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sábado, 3 de diciembre de 2011

A string of goodbyes, “Pinchy” and our juvenile owls attempts at flight

Hello again,

Well after a wonderful 2 weeks we have had to say goodbye to Norman Scott and his wife Joan. If you read my previous blog you will know that Norman is one of the worlds leading experts in herpetology and has been helping us in the museum ensuring that all of our herpetofauna specimens are correctly identified. It has been a pleasure to work alongside someone with such knowledge and passion and we look forward to our continued collaboration. Joan has also been working hard for us and we now have a wonderful colouring book to use as a community outreach tool. A massive thank you to both of them for all their hard work during their time here. We must also thank Pier who somehow managed to find the time to help us by actively searching for frogs and snakes, showing me how to process birds (see my previous blog for more info on this), going through the herpetofauna collection with a fine tooth comb, assisting me in writing a community outreach project and also doing his own work for his PhD thesis – when did he sleep?

Sadly we have also had to say goodbye to a wonderful volunteer Mikey Kempster. Mikey really threw himself into everything that was happening here from going out frogging, to small mammal trapping and helping to organise the museum, there wasn’t a single job he wasn’t 100% enthusiastic about. When I asked him what he enjoyed most he had to think for a long time, then finally said that being “Pinchy” was a real highlight. Now you are probably wondering what I am talking about so let me explain from the beginning. A few weeks ago we visited 2 local schools to talk to children about the reserve, as part of our community outreach programme. We were very lucky to have a couple of guests come and assist us with this; Pablo and Amelio from Fundacion Moises Bertoni, a conservation organisation based in Eastern Paraguay. We went to the school and hid Mikey in the car so the children wouldn’t see him, then while Amelio was giving the presentations Pablo helped Mikey transform into “Pinchy” a 6ft bright yellow and black bird who had come to Laguna Blanca to help the white winged nightjar, Para La Tierra’s flagship species. “Pinchy” was a real hit and really helped us convey the conservation message to the children. A massive thank you to Mikey for all his help, enthusiasm and lets face it terrible jokes!!

And finally last time I promised you an update on the burrowing owls, well I am delighted to report that all 5 young are thriving and are looking bright and healthy and the mother is doing a fantastic job of keeping up with their insatiable appetites! We have some excellent footage of them attempting to fly, somewhat clumsy it has to be admitted but flying nevertheless! Unfortunately it’s not possible to explain to them the purpose of the camera trap as the mother was regularly seen sitting on top of it!

And that’s all for this time, see you in a couple of weeks


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