Busy times at the Taricaya Lodge
Things have been very busy at the Taricaya Lodge these past few months and the team out there doesn't stand still for long!
Resident botanist, Daniel Medina, has been out with volunteers on trails, identifying new species and collecting seeds for nursery beds at the pilot farm. There is now an ongoing update of new species counted and the current number stands at 240 – there are 47 species of fungus and 15 species of mosses. Daniel is also starting to process his data from leaf litter traps as we try to measure the productivity of the forest amongst other things. As for the seed nurseries we are concentrating on the ironwood tree at the moment as its seeds are in plentiful supply and it is a very useful type of wood both for construction and producing charcoal thus making it very commercially viable for farmers should they plant it on their land.
When it comes to birds, the list of newly indentified species continues to grow with the current tally standing at 414. This month Rachel has taken over the mist netting duties and she has been dutifully moving her nets along Quebrada trail taking three days to sample at each site. Whilst we caught many species we have already identified we were also able to catch and photograph many species that we have recorded but not been able to photograph.
Preparations are also being made for the opening of a new turtle farm. The team have been busy making preparations at the pilot farm as the artificial beach required its annual maintenance. The area needed to be cleared of vegetation to allow the sun to heat the eggs as they would be warmed in the wild and rotten wood had to be replaced with fresh planks. The onset of the egg-laying season meant that Daniel also started his weekly census of adult turtles in the area. This information is important as we can try to establish resident populations and as numbers increase around the critical egg-laying period we can ascertain how many females have come to the rivers from surrounding lakes and streams in the annual migration. Turtles will always return to their hatching beaches to lay their eggs and whilst they may leave the rivers during the year to avoid competition for food there will be an increase in their numbers over the coming weeks in the river.
The animal rescue centre has had its ups and downs this month. The accidental death of one of our young spider monkeys was a sad moment and everyone at the lodge was upset. It would appear that Gretel was playing in her enclosure when she got tangled up in her hammock and suffocated. This is a freak accident and one that could never have been foreseen but it was still very hard on everyone involved especially the longer standing volunteers who had seen her nursed back to health over recent weeks. Such incidents are few and far between and serve to reinforce how important the work with these animals is and the great sense of accomplishment that comes with every successful release.
Conservation Director, Stuart Timson, notes that 'elsewhere around the reserve we have been working hard to clear the trails and reopen areas that had suffered in the heavy storms; our wildlife observations have given us some great sightings including red howler monkeys, white-lipped peccaries and many groups of both saddle-backed tamarins and squirrel monkeys; a caiman hunt enabled me to capture a black caiman and a rarer smooth-fronted caiman and a nocturnal frog hunt provided us with sightings of night monkeys and the elusive kinkajou.
The team at the Taricaya Lodge doesn't let the proverbial grass grow and with volunteers on the 2 Week special programme and the usually high influx of volunteers arriving through the summer, things are set to stay busy for a good while to come.