Thursday, March 12, 2009

Las Trancas y Termas de Chillan

Valle Las Trancas is located about 8km from Termas de Chillan. There's plenty of bamboo here, so that's good, but I realized yesterday that I will run out of yarn before I run out of sock. That's bad.

I climbed Volcán Chillán (I'm pretty sure it was Volcán Viejo) and after having done nothing active over the winter, it was, to say the least, a difficult climb for me. To add insult to injury, a group of French tourists - people my parents' age, mind you, started out well behind us and because I'm so out of shape, they passed us up. And I lost my hat. As we are hiking up at a 45 degree angle the entire way, with me out of breath, Tomasz says "Don't stop, Jess! It's bad to stop, just go slowly. The French are catching up!" The thought of a French invasion and the prospect of butterflies kept me going and even though I was passed by a woman nearly twice my age, I did it. We caught nothing but a Vanessa, but suspect that Argyrophorus might fly here earlier in the season. In fact, our locality data shows Argyrophorus here in December and January. As far as collecting goes, it was a pretty dissapointing start to our day. On the other hand, I climbed a volcano - an active volcano.
We found a spot just off the road, about four kilometers from the big hotel in Termas de Chillán, where there's lots of bamboo and a good diversity of species. The only downside is that there are these evil vegetative land mines from Hell. There's this bur plant that produces sharp spiky seeds that stick to everything - your boots, your clothes, your net. Other than that, it's a good site. We found wallengrenii, simplex, leptoneuroides, stelligera*, chiliensis, and a single germanii (which went home with Tomasz). All in all, we caught about 30 butterflies, 21 of which had been caught by Tomasz...
We treated ourselves to jugo de frambuesas y panqueques con chocolate. For my non-Spanish-speaking readers, that's raspberry juice and crepes with chocolate. The evening's wine was Misiones -D- Rengo, a 2008 Cabernet Sauvingon.

*the stelligera turned out to be ambiorix. They're very similar in size and wing pattern and easy to confuse, but they are distinct species. I'm not putting down many genus names because part of my work is to determine what the heck genus these guys belong in. What's Neomaenas today might be Auca tomorrow.
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