If a picture is worth a thousand words then…..

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Regua Sum Up

My time at Regua  has been trully amazing.  I highly commend Nicholas and Raquel for what  they have done with / are doing with the land at Regua. Its amazing to think that it used to be a Cattle Ranch, considering the enormous diversity there is at Regua. It is also of high importance  as less than 9% of the Atlantic Rainforest exists.  Everyone from the staff and locals are very friendly most do not speak any english but its easy to get by.  My time was spent mostly  wandering  the trails day and night looking for cool  Insects and animals  which was easy considering the diversity. It helps having  a good  trained  eye for detail as some of the insects  and tiny or well camouflaged,  And as Nicholas  will happily but very jealously tell you.  He thinks I have a natural  born talent.

I also  involved  myself with the guests and created  a photo álbum  of a selection  of my best photos, as a welcome  pack  for guests up at the lodge. During my time there  was  some very lovely  guests that joined us for lunches  as they were interested  in what we we we’re doing,  and although they were primarily Birder’s they had  keen passion in all nature  as they understood the symbiosis everything has in nature.

I had the opportunity  of  doing some conservation education  and gameawith the local  school( recommended)  due to being involed with the Bader family who  came to Regua  with their two boys.

All in all it was a fantastic  experience  and I will be going back semi longterm thanks to Nicholas who just to give you a word of warning is a bit of a character  lol, and try not too make him too  jealous  of any skill or talent you have.  He does play a mean ping pong.

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( Left to Right :-  Leading the Trail Walk,  Collecting  Papaya,  Fun Rides,  Teaching  Class,  Teaching a New Game,  Thumbu Hug)

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First Family

Since the 22nd of september Regua has had its first family staying. When Nicholas told  me I offered  to help as I am good and enjoy working with children. I went with a driver to Río De Janeiro  to pick them up.

The Baders and thier two young boys are from Weybridge in England, they are spending  a year travelling  round South America, New Zealand, Australia and Fuji. The boys  are  7(had birthday  here) and 8 years old,  They will be getting  home schooled.  Thier Father Phil found he never really got to spend much quality tie with the boys due to  work ( like many other families)  snd felt the boys where old enough to appreciate  and learn from a trip like this before they go to High School. The boys are going to be learning  and experiencing different cultures and languages and of course experience nature first  hand which they already  enjoy through shows like Deadly 60.

Its been an important and interesting  week for Regua as  they have never had a family stay before, one of thier main aims is in too instill the importance of or natural world into young children. As if we do not get them interested  and appreciative of the world around  them,  what hope will nature  and survival of our forests and animals have in future generations.

I  took the family on a couple of trail walks including  a night walks,  and joined them on the majority  of thier  other outings.  When they went to the local School  to meet the children  and to teach about thier country they handed out London 2012 bands. The School visits were also rewarding  for me as with Raquels help  in translation  I was talking to the class about the importance  of nature  and showed the my photos  and help taught the English  names of the animals. Some of the children  had a dislike of certain  animals so I helped explain  why those animals are ok and inportant,  sometimes  i did it in a fun way.  During breaks  I managed to teach two  new games which all the children wanted to get involved  in. My youth group  days paid off lol. Back at Regua i had st up a little  creche  with  finger paints,  modeling clay,  and other things for drawing  it was  bit hit and kept the chidern happy and busy including  the children of the staff at Regua joined in with their  new friends.

It was a very  successful week. And lets hope more families  are brave enough.  Now am not saying  all famlies should take a year out. Family  holidays can be an expensive trip so rather than say going to Florida  or Spain  etc you could quite  easily  come too somewhere  like Regua and these  days for about the same cost.  And the whole family  would learn and experience  new things most people  only see on TV. Also with the World Cup and the  Olympics  happening  in  Brazil why not have the most amazing  trip.

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Primary Visit

Over the last few days myself and Davie spent time at the Research Station at the bottom of the green  trail. It’s  Primary Rainforest  so was able to see and hear a lot of amazing wildlife while on walks. But my highlight  has to be from the 1st night,  while out on a walk at night i spotted something  about an inch long flying  near  the ground it was well camouflaged with the leaf litter. I thought it was a Preying Mantis, which on closer inspection it was so I was really happy and not bad going for Identification  done at night via headlamp  of something over 5 feet away from you which is only an inch long and camouflaged. This brings up the total 5 species  I’ve  found at Regua  and a total of 9 species in South America  to date. On the last morning I cut down a nice big bunch of bananas to take back.

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Frog Invasion

Yesterday a new volunteer researcher arrived from the USA, Davie Rolnick is here studying Moths. In the evening I took him on a night walk around part of the trail round the lagoons. Part of the trail path was covered in a swarm of large Froglets with varied tail lengths, seeing this was rather cool. As we continued we kept on finding other cool things, the highlights for me was having a tree frog on my thumb in a rather cute position. And finally after 6 years of being interested in Dragonflies we came across a couple of emerging Dragonflies so I was very happy.

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Busy Busy

Its been an amazing  but busy 2 weeks. Firstly I’ve been able to see and photograph some amazing cool Insects  etc and I would say I have taken some of my best photos too date which are worthy of being entered into serious Photography  Competition. Nicholas is loving my photos and is always telling  people and asking me too show my photos,  he says (rather jealously) I have an amazing talent and passion for my photography. I’m not letting it go to my  head (hehe) although I do know I am ;).

There have been some really lovely guests  staying here for the USA and the UK. They have teached me as well as me teaching them about things. While they were waiting for a presentation I showed  them a selection of my  best photos taken at Regua,  they all appreciated it and loved the photos and Nicholas  was thrilled. I decided to make a nice photo album using a selection of my best shots, Showcasing the wildlife diversity here at Regua.  Also explaining a bit about myself and advertising as I hope to raise some money for Regua  through my photography. Both Nicholas and Raquel love it and so far the guests  have  been raving about.   A selection  of my photos are being used for talks to schools communities and I’m making a photo video  slide show for an Arts festival which  Regua  has be asked to be involved in too showcase the wildlife There are also blogs been written not by me) showcasing  my findings and photos

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Regua – Atlantic Rainforest

I have now been at Regua nature reserve / Guapi Assu Bird Lodge for 2 weeks now. Everyone  here is lovely and all the Volunteers  are European  mostly British. We have to do our own projects and help with general maintenance. I am spending my days and some nights walking the main trails finding cool insects etc sadly yet nothing new or rare yet but at my rate it will happen.

Although it is primarily a Birding Lodge  it is really important to appreciate and understand the full diversity and the roles that each species has to play, without certain plants or insect species many birds would not be able to survive.

I am compiling a photo database of the non bird wildlife  for them. You do get some fantastic birders  like Sally and Chris Thornburn from Greenwich who appreciate  all nature  but you get others who just care about the birds. And I hope my photos will open peoples eyes and educate them too the wider diversity and the roles played.

Now yes there are other good photographers there but to do what I am doing you need a good eye for detail, a lot of the insects are small or hidden. You also need patience, passion,  time a decent camera ( a decent bridge camera will do)  and of course Talent – now I’m not being big headed  both Nicholas and Raquel( the administrators ) think I’m  amazing at what I am doing and want me back.

You  can spend  a few thousand  on a good camera  and lens  but if you don’t have the skill, passion for the subject of your photo or understand  the  subjects behaviour  then you won’t get a good photo.

Also I wish  this was not the case but over the years I have come across  a fair number of arrogant  British  birders. We can no longer treat wildlife the way the Victorians did. So if you get a good photo of something  rare or unusual  behaviour,  don’t just have on your  hard drive collecting dust. Copyright it and share it with others through  sites like  Flickr etc and let the Reserve where you took it use it if they wish (they will credit you). Its only through sharing information etc can we learn to protect more species from extinction. The human race is the biggest disease  to the Earth.

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Amazing Week

Have had an amazing  week in Río, Made lots of new friends  and contacts from all over including  some other Scots. The El Misti Hostel has been fantastic always lots going  on. Rio itself is not the prettiest of citys as its a bit of a concrete  jungle. But every street especially in Ipanema  has large trees which keeps it cool and the birds are louder than the traffic. Rio also has Tijuca National Park, which is the largest urban forest in the world and sustains a large diversity of wildlife.

All the tours have been amazing but The Favela Tour was my highlight,   I highly recommend  it. When I come  back I am planning  to work as a Volunteer  in the Children’s centre in the  Favela.

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Brazil

I’m  now in Brazil until September. Looking forward to it in an nervously excited way as  it’s my 1st  time here and its a new language,  luckily  with some similarities  to Latin American Spanish. The flights were good and the highlight  was being able to watch the plane land. The plane to Rio had 2 cameras on the nose one facing forward and the other one facing  down. You could watch these on your personal tv screen.

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Ecuador Summary

It’s  now my second time in Ecuador and most definitely  will not be my last its a lovely beautiful  country. I feel at peace and at home here,  and I  can see myself living here within 5 years. Spanish in Ecuador is nice too the ear rather tuneful if that makes any sense.

As for the people on a whole they are very welcoming and really touched that people wish too come and volunteer in their country,  of course  you  get the usual idiots and trouble  makers. But lets be honest you get them anywhere,  you just have to be street smart and know when to avoid eye contact. Ecuador does have issues after all it’s  a developing country. For me its this rawness  that gives Ecuador  its  charm as well as you still see a lot of you girls and women wearing traditional dress everyday.

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