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The adventures of Fe & Chris

Archive for July 24, 2007

Pygmy Elephants

Whilst lying in our tent at Base Camp this morning, enjoying the nearby yelping of Emerald Toucanets, Fe enthusiastically proclaimed “I want to see Pygmy Elephants!” this was followed by an only marginally less confident “Do they exist?”.

We’ve been together for three and a half years today. We might celebrate with half a can each of illicit Salva Vida and a chocolate biscuit!


Resplendent Quetzal

The Resplendent Quetzal, arguably the most beautiful bird in the world is a resident of our forest. They can often be heard at dawn yelping away, occasionally fly overhead, but rarely provide satisfactory views. Last week, towards the end of my time at El Danto, a stunning male silently flew into my view, pranced around a little, showing of its ridiculously long tail and flew off again. I haven’t a picture so you’ll have to Google for one.

Rather a highlight, I’d say.

Death is around every corner

At El Danto I encountered several deadly snakes each day as I walked the through the forest to my bird survey sites. Indeed, an Emerald Palm Viper (small, green, but with enough oomph to kill you in a few hours) took up residence just a stones’ throw from my hammock and stayed for several days.

Sounds dangerous doesn’t it? Fortunately, most of the venemous snakes here are rather lazy and don’t actively pursue prey. They sit and wait until their prey conveinently strolls past them, then one bite does the trick, wait for the beast to die, then gobble it up. When they encounter humans, they mostly shuffle off quietly and considerately.

They are quite cryptic however and occasionally I executed 10 minute bird counts whilst standing right next to a Godman’s Pit Viper. Once I very nearly put my bag on one; I suspect the mighty MacPac would have lived.
This is a Godman’s Pit Viper, fangs at the ready.

El Danto

I have recently returned from the deepest darkest, and most remote part of Cusuco National Park.

I spent two weeks at a field camp called El Danto (the Tapier) which is six hours’ walk from the nearest civilisation of Santo Tomas (a small shop, a bunch of dispersed houses, and another OpWall camp).

El Danto is in the thick of the cloud forest, situated by a rather beautiful stream. Accomodation is mostly in hammocks suspended between the trees, and in the few flat areas tents are squeezed in. The large dining table, kitchen area & shelving are made entirely from staves cut from the forest (the table was made last year and the underside is starting to rot). Two large tarpaulins keep the rain off.

The stream provides a scenic, if rather cold bathing facility. The trench for toilet matters is up a steep hill and provides fine birdwatching (and sometimes snakewatching). Clothes can be washed but due to the humidity take two to three days to dry and often have to be finished of by a night in ones sleeping bag.

Food is provided by two nice Honduran ladies who stay with us for five days a week and cook rice, beans and maize tortillas in vast quantities. On lucky evenings we were given salty cheese.

A sunny morning

To prevent us from getting lost, bitten by snakes or into any other mischeif we were guided around the forest by men from a nearby-ish town. They wielded large machetes in occasionally alarming ways, necessitating walking a few steps behind them, but were generally agreeable, and endured my terrible Spanish with a spring in their step and a laugh on their face.

Since then I’ve been drying out in Buenos Aires and am now back in Base Camp with Fe.