Friday, January 28, 2011

Galapagos Journal Entry #14

Life in camp

Things are settling into a bit more of a routine these days. The hawks are eating well and the aviary adjustments have helped them quiet down. Each morning, we check the birds in their pens and do any necessary treatments, such as medications for parasite control. Whenever possible, we give medications in their food; we are trying to handle the hawks as little as possible to minimize stress. Cleaning is also done in the mornings – if we move very slowly, the hawks will sit quietly while we clean the pens. Quite amazing! It means we work at a very slow pace, but totally worthwhile as it is not possible to turn off the lights and work under the cover of darkness as we would back home. Before I came, I wondered if we would have to clean at night. It is very rewarding to be able to do it without panicking the birds during the day. Like so many other endemic animals in Galapagos, they exhibit more curiosity than fear.

Thought I might share some images of other visitors who have arrived in camp. We never know who is showing up on any given day. Have had sea lions, pelicans, short-eared owls and local Galapagos hawks show up frequently (field camp is not on an island undergoing rodent eradication). Note the picture where a large female hawk is perched in the middle of our “kitchen” area – hard to keep 10 meters away from the wildlife when it shows up in the kitchen! Ironically, one of our visitors was a rare endemic rice rat – a species thought to be extinct for over 100 years in Galapagos and found in the late 1990’s on Santiago. Very cute and not destructive like the black rats and ship rats driving the eradication program. As a critically endangered endemic species, the rice rat gets excellent protection.

The bait drops for the rodent eradication went extremely well – two drops a week apart. The helicopter pilot was almost surgical in his precision. With that part done, we watch and wait. Watch/monitor what is happening on the islands (for 2 years!) and wait to release the hawks (just a few more weeks!).

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