So I just returned to Quito from La Hesparia, a dairy farm outside of the city that also has a protected cloud forest reserve land. It was a fairly long trip of about 3 hours but it was well worth it. The climb to the farm was long and hard and an uphill battle. We arrived expecting to rough it and do a lot more grunt work, but it was actually very much the opposite - we were treated very well and did very little! Just kidding, we DID do a lot of work, but it was more in the vein of biology. The farm was amazing and some pics are below:
This was the cow stable part of the dairy farm and the outside of the building in which we stayed. There was an awesome hammock that received a lot of my attention and a little table on which we spent most of our down time playing cards.
In terms of biology, the first night we went searching for reptiles and amphibians and were mostly unsuccessful, with the exceptions of the following.
A Cain Toad (photo courtesy of Ben and no copyright infringement intended) This toad is cute and poisonous and invasive in many introduced areas. We caught him at a nearby pond at night in a cloud mist.
A stick bug (photo courtesy of Ben and no copyright infringement intended). He looks like a stick. That’s it. Killer camouflage, right? This little guy was found the same night on a plant looking rather stick-like and was almost not recognized if not for his rather large appendages.
There was also a few much smaller and slightly less pretty frogs that I will not include.
The next day, we went on a six hour hike. Yep, you read right. Six hours. It was through forest and shrubs, streams and pasture. And there was a lot of poop, but I digress. I also almost fell off drop offs that could have seriously injured me, but again, I digress. We saw a lot of really cool plants and many amazing insects. Among them was my wonderful find of an apparently rare find of a jewel beetle of a golden color.
There were some African violets, aroids, beans, tomato plants„ and a green toucan that I could not manage to find. My shoes were also soaked going through the stream so I was pretty much unable to do anything for the following 24 hours.
Fret not, however, I endured the wet shoes to examine bats. We set up mist nets, which for those of you who don’t know, are just mesh nets that can catch bats. Of course after setting them up, it became clear that I could also be caught in them as they are VERY hard to see in the dark without a flashlight.
Because I do not yet have any rabies shots, I did not handle any bats, but I did help to measure and identify them, while someone else held them and endured the bites (Relax, they were fruit bats, so it was just annoying rather than dangerous). I did learn a lot through this and also got to touch and pet and examine these cute little guys ;) Note: he’s cuter in person, I swear
(photo courtesy of Ben and no copyright infringement intended)
After that we spent the rest of our time, relaxing, studying, and playing cards. I arrived back in Quito today to find that my animal vocabulary in Spanish is very limited. Overall a good weekend, and I hope to continue to learn, grow, and become a real scientist here! More to come soon!
I leave you with this picture of a flower that I took at the farm. Enjoy the lily! :)