Life as a falconer, insect systematist, and double Masters Student (or a look into the mind of someone who is questionably sane).
03 January 2007
Collecting: Day 1
We started the day at 520 when I finally woke up. Packed up as quick as I could and then we headed out to the lobby. Jose was there waiting for us. He loaded up all our gear and we climbed into the truck. We drove to Antequa, a touristy town. Its kinda like santa fe with regs to keep it looking the same. The drive was uneventful, not many people on the road or anything probably cause it was so early. We got to antequa and drove around looking for a place to eat. Nothing local was open so we went to burgerking although from the outside it was totally different looking. We ordered our food with jose’s help (at least I knew how to say orange juice) and then ate. There were live plants in the bulidng kinda like a small rainforest and a huge flat screen very strange mix of things in this country. I ate my bacon and drank my juice and once everyone but slow eating josh was done we loaded back up and drove to our 1st site. Along the way david mentioned a place where the one mayfly is only known from so we went to check that out since it was on our way. We passed a bunch of volcaos including Agua and Fugo. They are both still active and Fugo periodically erupts but its not a very violent eruption. Also it apparently glows at night from the lava flowing down. We got too zataco and took some pictures and got a gps reading. Its an old farm that’s been in operation for over 100 years. Along the way we went over a number of streams so on the way back we stopped at 3 of them. The first one we went too was in a valley and while the stream was quite full the surrounding area was very dry. I collect in a sort of seep area surrounded by a hill on 3 sides. There were mainly thorny plants but some flowers and grasses. After sweeping in there for awhile I headed up the hillside on the rocks and collected off of trees hanging down into the seep along with vegetation tops from in the seep. Once I had walked all the way around I headed up on top of the hill for a few more sweeps. The entire area couldn’t have been more that 50 ft across. I caught some cool bugs though including some wasps. Fugo erupted a couple times and you could hear it, sounded like thunder. The next site was a lot wetter since the stream seemed to flow slowly across a grassy area. The leafhopper collecting in the grass was great although I think the natives though we were crazy since we kept passing them in our truck then stopping and theyed pass us. I guess they were walking to town for market. The leafhopper diversity was quite high in the grass, and I collected a number of bugs I haven’t seen before. We then moved onto a 3rd stream site. This one was fairly far from the first 2 which were close to eachother. You had ot pay to enter the park 3q per person and then we collected along a trail that followed the stream. There were quite a few leafhoppers here also including some really cool looking Cicadellinae which were bright blue with red heads. They were so pretty. I think we have some in the collection I actually remember clearing some for dani while she was down I think. I collected on the hillsides and also in the trees. After this site we stopped for lunch at a small restaurant on the roadside. The server and menu were Spanish only so jose dealt with most everything. The special was veal, but after we all ordered it along with pinapple juice since that’s what came with it he said he was out of veal so we had talapia instead. It was served whole like in the carribean, and was quite tasty as was the rice and pinapple juice. It also came with some chicken soup which was good too once it cooled down to a luke warm temperature. I finished my juice and ordered a cherry coke type thing- tasted like a 7-11 slushy. We talked for a while then payed (40q a piece). On the way out josh spotted a lizard- turned out to be a basilisk (brown). They looked a lot like mine did but were brown with stripes. Very cool. We saw an adult male and a juvinel female. We stopped at a grocery store in between the restaurant and the place we were staying. Aubrey stayed to guard the truck and the rest of us went to the store. There wasn’t much food there- some canned tuna, a bunch of snack foods like chips and cookies and then some drinks- boxo milk and some cokes. There was also office supplies, shoes and clothes, furnature and other random goods. I got 2 cans of tuna, some chips, and some drink mix. We also drove past a passed out drunk guy on the sidewalk. Then we drove to the finca(farm) we are staying at for the next 3 days. It’s a 10000 acre coffee plantation/reserve with a lot of primary forest. The plan of attack was to quickly unpack then go set up malaise and pan traps on site. On the way to the finca we saw a Crested caracaras and a bunch of Black vultures. Jose knows a fair amount about birds and said you can see King vultures at the finca. Hes seen aplos on the coast also. Turns out he likes the group of scarbs the wtx green ones are in and really wants to trade for some. I think Dave Marqua could set him up. At the finca I swapped out gear to get ready for malaise trap madness then we headed up the mountain. As we left the residents were sorting coffee beans. On the road jose said there were a lot of aqoties around. Josh and jose saw a squirrel in a tree above the road. We got to the stream site after a bit of steep climbing in the truck and AMC and I started trying to decied where to put up the traps. JRJ offered to help then said hed suggest putting them along streams which I promptly shot down. So AMC (as aubrey will now be known) and I found a great narrowing so we set it up there. The set up was techniquly challenging with no good vertical surfaces. There was a diagonal bamboo stem about 4 in thick so I hung the head off of there then went across the rocks and tied on to a branch on the other side. We then tried to anchor the sides but ran into some length issues. So we moved some rocks around and tied onto a big rock the other side was really sort and I didn’t want to use the rope so I tied onto a branch, but it wasn’t stretched tight enough. So we tried to use leafs to tie the branch back, but the leafs kept splitting. AMC and I looked up and saw JRJ (as josh will now be known) dancing around trying to brush stuff off. He went running over towards the stream still dancing around. We were rather amused and since he didn’t seem to be really concerned we figured he was not in danger of immanent death. We went back to trying to figure out how to tie the branch back and AMC realized we could use a vine. She went and found a good one and we lashed it back. JRJ came over and said he had been swarmed be sweat bees. While AMC was finishing up the vine work I got a long leaf and used that as an anchor to tie back the edge of the malaise trap. All in all it was a very nature malaise trap. Wharton would be proud. The second trap was also a challenge it went right across the stream and was tied onto a small tree thing. JRJ put the head up since hes the tallest of the 3 of us and then we tried to get it anchored all the way around. The head was pulling the tree down so the trap was right over the water. So we tied the branch back to another branch to get it a bit higher off the water. Once we got that one all tied up AMC and I set up YPTs starting at the river then heading up the hill. We put out 30 and they were catching stuff immediately. We set a couple up on top of logs and rocks but most were on the ground. We put the 1968 penny AMC found heads up in the truck as our lucky penny. Back at the truck we loaded up and I jumped in the bed of the truck. David had said someone could ride in the back and that sounded pretty heavely to me so I climbed back there. We headed up the mountain, it was pretty steep and the truck had some trouble in a couple places. There were some cool looking streams we went over that looked like they could be good for collecting off to the sides on. We turned around after a while and I yelled at AMC I was going to use her net so I could collect on the way back down. I tried to hit all the overhanging vegetation I could reach along with some of the low stuff. We got back to where we put the traps and david yelled back they were going to be going faster so I might want to get back in the cab. I figured we couldn’t be going too fast on that road so I stayed back there. After a bit he kicked it in 4 wheel and then I heard a loud squeeling noise. It first I though it was the truck but then I realized we were getting closer to it then farther away. Turns out it was a cicada. A bit farther down the road they spotted a hawk in a tree and stopped. I though they said moth so I was looking for a fluttering morpho or something but then realized they said hawk so I switched search images and spotted it in a tree. Looked lika like a coopers or something similar, but it was pretty dark so hard to say. A bit further down an agouti crossed the road. Then we saw a banana picker with a huge load so we stopped and gave him a ride. When we passed the owners house we stopped and watched the agoutis in his yard, kinda like Brothers Lukes I guess. Jose dropped the picker off and we went to where we were running lights except jose forgot to grab the sheets so we went back. I ran in to grab my kill jars but had a bit of troble jumping out of the bed since there was a ditch I didn’t see. O well. Got my stuff then back to the truck. We went a bit faster down the road this time it was so much fun. Set up the light sheets and started collecting. Dinner was at 8 and we had chicken lazania, broccoli, corn, and fruit. I had tea to drink. Then back to the lights. We caught some cool stuff, including a cool looking Fulgoridae.