At the very beginning!

I have been two months as a volunteer at REGUA now and every day brings something new, something different. Waking every morning with View from the wetland tower hidea beautiful scene greeting you – forest-covered mountains cloaked in mist, almost blue in the morning light – it is easy to forget how spoiled you are! It is the middle of winter here in Brazil but on a hot day (yes, even in the winter here it easily reaches the high 20s) it isn’t long before the winter sun burns off the mist and the stunning surroundings are revealed.

The long-ago first morning in the reserve began with a walk through the restored wetlands and the replanted forest, where the abundance of wildlife is evident. Everywhere you look and listen there are birds (so many to learn!), butterflies, cicadas, capybara (masses of droppings!), caterpillars, signs of puma and not forgetting the vast array of plant life.

I have come to REGUA to volunteer for many reasons. The first is to help Nicholas and Raquel, the project managers, with the Guapi Assu Bird Lodge, giving them a helping hand looking after the guests who come to stay in the reserve accommodation. A great number of the guests are birdwatchers who travel from across the world to spot the 450 plus species that frequent REGUA, many of which are endemic. My role as a volunteer will involve hospitality, admin, liaising with REGUA staff and having to speak Portuguese, mas eu nao falo Portugues muito bem atualmente!  The staff are very helpful and probably find my ‘Portuguese’ amusing! I am going to be at the Lodge for the busy period over the Brazilian ‘winter’ until the end of November. I put winter in inverted commas as the shortest day last week was pretty warm.  A good summer’s day in England! It’s chilly for the locals though, as many of them don jumpers, trousers, hats – even a scarf was spotted last week!

I am looking forward to the opportunity to become immersed in a conservation project in the Atlantic Forest, to learn about the intricacies of running of a reserve and the importance of working with the local communities. The challenges of conservation in a completely different country will be interesting to see. I will also get to meet the many different people who come to REGUA to volunteer, bringing their skills, energy and enthusiasm. And after a day’s hard work as a volunteer there are always the delicious caipirinhas to savour!

Capybara tracks on one of the wetland paths


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