Great news! 24 happy, healthy mountain chickens finally arrived into Montserrat after their long journey from Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust herpetology house in Jersey. As a volunteer on the project I, Emma Downie, will be spending 3 months monitoring these frogs and so I accompanied the mountain chickens from London through Antigua. We flew into the Montserrat airport in the morning with 4000 crickets in tow (a very surreal experience)! Following our arrival there was a whirlwind of activity with the frogs being taken off to a temporary holding facility to be rehydrated, processed and put into their holding ponds where they could relax after their journey and be given a bite to eat. By this point the frogs had been travelling for over 2 days (having overnighted in both London and Antigua), so making sure that they were happy and healthy was of the utmost importance.
Overnighting in Antigua -every crate contained multiple frogs, each frog was in a cloth bag which sat in a box surrounded by shredded paper within the crate which was also lined with polystyrene. Data loggers were also placed into the crates to monitor conditions throughout the frogs journeys. Comfy and cosy!
The mountain chickens arrived from Durrell where frog has been micro-chipped giving it a unique number with which it can be monitored. In addition they have also been surgically implanted with a small 2cm/3.5g radio tracking device which will emit an intermittent signal which we will use to track the frogs through the forest every night to ensure they are surviving.
Following their arrival, and a few days to relax and recover from their journey in the ponds, the frogs were split into groups and released in the forest on the evenings of Friday and Saturday. Aside from the core Mountain Chicken Team there were a few spectators also around to witness the frogs released into their natural environment.
During each release the frogs were split between three tents in the forest and allowed to acclimatise for ~45 minutes before the doors were opened and they were allowed to hop off. The is known as a soft release. Our second volunteer Heléna arrived on Friday evening in time for our second release which was very exciting! It was brilliant to see the frogs being released into the wild and hopefully they will be very happy hopping around the great outdoors. As volunteers we are both very excited to be here helping out with the project, not to forget excited to have the opportunity to experience this beautiful Caribbean island.
– Emma Downie, Volunteer