Leaving the nest

We leave REGUA tomorrow after an interesting four weeks. One guaranteed sighting here has been the Common Potoo (Nyctibius griseus), a nocturnal bird related to nightjars and frogmouths (of the order caprimulguformes). A master of camouflage, it remains motionless on a suitable dead tree all day, through scorching sun and torrential rain. We’ve had the privilege of watching this one fledge its chick. A single egg is laid in a depression on the tree stump; at first a tiny ball of fluff was visible beneath the adult, as the chick became larger the adult was forced to shift position. This week the adult moved on to another perch, an appropriate metaphor we thought.

This is the final post on this blog, thanks for reading. For those interested in following our onward travels, I’ll be doing a photoblog here: https://southfromrio.home.blog/ (live from tomorrow – Mon 5th Nov).

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Porcupine stops work

Cutting bamboo with Brazilian ranger Messias to make new screening for a bird hide; similar to coppicing hazel, but in a dense stand 20 metres high. A few quick cuts with the chainsaw, lots of tugging to untangle it and a long hot job carting poles to the trail side. You’ll notice the rubber wellies, ‘chainsaw jeans’, special ‘invisible’ ear protection and safety glasses perched diligently on top of the cap. UK rangers among you will be wincing I’m sure!

Work was going well until we spotted movement high in the bamboo; an orange-spined hairy dwarf porcupine (Sphiggurus villosus).  Not like the ground dwelling porcupines most people imagine, this species is adept at tree climbing. There’s a good photo of one here: https://www.mindenpictures.com/search/preview/orange-spined-hairy-dwarf-porcupine-sphiggurus-villosus-adult-walking-on/0_80189585.html

We watched it climb through the canopy before deciding the safest course of action would be to go for an early lunch.

O retorno das antas

The return of the tapirs; a project in partnership with local universities to reintroduce this large mammal (Tapirus terrestris), absent from the state for over 100 years. They are bulky animals, similar size to a large pig and weighing 300 – 400 Kg. One of their important ecosystem functions is seed distribution, particularly those larger than 1cm. We met a couple of students who were studying tapir faeces to measure its seed dispersal effectiveness!

The project has had problems, particularly because these six tapirs are captive bred and habituated to humans. They have not ventured far into the forest, preferring to stay around accommodation and office areas, not always welcome as they scent-mark the soft furnishings of the guest lodge! Although we’ve enjoyed seeing its incredible prehensile nose-trunk in action as it grasps foliage.

It’s hard to getta borboleta

Borboleta, the Portuguese word for butterfly rolls nicely off the tongue. Nearly 600 butterfly species have been recorded at REGUA and not a single one of them will pause for a photograph. Trying to capture these lively lepidoptera is frustrating. I’ve managed a few, none properly in focus, but I include them here as they are such a feature. Top is a Tiger Mimic-queen (Lycrorea halia discreta); below is a Clymena Eighty-eight (Diaethria clymena janeira), obviously named for its underwing pattern.

{The butterfly in the previous Sunday’s post, is a Scarlett Peacock (Anartia amathea roeselia) for those asking}

Rodents in residence

Our favourite neighbours are a group of 15 capybaras, found lounging on a nearby island for most of the day. In the same family as guinea pigs and famous for being the world’s largest rodent they are certainly sizeable; adults are 1 to 1.3 metres long, 50 to 60 cm tall and weigh up to 66 Kg. With eyes, ears and nostrils on top of the head and semi-webbed feet they are excellent swimmers and can remain underwater for up to 5 minutes. Grazing on grasses and aquatic plants they do a good job of keeping waterside vegetation in check. Like the caiman, capybaras arrived naturally once the wetlands were created and now form an important part of the ecosystem.