Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Posted by Charne

A couple of days ago, Noah and I were off work and went for a walk along the Lago trail to get to one of the towers for the sunrise. On the way, we noticed a call that Shawn had pointed out a few days previously, a distinctive knock-knock belonging to Nyctimantis rugiceps (see photo below), one of the Elusive Eleven (early on we made a list of all the frogs that are most rare and, for Shawn, totally desirable). It got louder and louder as we walked on, and we soon came across the cavity, in a tree leaning right across the trail, where the frog had made its home. It was an ideal spot, and last night, even after a long and tiring day in the field, Noah and Shawn could not resist going to take a look. Just to scope it out, they said, innocently.

They were back within an hour and with an irrepressible gleam in their eyes, rounding up a ladder, planks, Kelly’s butterfly nets, me, Bejat, and Maricela, a turtle researcher who was up for the hunt. We waited quietly in our rooms until the generator switched off and Shawn had managed to get a good recording of the call, and then trudged to the site, as stealthily as possible in our heavy rubber boots. The plan was for Noah (the tallest) to climb the precarious ladder, Bejat to film in night vision, and for the rest of us to assume positions strategic for catching a terrified frog escaping in the dark.

Noah wobbled up the ladder, and gingerly placed the net over the hole, and jerked the tree around a bit, hoping this would scare him out. Nothing happened. I kicked the bottom of the tree, and still nothing happened. So, after a whispered conference, Noah tried to squeeze his hand into the hole, but could barely reach past his knuckles. It was clear the frog wasn’t going anywhere, so Shawn climbed up to try his hand, so to speak. It was also too big, no matter how much he squeezed and squirmed. I was next in order of hand size, and so climbed up, feeling more than a little pressure, surrounded by a circle of eager eyes.

Luckily, my little hand (not useful for much else out here) fit in the hole easily, and I quickly found him hiding in the muddy bottom of the cavity. I had him out before the others had finished speculating and adjusting the ladder, and at first no one believed it. It was a successful hunt, and we were all a little giddy on our return to the lab, staying up just to look at the little treasure in the light. He’s a chocolate and caramel coloured beauty.

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