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viernes, 24 de septiembre de 2010

The Meat Is Hissing At Me

Just a quick note to everyone at home - yes this is Loraine writing this blog!

A lot has happened since arriving here I am not sure where to begin exactly! I’ve been here about 2 and a half weeks and I can honestly say there has never been a dull moment and every day is different whether that be because our trusty jeep has decided to go on strike yet again leaving us stranded in the middle of the cerrado with a thunder storm on its way forcing us to wait, for what seems like an eternity, for the mechanic to help us two damsels in distress to walking through a maze of forests teeming with all sorts of birds, insects, butterflies and I’m sure plenty of other critters lying out of sight! But every day is definitely different!

Just last week we had two German tourists stay with us whilst on a birding tour with Paul (from It was cool, I had never gone birding before (maybe that’s because you have to get up at 5.30am!!!) so I went with and saw so much!! The place is literally teeming with every type of bird sound you can imagine so to actually put a name to the sound was kinda cool! We saw this crazy little bird called the cock-tailed tyrant (Alectrurus tricolor) whizzing around the place trying to impress its lady friend. It is really unusual because as it flies it flicks its tail up so it looks just like the tail of an aeroplane....really funny to watch! It was especially great to see though because with destruction of its natural habitat it is in serious trouble of being los! But the high light of my day by far was jumping off the back of the jeep and legging it after a black tegu (Tupinambis merianae), unfortunately it got away so that story is to be continued! It’s coming into the spring here (how one can call 38°C spring and not summer is beyond me!) so its a little early for the snakes and lizards to be out and about so seeing the tegu was extra exciting! We went back to the spot where the cock-tailed tyrant lives to find the white-winged night jar (Eleothreptus candicans). Now this little bird is awesome and is in serious need of help. With it being found in just three places (Laguna Blanca being one of them) in the world and with about 200 birds left this little guy is in serious trouble of extinction. But luckily enough we spotted a couple. I even got so up close and personal with one sitting on an ant mound......I got a smack square in the face when it took off! I’m guessing not many can say they nearly got a black eye by a bird that’s on its way out!

It is just Karina and I on site at the moment, so we have been keeping ourselves busy with exploring the reserve, keeping on top of the on-going Lepidoptera (butterfly and moth) study as well as the Clyomys (a medium sized rodent which burrows for roots in the cerrado) mark and re-capture study and setting arboreal traps.....we found an opossum in one trap which seems to be relatively common at Laguna Blanca, that we are hoping is either a subspecies to one found in Brazil or perhaps a new species to science, how awesome is that!!! Our nights are spent frogging and or setting up the moth light and watching as moths along with beetles and tiny flies flock to it! One moth that lives here is so dull in colouration until it reveals the entire universe under its wing, spectacular stuff I tells you!!

We have an intern coming next week who is hoping to do work on mapping leaf cutting ant trails. Should be very interesting, they are really cool little guys, looking at the ground you couldn’t imagine there is anything there at all until you see a leaf walk by you followed by another and another, they are comical!

Oh and if you are wondering what the title of this blog means that is all thanks to Karina....I recon it’ll be the quote of the week. Some how, hmn maybe I will not divulge how it happened Karina, but the pipes in the freezer were pierced leaking gas everywhere and of course the only logical explanation was “The Meat is Hissing at Me!!!”. I am not sure if it is a sane thing for me to admit that I actually did give what she said a second had been a long day! So since then we have been stuffing our faces with all sorts of weird and strange concoctions trying to eat everything before it goes off. But, last night I did manage to make a type of shepherd’s pie just minus the meat and pretty much every other ingredient that goes into a shepherd’s pie. We have named it “The Loraine Pie”, it was yummy if I do say so myself!

Hasta la Proxima!

jueves, 16 de septiembre de 2010

A New Adventure Begins!

Who could have thought that in the space of just two short weeks I would completely pack up my belongings and move half way across the world to Paraguay? And yet here I sit on a porch drinking terere with the most beautiful surroundings listening to a chorus of birds, crickets, frogs and heavens only knows what else!
It all kicked off when I was offered my dream job to work as a field biologist with an amazing organisation – Para la Tierra! Having spent my child hood years in South Africa where wildlife of every kind surrounded me I knew that all I wanted to do was work with animals, but in particular with reptiles!! So I completed my Bachelor Degree of Science in Zoology and did my Research Masters on “The Evolution of Reproductive Strategies in Reptiles”. So working with Para la Tierra in such an undiscovered part of the world was an amazing opportunity I would be crazy to turn down!
The journey to Paraguay was...ummm....“interesting” from the word go!! My Dublin flight was delayed which meant missing every connection flight and arriving half a day late which seemed a lot after 35hours of travelling. Looking out the window as we landed in Asuncion I slowly began to realise “wow this looks very different to the 40 shades of green I’m used to back home!”. My first couple of days in Asuncion went by in a whirlwind of new faces, customs, places and new food. Having just come out of vegetarianism I was thrown into a meaty diet of pork and beef and yes I even tried tongue on my first night, which is not that bad, a bit salty but surprisingly OK!!
When it was time to leave for Laguna Blanca, which was to become my new home, I hopped onto a coach with Karina (the principal scientist for Para la Tierra) and took a 5 hour coach ride to Santa Rosa. Luckily it was a brand new coach which made for an easy ride!  I loved the idea that people randomly hop on and off the bus selling you everything from DVD’s and combs to fruit and chipa (which is like a bagel made from corn, very tasty!!). Another hour by car and we are finally at Laguna Blanca which is such a hidden paradise I am not sure any words could do it justice!