After 2 days of travel and another night in an Airport (a running trend with me) I finally arrived on Christmas Island, after a few days recovering from jet lag I was invited to a beach party on one of the most picturesque beaches on the island, Dolly Beach.
Very fortunately there was a huge turtle congregation just off shore as we arrived! No less than 9 Green Turtles were amassing off shore. A breeding group or perhaps a group of females waiting to come onto the beach in high tide to lay eggs. I am not sure, but we saw no turtles that night even though there was a huge tide which went under my hammock and proceeded to put the fire out!
After packing up from the beach party a group of us decided to go caving into one of the many caves covering Christmas Island. These caves are a no go for tourists, so we pretty much had the cave to ourselves! Apart from the numerous fish that inhabited the Ocean opening at the end of the cave.
After a fun filled weekend it was time to get down to work. 12 survey sites were needed by the time October rolled around, so it was time to pick up the machete, GPS and flagging tape to start marking some survey sites. The next month went by in a blur of both time and machete strokes as me and my boss (Melissa Wynn) marked out 12 sites across the 50 square mile island. Not every working moment was spent tearing the forest to pieces, we also spent a great deal of time trapping rats and then shaving them (to know if we were catching the same ones), hunting for geckos and trying to learn the difference between Gecko eye shine and Spider eye shine.. you would imagine that to be easy but at first I assure you it is not! I was also fourtunate enough to be allowed to assist (for a few days) in the reptile breeding program run by Australian National Parks. This entialed the habitat maintence and census's of both the Blue Tailed Skink and the Listers Gecko which are the two species in the breeding program. These two species are only found on Christmas Island but are now unfortunately extinct in the wild as a result of predation from invasive species (species which do not belong on the island) such as Cats, Rats and Centipedes.
After a month of work, we finally had 12 site set up ready for the real work to begin, the counting, marking and measuring of as many geckos as we can physically catch at each site. Fortunately 2 more volunteers turned up at the start of October to help out. These volunteers being two of my former colleagues (Charlie Davidson and Tom Howells), now the Australian run research team is 75% British!!