May has definitely been the wettest month of the project so far. As we begin to move into the rainy season in Montserrat storms have been brewing, ghauts have been running and the frogs have moved to seek higher ground. It is believed that this behaviour is the result of a natural instinct to escape the monstrous volumes of water, mud and tumbling rocks that can destructively cascade down the ghauts following periods of intense rain in the hills (I know I would) but most the frogs are now happily sitting nice and high up the banks of the ghauts safely out of the way of running water and our swabbing hands. Still, we are managing to grab the odd frog as they come back down to the ghaut to check out the situation and as our weekly site visits are now down to once per week, we are still managing to catch around 14 frogs per week. This is a very encouraging number considering we are now relying on our state of the art, specialist frog spotting equipment – our torches!
Top tip- when you shine a torch into the eye of a mountain chicken it reflects a bright orange colour. This coupled with our expert forestry eyes means that we are still able to catch an impressive number of mountain chickens and monitor the general health of our released frogs.
Unfortunately, this month has also seen us discover four more dead mountain chickens and other showing signs of the chytridiomycosis disease in the release site. This was a bit of a blow for the project staff as we have seen the number of dead frogs double in just one month. However, with the presence of still so many healthy looking frogs and with more males heard calling with the breeding season in full swing, we are simply encouraged to continue our incredibly valuable work with the focus of gaining as much data as possible to help us aid this species in a battle being fought by amphibians all over the world. Go team mountain chicken!