Hi all,

Emma here again, it’s been a busy few weeks! We’ve been out tracking the mountain chickens, exploring various bits of forests for surviving mountain chickens, carrying out chytrid surveys of tree frogs, recording a radio programme for ZJB Radio and helping out with tree planting day, phew!
Definitely getting the hang of radio-tracking now, mixing up the calls of the tree-frogs far less frequently with the beeps from the receivers, plus I’m building up my arm muscles (despite what he thinks I’m still sure Blacka’s are bigger!). The frogs themselves seem to be hopping around all over the place, so we’re ever increasing our search area but we’re still finding the majority of them which is good. We’ve even had a few frogs that had disappeared off for a couple of weeks return to the ghaut which is nice to see. All of our frogs have been looking nice and healthy which is very positive and we’re hoping that the frogs may be in a condition to breed come March/April when the wild frogs are naturally meant to reproduce.

Mountain Chicken Family ©Emma Downie

Tree frogging has been lots of fun, so far we’ve surveyed three sites – Sweetwater, Collins Ghaut, and Fairywalk. Of those sites Fairywalk was definitely the easiest to catch the frogs, but boy that’s a long trek! I was expecting it to be a fair hike, but not quite so long! Clearly I need to get some more hill training under my belt (although Heléna and I are greatly improving on the time it takes to get up the hill from Bunkum Bay!). But anyway, catching the tree-frogs is fun, if occasionally a little frustrating as in the forest you can hear them calling all around you, but actually finding one within catching distance, that can be another matter! When we were at Collins Ghaut I’m sure most of the frogs seemed to be up in the canopy or hiding in big patches of goat-thorn, yowch. The frogs themselves are tiny, having a body length I would guess of around 5-15mm, thus handling the frogs can be a little tricky! However there is a knack and once you get into the swing of it it’s actually pretty easy, as is the swabbing, I think the part that slows us down most generally is the glove changing!

Lesser Antillean whistling frog (Eleutherodactylus johnstonei) ©Sarah-Louise Adams

Anyway, aside from our normal survey work over the past couple of weeks as I mentioned earlier we’ve also recorded a radio show and helped with national tree-planting day. Was a little nervous about doing the radio show beforehand, but it went well and was definitely less scary than I’d anticipated! We may well be doing another show in January so keep your ears pricked for that! Tree-planting day was a fun day to help out with, as you may or may not know, the day involves trees (mainly fruit bearing) being sold to people, apparently to help recover species that were lost on the South side of the island after the volcano erupted. So the mountain chicken team were along helping to process orders, following there was a little party which was good fun and a great way to meet some of the other people working for the environment department.

Anyway I think that wraps it up for the meantime, will keep you updated with our goings on!

– Emma Downie, Volunteer


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