Location: Yapacani, Bolivia
Weather: Approx. 95 degrees F, over 80% humidity (!)
Greetings from the place of continuous sweat! I teamed up with my
colleages from the Museo de Historia Natural del Noel Kempff Mercado
(Santa Cruz) last week, and we have had a very productive field season so
far. We returned to a rice farm that we had visited last year where
Bobolinks feed, much to the chagrin of the farmer. We have found flocks of
up to 3,000 in this farmer´s fields, where the sweetest variety of rice is
grown and shipped off to Japan for sushi. The Bobolinks are considered a
pest by the farmers here. Their pest staus in South America presents a
conflict between conservation measures in North America and control
efforts in countries like Bolivia. Our aim is to learn more about the
ecology of Bobolinks in all habitats on their wintering grounds, with a
special focus on agroecosystems, where the potential threats to Bobolink
populations are greatest.
We have been in the field for only a week, but we have already netted and
banded 130 Bobolinks. We often hear farmers´ firecrackers, one of few
tools they have to try to keep the birds from literally eating their
profits. The farmers don´t quite know what to do with us, they are not
used to ornithologists having any interest in their farms.
The crew, Ana Maria, Patricia, Harold, and our driver Alberto are all in
good spirits despite the incredibly oppressive heat and long days. We will
remain here in Yapacani for a few more days. We hope our luck continues!