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Hello all! I am back in Iquitos fresh out the jungle and thought I would update the blog before Canada! I have only been back out there for a couple of weeks however have some interesting data and some even more interesting species. The water level is continuing to drop in the reserve it has probably dropped by about 6 or 7 meters since I arrived in March, this means all my transects which were originally flooded forest are now completely out the water and drying out more and more every day. If you take a look in the photos I have included one taken within the forest which shows a distinctive line where the water level would have been with green above and black below. This will eventually fade as new plants grow in the lower levels however it is really interesting to see. Once again I decided to upload a selection of photos and talk about them.
When I went back out into the jungle after leaving the DICE students (it was very sad saying goodbye to them I made some really good friends) I spent two days with a group of Greentracks tourist who were staying on the Ayapua. This was really interesting as I met some great people who had a real interest in reptiles and amphibians (they even had a boa constrictor which needed releasing). The first night back at PV2 I was out frogging again as soon as I arrived back, we found some interesting frogs and two juvenile Fur De Lances which is the small snake on a leaf. This is one of the most venomous snakes out here however I stood well back to take the photo making full use of the zoom on my camera. The photo with fish in the boat was a few nights later. We were on our way to the channel when our boat got bombarded with fish! When this water level drops down all the fish move out of the lakes and forest and into the rivers. This results in a lot of fish! You often see them jumping out of the water and as our boat crossed the river into the channel all these fish were jumping out the water and landing in our boat! This is a great spot to see dolphins fishing the come right out the water to dive down after the first, this is the only time you might see a pink dolphin jumping right out of the water. Gray dolphins fish differently the chase the fish up to the surface and catch them here they do not have the flexibility that the pink dolphins have.
The three very green photos show our final trip into the lake. As the water level dropped down the lake became cut off from the main river and channel, we ended up carrying our canoes over the land to get there. It was great fun but a lot of hard work so we only did it once (actually twice we did it once at night too) the first of these photos (which just looks like vegetation) actually has a capybara in it! Look very closely in the middle there is a little bit of brown fur that is a capybara. We saw it when we first entered the lake it was poking its head out the water with a piece of water lettuce on its head. I did not get my camera out quick enough then in moved into the more dense vegetation. There is also a photo of me sitting in the canoe, we got rained on then started looking for frogs, we only found a couple. But it was a great experience as all the birds had moved into the lake to take advantage of the trapped fish in the very shallow water. There is another photo of me here looking very nervous as right after this photo was taken there was a lot of splashing next to me which I hoped was a fish and not a caiman / giant anaconda!
Next we have a couple of frog photos, the first is a defence posture which many frogs display when caught. I always try to get some more natural photos when we release each frog, sometimes if we catch two together I will photograph them next to each other like I have in these photos. There is also a picture of a cane toad which is the large frog in my hand, the photo before this is me setting bottle traps! This is something we do in the UK to catch newts and I thought I would try it out in the Amazon to see if I was able to catch any tadpoles. We caught a couple of fish but that was it, I will try this again at some point but the floating vegetation is starting to rot down now and so there is much less to survey.
The photos following show a range of different species which I have seen in the last month. The small tarantula photo is the first spider photo I have taken, I really don’t like spiders however this one was very cute. Next we have a couple of pictures of Bolivar village which is right on the edge of the Pacaya-Samiria reserve and where many of our guides live. We spent a couple of hours here looking around, buying souvenirs and playing football with them.
I have now been in Iquitos for 7 days and the last few photos show some of the things I have been doing. We went to a manatee sanctuary which was amazing we got to feed the manatees. This place takes in juvenile manatees that have lost their mothers to hunting, feeds them up for a couple of years and then releases them into the Pacaya-Samiria. All of the monkey photos were taken at Monkey Island which is home to eight different species of monkey, these have been kept as pets or have also lost their mothers from illegal hunting and have been taken in by the organization who run monkey island. Finally there is a small frog picture which we found at monkey island on the beach while heading back to the boat. There were hundreds of them all hopping around on the beach very tini, not sure which species they are yet….
Hope you enjoy the photos!