National Geographic : 1961 Jul
Duck-trapping Mist Net Veils San Pedro Volcanoolcano 20072 Teeming with bird life, the San Pedro marshes form a verdant oasis on:the desolate puna. To capture the puna teal, the author stretched an almost invisible mist net in the birds' flight path. Yielding mesh braked the birds to a gentle stop and held them fast, like fish in a tangle net. Naturalist Luis Pefia steadies an ex tension pole while the author flattens grasses below the net. Hoary Mount San Pedro rises 20,207 feet. Map shows Laguna Colorada, home of James's flamingo. Jeep and power wag on carried the author to Bolivia's Andes from Antofagasta, Chile. Galapa Wild puna teal in the author's hands undergoes close examination. Oa Mr. Conway began his career at the La Paz St. Louis Zoo. In 1956 he joined the staff BOLIVIA of the New York Zoological Park as *su Associate Curator of Birds. Recently he N became Curator and Associate Director 0, as well. Working in Trinidad with famed Asuncion naturalist Dr. William Beebe, he cap tured the first mossy-throated bellbird and ever exhibited alive. With the rare birds in sight, we impatient ly deferred capture attempts until we had made camp. Pitching the tents was a battle; the wind, whipping out of the west, flapped the canvas exasperatingly (page 100). We later discovered that it blew on a regular schedule, arriving about noon each day and departing at eight in the evening. Such winds are characteristic of high valleys, the result of unequal heating of the slopes by the sun. We shielded the campsite with the two ve hicles, anchored our tents, and then donned hip boots for our first trapping effort. We could see flamingos preening near a mud spit (page 92). Perhaps we could catch the birds there. Our net must be placed by evening, we knew, to avoid alarming the birds near the trapping site next day. Quickly we unpacked our "field artillery" - three small cannons. The guns would fire weights attached to the leading edge of the 30-by-75-foot net, casting the nylon web over any birds in the target area. As the sun sank and the icy wind tore at our faces, we waded into the salt-laden lake and with stiff fingers placed the net. Then we KODACHROMES© NATIONALGEOGRAPHICSOCIETY n.