20-10-2005 Some impressions by a modeler in Brazil
Capybaras in Taim near Porto Alegre
When Sarian and Marten suggested some months ago that I would be a good idea if I would join the SALGA team for two weeks in Natal to experience the field trip, I was a bit hesitative: Natal that is a tropical hot place, I might get nasty diseases, and furthermore I can sometimes be a bit clumsy or absent-minded, so I might ruin something essential in the field. Of course it sounded also very attractive and I decided to go for it and take one week extra time for acclimatisation. Later David invited me to come to Porto Alegre also to meet two PhD students that want to come to our group and visit their study area, so the program was filled completely anyway.
The field work turned out to be quite simple, mostly just pulling the heavy anchor and measuring water depth, but all with a very nice team and in beautiful sand dune lakes. Due to the continuous wind, it was not too hot, but quite comfortable. The only "problem" during the field work, was the strength of the tropical sun. Even with repeatedly applied sun blocker, my arms and legs became quite red each day (but also more brown). Sarian sometimes asked me whether it is maybe time for a "carrier shift" for me: from the computer to the field. I don't know, I also experienced the many practical problems that you have to solve in such expedition, from broken engines, to stolen invertebrate nets and tents. I have great respect for how the girls coped with such problems, always keeping spirits high!! Anyway, I had really a great time and became even a kind of sentimental when I did my last lake: "this is probably the last oxygen bottle I will fill in my life".
Before going home, I had planned to stay for 3.5 days in Porto Alegre with David. It was nice to meet Ruberto and Tiago, hopefully you will come to Wageningen next year. I had a very good time with a lot of food and luxurious hotels (at least it felt very luxurious after our house in Maracajaú). For me the absolute highlight of this stay was the visit to the Taim wetland, the study area of David, Ruberto and Tiago. It was amazing how many different species of birds and mammals we observed/photographed in that beautiful wetland. To mention few: 3 foxes, many capybaras, many birds of prey (caracaras, snail kites), black-necked swans, rheas (giant birds that resemble ostriches), colourful cardinals and last but not least an otter that popped up really next to the boat! After this day and a visit to the panara pines in the hills of Porto Alegre, it was already time to get my flight back to the Netherlands...
I am glad that my worries about being sometimes clumsy or absent-minded turned out to be unneccesary. However, did really nothing special happened? Well, I must admit that I left my bed sheets in the hotel of Ponta Negra (thought they belonged to the hotel inventory). Furthermore, when I left Maracajaú, I took the keys of the house with me in my bag, so that the SALGA team could not longer leave the house. Finally, after my days in Porto Alegre, I lost my flight home, so I had to stay a day longer in a rainy Porto Alegre (which was not too bad). But apart from these small and reversible issues, I had a wonderful time and would not like to have missed it. Special thanks to Sarian, Gissell and David! But now: "back to the models again!".
Some more impressions:
Banana trees near a stream
A flowering Utricularia species
The lakes are often used for swimming and the laundry
This is not India, but a cow in Maracajaú
Nice people that gave access to a lake and even helped with the fish nets
Fish in a tidal pond near Natal
Red-crested cardinal in Taim
Southern caracara in Taim
Panara pines in the hills near Porto Alegre
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