December has been an exciting month for the project! Not only has Santa been doing his rounds, we’ve been going from strength to strength in prepping for the return of the Mountain Chicken to Montserrat next year!
Now i must admit, I was a little disappointed not waking up to a myriad of mountain chickens calling on Christmas day (it would have been the perfect present). However what we did receive were some vital equipment we needed to see their return in the new year… Batteries!!
With the success of our solar heating initiatives earlier in the year we’ve been working hard on refining the system to help ensure the temperatures required to kill the chytrid fungus are maintained consistently, even during the periods of low sunlight or darkness. To do this we’ve been back to the chalkboard to devise a method that will feasibly work in the remote locations of the future release sites. You can see the first iteration of our answer to the problem in the video above.
Initial trials have been promising so far, with the system maintaining charge and a constant temperature range across a 24hr period. Over the weekend we’ve ironed out a few little teething issues, as is the nature with field work, and we’re now ready to progress with the true data collection for this phase of the habitat manipulation trials.
We’ve also been hard at work this month collecting information about the current levels of chytrid fungus on Montserrat. To do this we’ve been sampling the tree frog populations across the entire width of the island all the way from the east coast to the west. Now this really hasn’t been easy, not only have we been having to catch a minimum of 60 frogs each night and conduct 90 swab samples, but in order for us to be able to catch so many frogs before the sun rises we require very specific conditions (a good amount of rain in the day with dry conditions in the afternoon). If conditions are too dry the frogs will tuck themselves away and be very hard to find, if it rains heavily they’re almost impossible to see and even if we have a light drizzle they all migrate to the very tops of the trees to make the most of the damp conditions well out of our arms reach.
January will see us continuing on with this endeavour so please pray for us. When it comes to getting the right weather conditions we could do with all the help we can get!