Camp Galletas

My first two weeks in the jungle have been unreal. I’ve been staying at “Camp Galletas” way up the Las Piedras River, named for the the circular slices of logs that form our wood floors. The jungle is unlike anything else, with so many insects, snakes, frogs, birds, mammals and more. The first week was spent macheteing trails and areas for the new camp that is being built, but I’ve been able to have some great adventures along the way. Now there are around 30 workers, volunteers, and interns at the camp so it’s a busy place. I’m working as an intern for Fauna Forever, a nonprofit organization that seeks to survey and research the wildlife of the Amazon Rainforest to help preserve important areas and create sustainable ways to harvest resources. I have begun work with Alexis, the bird coordinator, doing mist netting and bird banding. I’m learning so much about this process and gaining a lot of experience. In the first three days of mist netting we captured 38 birds of about 30 species. I’ll let the photos do the rest of the talking. Expect another update in a few weeks!

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Camp Galletas! Tucked into a small open patch in the jungle. It grows every day, with more beds and longer tables.
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The galletas, or cookies that allow us to walk around in bare feet or sandals, which is a great relief from rubber boots!
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Harry took me out on a night walk the first day and we found some incredible insects!
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The Las Piedras River at sunset.
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The boat ride upriver offered some great opportunities to find birds, like this Capped Heron
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On my first morning I woke early and found this amazing view into the canopy.
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A cooperative Vine Snake that the Herp Team caught on a night walk.
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Even the trees are out to get you in the rainforest.
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Black-fronted Nunbirds are a common site near camp
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We hiked up a giant clay cliff one day and had this spectacular view across the untouched jungle.
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More snakes!
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Lucerna, a tiny village along the river is our launching point for getting to camp.
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The Lucerna locals invited us to play a game of soccer. It was dreadfully hot but we only lost 3-2.
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Holding a tamed Yellow-crowned Parrot in Lucerna!
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Scarlet Macaws and other species fly over the clay lick along the river.

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Alexis and I prepare the mist nets for a good day of banding!
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One of 3 Pectoral Sparrow (Arremon taciturnus) that were captured
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We caught a couple of the tiny Golden-crowned Spadebill (Platyrinchus coronatus)
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We caught many birds that follow army ant colonies around such as this Stipple-throated Antbird
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We are only visitors to this wild jungle.

 

Peruvian Beginnings

It’s my second day in Peru and I already experienced so much. My flight from Lima to Puerto Maldonado offered amazing views of the Andes mountains and eventually the Amazon Rainforest. Upon landing, I met with Chris, the Fauna Forever leader and he showed me around the main Fauna Forever site. We then went into town to meet other members of the crew. The main house is near town but tucked back in a small forest. In addition to people, it hosts several Tarantulas, bats, Tamarin Monkeys, and a bunch of birds.

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The Andes near Cusco: Barren and steep, yet quite beautiful!
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The main location of Fauna Forever before it moves to a new location nearby

We are planning on heading out into the field tomorrow, where we will be traveling up the Las Piedras River to a new campsite that Fauna Forever and Arc Amazon are working on. I think I’ll be spending most of my time there, although I will probably come back in town for wifi and some good food occasionally. I’m going to be taking general photos along with specific birds photos, as well as helping with the bird research near the campsite. A lot of the details are still unknown so I’m just going with the flow! I’ll leave you with these photos until next time!

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The road into the Fauna Forever house….looking like a jungle already!
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Lots of mud on the back roads….but not difficult for the thousands of motorbikes.
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Looking out the back door of the Fauna Forever house.

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A view of the giant Rio Madre De Dios
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The plaza in Puerto Maldonado with massive mango trees
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Everybody rides a motorbike, even the taxis seen wearing yellow.
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The Fauna Forever crew spends lots of time in three main restaurants, including El Asadazo, where wifi and good food are shared around the table.

West Virginia Weekend

This past weekend four of my college friends and I journeyed into the forests of West Virginia. We were fortunate enough to be able to stay at the Reed Cabin, located in Canaan Valley near Davis, West Virginia. After arriving late Friday night, we awoke to a pancake breakfast and a wonderful sunny day which we spent exploring several local areas. Lindy Point in Blackwater Fall State Park offered an amazing view into the gorge. The mountainsides had a faint reddish glow as the trees showed their first signs of budding.

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“Summer”, my good ‘ole Honda made it to the Cabin and back, despite some minor difficulties on the way home
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Guest Starring: Allison Reed, Tyler Copeland, Savannah Parson, Jack Bogle
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Pancakes were on point thanks to master chef Savannah
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Hiking trails in Blackwater Falls State Park
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The valley view from Lindy Point.
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It’s not a blog post by Gordon without a sandal shot…
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And some macro…

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Pit-stop in Davis for some thrift shopping

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In the afternoon we chilled back at the cabin and cooked up some burgers and home-made fries. With renewed energy we went up to the Dolly Sods Wilderness to watch the sunset and enjoy s’mores. It was a perfect end to a perfect day! We enjoyed the hot tub at night and explored more on Sunday. To sum it up, it was a fantastic weekend in West Virginia!! A big THANK YOU goes out to Allison and the Reed family for allowing us to stay at their cabin!!!

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The Cabin
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A nice change from college cafeteria food

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The Ghosts of Dolly Sods
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Click for a larger view of this killer view
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Fun with fire painting