Panamania

April 26, 2005

Locks, stocks and two smoking barrels

Filed under: crofootStories — crofoot @ 7:32 pm

It seems like a really long time since I’ve posted anything
here, and there are so many cool things I’ve done in the last couple of months
that it’s hard to figure out where to start.  Time seems to be speeding up now, which is a
sure sign that I’m closer to the end of my time in Panama
than the beginning.  Supposedly the dry
season is over and the rains are on their way. 
It certainly seemed like that two weeks ago, when just about every
afternoon seemed to end in a downpour and I became reacquainted with the
meaning of “soaked to the bone.”  Now,
however, the weather gods seemed to have changed their minds.  This week has been beautiful, sunny, summer
weather—and I’ve been stuck inside writing a paper and staring out the window
longingly.

Bob Lessnau came back to BCI at the end of February to help
me dart and radio-collar a few more monkeys for 
my study.  This time around was a
whole lot easier than last time.  We got
five monkeys with relatively little trauma (either emotional or physical, to us
or them).  Interestingly, we only got
females this time—the males just wouldn’t give us a clear shot at their
butts.  We even seem to have gotten
better at catching the monkeys in the hammocks when they fall—we only missed
two!

Marcos Guerra, a photographer who works with STRI, came out
with us one day and took some nice photos.

Bob and Claudia drawing blood

Ella was named after the demon-capuchin monkey from hell in
the horror movie “Monkey Shine”—high quality cinema if I’ve ever seen it. 

“weighing Claudia”

weighing Ella with a Pesola scale.  She only weighed 2.2 kg—the smallest female
we caught. 

Measuring her arm length

This was the photo they ended up using in the STRI news
story about my research.  It took me a
while, but I kind of like it. 

There was only really one downside to this round of
darting:  dry season means ticks.  We were all covered head to toe in tick bites
after a day of darting.

A small percentage of my hundreds of tick bites.

This spring, BCI has had its very own Christo to compete
with the beautiful but strange installation in Central Park. Andrea has been wrapping her greenhouses in
shade-cloth, so her seedlings won’t fry in the sun.  Unfortunately, standing on a ladder in the
sun all day long for several days in a row, sewing together strips of shade
cloth may have fried her brain.  You can’t
say it doesn’t look pretty.

This juvenile tiger heron has been hanging out around the
labs recently too.

I also spent a really fun afternoon last month moored in the
lake below a fruiting fig tree that lots of monkeys were feeding in.  Alex :

and I took a picnic dinner, watched the howler monkeys and
capuchin monkeys gorging themselves

and then after dark got to see kinkajous feeding in the same
fig using the ARTS lab’s 3.5 million candle power flashlight!

We also had an adventure driving out to Fort San Lorenzo on the Caribbean
coast—I’m finally 25 and can rent cars!! 
The first part of the adventure involved getting lost in downtown Colon (not really someplace you want to be lost!).

Then we got to drive over one of the Gatun locks

Then came the never ending dirt road.  We kept passing signs that gave the distance
to the fort.  Except the further we
drove, the further away the fort seemed to get. 
You’d pass a sign saying 9 km to Fort San Lorenzo, and 10 minutes later
the next sign would say it was 15 km to the fort.  (I learned a few weeks later, while
vacationing with my parents, that this kind of confusion about distances seems
to be ubiquitous in Panama).  We did finally get to the fort however, and
it was absolutely worth it.

Oropenola nests near Fort San Lorenzo

beach at fort san lorenzo

The other really cool thing I did before going on vacation
with my parents was visit the Gatun locks. 
I had been foolishly blas

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