanging; Shawn decided to put his harness on and climb on up about 5 feet to get more weight on the line in hopes that the rope would pull itself free. This did not work. So, we decided to have me piggy back, hanging below him. Well, this did work. We swung around like Tarzan on a liana and down we came rope and all, right on top of a Spiney Palm. We rolled around in the mud laughing. We were just fine. I suffered a bit of Spiney Palm in the hind end, arm and back, plus soreness since I cushioned our fall. Today I must admit I am developing more soreness, yet I am just fine. We have yet another great story to tell. Too bad that did not make it on video, talk about funny.

The road has made the transfer of bromeliads easy since we seem to exit the forest and a few minutes later we are able to catch a ride. Good for our backs and the bromeliads. Taking them along the trails, swamps and streams can be difficult, but a great work out. The TBS Station may have it’s challenges, but makes one feel rugged and accomplished. However, working at the Catolica Station with the road allows for less energy and time to be expended on transport of the bromeliads and gear, providing more time for work to be done. Therefore, we are now going out in the evenings more frequently to find species of frogs, snakes and lizards that we have not seen before, as well as recording frog calls.

Today Shawn found his first snake in a bromeliad, Leptodeira annulata, which is typically found at or near ground level. Shawn found him about 34 meters up tucked inside a bromeliad leaf. It is a non-toxic snake that is mottled brown so when he first caught a glimpse in the little tent he was concerned that it may be a fer-de-lance or some other pit viper, upon further investigation with the snake tong from across the tent he was able to determine that it was indeed a Leptodeira. This will be a new publication for him when he returns because there is no documentation of such species at this elevation. I was able to get phenomenal natural setting photos in one of the bromeliads here in camp as seen in the above right photo. This was only possible with my lovely assistants, Shawn and Kaya.

Kaya took here first venture into the tent this go round of bromeliad discoveries and encountered Osteocephalus sp. (as seen to the left with Kaya) and a juvenile Ostecephalus sp. (as seen above to the right). I also photographed her Osteocephalus find in an Achmea zebrina bromeliad leaf in the studio as pictured to the above left. She encountered many different species of Tadpoles too. She enjoyed her time in the tent and she is now ready to return to what we call the "cage", only because we look like we are caged humans inside the tent and you are not allowed out until the bromeliad is done, well typically. I am going in next.

Pulling the insects from the water and sludge is what appears to be expending our minds and time. I recommended we rinse out the sludge and pack it away for us to work on in the States when we get back. Shawn is very excited about this is telling everyone jokingly that this is why he pays me the big bucks, for my ability to see outside the box. Although we are now behind on our schedule, we have accepted the fact and decided we will return next year. I'm certain more funding will be necessary, however, we will live more frugally and make this possible with more grant applications and hard work.

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