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!