The challenges and rewards are greatest where two systems meet.

Saturday, August 9, 2014

The edge of Natural Wonder ... moved again.


We have returned home from another amazing Amazon adventure, our second trip to the Tambopata Research Center in Peru. TRC is one of the few lodges located within the Tambopata National Reserve on the Tambopata River in southeastern Peru.

Our first trip to this area was in early September 2009.  It's a place of unparalleled diversity and challenges.

People ask us why we go back to places we have already seen.  There are lots of reasons.  One of the best reasons was to be with Yuri Torres Rivera, our guide and friend from the 2009 trip.  Yuri met us at the Puerto Maldonado Airport and off we went on another journey full of the spectacular natural beauty, wildlife, ecological wonders and surprises.

We also go back to places to see the changes and challenges over time.  We learn more about the area, its people, and its troubles.   We never have the same experiences, twice.  We bring back our stories and photographs to share.

We both love and respect what we find in Nature --  it's just being there and seeing what happens next.
Yuri and Gretchen
Barry and one of the chicas -- a scarlet macaw raised at TRC.

 This wandering spider was just over my head on a tree trunk.  Yuri told me how dangerous they are after I took the photo.

 A Six-inch Helicopter Damsal Fly

A type of Heliconia mariposa (butterfly)

Can you see the White Line Leaf Frog? Check out his GOLD outlined back.

This white cayman was on the route to the .........

I was impressed with his ability to discern minute differences in plant leaves. One variety would be very beneficial to health, but the look-alike could be harmful (or deadly).

We stopped at a new clay-lick on the river where we saw Scarlet macaws, Red and Green macaws, and Blue and Yellow macaws. 

A highlight for me was seeing a Harpy Eagle chick in the nest.
He was almost three feet tall.

Yuri spotted this Swallow-tailed Tanager.  

The Dusky Titi monkeys were very numerous this time.
(Stay tuned for "just monkeys" post)

We had one great travel adventure: 

There we were, Yuri, Gret and Barry, sitting on the riverbank waiting for our ride to the next lodge.  It was cool on the river.  We took lots of photos.  We talked and talked, but no boat.  Yuri figured out the situation (they forgot about us) and "Flagged" us a ride on a supply boat going our way.  

We arrived in time for dinner with the Presidentes (beer), Inka cola, breads, and lots of bananas.
Why we love our guide, Yuri!

In the forest, insects can be invisible...
and incredible.

This moth has been attacked by the Cordycep fungus.  The fungus has developed a creative adaptation in how it spreads its spores over a wide area (and reproduces successfully).  

The fungus attacks its host's brain and takes over the functioning.  It causes the host insect to climb higher and higher on a plant or tree.  When the host dies, the spores are in position to catch a breeze and travel far.  

Mariposas collecting minerals from the muddy back of the cayman, 
as well as enjoying mineral-rich "Crocodile Tears".

Speaking of minerals, this was the only GOLD mining operation we saw on the river.  Since our last trip five years ago, the Peruvian government has banned these mercury polluting operations.
  We hope the government is as strict with the "big" corporate mining interests as it is now with the small scale, local operations. 

On one of our connecting boat journeys, we were counting these Squirrel Monkeys .... 

when Yuri spotted this magnificent creature.
The same Puma species roams New Hampshire's Forests. 
Can you come up with his other FOUR names?

You'll have to check later for the answer!

Wednesday, March 26, 2014


The beauty of this winter has been this "Bird of Power and Wisdom". He has been around our house for close to three months.
I have enjoyed observing this Barred Owl's patience, agility and ability to adapt to incredible changes in the weather.

  There were times when he seemed to snicker at the cold wind.
       and snooze when the temp. was 10 degrees.

The Arctic owls at the coast were a real treat.... thanks to Robin.

Our snow this winter remained on the ground in spite of those 30 + degrees days in Jan. + Feb.
This was our first real test to see if there is enough room for ALL the snow.  Definitely not! I shoveled space three times and it is still all backed up.

I did have a great day on Coolidge Woods Road.   
Met another photographer, Harry Moulton.
 We had a good time with this Red Tailed Hawk.

Super visit with good friends Ellen+ Jack

 A bit of a shock how much wood we are burning...... 
There were four full rows = 5 cords

One storm of the century turned into 8 hours of heavy rain and 30 degrees.
This poor guy ate bird seed and lots of husks.

The last storm was supposed to be 3 inches. We ended up with a foot.  Glad to have our new snowblower.
This old sage seems to be questioning ...
"When will those humans stop destroying the only Earth we have?"

NOTE:  Because of "the sequester" the National Amphibian Monitoring program is finished. Amphibians are the key species for giving us a warning when toxins are in our air or in our water. They also indicate the best habitats for capturing CO2.

 If there is no data, there is no climate change.

As Einstein said:   "The difference between genius and stupidity is there is a limit to genius."

 I am being thankful for small things.

Here are some very important articles that I read this month.  I want to share them with you.  (economy)  

Let me know what you think!                    

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Over the Edge of 2013

The summer ended with some super tomatoes... 

and great times sharing "Nature Under our Noses" at a terrific girls' Camp run by the Circle Program.

Someone touches a snake - for the first time. 

Then, there was the trip to Northampton, Massachusetts with brother Rob. We found a shoe store (and the manager) where I had worked 47 years ago.

After that, the work began on what was supposed to be a simple job - replacing the boards on our deck. Well, the main carrying timber had major ROT.   My man Bill said, "Why bother repairing something that will only need more repairing."

Even to begin the job meant I cleared out under the old deck. Yikes, there's the canoe from the old Horace A. Moses Scout Reservation, circa 1969 (for us).  I moved a stack of firewood and found a HUGE woodchuck den.  ("That's where he was living...)

Bill was fearless as he just lopped off the old deck.

The floor joists went right up.

By September 5 we had our deck.  Can you see our new ramp?

We were also visited by an Ermine .... and to quote Ralph,  "It is the lesser of two weasels."

There are forces out there that have no use for our natural beauty and habitats.  MONEY seems to be their only motivator with no connections or concerns for the value of a healthy environment.

G.A.S.A.N. stated something along the lines of:  Perhaps, those who see no link with our economy and Nature, should try counting their money while HOLDING their breath.

My thoughts on this come from Jackson Pond, a beautiful wild place, now being drained.  

I decided to do an exhibit at the Gordon Nash Library and call it "Life in our Warm Water Ponds".

We had a super group of people at the Opening Reception.

Then, Winter arrived with all its beauty.

We put up our Charlie Brown tree on the new deck.

                            Christmas Bird Count with part of our loyal team.  

Gretchen and I celebrated on New Years Eve with a bonfire (bed by 11:00pm).  We burned some of the old rotten deck along with ancient manuscripts from the lady's years of testing in schools.

I have made a New Year's pledge to bring more fun and creativity into my life. I started by walking down near the Pemigewasset River.   I was rewarded with this amazing scene -- mergansers feeding frenzy. Check out the size of that fish!

       May Your 2014 be Creative and Fun!  
Let me know what's happening where you are...