Saturday, November 28, 2009

Costa Rica Day 22 - Corcovado: Saving birds and guys with guns

This morning was interesting and frustrating. Here's why. We got an early start (about 05 30) and around 6 we encountered a mist net. (Sirena gets a lot of researchers and this week, an incompetent group of 6-7 Dartmouth undergrads and their even more incompetent professor were there).

The mist net was unattended and there was a Cocoa Woodcreeper in it. We didn't see anyone nearby so Zac waited about 30 minutes, while i went up and down the trail both ways - no one was around. I found two more mist nets - one with a Chestnut-backed Antbird and another with a Golden-crowned Spadebill. Zac took the first bird we found out since he has lots of experience with mist netting and then took the antbird out.

When we got to the Spadebill, it had been about almost an hour that they left the mist nets unattended!! How horribly irresponsible! Unfortunately, the spadebill was not doing well because of these people's lack of responsibility. Zac was blowing on her when the fools finally decided to act like they gave a damn about their nets. It was one of the undergrads and the professor? grad student? Whomever it was, they had no right to be in a leadership position.

We gave them some harsh words and shook our fingers at them. I just cannot believe their behavior. It's disgusting. As field biologists, we were personally offended by them and their complete disregard for the birds. I was really bummed about this. In fact, I cried because I just don't understand how they could do that, and especially in such an esteemed research area - freaking Corcovado National Park??! AHHH! It's a mockery.

The day before, we had seen a few of the undergrads out on one of the trails looking for monkeys. Someone needs to teach these kids proper field behavior, because they were literally screaming back and forth to each (about 60 meters away) "You guys found any monkeys yet? I can't find any!" I'm going to stop right now, because I think if i keep complaining about them, I won't be able to stop...
Moving on...we ended up getting a later start since we had to babysit and take care of the mist nets. It was a 12 mile hike to the Los Patos ranger station. Hot day! But we saw a lot of new birds today: Dot-winged Antwren, White-shouldered Tanager, Golden-crowned Spadebill, White-whiskered Puffbird (my favorite! top photo), Yellow-billed Cacique, Amazon Kingfisher, Black-striped Woodcreeper, Black-throated Trogon, Masked Tityra, White-throated Shrike Tanager, White-necked Jacobin.

The first 8 miles of the hike ere relatively flat and easy, then stuff went uphill for the last 4. Lots of huge strangler figs and a good handful of river crossings. We ran into some park police with huge machine guns at one point - they were looking for poachers. I want their job.
We stopped for a break and a spider monkey found us. He was very chatty. He kept taunting us I think and making all sorts of good noises. He followed us for about 15 minutes once we started hiking again, funny stuff. Zac thought he was mad at us but I think he just wanted someone to talk to :)
This Mangrove Black Hawk was right above our heads and stayed still for a couple photos...never even flushed! I applaud him for this.

We heard a lot of curassows on the hike today, and saw a pair pretty early on in the day. Mid way through the hike, the trail got awfully sketchy. It would have been extremely easy to get lost, but we managed to stay on the right track. We finally got to the ranger station...well, actually it was the really old ranger station. We still had a couple miles to go and nothing was marked. The trail forked...with no sign? We had good luck and guessed correctly. We got to the station and there was no one else camping, which made us happy. We set up the tent and played in the river for a while before it got too dark.

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