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Meet Erin and Zach

July 1, 2015

Erin and I have been settling into Las Tangaras as new reserve managers quite nicely the only problem is that three months seems like far to short a time to spend somewhere so beautiful and peaceful.

Let me begin by introducing us to those of you out there reading our blog.  My name’s Zach, I went to school at Colorado Mesa University for biological sciences and took a field biology course in Ecuador, which made me fall completely in love with the country, the tropics and field biology.  Since then I’ve participated in field biology work all over the world.  I spent a summer on Middleton Island, Alaska working with sea birds, a summer on Abaco in the Bahamas working with parrots, five months working with leatherback sea turtles in Equatorial Guinea.  I’ve also participated in a few expeditions for cave biology in Northern Arizona and Colorado, surveying bat colonies and collecting cave arthropods.  Then there’s the five months I spent in Madagascar working on a reforestation project and met Erin.  Erin had the much more exciting job of tracking radio collaredVareciaVarigata, (the black and white ruffed lemur) through the forest and collecting data on behavior.  I spent most of my time working with locals in the hot sun far from the fragmented forest, collecting compost, planning and planting trees (and sweating a lOT).  Erin went to SUNY ESF where she studied conservation biology and did research on Martens, she’d also worked with wolves in Indiana and had experience working with Canada geese back in New York and lots of time spent working with animals in a vet clinic.  She’s also spent a year in Korea teaching English.  We hit it off and Erin eventually moved to Colorado to be with me after we came home to the US.  Since then I’ve been working at a place casting fossil replicas for museums while Erin worked at a veterinary clinic.  Our true passion is conservation and living closer to the land, spending plenty of time out doors.  So when we saw the Las Tangaras position, we jumped at the chance to work with birds in Ecuador’s cloud forest and contributing to the protection of one of the world’s great biodiversity hot spots.

So far we’ve seen white fronted capuchins early in the morning hooting angrily at us from the tree tops, swam in gorgeous swimming holes that look as if they’re from a movie set and spent a lot of time collecting data on hummingbirds.

We’ve been out at night on a few hikes and seen plenty of frogs, katydids and a Nightjar near a stream watching us blurry eyed from our headlamps.  There’s been a large blue morpho butterfly that keeps flitting around the house and toucanettes that we saw early one morning in the forest.  In fact there’s been so much wildlife easily spotted that it’s almost unbelievable.  As dense as this forest is, it’s hard to imagine how much animal life is actually out there that we don’t even see hiding among the plants.

We also discovered a burrow on one of the trails and I set up a camera trap to see what’s living in it.  You’ll have to wait until next post to see the pics, if they come out.  I’m hoping it’s an armadillo, an amazing animal I have never seen in the wild.

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3 Comments leave one →
  1. July 2, 2015 9:20 am

    Hi Erin and Zach, welcome to Las Tangaras! Small world Zach — I also spent a memorable summer on Middleton Island, Alaska — what year were you there? You guys have some great experience under your belts and you are going to have a blast in the Ecuadorian cloud forest. Enjoy!

  2. Rita Leal permalink
    August 5, 2015 4:12 pm

    Hola Erin and Zach!
    Is their any way of getting in a private contact with you guys?
    Me and my partner are trying to get hold of Dr. Becker and don’t seem to find a way to get through her email…
    Please let me know if you can help us.
    I thank you in advance and wish you a great day!

    • September 8, 2015 10:53 am

      Hey Rita, sorry, didn´t see your comment until just now. Don´t spend a lot of time online here. We´re about to leave as managers but you can contact me zachfitzner@yahoo.com or check out my personal blog zachofjungle.com

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