I have some really exciting news to share with you today… Last weekend, we were out in the forest doing our regular tree frog catching and swabbing to monitor the presence of chytrid fungus. We had just started on the hike back to the car, after spending a few hours looking for tiny tree frogs hiding in the dry leaf litter. I won’t complain about being tired, but I was certainly looking forward to getting to my bed. Suddenly we heard a different sound echoing in the forest – a Mountain Chicken was calling! Any previous thoughts about sleep were forgotten as Blacka and I skipped and hopped through the forest towards the source of the calls.

Blacka taking a PIT tag reading from a Mountain Chicken Photo by Laura Bambini/Durrell

We found the huge male on his rock of choice by the ghaut. This one was truly a giant, and the most beautiful frog I had ever seen! I was mesmerized. I gazed into his unblinking eyes in silent wonder. A moment later I was snapped out of my reverie and we got down to the business of recording our find. Using the PIT tag reader, we discovered the identity of this giant of the forest – he was one of the surviving truly wild Mountain Chickens, tagged originally in 2011 as an adult.

Our work done, we left him in peace to continue in his quest to find a mate. A handsome frog like that, he should have no trouble doing so – provided there is a female mountain chicken surviving in the neighborhood. I very much hope so!

First mountain chicken of the year! Photo by Laura Bambini/Durrell

The walk back to the car felt like a short stroll in the park, I was feeling so elated after all the excitement. Now I can’t wait to get back there to search for more surviving mountain chickens!


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