So today I have had the chance to spend a bit of time at the hut - I made a video to hopefully give you an idea of what it’s like! (Also I meant the water is clean enough to drink, not eat! Sorry it must be the altitude, which is 2,500 metres - you can see on Google Maps the exact location of where we are.)
For breakfast the ubiquitous rice and beans made a welcome appearance - last night was really cold (definitely in the lower single figures!) so some hot food and drink was more than welcome. By mid-day it had warmed up considerably and the sun was hot.
(I should make it clear that I am in no way complaining about rice and beans - I love them! Last night they were joined by a hot, steaming pot of chicken soup and dinner was great.)
The scientists went out collecting today (the first chance to have a proper explore since they arrived) and they found some great stuff! However, Neil has already suffered some really nasty sandfly bites.
(Click the images to see them full-sized)
N.B. I've enhanced the colour of this photo a little so that you can see the bites more clearly.
Species of the day goes to Holger (although he found it yesterday). It’s on this stone, which he found in a nearby stream 30 cm below the water level. He had to chisel the lump off with both hands underwater and he described it as the single most difficult specimen he has ever collected.
It’s a representative of the genus Hydropunctaria and this is the first time it has ever been recorded in tropical America - it is found widespread in more temperate areas and in cold mountain streams in SE Asia and South Africa.
It is one of the best indicators of a stable stream bed and only lives in constantly cold water. Therefore it is an important species to know about when considering climate change. Now that Holger has found this specimen future generations will know that it was living here in 2012.
Now it may look like a dark patch on a dirty rock (Alex’s words not mine!) but Holger gave the following quote:
‘Perfect circular shape, a beautiful olive green hue and a texture of half solid jelly which is just amazing.’
Wow, I’m going to have a cold shower ... which is good news as we don’t have any hot water! I’m going to blog more about lichens next week.
With one new discovery under our belts, I hope the photos from my previous posts give you an indication of just how rich the plant life is here. Alex tells me that there are more than twice as many species of plant in this park alone than in the whole of the UK.
He has written a really nice piece on his own blog about the forest here - do have a read.
Finally, if you want to experience a live video-link direct from our hut to London tomorrow (and also on the 16 and 18 Feb) please come to the Nature Live event in the Museum's Attenborough Studio to say hello! They'll be held at 12:30 and 14:30 and (barring any technical issues) we're going to be joining the event to answer questions from the Studio and to show you a few specimens.
Jo (Nature Live host) and Erica McAlister from the Department of Entomology will be in the Studio to talk about field work, why it’s so important, what it’s like and how you do it, etc., so please do pop down to South Kensington.
Also, I wanted to let you know that, unfortunately, due to my limited internet connection I can't see your comments until they are e-mailed to me, so my apologies if you have had any questions which remain unanswered – I’ll do my best to respond in the next few days.