Tag Archives: Wetland

Masked Duck

Masked Duck female (©: Adilei Carvalho da Cunha)

With the Covid-19 pandemic and the restrictions on travel, as with so many places around the world, REGUA tourism levels have collapsed.

Rainforest Trust, who have helped to raise funds for us over the years,  came to our aid and helped us  support Adilei, REGUA’s bird guide until guests can return.

With this hiatus in his usual work Adilei has been able to do many regular walks around the reserve as well as maintaining the trails.   On a recent survey of the wetlands,  Adilei spotted a female Masked Duck in the middle of one of the wetland lakes.   He played the call and to his surprise the bird flew toward him and landed a few metres away.   The bird called with a series of short high-pitched calls in a falling crescendo.

Masked Duck is associated with wetlands which have rafts of water plants on the surface.   They use these plants as camouflage and hide out of sight.   As it is small duck and sits rather low in the water it can be very hard to find.   Adilei’s photograph actually shows the bird in relatively clear water, maybe it was reassured by the call and Adilei’s calm, quiet enjoyment.

REGUA’s wetlands have always had this species and many guests have seen it here, however as the wetlands have matured and with the growth of the planted trees, and increased weed growth, sightings have reduced and they have become increasingly hard to see.

A male was seen last year and with this latest sighting, hopefully we will be able to see more of them in the future.

Students investigate the health of the wetlands

RJ State University Student Group with Prof. Marcelo and Tim

Professors Marcelo Marinho and Tim Moulton returned to REGUA with their 3rd year Biological sciences at the RJ State University. Their field of interest is “Limnology and Oceanograph”, and they come to REGUA to study the biological, chemical, and physical features of lakes and other bodies of fresh water.

Every wetland is continually evolving and changing. Having followed the progress of REGUA’s wetlands since 2005, Professor Tim can state with authority that each of the three wetlands is vastly different from each other. The central wetland, created in 2005, is the healthiest with a small stream passing through; the second wetland lying below the lodge garden, created in 2007, receives a small amount of water that is diverted to maintain its level, and the wetland nearest the Conservation Centre, created in 2010, has water emerging from sources below the surface but offering a constant flow.  

The students at work. (© Prof.Tim Moulton)

The central wetland is full of underwater plants/macrophytes and its water is almost transparent. The second has water seeping under the walls and does not overflow. As a consequence it has a greenish appearance, covered by “watermeal” (Wolfia sp), most appreciated by waterfowl, including the Masked Duck, a rare visitor. The 2010 wetland is occasionally covered by orange Euglenoid algae. As a scientist Tim is really perplexed and is coming up with many questions. Have the algae have choked out the macrophytes or vice versa? Have fish stirred up the bottom? Is the wetland turning eutrophic that might lead to the death of its fish?  

Professors Marcelo and Tim are naturally very excited to learn more and have directed their students to study elements of the wetlands to reach the heart of the matter. This is a prime example of the benefits to both student and REGUA; whilst students gain experience, REGUA gains from the ongoing research that students are carrying out.

Students taking water samples on the main wetland (© Prof. Tim Moulton)

We are delighted to receive many students from diverse Universities and offer them such a wonderful outdoor laboratory. This offers us the opportunity to talk and explain what REGUA’s ambitions are and therefore provoke and reach to young thinkers who will help to shape society in the future.

These visitors will certainly be touched by the efforts and development of this project and take this model elsewhere.     

Animal Trail mapping by Katja

My name is Katja. I am 18 years old and I come from Frankfurt in Germany. I grew up in a family of naturalists and animal lovers.

Setting up the camera trap
Setting up the camera trap

My grandfather owns a property in Macae de Cima near to REGUA.    He specialises on a family of miniature orchids and is a co-author of a book on the orchids of the Sierra dos Orgaõs.   My father grew up stumbling over snakes on my grandfather’s land and became a recognised snake charmer himself.    He travels to Brazil because of its wonderful snake fauna and is very familiar with the well-known Jararaca.

Most of my family’s travelling led us to remote rural places in Europe and North America. Of course snake tracking is not only about snakes but other wildlife, landscape and nature in general also. On these trips exploring wilderness I fell in love with nature myself. I love to walk and explore natural places and take a closer look on whatever comes across.

In 2012 I passed through the gates of REGUA Reserve and from that moment I was determined to come back as a volunteer some day. REGUA is a very special place of immense beauty and breathtaking scenery. It is one of the very few places left one can still experience and explore almost undisturbed Atlantic forest.

Bothrops Jararaca
Bothrops Jararaca

In summer of 2015 I finished school with a focus on natural sciences and before starting university I felt this could be “some day” – although this four week trip will only serve as a glimpse into the Mata Atlantica habitat.

Volunteering at REGUA includes a project – a small scientific work. I decided to take a closer look at REGUA’s restored wetlands. Therefore I concentrated on the animal trails within and around the wetlands to find out which animals call the wetlands their home and which migrate to and from the wetlands on regular bases.

I will try to develop an “animal trail map”. Looking at animal trails means I will focus on the “big game” only. On the technical side I rely on two camera traps.

With only four weeks I understand that this work could only open a window for further work. But who knows… maybe I come back… some day?

Katja