Well to close the 2015 survey season we very fortunate enough to find a baby frog, probably less than 6 months old. He was far too jumpy to catch however, so that will be my goal for 2016. To catch this little fellow for the project. We also managed to find one more new frog meaning the total recorded frogs for the project is 80.
As for Christmas itself it was like every other Christmas, average. I mean it was a nice change of pace to be on the Caribbean but it was essentially the same Christmas just with the family of one of my work colleagues rather than my own family. Ohh and Pork is traditionally eaten rather than Turkey. Christmas eve was rather interesting, town was basically a friendly riot, with fireworks everywhere.
Last friday was the date set for the Forestry Dept Christmas Party/Retirement Party. So I thought I would go along for the celebration. The venue was Fort Shirley an old British Fort on a head land which now encompasses the Cabrits National Park. Quite the location indeed. The fort was rented out by the Forestry dept so we had the building and grounds all to our self. Although no one went up to the second floor on the account of the ghost of an old British general, obviously he would obviously have no qualms with me so I went up to enjoy the view of the harbour.
It was a great little celebration filled with Peanut Punch (Peanut Butter, Milk and Rum) and a huge portion of Fish Broth and not to mention Beers. Oh and a few games of Dominoes although I must admit the version of Dominoes they play here is a rather brash fast paced version of what I am used to. And having a woman behind be backseat driving every step of the way takes the enjoyment out of it. But other than that good times.
Christmas is quickly approaching apparently but I have yet to realize. You have no concept of seasonal time when you are used to temperate seasons. I keep thinking it is June or July not late December. Still Christmas should be interesting in the Caribbean. I am looking forward to it.
So after being here a month I decided last weekend, that I needed to concur the island by climbing Morne Diablotin, the highest mountain in Dominica. It is 4000ft tall, which is pretty mediocre but 75% of the walk is straight up and through elfin forest which is like a very damp and slippery obstacle course. About 3 hours in to the 7 hour round trip, I was starting to loose my rag with the constant clambering through the mud and branches. But after reaching the top I was rewarded with great views which made it worth it... so after a very quick lunch back down I went!
It was also time for me to see more of the island for the purpose of frog surveys, so me and the rest of the mountain chicken team jumped into the frog mobile and went for several tours of the island. To see all the previous survey sites used to find frogs, some of which were on the east side of the island where I was able to see the true scale of the damage inflicted upon the island by Hurricane Erika. Landslides covered the area and we met several people who had lost their homes and land. Even one gentleman who lost his entire family in one landslide. One of our transects at a place called Bagatel was completely gone, wiped off the mountain due to a very large landslide.
However in good news, over the last two weeks we found several brand new frogs! Including one juvenile which is evidence that the frogs have been successfully breeding over the last two years. Two of our new volunteers introduced me to the national sport of Dominica... Street Dominoes! A very lively version of the traditional game.