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miércoles, 23 de noviembre de 2011

VIPs, Camera traps and a bird brain

Hi Everyone,

First off I am happy to inform you that we are very privileged to have 3 very important people with us at the moment. Norman Scott is one of the world’s leading experts on herpetofauna and is here to study our museum collection of amphibians and reptiles. In addition he is also collecting specimens and we have been going out frogging and actively searching for snakes and lizards. It is a pleasure to work alongside someone with not only the same passion as me but such knowledge! Joan Scott has been helping us out too. We are in the process of creating a children’s colouring book to use as an educational tool as part of our community outreach programme. Joan is an excellent artist and is designing the pictures for this book while she is here. Joining Norman and Joan is Pier Cacciali, one of our external collaborators and an expert on snakes as well as other herps, it’s great to have him here again. A big thank you to Norman, Joan and Pier for all their hard work and enthusiasm and here’s to another week of them being here.

Another great piece of news is that not only do we have one of our camera traps on site and in action and we have some amazing pics of some of the vulture species we have in the cerrado. Within days of the trap arriving and doing a test run I found the ideal bait – a dead dog that had been killed on the road. I won’t pretend it was particularly pleasant but it did prove to be very effective. I placed the dog in a patch of cerrado near the house and set up the camera trap. All we had to do then was leave it alone and wait. 3 days later I returned to an almost completely stripped skeleton and some great pictures of vultures visiting the carcass.

If you have been following this blog you will know that we have a breeding pair of burrowing owls living in the garden. We have confirmed sightings of 5 young, all extremely fluffy and unbearably cute. They are getting bolder too and I don’t think it is going to be long before they take flight, they are growing so fast. We really hope to get their first flight on camera so have placed the camera trap in front of their burrow – all we need now is patience from us and courage from them. I’ll keep you posted.

And finally the bird brain! Pier very kindly took an afternoon out of his busy schedule to teach me how to process birds. We don’t actively collect birds for the museum however if we come across one that has died we will take it as a specimen. The bird I was working on was a grey-necked wood rail (Aramides cajanea) which was, unbelievably, found dead in a Sherman trap used for catching small mammals. How and why it squeezed itself in there is a mystery but it proved to be a great opportunity for me to learn how to process birds. I have to say the technique is a bit harder than mammals and pretty gross in parts. However it was very interesting to see how the process works and we now have a rather nice exhibit for the museum.

And that’s about all for now, until next time

Hasta pronto


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