The bat team return and on top of more bat records for the trip, they also manage to capture a water opossum (Chironectes minimus), one of the most difficult to observe mammals in the park. The female sleeps during the day and weighed, measured and photographed before release in the early evening.
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After ten sample days, the Identidad Madidi have registered team 315 vertebrate species for the upper Hondo River study site. The entomologist on this trip, Marcelo Aliaga Arrieta, is busy identifying butterflies and already has registered around 150 species. The cold south front at the beginning of the trip mean the team are playing catch up, but with four more full sample days to go hopes are high that little by little the list will continue to grow.
Today the ichthyologists leave the main camp to begin traveling back down the Hondo River. On the way they will stop at a series of locations, including the mouths of Aguas Negras, Esmerelda and Aguachile streams, to sample fish and increase the list of species for this river in Madidi and hopefully for the protected area too. The plan is to meet up at the mouth of the Hondo itself where they will also sample, and after a prolonged morning farewell, by midday they are already at their first location, Aguas Negras. Meanwhile, the mammal team confirm the Bolivian squirrel monkey (Saimiri boliviensis) for this part of the Hondo River.
Another coral snake, the South American coral snake (Micrurus lemniscatus) spotted crossing the river on the way back from an epic trip through the white and green crystal waters of the Hondo canyon that breaks the Chepite escarpment. The small mammal team recapture two previously released spiny rat individuals (Proechemys sp.) proving they can also cross the river at will. The bat team capture a rainbow boa (Epicrates cenchria), and sightings of this usually difficult to observe snake are frequent at this site.
Two beautiful birds in the space of ten minutes for one of the photographers along one of the many streams that fall from the Chepite escarpment: the sunbittern (Eurypyga helias) and the Amazon kingfisher (Chloroceryle amazonas). Meanwhile, an extraordinary tree frog (Phyllomedusa vaillantii) increases the amphibian list for the Hondo trip.
The morning calls of the Madidi titi monkey (Callicebus aureipalatii) spring the photographic team into action and they manage to get photos of the youngest member of the small family group of four animals. Just before hundreds of swifts gather high in the sky above camp as they prepare for the next leg of the long flight north. The forest is heating up and amphibians and reptiles begin to become more active. The herpetologists, Mauricio Ocampo and Camilla Benavides register a highly venomous Bolivian coral snake, Micrurus obscurus.
On a normal day the blog would be dominated by a prolonged one-hour sighting of a normally secretive freshwater carnivore, the playful and carefree southern Amazonian river otter, Lontra longicaudis, which is spotted fishing at the spectacular canyon entrance. But today, our ornithologist Victor Hugo Garcia used the bat nets to help boost the bird list and one of the birds captured and released is the royal flycatcher. Although its body coloration is relatively drab, when it opens its crest it is astoundingly attractive.
So far and as expected the fish species registered are similar to the Madidi River from last year, including the elaborate and exaggerated Lamontichthys filamentosus catfish. Today the team register three species of charismatic cichlids and one of them, Crenicichla semicincta, is a new record for Madidi, one of three new fish records so far on the trip.
The end of the south wind and during the day the temperature begins to creep up. The ichthyologists are also documenting aquatic invertebrates with the help of Jorge Molina and today brings some Paleomonus freshwater crayfish. They are important for nutrient recycling as they feed on tiny particles in the water. Meanwhile this study site has unprecedented capture rates for mice and marsupials with six species of mice and three species of marsupials registered in the first two days of sampling.
Morning brings news of the first bats for this expedition leg - ten species are registered on the first night. Later in the day the small mammal team also bring news of at least five species of small marsupials and rodents. The list for the site begins to increase with almost 200 vertebrate species confirmed at the site by the end of the day.