80, 89…

Why nature decided to make butterflies so colourful defeats me. I can understand the role colours may play in predator protection, easy recognition among conspecific individuals, reproductive behaviour and all sorts of other properties that colours may have but, still, why being so outrageous with butterflies?

So, you would think that Nature would have been content with allocating them the whole colour spectrum? Not so, some of them have also been numbered! These are some of the members of the Diaethria genus and I do not think that this was done to help the taxonomists!

You know from earlier posts that the Yungas region where our farm is located host a great many colourful butterfly and moth species and to take a walk on a sunny summer day is a true challenge to your eyes!

I have probably photographed over one hundred butterflies (and perhaps double that number of moths) and I had covered the butterflies issue earlier in this blog [1]. Despite having seen most of the available butterflies, I am still surprised at what I find!

One of the posts deals with one of the numbered butterflies: the 80 (or 08) , depending how you look at it. It is known as Diaethria candrena.

P1130769 copyP1130829 copyP1130858 copyVery recently we briefly saw a new and strikingly iridescent butterfly flying very fast and we soon lost it. Luckily the following day we found it again and, with lots of patience, I managed to take a few reasonable pictures of it. To my surprise it also carried a number: 89 (or 98) and I believe it to be Diaethria neglecta, also known as the 89 butterfly!

89 butterfly copy89 butterfly 2 copyP1190177 copyI then learnt that the numerals which appear on the underside hindwings of these butterflies are present in the twelve species of Diaethria but vary in colour and shapes, some of them do not show recognizable numbers.

There is also the 88 butterfly that would complete the numbered ones: Diathria clymena. I have not yet found it although I believe that it is also in the area. To find the third butterfly numbered by Nature adds another motive to continue with my daily walks.

 

[1] https://bushsnobinafrica.wordpress.com/2015/02/27/flying-gems/ and https://bushsnobinafrica.wordpress.com/2016/03/02/80-zig-zag/

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Spot the beast 41

I consider this “Spot” a tough one. Once again it shows the amazing camouflage that some creatures have developed to survive. Look for it!

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Its colours do not matter once it is able to fly off!

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A WWII relic

On the way back from our macaw walk [1] Oscar mentioned that there was an old truck parked nearby. Curious we agreed to get there and -as usual- do a bit of “controlled trespassing” to investigate.

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First view.

The truck was still there and it still showed its original painting as well as its make: Ford Canada.

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P1190013 copyP1190015 copyAlthough the truck showed the signs of time, it still was quite well preserved. Surprised, I took a few pictures and went to the Internet in search of answers. This is what I found mainly via Wikipedia [2].

I believe that it is a Canadian Military Pattern (CMP) truck. This truck was produced in large numbers and several types in Canada during World War II. Standard designs following British Army specifications for use by the armies of the British Empire and allies were prepared before the beginning of the war coincident with the rise to power in Germany of Hitler and the Nazi party in 1933.

By 1939, mass production in Canada of CMP military vehicles was on the way and the Canadian-built vehicles were to serve widely in the forces of other countries. At the outbreak of World War II, Canada’s large and modern automobile industry was shifted over to the production of military vehicles out-producing Germany. Truck production was focused on a broad range of medium-capacity vehicles.

Over 500,000 CMP trucks were manufactured in Canada. They were right-hand drive and they formed the basis of a wide variety of different truck types and armoured vehicles.

All the CMP cab designs had a short, “cab forward” configuration that gave them a typical boxer-nosed profile, a design required for a more efficient transport by ship. Internally the cab had to accommodate the comparatively large North American engines and it was generally cramped.

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Eight cylinder engine.

P1190021 copyNewly manufactured, or as modified war surplus, CMP trucks were widely used after 1945 in several European armies and around the world, among them in Argentina. CMP trucks were adapted after the war for a variety of civilian roles including forestry, grain transport, fire-fighting trucks, and snow-ploughs.

Focusing on our find, while I wait for a response from the experts available in the web (if it ever comes!) I would classify our find as a Ford CMP truck of the cargo type as its back part was resting nearby.

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Summary of technical specifications:

Ford F15. 3 ton 4×4 Cargo produced by Ford Canada. Designed in 1936–1940. Produced in 1940–1945. Service history: From 1940. World War II. Engine: Ford 239 239 cu in (3.9 L) petrol V8, 95 hp (71 kW). Wheel 4×4. Speed 50 mph (80 km/h)

Now, how did it get to Itiyuro?

Although the Argentine Army is listed among the world armies that got CMP trucks [2] they would have been re-painted with the proper livery and they would have had special Army number plates.

The answer to the origin of the truck relates to oil prospection work in the area [3].

Oil had been detected near Tartagal (Northern Salta) in the 17th Century although interest for its extraction only started in the mid 1920’s through the arrival in Salta of the Jersey Standard Oil Company (SOC), attracted by the area’s potential.

The SOC finally started to extract oil industrially from 1926 but soon slowed down its intervention as the Government YPF moved in. During 1938-9 extraction by SOC declined as the YPF’s increased and by the late 1940’s, in view of the poor production of its wells, the SOC withdrew from Salta.

It is possible that the truck is one of the few remnants in the Itiyuro area left by the SOC or one of its engineers that brought the truck as a war surplus. I am not sure that we will know but, anyway, it was an interesting find.

 

[1] http://www.bushsnobinafrica.wordpress.com/2018/04/10/safari-to-itiyuro/

[2] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Canadian_Military_Pattern_truck. Consulted on 6 April 2018.

[3] Benclowicz, J.D. (2011). Aportes para la Historia del Norte de Salta. Conformación y desarrollo de las localidades de Tartagal y General Mosconi durante la primera mitad del siglo XX (Contributions to the History of Northern Salta. Formation and Development of the Towns of Tartagal and General Mosconi in The First Half of the Twentieth Century). Andes vol.22 no.1 Salta ene./jun. Consulted on 6 April 2018.

 

Spot the beast 40

This took place while walking up the hill in Itiyuro in search of the macaws. See my earlier post.

For a change I spotted this little fellow running and then lost it when it stopped. After a while searching it moved again at the time that we were almost about to abandon our search.

I am sure that you will find it.

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Just in case you did not spot it, I took a couple more pictures as it was really a nice youngster although we could not identify it.

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Safari to Itiyuro

There are 979 bird species in Argentina [1] and 656 (67%) of them are found in Salta Province [2], one of the reasons that prompted us to get our small farm located in the foothills of the Andes mountains.

Although quite familiar with Eastern and Southern African birds, we try to keep up with those present in Salta but it is a rather hard job to remember the vernacular names of the species present. That is why we are lucky to have our own resident ornithologist in the shape of Oscar, the owner of the farm next door!

We often consult him on bird (and other) matters and he does not disappoint us. So, when he and Ágata -his wife- invited us for a trip to the Itiyuro-Tuyunti (Itiyuro) dam to watch some unique birds, we readily accepted although we have not eard of the place before! It was only later that we learnt that the place was actually located about 350km from our farm on the very Northeastern part of Argentina, very close to the border with Bolivia.

The idea was to stay two nights at a Government house close to the dam while accompanying Oscar on his bird census work as well as trying to spot some “specials” of the area such as the Military macaw (Guacamayo verde in Spanish), Ara militaris and the Yellow-collared macaw (Maracana Cuello Dorado), Primolius auricollis among other birds, some of which are not easy to see.

We left our farms at about 08:30hs and travelled North through a mixture of farmland and sub-tropical hills framed by the snow-capped pre-Andes in the distance. The latter showed a rather heavy snow cover despite being quite early in the year and added a great contrast with the heat of the area we were moving through.

After a brief stop at the bridge over the San Francisco river where -from some fishermen- I learnt that some good fishing for dorado, surubí, patí and other species is possible. The San Francisco flows into the Bermejo (some info on the Bermejo) and the fish move upstream.

“We did not catch anything this time. The water is too muddy” they said and then, showing me their arms added “no fish but the marigüis are plentiful”. I felt sorry to see the number of bits they hd suffered and memories of fishing in Bolivia under a similar “challenge” came back. I made a note to come prepared if I ever attempted fishing there!

Before we finally got to Itiyuro we stopped again to buy fruits and veggies at Pichanal as the offer was very tempting and we could do with good avocados, papaws and bananas. I also spotted some special medicinal honey from the local Moro-moro bees and made a note to buy a jar for Nena -a friend in Salta- on the way back.

After quite a mission to find the keys for our house, we got to Itiyuro in mid afternoon, a bit later than planned but still in good time to try to watch the macaws’ “fly-over” that Oscar knew takes place after 16:00hs. We were lucky to see a number of Golden-collared macaws flying overhead, returning to their roosting places.

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The dam.

We were disappointed not to see any of the “specials” of the place, the Military macaws. This bird of about 65cm in length has a red forehead and an overall bluish tinge to its plumage while its face is rosy with black lines like some other of the macaw species. Its distribution in Argentina is stated as “Yungas (a small population North of Salta)” [1] so our willingness to see them increased. “Do not worry” said Oscar, “tomorrow we have a chance of walking towards a special area where -if very lucky- we can see them”

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Keeping watch for the macaws.

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Although we watched a few water birds at the dam, our sights were already set on finding the rare Military macaws. We learnt from Oscar that the “top spot” for the macaws required a 20km walk and he added “the path is wide and we may be able to cross the river with the car so we can save about 2km”. We estimated that our daily walks had kept us fit enough to attempt it. Before going back to our house we drove to the river and realized that crossing with the car was out of the question.

Although the depth could be negotiated and the bottom was quite firm, the access to the road on the opposite bank had been washed away and a 4WD pick-up that had tried to cross was still submerged in the river with water up to its seats! Its occupants were digging while waiting for another car to tow them back. We left knowing that the following day we would have to ford the river on foot and walk the distance.

So, after the customary asado (barbeque) accompanied with roasted sweet potatoes and a bottle of an excellent Cabernet Franc, we prepared our bags for the following day and went to sleep. Apart from binoculars and cameras we needed to pack sufficient water, food and -above all- insect repellent as we remembered our experiences of walking in the Madidi National Park in Bolivia where the marigüis (a Simulid of ths sandfly kind) were worse than the piranhas!

Although we planned an early start we realized that senior citizens required more sleeping time in the tropics so we got somehow delayed by about one hour. Despite this we decided to set off anyway as the walk offered other attractions apart from seeing the macaws and the weather was superb. So, the plan was adjusted accordingly to take in the possible higher temperatures to be suffered and we agreed that if we felt strong we would aim for the “máximo” (top spot), otherwise we could turn around earlier. The top spot we were cheerfully informed by Oscar was worthwhile.

Oscar guided us. He had visited the place a couple of times before and had a GPS with the top spot in its memory. Although the intention is to preserve the area as a protected area in the future, at the time of our walk there were no facilities in place apart from the road opened up sometime ago during the exploration for oil and gas.

So we walked across the murky river and succeeded as -luckily- the bottom was clean sandy-clay and no yacarés (caimans), stingrays or piranhas lurked under the surface. More importantly for me, the water temperature was rather pleasant…

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Once across we were treated to a few interesting birds in the riverine forest. The most visible and interesting were a Toco Toucan (Ramphastos toco) and a Blue-crowned Trogon (Trogon curucui), the latter quite similar to Narina’s trogon, found in Africa. As if these two beautiful birds would not be enough, suddenly Oscar pointed to the sky and there, in all its glory, an Andean condor gave as a display of its amazing gliding skills, a beautiful sight considering that we were at a sub-tropical forest.

Not crossing the river in the car was a “blessing in disguise”. A few hundred metres forward we came to some heavy eroded area where the wooden bridge that we would have used with our car had been destroyed by flooding and we would only have been able to make use of our motorized transportation for a few metres after crossing the river!

And then we walked! It was mostly uphill although a few descents to alleviate our legs also appeared. The first stage of about 5km would take us to some human habitation known as “the Post” where we could rest and decide whether to go on or return to base.

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The path to the Post.

While moving through the forest we saw few birds and most were “flashes” of colour across the path as it is usually the case in rather thick cover. Despite this, we observed footprints from peccaries and red brockets as well as a number of interesting insects, flowers and fungi, apart from the magnificent trees and climbing vines that surrounded us. Luckily, our repellent was working and the marigüis were kept in check, at least most of them.

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Before arriving to the Post we found an old earthmover resting in the foliage. Judging by its condition it had been in this place for a few years, most likely from the times of the oil and gas prospection that took place during the 1900’s. I had been abandoned after having done its duty of opening the road.

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I climbed on it to have a look hearing Oscar’s warning about looking our for snakes as these tend to find refuge inside old machines. A quick look did not reveal its make but I could see a rather powerful eight-cylinder engine that, unless some major mechanical work is done to it, will not start again.

Oscar, the conservationist, said “this looks like the revenge of the forest against its destroyer” and he walked on.

After about 90 minutes we arrived to the Post and needed to decide whether we continued to the top spot or took a detour back to our car through another dam known as the “Limoncito” (small lemon) that was quickly re-named “Lemoncello” by the mostly Italian-influenced crowd.

We unanimously decided to continue agreeing that we were already half-way and that we may never had the chance again! So, we calculated that it was 11:30hs and we would need another two to get to the place, an hour to observe the area and possible macaws and then return the 10km at one go! As the latter were mostly downhill, we estimated 3 hours so we would just make it with enough daylight to ford the wide river back. We set 15:00hs as our latest return time and set off again after a welcomed drinking stop.

The way beyond the Post was tougher! The going was mainly uphill through a narrow and often muddy path. We climbed for about 5km until Oscar estimated that we needed to leave the path to deviate down a steep ravine in order to find the stony bed of a normally dry stream that would take us to the top spot. To find the right turning was hard as the floods that had taken place after Oscar’s last visit had dramatically changed the landscape. Despite the GPS, he could not find the right path down!

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After a few fruitless attempts at finding the right path we decided that it was a good time to pause, have lunch and rest a bit. It was a rather forlorn group that sat on tree trunks rest and recharge energies.

Luckily, the pause had a positive effect as, soon afterwards, Oscar located the begining of the path and we managed to move in the right direction. A large tree had fallen and pulled down the foliage around it, blocking the usual entrance. We climbed down the ravine and followed the stony stream where we negotiated some high stone steps until, about 200m further we could see some light among the trees. We continued our walk towards the light and then we could go no longer and we just looked forward in silence.

The path/stream on which we were walking ended in what clearly during the rains is a spectacular waterfall but that now it was dry and offered a great platform from where to watch the beautiful forested gorge that opened in front of us. We had reached the top spot!

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The “lost” path re-found.

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Some of the steep steps we negotiated

Just before we settled down a Peregrine falcon (identified by Oscar) flew across the opening and it was gone at high speed. We sat down facing the gorge and, at the distance, some red cliffs were seen.

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The macaw cliffs are seen in the distance.

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The cliffs zoomed in.

Oscar informed us that the macaws liked to come there and they were seen at the cliffs although nesting there was not confirmed. If very lucky, they would get closer. We waited and watched. As the difficulties finding the right place had delayed us, we also delayed our departure to 16:00hs to give us sometime to wait for the macaws and to rest.

The cliffs were a few hundred metres from us so I had not much hope of seeing much as -for the sake of saving weight- I had only small binoculars! A bad choice but one that was too late to regret! We sat in silence and waited. After about 30 minutes we heard the classical loud calls of the macaws and my wife (who else?) spotted four of them flying from the cliffs towards the forest behind. There were about three seconds of birding and I saw nothing!

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The fleeting sighting of the macaws took place here

As our departure time approached and nothing else had happened after the fleeting view, we decided to extend our departure time by another few minutes as we estimated that, as the way back would be mostly downhill and assuming that this would enable to walk faster, we could still make it with some daylight left. Our decision proved to be wise. AGain we hear the loud calls and probably the same 4 birds returned to the cliffs. This time I was better prepared and managed to see them, long-tailed and bluish against the emerald green of the surrounding forest!

After that second sighting (only sighting for me!) it was time to go. The going was downhill indeed and we did walk faster. I also lived up to my reputation of falling in forest paths (particularly when watching macaws!) and I fell in the mud! Luckily there were lots of tender branches that counterbalanced my fall and I survived.

Without any further hitches we managed to get back to the wide river in time and, after a deserved swim in its muddy waters by those members of the party that were well preapred and had swimming trunks (Ágata and Oscar), we were able to get back, thirsty, tired, stung by marigüis and sunburnt but happy to had seen birds that although we hope will endure forever, may not be there for very long.

These are a couple of embedded pictures from Getty images for you to see what we were after and managed to see in the distance!

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[1] Narosky, T. & Matarasso, H. (2010). Checklist Argentina. Aves, Birds. Vazquez Mazzini Eds. 60p.

[2] Moschione, F., Spitznagel, O. & González, M. (2013). Lista de Aves de Salta. Birds Checklist. Gobierno de la Provincia de Salta. Ministerio de Cultura y Turismo. 49p.

Final Note:

Oscar saw or heard 117 species and I managed 63 that I actually saw. Not a bad number for a weekend spent mainly in a forest. Some of the interesting species seen by the bushsnob, apart from the macaws were:

Roseate spoonbill (Espátula Rosada), Platalea ajaja

Swallow-tailed kite (Milano Tijereta), Elanoides forficatus

Real Ornate hawk-eagle (Aguila Crestuda), Spizaetus ornatus

Squirrel cuckoo (Tingazú), Piaya cayana

Crested oropendola (Yapú), Psarocolius decumanus

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jaguarundi

A Herpailurus yaguarondi known locally as yaguarundi run in front of our car on the way to the Itiyuro-Yuyunti dam. Although I will soon describe the actual “expedition” that too us to that most northerly part of Argentina, I thought that t”he jaguarundi that crossed the road” offers a good opportunity to focus on this species that I ignored until a couple of years back.

This small cat, also known as eyra is native to southern North America and South America. It is, so far, doing quite well according to the information from the IUCN Red List that gives it the Least Concern status. However, its long-term future only seems assured in the large reserves of the Amazon basin. [1]

The jaguarundi stands low on the ground with a body length of 50-70cm and a rather long tail (30 to 60cm). The ears are short and rounded and the coat varies from blackish to brownish-grey (grey phase) or foxy red to chestnut (red phase) and litters can have individuals of various colours in them.

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Picture credit: Halvorsen, Gary [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Unlike other cats found in the region, jaguarundis are mainly diurnal and therefore more likely to be spotted. Although they can climb trees they spend most of the time on the ground where they hunt for almost any small animal they can catch such as rodents, reptiles and birds. They are, however, able to capture larger prey such as rabbits and opossums and they had seen also feeding on fish.

Mostly solitary their home range is very variable, from a few to almost one hundred square kilometres. Their call is also variable and they can purr, whistle, yap and chatter! They can even chirp like birds!

 

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Drawing credit: Wyman & Sons Limited – Lloyd’s Natural History: “A hand-book to the Carnivora. Part 1, Cats, civets, and mongoose”[1] by Richard Lydekker.

So, a very little known but not less interesting small cat that has been observed in the area of our farm although we have never seen it. No doubt that after this brief sighting we will keep our eyes open for them.

 

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jaguarundi. Consulted on 7 April 2018.

 

Spot the beast 39

After a quiet spell in South America, enjoying social and rural life, we traveled to the very north-eastern tip of Argentina to a place called Itiyuro-Tuyunti dam, invited by our farm neighbours.

While I write a couple of posts about the trip, I thought interesting to present you with this easy “Spot the beast” to keep you busy…

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We came across this rather beautiful beast while walking through the subtropical forest and it was often feeding on this particular plant that has these interesting flowers. The butterfly is probably Anteos clorinde or Sulfur spot. While the external part of its wings resembles a green leaf, its interior is white with a yellow spot on its upper part. The internal coloration is mainly seen while flying as it closes its wings when landing.

It is a fairly large butterfly of about 85mm that flies strongly during the times of sunshine over open spaces and forests. It is often observed near wet areas where they congregate to drink and get mineral salts.

Snake attack… [1]

There are two important venomous snakes in the Gallinato area of Salta where our small farm is located: the Cascabel (South American rattlesnake, Crotalus durissus) and the Yarará (crossed pit viper, Bothrops diporus) [2]. The former’s venom is neurotoxic while the latter’s can cause severe tissue damage although, contrary to general belief, it is not often a cause of death. (See: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bothrops_alternatus).

Enoc, a boy of eight was returning from school after lunchtime with his brother Angel and his father Juliano, our caretaker. When fording a small river, the boy either stepped on or near a snake of about 120 cm. The snake reacted angrily and bit him. “I saw the snake going for him and heard him shouting that he had been bitten” Juliano told me later, and then he added “I hit it with a couple of stones but it hid under some large stones. I left it as I thought that taking Enoc to the nearest clinic was more important”.

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The small river crossing showing the stone at the centre of the picture used to step across. Tee snake was above my shadow.

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Another view of the crossing.

Juliano, wisely, calmed the boy, ran to his house, got the boy in his car and drove straight away to the public clinic. He was also shrewd enough to stop at the Police post located 5km from our farm to report the accident. In turn the Police radioed the Vaqueros [3] clinic and, by the time of Juliano’s arrival an ambulance and a Doctor were on standby! The boy was taken immediately to the Hospital Público Materno Infantil in Salta city  for treatment.

While this was taking place we were returning from the city of Salta after having dealt with pending administrative issues as well as getting some essential farm supplies. We were near our farm already when we got a recorded message from Juliano telling us of the accident. We immediately turned around and tried to get in touch with him. I was concerned about the availability of anti-snake bite sera at the Vaqueros clinic (I was unaware that Enoc was on his way to the large hospital in Salta!).

We failed to talk to him but we met him at Vaqueros and collected him to follow the ambulance. Bea, Enoc’s mother was already with him and over the phone we learnt that he was stable and -apparently- well. The hospital has an emergency unit to deal with these kinds of problems so I should. Juliano believed that a yarará was the responsible snake but was not sure.

We managed to get into the emergency room (against the rules). Enoc was calm and already they had given him all needed medication for snakebite. I expected to be told to leave the room any minute so I had a quick look. His vital signs were normal (great relief!) Further, a rapid look at his leg revealed that he had been bitten just below the right knee and, apart from some small amount of dried blood I failed to see any fang marks but only a small scratch. Then, as expected, I was told to leave!

The conclusion was that the snake failed to take hold of him, perhaps because of him wearing long sweat pants. The medical personnel were very keen on the identification of the snake so we drove back to the farm to look for the culprit. Unfortunately, we failed to find it and informed the hospital accordingly. We learnt that the boy would be kept under observation for 24 hours but he was stable.

The following day in the afternoon I went again to look for the snake and this time I found it. It had died, probably from Juliano’s stoning and it had been already partly eaten, probably by a fox that had pulled it out of its final resting place and had a “snack_e”.

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The rear end had been eaten but, the marks were not those of a yarara! It was a rattlesnake!

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The dead snake markings.

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The markings of an earlier rattlesnake caught at the farmhouse and later released far away (See: https://bushsnobinafrica.wordpress.com/2016/04/07/rattled/). 

I immediately informed Juliano of this but by then the boy had been discharged from hospital as he continued to be healthy.

As the snake had a clear bulge, I spent a bit of time doing a post-mortem that revealed that it was busy digesting a large rat that it had caught a couple of days earlier. My conclusion was that it was sunning itself digesting its meal when Enoc stepped on it or too close for comfort and this prompted the snake’s reaction.

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The fangs that failed to reach their target!

Luckily the incident ended well but I still I wish to highlight the excellent public health coverage that exists in Salta where after an accident such as this not only there was an ambulance on stand-by to take the patient to the specialized hospital but also that it was immediately given the correct treatment and kept under close medical supervision until the doctors considered that he was out of danger!

Liking snakes but being a coward, I am buying myself a pair of wellingtons that I plan to wear from now on instead of my usual sandals!

 

[1] This event took place about ten days ago but, because of communication “challenges” I am only able to publish it today.

[2] Moschione, F.N. (2014). Relevamiento de Fauna. Finca El Gallinato, La Caldera, Provincia de Salta. Informe Relevamiento 2013-2014. 55pp.

[3] Vaqueros is the small town located about 10km from the farm on the way to Salta city on the national road No. 9.

 

Note: for those of you curious to see the stomach contents of the snake, I place the picture below. I warn you that some may not wish to see it and hence I place it here.

 

 

 

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Snow in the Chaco

Crossing the Chaco region of Argentina on our way to Salta is rather hot and monotonous as we are dealing with a rather straight road that goes on for a few hundred kilometres across this semi-tropical area of the country.

While driving we were talking about the news and pictures received from our daughter and our friend Lola from Rome where we learnt that snow had fallen a few days back. We agreed that we were lucky to be mostly in warm climates, away from winters most of the time!

We were in the middle of the discussion when we passed an area where, maybe because of the subject we were discussing, it was snowing!

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Or so it seemed to us for a few seconds until we realized that we were crossing an area populated by millions of white butterflies known locally as “pilpintos”.

 

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Apparently, these butterflies appear after the rains and live rather short lives and mainly stopped in the rain puddles to recharge water and salts.

We were happy to realize our error and continue on our way to our summer South American hiding spot!