Tag Archive | Fieldwork

In Gualaco!


Morning in Gualaco, looking southwest. Those are the cloud forests of the Sierra de Agalta National Park in the background.

We have arrived (finally) in Gualaco, after a crazy few days passing from Vancouver to San Pedro Sula to Tegucigalpa. 

It has been quite hectic getting settled, and I am having difficulty re-adjusting to Spanish. We have an apartment now, and so are feeling a bit less nomadic than when staying at the hotel. 

We went out and saw the areas we will be working in yesterday, and they are in really really rugged terrain! The forests are mostly pine (Pinus oocarpa), and the terrain is mountainous and steep in many paces. Much of the region is second growth, and is used for ranching. The forest is rather open, due to periodic burning and grazing, but getting around is still rather difficult due to the topography. We tried some caracara call playback, but had nothing responding whatsoever. This is very different from the situation in Amazonia.


The rolling pine forests northwest of Gualaco. This is right near the are where caracaras nested last year.

We are planning on staying put for the next few days, but will head out to Tegucigalpa next week for permit applications, and then will do a scouting mission starting on the 20th. With terrain like this, we will most definitely be getting our exercise!




Going to Honduras!


Things have been rather quiet here at Ibycter lately, with less in the way of Weekend Expedition posts and no Cheapskate Tuesday posts for a while. The reason for this is that Catherine and I are getting ready to make a trip to Honduras to do a preliminary conservation study on Red-throated Caracaras. 

If you remember from back in June, the Honduran Conservation Coalition found and monitored a nest site in the Olancho Department, and they believe there is still a sizable population of caracaras nearby. I have wanted to work on Red-throated Caracara conservation biology for a long time, as no formal study has been done on the conservation of these birds in Central America. They are in steep decline across the region, and have disappeared from Mexico and Guatemala.

I was invited by Mark Bonta to come and do some research on these birds, and so, because I had funding from the National Birds of Prey Trust to do conservation research, I informed them of a change in venue to the heart of the region where caracaras are declining. We have since secured some more funds from the Zoo Conservation Outreach Group, as well as a private donor, and so we will be going to implement the start of the project.

This project will see us engaging the local volunteers and researchers to help us determine home range sizes and habitat occupancy of caracaras in the forests near Gualaco. We will  do radio tracking of birds from various caracara groups in the area, and will hopefully be able to get a preliminary estimate of home range size. We will also do call-playback surveys of the forests in order to determine the numbers of groups occupying the area. A third objective is to make further documentation of nesting behavior and food habits of the caracaras, as this is relatively unknown for the region.

Anyway, we ship off Monday, and will arrive in Tegucigalpa on Tuesday. After that we will be guided around the region and introduced to the stakeholders and collaborators. This is my very first field research conducted outside the bounds of a research camp, so making sure that everything is in order is a bit stressful.

We hope, however to continue to blog both here, at Catherine’s SpiderBytes blog and also at the ESC blog about all the cool stuff we encounter and the process of doing exploratory field research.