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Goliath is taking his first looks at the outside world

Sarah Faegre | Dec 15, 2007


The BTM pair of Vaca Muerta are mourning their loss, but on the other side of camp, the Isla 2 chicks are almost ready to leave their nest...

December 13th

A hot, humid mid-day.  Muy pesado, el aire.  Yesterday Carlos and I walked to Vaca Muerta in the late afternoon, looking at birds and checking up on the parents of the failed nest.  Vaca Muerta is now filled with cows, seeking out higher grounds from the flooded savannah, and the island is saturated with their stench.  The smell of cows, torn-up trampled earth and cow pies everywhere, the pair of parabas (macaws) mournfully screeching and circling the nest tree, the scrawny, bedraggled female fitting the part of the devastated mother.  Vaca Muerta is an island of death.  Walking around it felt sad and heavy.  "Without the barba azul nest, the island has no spirit," said Carlos, putting to words my feeling.  We saw a small viper.  We saw bats.  We saw cows.  Neither one of us felt like hanging around too long.

Since the gas has run out, we are now cooking on an open fire, using a palm-branch tripod to hang the pot above the flame.  We have not yet built a roof for our fire or a structure to keep firewood dry, so if it rains a lot we may have to eat canned peas and tuna for a few days.  With three people and only one nest to monitor we have a lot of time on our hands.  One 2-hour shift per day each and the measurements and feeding of the chicks every three days.  The chicks are big enough that Goliath is starting to poke his head out of the nest cavity to look around.  Soon he will probably be climbing all the way out to exercise his wings and at that point he will fledge any day.  Manu, the younger sibling, still has a ways to go and probably will not fledge until the first week of January.

December 15th
5:00 pm in the escondite (blind) of isla 2

It's funny how attached I can become to routines and to ideas of what the routine will be for the near future.  It was hard to me to accept the new plan when the Vaca Muerta nest died.  Rather than being one of two people here, in this wonderful, isolated little camp, caring for the Vaca Muerta chicks for the month of January, I will be one of three or four people at Tres Palmeras, caring for the two active nests there and living with the family.  Despite my sadness at the rapidly approaching departure date from the campamento, I have finally settled into the new routine, minus Vaca Muerta, in which we have all the time in the world every day because we are three people watching over one nest that is a 5-minute walk from camp. 

Goliath is already climbing around at the cavity entrance and spending a lot of time with his head outside, looking around at the outside world.  Falta poco.  He will fly within a week.  Ojalá que lo puedo mirar cuado vuele.  I hope I can watch him fledge.