Let me start by wishing you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. The end of 2011 really went out with a bang for us here at Laguna Blanca as we had an influx of large animals to add to our species inventory.
I think it is safe to say that the most exciting find for December was a southern tamandua (an arboreal anteater) we helped to rescue a few weeks ago. Karina and Jorge, one of our forest guards, were called to a local house where the family had it in their shed. They had caught it as it was up a tree looking lost and a bit distressed and they asked us to come and collect it. Needless to say we were more than happy to oblige and after a few false starts Karina and Jorge managed to get it secured in a sack and into the back of the car. We then took it out into an area of cerrado that borders the transitional forest and let it go. It was a little bewildered when we let it out of the bag but soon realised it could make a bid for freedom and off it went. If you would like to see a short film of the release you can watch it on you tube at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-M6R5zLVyg4
But the anteater wasn’t the only large animal to add to our list, whilst out driving in the cerrado recently Karina managed to photograph 2 lesser grisons (a black and white mustelid that look similar to honey badgers in Africa). We caught an agouti on our camera trap and on New Years Eve I got a call from one of the forest guards to come and get a snake. This wasn’t that unusual as I often get called out for snakes, however I don’t usually have a 1.72m long boa constrictor to contend with! Actually this one was the model capture, slow and not even slightly aggressive it was easy to handle and get into a sack (which was lucky as I had an audience of about 10 people!). We released it that afternoon after finding a set of scales big enough to weigh it first (2.5kilos by the way)!
The animal releases didn’t end just because the year did. On the morning of New Years Day a fisherman appeared on the doorstep with a water bird for me. He was actually trying to sell it to me but when I explained that it would not be possible for me to give him any money for it because we don’t want to encourage people to catch animals in the reserve he was quite happy to give it to me anyway. We took some photographs and measured it and Paul our scientific co-ordinator identified it as a Pied Billed Grebe. Then later that day when the weather had cooled down a bit we took it to a nice sheltered spot by the lake and released it – but not before it gave Becky an indignant peck!
And finally, speaking of pecking (ok this is a really tenuous link) our burrowing owls are all doing really well. They have all mastered the art of flying and are really very tame, allowing us to get within about 2 meters and occasionally joining us on the porch of the volunteer house! Whilst this is lovely they have also discovered they can get an easy meal by steeling the moths from our moth light sheet, something they are not so welcome to do!
OK guys that’s all for this time and think, if you haven’t made a New Year’s Resolution yet maybe it should be to come and volunteer with us here in paradise!