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By Plane, Horse, and Ox cart

Sarah Faegre | Nov 17, 2007


Ten days after leaving home I arrive at our camp on a tiny, forested island in the Llanos de Moxos savannahs of Bolivia.  I awake to the sound of Blue-throated Macaws.

November 16, 2007

Six planes, one oxen-pulled cart and one horse later I am finally at the campamento, "Isla Chiquita" which will be my home for the next month, or until the last barba azul (Blue-throated Macaw) chick fledges.  It has taken ten days to arrive here, since leaving my home in Portland, Oregon and it is with great happiness and relief that I can finally settle into my new home and keep my tent in the same spot for long enough to organize my stuff. 

The island is amazing-there are so many animals!  The islands here, in the Bolivian lowlands, are not islands in the typical sense, but rather isolated clumps of forest in a vast, seasonally flooded savannah.  Now, at the very beginning of the rainy season, the ground is still mostly dry and while there are some deeper, swampy areas, none of the "islands" that I speak of are surrounded by water.  Isla Chiquita is the first island in a chain of seven which makes up the 7-isla study area.  We have no electricity or facilities of any kind.  It is just me and my co-worker, also named Sarah, with our tents and a camp stove, living in the forest. 

Isla Chiquita, meaning tiny island, is well-named and a perfect size for our camp.  It is small enough that I can't get lost, but large enough that I am sharing it with a troop of black howler monkeys, an armadillo that walks around camp like a dog, an arboreal porcupine with a prehensile tail, a pair of aplomado falcons and many other animals that I have yet to become acquainted with.  All of these animals I met on my first evening and night at the camp.  As I lie here in my tent, writing, the porcupine is climbing through the canopy, gnawing on Motacu palm fruits (also the favorite food of the barba azul) and dropping the husks and bits of wood around my tent.  I hear wing beats swoosh through camp as the huge bats weave through the palms, buzzing my tent.  Frogs and crickets sing and chirp.  A bird calls.  An unknown night animal is grunting and snorting from the savannah at the edge of the island.  What more could I ask for?

Tomorrow morning we will climb the nest on Isla 2 and I will get to meet the two Blue-throated Macaw chicks who I will be caring for from now until fledging.