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.

A Missouri River Weekend

With the semester drawing to a close, fishing has taken the back burner. Instead of being able to enjoy these warm spring evenings on the water, I now have to finish projects, write reports, and study for exams. Not my idea of enjoyment, but it needs to be done. Do not think however that I did not make time for one last fishing trip! For some time now, my fishing buddies and I have wanted to fish the fabled waters of the Missouri River. It was decided that Sunday, May 3rd would be the big day. With the flies tied and the car packed, we hit the road Saturday afternoon around 4. After two and a half hours of driving and a few stops along the way, we arrived at our campsite and pitched our tent.

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You cannot go camping without a campfire!

After a solid meal of chili and tortillas (they ate cold hot dogs), we sat around camp and talked of the past and future fishing adventures.

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Dreaming of the fish to come!

We then turned in for the night, all knowing sleep would be a long time in coming. Finally after a fitful night of rest, the day came and we busted out of camp around 7:30 AM. Fifteen minutes later we arrived at the river and wadered up (put on waders). We hiked for about 20 min and then began fishing. Cody was the first one to hook up for the day and landed a beautiful 17 inch rainbow trout.

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Billy watches from afar as Cody nets his fish.
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Cody was incredibly proud that he beat me to the first fish of the day!

The fishing continued on, but we could not hook up with any more fish. Finally after about an hour I caught and released my first fish for the day, a nice fat 16 inch rainbow. We fished downstream for about and hour and a half and then I hooked up with what would later be the biggest trout of my life. I let my line drift downstream, when my indicator dipped i set the hook and watched a giant rainbow roll over. After minutes of fighting I landed my biggest wild trout to date, a 22 inch wild rainbow trout.

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The stunning 22 inch rainbow, a fish I will never forget.

After that fish I did not really care what happened for the rest of the day.

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Scouting for rising fish.

The rest of the morning was rather uneventful and the fish were few and far between. Early afternoon found us downriver about 2 and a half miles from are car, so we decided so slow down the pace and fish one spot for a while. Cody caught his first fish on a dry fly and was happy to finally learn the beauty of dry fly fishing. Nymphing the shallows hooked me up with another large fish, a 20 inch rainbow.

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The mighty Missouri River below Hauser Dam.

At about 5 we turned around and headed back upriver to return to our car. Cody and Billy headed to the car, but I decided to fish one more small stretch before breaking down the rod. I managed to catch two more trout, one of which reached 21 inches on my tape measure. What a way to end the day. I returned to the car with a smile plastered to my face, proud to have caught 3 of my biggest trout in one day. It was a great trip and one that will be long talked about. Hopefully it will get me through the next two weeks before I return home. Thanks for reading and don’t forget to comment!

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Spring has come to Missoula!

One last picture of Missoula, before I end this post.