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Seasquirt

The adventures of Fe & Chris

Archive for July 31, 2007

Two turkeys, a Quetzal and some funny flying bats

Fiona and I are both back at Base Camp now. Yesterday evening we went for a very nice nature ramble along a gentle path near base camp. It was mostly uneventful - lots of fungus and bromeliad watching - all stationary stuff, until we found two huge turkey sized birds crashing around in the trees; these were Crested Guan - a fine looking bird, crested as the name suggests, and with a big red wattle.

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Back at base camp I managed to cause a minor disturbance when a male Resplendant Quetzal flew over the clearing and landed in a tree. There was a small rampage away from the dinner queue as many people here are rather eager to see this fine bird. Some school kids looked on in amusement and enquired as to our activities. When I informed them we were looking for a Resplendant Quetzal their faces remained blank so I qualified it with “arguably the most beautiful bird in the world” and they shuffled over with mild enthusiam. The Quetzal soon flew off. Fe saw it, but few others did and the dinner queue was gradually restocked.

We dined on a picnic bench as the sun went down. Five medium sized bats flew overhead for our delectation - these were much more directional and faster than the bats we see in the UK - I likened their flight to that of a sandpiper, a Dunlin perhaps. This appeared to distress Caroline the Habitat Surveyor who was sitting next to us; the poor girl has a painful experience watching sandpipers for her undergraduate dissertation and had been enjoying the bats until then.

Science must go on!

Fiona and I went out counting birds at Guanales early one morning. We were at a site at the end of a truncated transect (the transect had been shortened due to an illegal coffee plantation and the frequent presence of an armed gentleman). I had just begun a point count and was diligently listening for birdies when we heard voices coming from the path above us. They sounded like school kids so Fe set off at pace (would you believe she ran up the hill?) to ask them to please be quiet - science was in progress, after all. On her return she gingerly announced there was a man with a gun and another with a large machete just up the path and they were most definitely not school kids.

I’m not sure what she said to them, but it worked and they remained perfectly quiet for my census, before passing us and exchanging pleasantries.

A week at the Guanales Play Park

I’ve just spent the last week at a field camp called Guanales. Fiona came too for a couple of nights. Guanales is about 1.5 hours walk from Base Camp, up a gradual hill, then down a very steep hill. It’s at around 1250 metres above sea level, so is warm and sunny-ish.

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The best thing about Guanales is its showers - hollow bamboo pipes extending horizontally from the top of a small waterfall direct a powerful jet of water outwards creating the most powerful shower I have ever experienced. Privacy was somewhat lacking, but the setting was marvellous.

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A close second to the showers comes the newly created play park. Bex, an invertebrate person, learnt the Spanish word for a see-saw, so asked the Honduran forest guides if they could build one. They were happy to oblige and created a fine see-saw from forest products with machetes. This see-saw is special however. It has the revolutionary new feature of rotating on its pivot, as well as going up and down in the traditional fashion; a see-saw crossed with roundabout, if you will. It goes fast too. Every play park should have one.seesaw.jpg

The play theme continued with the introduction of an adult sized swing and a pull-up bar (would you believe I am near the top of the chart of number of pull ups in one go - I am a super hero after all). Guanales even has its own custom made Opwall Monopoly, again made with natural forest products. Science seemed to take a back seat to play for a while as herpetologists and bromeliadologist combined forces to make chess pieces from bamboo. Once complete I suspect a chess board will be etched on the dinner table.