18 March 2019 | Category: Master thesis Melindy Dirks

#7 The end of the recordings

By Melindy Dirks

Masterstudent Animal Sciences

Excuse me for the delay of this blog (again), but I have a good reason for that: Belo Horizonte. Remember my global summary of the last blog about what we were going to do in the coming week? Well, the expectations I had at that time were only a glimpse of what really happened. Let me first tell you what all happened during the Belo Horizonte visit with Leo.

Three museums and the underground market

Our trip started with the usual 1.5-hour bus drive from Florestal to Belo Horizonte. Alexia, one of our Brazilian team mates, joined us so that we could not get lost when taking the metro after the bus. At that time, I thought it was very busy in the metro with people, but now I experienced carnival, I quickly take that thought back.

Bird collection

The bird collection in the Natural History museum

After a nice walk through a part of the city we arrived at our first museum of the day where we would also meet Leo: The Natural History Museum of Belo Horizonte. As most natural history museums, this museum contains collections of plants and animals from surrounding areas; skeletons of animals from the nearby zoo, stuffed mammals, butterflies and of course birds. Leo had arranged with an acquaintance that we could see the total bird collection. This acquaintance was so passionate about ‘his’ birds that he could talk for days if we did not interrupt him after a while. The birds in the collection were very interesting and our two bird-fanatics Robert and Tessa went completely nuts when trying to determine what species is could be. Eventually, we had to say goodbye as we wanted to see so many more things in Belo Horizonte.

With six adults in Leo’s relatively small car, we drove towards the central, underground, market. In this big market, one might buy everything one wishes for; from sugar cane juice until chickens and puppies.

Underground central market

The underground central market in Belo Horizonte where you can buy anything you want

We spend some hours there including a very good lunch and at this point, Alexia left us to visit some friends. A bit more comfortable in the car, we drove toward the second museum which overwhelmed us with plenty of information about minerals and stones.

As we had some more time, we visited the museum opposite of the stone museum which was an art museum showing the work from a Chinese artist which was, against Tessa’s expectations, very interesting. When it started to get dark, we went to the house of Leo’s parents. To be honest, these are the sweetest people I met in Brazil so far. We finally experienced what we missed in our field station; a warm shower, good food (dinner and especially the breakfast with cake, pao de queijo and fresh juice), a toilet which you can flush normally and most of all: waking up the following morning in silence.


Spider friend

Making friends with spider while waiting for the rain to stop

Next day, we planned to go to two national parks. In the first park, we were welcomed by monkeys and a quati bear. This park showed us a wonderful view over Belo Horizonte (see the cover picture) and subsequently at this spot, cerrado and atlentical forest biomes come together. With the far view we had there, we could see a great front of rain approaching us and when we arrived at the second park, we indeed were welcomed with a never ending shower. We searched for shelter and waited for more than an hour for the rain to stop, but even when it eventually stopped, our chances of finding animals in this park (except for the spider around our shelter) was equal to zero. We decided to return to Belo Horizonte and visit one more museum about arts and crafts.

We ended this day in Belo Horizonte by going to an all-you-can-eat restaurant with incredibly good food and when we were (more) than filled, Leo drove us back home to Florestal. This was a great experience of Belo Horizonte during normal working days.

Carnaval in Belo Horizonte


Our group of fantastic people during carnival

A few days later, we experienced Belo Horizonte in a totally different light. Yvonne and Robert decided to stay home, so Tessa and I went at 6 am with a big part of our Brazilian team to Belo Horizonte. During carnaval, you can party in certain blocks. Each block has a different genre of music and style. I will not describe every detail of this day, but it was an experience never to forget. I have never seen so many people dressed and undressed together. We actually planned to go only for one day, but the second day, Dalila said ‘I have a bad idea: shall we go one more day?!’. And so we went for a second day!

Last week of recording

Active nests map

Our map in the house with pins for every active nest

Right after carnival we went back into the field. Although carnival was over, I figured out that I can quite accurately describe my work in the field as a festival. Namely, every Lined Seedeater male sings his song for some time like a performance. If you are lucky, you are in time to enjoy the whole show but if you are a bit too late, you might wait for ten or twenty minutes until a new show starts. This week, I think the birds were also still in the ambiance of carnival, because every day was a new record of recordings on a day with a maximum of twenty recordings in one day. This is very good for my data, but as every recording takes approximately twenty minutes to analyse, I spend a lot of time behind my computer in the afternoon. I decided to call this week the final week of recordings. With almost 500 recordings of more than 40 different males (13 brown males and 34 black- and white males), I think I can make good statistical tests with clear significant results and eventually a great report.

Next week

Next week, cool things are on the planning (again). Tomorrow morning, Leo will pick us up at 5 am to go to Cipo, another national park where we will spend three days walking, observing animals, swimming in waterfalls, exploring caves and enjoying new environments. I am not sure yet how our days will look like, but we are going to sleep in tents which probably will make everything feel like a perfect holiday. Directly after Cipo, Tessa, Robert, Yvonne and I will take a bus to Guarapari to spend some days at the beach, a natural park and a town called Santa Theresa. Two days after we come back, Tessa and Robert will leave Brazil already. Time flies, but before they leave I will probably write a blog.


By Melindy Dirks

Masterstudent Animal Sciences

There are 2 comments.

  1. By: Conny van Vonderen · 19-03-2019 at 14:08

    Wat kan studeren toch leuk zijn.
    Je enthousiasme voor dieren kent geen grenzen.
    Een echte liefhebber van spinnen, net je moeder.

  2. By: Marcia Nixon · 19-03-2019 at 22:28

    I continue to enjoy your writing of your research and your adventures in Brazil. I am happy that you all had the opportunity for this via my dear Filipe. (I am Gretchen’s mom)
    You are all wished good success in your work from Jim and me! We are eagerly awaiting the birth of our grandchild.
    Safe travels home.

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