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domingo, 13 de octubre de 2013

Chaco Expedition Part 2: by JP Brouard

20/09/13 This was supposed to be our last full day at the reserve so we gathered in the camera and sherman traps (a device to catch small mammals), and went for our last ride around the salt lakes. There were many birds around. A little Collared Plover ran through the sand, as two Tropical Kingbirds chased flies. When we returned Mike and I decided to put up some butterfly traps close to the lodge, while the others went for a walk to the waterhole. This turned out to be a very good decision. A Jaguarandi walked towards the water. As it got close a Crab-eating Fox chased it away. Joe and Anna got some amazing footage of this elusive cat. In the late afternoon a decision was made to stay for a few more days as an affiliate of PLT had some car issues and needed our 4x4. Karina had to leave and was going to be back to get us in a few days. 21-24/09/13 The next four days were spent in the vicinity of the lodge. We undertook a short project comparing the diversity of birds at two waterholes, put in new pitfall and sherman traps, and repositioned the camera traps. Mike, Joe and Anna made a new trail to search for the possible presence of Owl Monkeys. They spent large portions of the morning using machetes to clear the thorn bushes away from the path. Two of the days were very cold and the amount of animals being found decreased significantly. Joe and I spent a lot of time bird watching. The area around the lodge produced loads of cool species. We saw numerous Golden-billed Saltators, Lark-like Brushrunners, White-banded Mockingbirds, Many-coloured Chaco-Finches, and many more. On one of our walks we came across a Southern Three-banded Armadillo. They are a non-burrowing species that runs around going about their daily activities. We managed to see four individuals on this trip. At night we would go on walks down our new trail, or search the abandoned house for bats. We were able to get very close and personal with Vampire bats which was a cool experience. Spending time at the waterhole was a lot of fun. I counted 22 Caiman staring at me through the green algae on one particular day. Birds were abundant with beautiful species such as Hepatic Tanager, Blue-and-Yellow Tanager and White-tipped Plantcutter, all coming down for a drink. On the last day we collected all the equipment and that evening we all anxiously waited for the results from the camera traps to download onto the computer. The cameras had caught loads of cool species but the highlights would have to be the Tapir drinking at the waterhole, an Ocelot and another black form of the Jaguarandi. 25/09/2013 A bright and early start saw us pack the car and say goodbye to Chaco Lodge. In the short time spent sampling we saw over 130 bird species, 16 reptiles and amphibians and 15 mammal species. We were fortunate to see a Southern Tamandua (a species of ant-eater) crossing the road not long after our exit from the lodge. Unfortunately the Chaco is disappearing at an alarming rate. The month of August alone has seen 60,000 hectares of pristine bush disappear through the use of deliberate forest fires to clear land for cattle ranching. PLT is aiming to discover the hidden treasures of the Chaco before it is too late. If you would be keen to join us on one of our expeditions to this amazing place, visit our website at Until next time JP

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