Recently, I made a long journey in South America, up the Rewa River in Guyana, in search of caracaras and other Amazonian fauna.
The story of this trip takes a bit of explaining. Last year, after our abortive research mission to Honduras, Catherine and I were holed up at my mom’s in Victoria writing our respective theses. We had little occasion to go to Vancouver, but in April we both needed to go over to take care of some administrative details at the university. While sitting in the lab after managing our red tape, the phone rang. As usual, no one in the lab jumped up to get the phone, so I picked it up and found that the person on the other line was looking for me, and wondering if I wanted to talk about caracaras.
Well, after a good 90 minute conversation about my favourite loud birds and their relatives, I found out that the fellow I was speaking to was Jonathan Meiburg, a professional musician and a student of the biology and biogeography of striated caracaras (the fabled “Johnny Rook” of the Falkland Islands). I found out that Jonathan was a great student of caracara biology, and had written a wonderful thesis on the Johnny Rook (which he should really put online…I am not kidding, it is an absolute pleasure to read!) which also covered the biology and paleontology of the other caracaras.
We continued to keep in touch from that time, until last fall when Jonathan invited me to accompany him on a journey to the Amazonian forest to meet the Red-throated Caracaras, which he and I agree are the oddest of a very odd group of birds. The plan was to go to the Republic of Guyana, where Jonathan had some acquaintances working, and to journey up the Rewa River to the heart of Ibycter territory: the primary rainforests of the Amazonian bioregion.
In the following posts covering the trip, I will not stick to a travelogue format, but rather will skip around, introducing the characters (human and otherwise) we met along the way. As I write this, Jonathan is still out there in the forests of Guyana, hunting for the elusive heart of Amazonia, no doubt being serenaded by the harsh screams of the Red-throated Caracaras.