Wednesday, January 25, 2012

2012 Off to a Good Start

Boat-billed Herons, Lineated Woodpeckers, Parachuting Red-Eyed Tree Frogs and Purple Gallinules. 2012 is kicking off with a lot of exciting things that would have sounded totally foreign and bizarre to the volunteers just a couple weeks ago. Nevertheless, people have not only already gotten accustomed to the rustic living/heat/humidty/insects but have made it through all of the first aid training and eagerly embraced the surveys that started this week. Already, all the volunteers have participated in various surveys including our Biological Assessments in the jungle, canal bird surveys, and jaguar track surveys on the beach, not to mention general duties such as trail clearing and building a covered outdoor structure to enjoy the open air at night. Tomorrow, the first group of the phase will take part in the first Jag Walk, walking 15 miles on the beach to the town of Tortuguero, collecting data on Jaguar activity. So far we have been largely problem-free which is quite nice! And needless to say, people have been very excited about the work so it's looking like it'll be an especially productive phase.

Some exciting things that have happened recently have included the arrival of a new diesel generator which has been much more reliable and fuel-efficient than the previous machine and the arrival of a car battery which enables us to carry out moth surveys in the forest where the types of moths we're looking for reside, instead of being limited to the length of our extension cord. Also, it was decided to attempt a bird survey on Sierpe Viejo this morning, a canal that has been utterly impassible due to reeds blanketing the water's surface. To everyone's surprise, the attempt was successful, and another blog will be posted shortly about their adventure this morning. Aside from that, we have an opossum attempting to call our kitchen and staff house it's home, and an Eyelash Viper that did call the quad-bike shed home for an unknown amount of time! Both have been dealt with properly fortunately!

A group of volunteers on a BAS survey

Additionally, preparations are underway for some environmental education classes in the elementary school of Parismina, a small town on the way to Jalova. 70+ students will participate in group activities relating to relevant environmental studies such as jungle animals, marine life, food chains, etc. The hope is to have monthly classes starting in February, and we're all excited to start reaching out to the community like we've been wanting to. Along the lines of community outreach, we also have completed our first bilingual newsletter called La Voz de la Selva (The Voice of the Forest) and are in the process of distributing them throughout the area.

Like normal, we have quite a diverse group of people on base at the moment. There are people from the US, Australia, Canada, the UK, and like usual a great deal of cultural exchange is happening. We have people putting sugar and lemon on their pancakes that have only ever considered using maple syrup! We're talking about major breakthroughs here!! Regardless of their origin, everyone is quite pleased with the nice weather we've had lately. Most days have been beautiful and sunny, a welcome change from the end of last phase which was very wet indeed. We never know what the near future will hold while living in the jungle but thus far it seems as though we have a strong start to the phase and promising things to come! Stay tuned!

-Kevin, field staff