Friday, June 06, 2008

Day of the Environment

I decided that the very best thing I could do to celebrate Day of the Environment was to visit my small forest reserve, Bosque Santa Lucia, located about 18 kilometers from Santarem. I
normally go out there to work every day, but in recent weeks I've been stranded because of an enormous mud hole (more of a lake) that has formed on the dirt road right after leaving the Santarém-Cuiabá Highway. Early yesterday morning I called my caretaker at the Bosque, who told me that the water levels of Lake Maria had gone down somewhat because of two days of sun. "Music to my ears", I thought to myself. "Maybe I can get back to my normal work schedule again." Dream on! By the time I got on the road, it rained! Not a torrential rain, but with the drain off from the highway, more than enough to fill the "lake" to the bream. Not to be outdone, I launched my small Fiat into the water and "went for it". I nearly got drowned, but I beached the vehicle on the other side. A muddy mess it was, even inside. In the stress of trying to navigate over the shallowest points, I forgot to close the window! "My wife will love this touch", but on to the Bosque. The rest of the three kilometers had deteriorated considerably, but it was passable. I spent the rest of the day at the Bosque, my favorite place in the world to be. Several titi monkeys (Callicebus moloch) showed up in the wooded area around the reception center to entertain me with their loud vocals. I heard the loud squawks of macaws above. Sure enough, a pair of them flying overhead. Later the rancorous sounds of several more macaws, which were settling into the larger trees in the Bosque. I think these were scarlet macaws, but I didn't see the details. Then there came the rattling sound of a jackhammer. It was the delineated woodpecker, one of the big redheaded ones. I found its nest up real high inside the trunk of a paricá tree (Schizolobium parahyba) near the bridge, but every time I tried to get a picture of it at the entrance, it flew off to a neighboring tree. My camera isn't fast enough for photographing birds in the forest and then too, the zoom is very limited. The same for the monkeys, I didn't get one good shot of the titi monkeys. Oh well, what counts is that these animals still exist at Bosque Santa Lucia, an area that is quickly becoming suburbia of a major city in the Amazon. Maybe I should be happy that access to the area is very limited! The attached image is the paricá tree, which is hosting the delineated woodpecker. These are pioneer trees, which means that they don't live long lives. When the woodpeckers drill holes into them like the one in the picture, the end is near.

2 comments:

Sandpiper said...

Fascinating posts. Life is certainly different there than from what it is here. It's so interesting to hear about your sightings. Your muddy car experience is somewhat familiar though. My husband, new to southern rainstorms (at the time), decided to try driving through a large puddle (read flash flood), after a short but heavy rainfall. The water started pouring in under the doors and then the car began to float. I asked him why he was still steering. ;-)

Steven Alexander said...

Sandpiper, never lack of excitement here. Floating cars across lakes, spending two hours washing the car, as I did today. I've come close to getting killed in traffic twice over the last few days. REALLY CLOSE.