Today we helped Tiago put in more of his tree regeneration survey plots. For once everything happened on time and we set off into the reserve in the relatively cool morning air. We already had the feeling it was going to be a very hot day though!
Paul the Romanian ornithologist came with us, and almost immediately he saw a lizard hiding in a rock crevice. He wanted to wait for it to come out but we had a lot of plots do do, and no time for such frippery. We managed to drag him away eventually. Approaching the first plot Anna spotted a small snake, and this generated further excitement with Paul. He was convinced it was a type of adder that had never been recorded in the reserve before. He said it was venomous, so we had to be careful. The snake was long gone, so we went to get on with the plot. Fifteen minutes later we had just finished when Paul appeared, holding a small snake in his hand. So much for being careful! I didn’t really approve of his catching it, but I have to say I wasn’t shy about taking photos. Here is one. I await an update on the species and whether or not it is indeed a new record in the reserve.
Eventually the snake was released. It appeared extremely irritated as you might imagine and we all gave it plenty of room as it pushed off into the brush.
We all cracked on with the plots, except Paul who was more interested in watching the birds. Fair enough I suppose, that’s why he’s here. Loads of the plots today were right by the road so we made good time and managed four before lunch. we saw the horses again, which is always nice!
We had lunch in the shade of a big rock and chatted about Monty Python. Paul was playing birdsong from his phone and managed to attract a couple of warblers into the tree next to us where they sat for a while, probably quite confused!
After lunch we pushed on. We had three more plots to do in order to finish everything on our side of the river. These last three were much harder to get to and we sweated up and down ridges in the afternoon heat. Paul was becoming less and less enthusiastic about the whole walking thing and we just about managed to get him to the last plot where he sat in the shade while we marked it out.
After the last plot we had an hour to get back to base so Paul and Tiago could get a ride back to Figueira where they live. Anna, Johanna and I had no such limits as we are local folk, so we split off and went to see some prehistoric rock art that was near the trail. It was really cool that we were able to just wander up and look at it, although I don’t know whether being in the open air is doing much good for the images, they are pretty hard to make out now!
The last 40 minutes back to camp were hot and horrible. We had run out of water. I was trying to think of things to take our minds off being thirsty, but I’m pretty crap at small talk and the chat kept returning to ice cold water. Anna shot off in front and left me and Johanna to make a more leisurely journey. When we were five minutes from camp however, Anna came walking back down the track with two full water bottles for us. What a hero!
Back at camp we chugged more water from our plasticky-tasting filter and had apples and pears to get some sugar. So good! Then me and Johanna biked back to Algodres, she to her place for a shower, and me to the only cafe in the village to upload the blog. I’m hoping there is tasty dinner being prepared when I get back to camp, but what with emancipation, who knows. You have to roll with it! I think I’m still dehydrated….