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San Pedro (The God of Bad Weather) Makes an Appearance

Sarah Faegre | Nov 28, 2007


Rain and wind might make our camp life a bit uncomfortable...but for the Blue-throated Macaws a leaky nest can spell a quick end to eggs or young chicks

People in the photo are Me and Vicente, a Bolivian Field Technician who joined Carlos and I at the camp.

November 27th

One flooded tent and one wind-crushed tent...falling trees and a flooded kitchen...maggots in the food and a stinky, muddy bathing bathroom and no shovel to dig a hole when you find a spot that serves as a bathroom.  Tropical heat and humidity, mosquitoes, gnats, horseflies...a piranha-infested river that must be swam...if I want to visit the Crowned-eagle nest.  A pair of Aplomado Falcons who swerve through the palms on graceful, pointed wings to grab a giant month in their talons.  Changuito the armadillo, standing on hind legs to sniff delicately at the air, his face covered in mud and clumps of dirt from his excavation efforts.  Puerquito, the arboreal porcupine, clambering through the canopy, dropping motacu fruits and making a racket with his whining and fussing noises like a sleepy and disgruntled hedgehog.  The musical whirr of a toucans wing beats, the raucous screech of macaws.  Kee-u kee-u ki-u kiu k-kk-k, say the Aplomado Falcons.  The wind throws an entire palm tree vaguely in my direction as I sit in my hammock (strung between two palms) and crushes Carlos' tent like a fragile skeleton-a mighty crunch and it is a flattened heap of broken poles and fabric, the jagged ends of poles poking through the skin like so many compound fractures.  "Se ha llevado me casa," laments Carlos, who is amazingly good-humored about the destruction of his living quarters.  "I guess I will just have to get down on my belly and crawl in like Changuito," he laughs.  His hammock breaks and dumps him on the ground.  He ties a knot to hold the broken strings together.  The next day the other end breaks and dumps him on the ground.  I wonder if there are ever hurricanes here.

Please note:  There were only maggots in the food because we left the lid off for too long (thinking to give it air) before eating it as leftovers-our own fault, not anything imposed on us.


November 28th

This afternoon it is with sadness and worry that I sit, watching the nest cavity.  The female is not here and her nest and eggs are wet after this morning's torrential downpour.  When we arrived at the nest to climb the pair was in a nearby tree.  They screamed at us briefly and then disappeared.  And this morning, during the 2 hours of inundating rain, the female was not at her nest. 

Oh-but here she is now!  She has just arrived and entered the nest-so maybe all is okay after all.  I just can't imagine why an incubating mother would leave her nest unattended for so long, especially when up until now she has not left her nest for more than 15 minutes at a time.  Maybe she was just hunkered down in her nest during the rain storm and Carlos, not seeing the tips of her tail feathers as we often do, thought that she wasn't there.  More often than not we can see the tips of her tail poking out of the cavity entrance when she in there, but not always.  In fact I can't see it right now and if I hadn't been watching closely to see her enter I would think that she wasn't inside and had surely abandoned. 

This is a beautiful time to be in the blind:  It is 5:30 pm and the sun is starting to set.  The birds and the frogs are singing their evening songs and a light wind is blowing.  The sky is cloudy, as always, and it will probably rain again.  Since my tent last flooded I have moved it and arranged the tarp overhead to divert some of the water, so hopefully I will not be sleeping in soggy wetness anymore this year.  I suppose a flooded tent is better than a flattened one...Luckily Carlos managed to fix his broken heap of a tent by using copious amounts of duct tape.

The monkeys are crashing around in the trees and something is grunting a snorting from the ground nearby.  The female BTM just poked her brightly-colored head out of the nest cavity, looked around calmly, and then yawned.  She delicately preened her shoulder and chewed at the cavity entrance for a moment before settling back down her eggs.  I hear the shrill cries of Aplomado Falcons, flying back and forth behind the blind.  A pair of Blue-fronted Amazons fly over, giving their typical "karu-krau" yelping calls, and a blackbird is croaking.

Note:  These photos were taken when camp was dry.  I know that doesn’t quite fit with the title of this entry, or all my complaints about flooding, but the pictures of flooded camp just aren’t as pretty.  Mud and water…you’ll see plenty of that in more striking pictures yet to come…