Waking up to the vomiting noise of a howler monkey
Gosh where do I begin. This study abroad changed my life. I guess I can always start with birds! This trip was immediately attractive to me because two ornithologists were leading it: Ursula Valdez studied forest falcons in Peru for her dissertation and Tim Billo studied manakins (not a plastic fashion model) in Panama.
On top of amazing friends playing car games and card games, fighting through tough field conditions, traveling alone in Southern Peru for 1 week, getting stranded in a canoe 2 days from the nearest road, making bricks for a school's first ever computer lab, the biology and biodiversity was amazing!
Some of my favorite animal moments include: a giant troupe of monkeys dropping fruits and seeds all around us, a group of giant otters fishing around us while we paddle in our dug out tree canoe, waking up to the vomiting noise of a howler monkey, an enormous spider catch and spin its prey, watching soaring Andean Condors over Colca Canyon, spotting vicuñas on the dry steppe, and of course the hundreds of bird species seen and caught in our nets.
Being in the rainforest is an unexplainable experience. The best story to metaphorically describe the mystery and wonder happened on our final day in Manu National Park. We were mist netting in the Elfin forest (practically straight out of Lord of the Rings). We did not know what to expect, because we knew little of the birds at this elevation. After checking the nets a couple times, we finally came around to an Andean Pygmy Owl!!! Data collecting came first and then picture time with all the bird students; each one of us gets to hold the owl. Walking in the rainforest you never know what is going to be around the next corner. It could be a fabulous butterfly, a plant that is hosted by stinging ants, a rare bird, or even a glimpse of a jaguar.
I could talk about my Peru trip for hours.