In the land of frogs sounding like birds

/ 2013-03-27 / 00:38:58

When I first got here I got really confused by all the frogs. Bird-like sounds came from really close by but I saw nothing!
Of course we have the counterpart as well. The Chocó Toucan (Ramphastos brevis) sounds just like a frog when he's serenading!

Baby smurfs

/ 2013-03-27 / 00:12:06

In a bromelia here next to the lodge there's a nest with two Blue-gray Tanager chicks (Thraupis episcopus). Super-cute! :)

Fieldworkers in the rain

/ 2013-03-26 / 21:26:20

Hey everyone!

Here everything is rolling on good. The rain is pouring down! When we caught the last group we forgot to bring the tent (which we've never used) so we had to build a small shelter to be able to handle the birds without drowning them. Ofc, when we we're more or less finished, the sun came out!

Here's also a picture of a fully kitted tree. With two camera systems, a scale and a trapdoor so that they have to use the entrance behind the scale. Talk about Big Brother!

And then, for anyone who would like a fan picture, here's me doing some monitoring of an empty, boring nestbox :)

The Day That Never Comes

/ 2013-03-17 / 00:22:08

Today I don't feel like doin anything
*whistle whistle*
I just wanna lay in my bed

First day off since beginning of February! Slept until 11 and had a nice long breakfast, drinking coffee on the porch (cause yeah, I drink coffee now).
Unfortunately, then we had to clean or nasty house, it's impossible to keep even acceptable!
Ofc we've had calm days before, maybe just battery-change in one or two nests, but today was the first day when we didn't have to do ANYTHING. Except for cleaning..

Our first mist-netting attempt this season resulted in one parakeet ringed, so it made up at least a little bit from the fiasco with the nest. Last year they caught 7 individuals in nets during the whole season, so for our first try one bird was a success. We also caught a Red-masked Parakeet which was really cool! We we're all surprised by how much larger than the El Oro Parakeet it was. In the field the size-difference isn't at all that apparent.
It was a beautiful day with a lot of sun. The vultures flew really close and even though we see them every day I still think they are really cool! When Gabi and Kati we're there the last time they saw a King Vulture, which is huge! But we weren't so lucky. We did see a Plumbeous Kite, a Barred Hawk and a Barred Forest-falcon, so I was happy! :)

Yesterday we caught one of the three late groups, and on Monday we're catching the other two because they are in the same area. After that we're completely done with the catching of the breeding-groups! Instead we're going to do more attempts with mist-nets in different areas and also going looking for parakeets at higher altitudes. Another thing we would like to try is playback-experiments on the three remaining breeding-groups. We've recorded the calls from groups in different areas. What we're going to do is to play the recordings from a group that the group we're doing the experiment on has most likely never encountered before. Then we're going to video-record the reactions of the birds. I think this might be really interesting and I've never tried anything similar before. It will be a lot of work though, plenty of stuff that we need to bring.

The man holding the Red-masked Parakeet is Don Hernando, he works for the museum in Quito (which is working with Jocotoco) and is here now to help the girls. This was the first time he caught an Aratinga (which is the genus of the bird), so he was very happy :)

Short Update

Allmänt / 2013-03-13 / 17:43:11
Hey everyone!

The catching of the natural nest became a total fiasco. We spent a lot of time preparing, since we had to make the entrance-hole larger to be able to get a hand in. And then it turned out that the chicks we´re gone. We still finished making the hole larger and closing it with a door that we could open, because we we´re hoping that the group would still sleep in the nest. But no.. Several days wasted.
The only good thing was that there are lots of fun birds on that side of the mountain that we haven´t seen here. Golden-winged Manakin, Scaled Fruiteater, Blue-crowned Motmot and my favourite Ochracious Attila, just to mention a few.
Two girls from Quito, Gabi and Kati, are also working on the parakeet, but not so much in the Buenaventura. They are looking for the parakeets in other areas to find out how widespread it is. When I find the time I will tell you more about them and what they are doing. Right now they are in Palo Solo, wich is close to where they found the natural nest, and tomorrow we´re going to try to catch parakeets in the area with mist-nets. We´ll go there already today and put the poles up and so and then tomorrow before dawn we´re going to put up the nets. We´ll sleep in the house were the girls are staying, just like we did last week.
Hopefully it will be worth it this time!

And It Burns Burns Burns

/ 2013-03-08 / 23:20:02

Our porch is being invaded by caterpillars! And they burn, badly. Evil creatures is what they are and for some reason they are drawn to me (or more likely me to them). So far I've been been burned 5 times, 2 in the forest, while Lena has yet to experience the pain. I've been lucky though, some people here say that you can get an inflammation in your lymph nodes and become really sick. But the worst time for me was last time when my pinky finger got really swollen and hurt for a whole day. That was a caterpillar in the forest, as big as my index finger, but the small ones on our porch just burn for an hour or two :) But at least they look cool!

We've had some more car-trouble. One day we found ourselves standing in the middle of the main road with all the oil on the asphalt. Fortunately it was easy to fix so it "only" took 5 days for the mechanic to get it ready. I think he loves us, so much money we pay him.
Another reason that we haven't been able to go to the lodge in a while is that Michael went to visit his girlfriend, who's doing her phd in another reserve. For this to be possible we had to change the rhythm for battery change and measuring. We're going to change it back soon, but for now this works better.

This weekend we're going to catch the group in the natural nest. The genetic data from there will be really interesting. The nest is not in the reserve but on the other side of the mountain, and we don't know how far they disperse.

Most of our chicks are in the fledging period now which means that they learn to fly and leave the nest. One nest is already empty! Within two weeks we will have only 3 nests with young chicks left, and maybe some free days! I said I'd might have a day off in March didn't I? ;)

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