Updates from the Andean Chocó
For those of you who don't follow us on our social media accounts, it's been quite a while since you've last heard from us. So here are a few updates about the most important things that have happened at Un poco del Chocó in 2021. Our personal highlights definitely were to get vaccinated in the summer and to be able to work with students again. It can be quite lonely in our green paradise without visitors! Things are slowly getting back to normal and we are very grateful for all the support we had throughout the rough times of the pandemic. A big thank you again to all of you who have helped us stay afloat!
More solar panels
We couldn't quite believe it ourselves, when the government started to install solar power units in our area at the beginning of 2021. Since we bought our little forest, there was always the plan to get connected to the power grid but, as you might know, this hasn't happened yet. There had been rumors before about an alternative project to supply the rural area with photovoltaic systems and finally it became a reality. So we were extremely happy when additional systems were installed at both our home and the station house. The new systems are only for a minimum supply, but we are happy about every extra kW we can get. Especially in the cloudy rainy season these new systems have been a blessing.
We are now part of a network of climate monitoring stations of the Andean Chocó Biosphere Reserve. In March we got a new weather station installed on our roof. We already had a simple home weather station before, but the new station is quite an upgrade as it's directly uploading all the data into a cloud and joined platform. It's become a very nice tool to monitor the weather in our region and very useful for some of our research projects. If you'd like to check out our current or past weather at the reserve, you can look it up here!
Webinar for IBP
In July I gave a webinar for the Institute of Bird Populations. As we are collaborating with their MoSI program (Monitoring of Overwinter Survival), I was invited to present our bird banding and monitoring work in the reserve. If you'd like to learn more about our avian research program, you can watch the video on YouTube or on the IBP website where you can find more presentations about avian monitoring projects, molt and ageing techniques, and the general work of this wonderful organization.
New students, new projects
In the second half of the year, finally we received some new interns, bachelor and PhD students. Since March 2020 we had only hosted two interns, so we were extremely happy to start working with students again after such a long year. During the summer, three PhD students from different US universities started their field work in the reserve. Of course, on bird-related topics! So I got involved with their work and actually learned some new skills, such as taking blood samples from birds or applying radio-frequency tags. I am sure there is more to come in the next few years from these new collaborations. In the last three months of 2021, we hosted three bachelor students for their thesis work in the reserve. Two of them worked on topics related to my PhD research on avian life cycle phenology, looking into feather growth rates and food niche affiliation.
Felines roaming through the forest
With new interns we also started monitoring our reserve's trails again for mammal activity. To our delight there was a lot of activity of felines and we recorded three puma sightings, several ocelots and oncillas. Here is a short summary of some of the sightings. Unfortunately the puma footage was quite blurry, so we didn't include it.