Yesterday was loooooong. We got up early and drove to Albrook Mall with Ximena, her mom, and her son. We were then set loose of the largest mall in the world (so it seemed at the time), to purchase the items on our list. Lynne and I found most of the stuff on the list within half an hour (plastic bins, food dishes, hide box pots, etc.), but we couldn’t seem to find any office supplies anywhere. We wandered around for a while and found a store called “Steven’s”, which seemed like a Macy’s. They had a toy section, and in it we found children’s butterfly nests for only $2.50! (We had been looking for materials to make an insect-catching apparatus, for toad food hunting). The next are actually pretty sturdy, and will be good for finding food for the toads.
As we wandered around, we saw several large plastic-y animals decorating the mall. 2 giraffes guarded the Cinema, penguins stood by the Mac store, a small coral reef accompanied the gumball machines. At one point I left to put things in the car, and I noticed that there was a large purple hippo by the door I exited. The door also said “Hippo” on it in purple. Then I realized…. These are way-finding animals! They help you remember where the hell you put your car. Genius!
When we were done shopping, we met Ximena et al. at a restaurant called “Crepes and Waffles”. It’s a Columbian restaurant that Ximena and her mother love. And let me tell you, I loved it too. The food was soooo good, and they had a huge specialty ice cream menu. Tomas got a little scoop of vanilla in the shape of a smiling man; it was so cute! Definitely a new favorite, they should really bring this chain to the US.
By the time we got back from shopping, Ximena was running late to a meeting, so we dropped them off and took the car to unload. Only problem was…. It’s a manual. All the vehicles here are manual, I don’t know why. So I had a crash course in remembering how to drive a stick. All in all, I think I did pretty well. I drove to drop supplies off at the school then back to the house. Then I drove us around for work during the night as well. My biggest issue seems to be getting into first gear, and moving from reverse to first gear. Once I’m moving, I can change between gears just fine, and I can stop the car just fine. Ah, well, practice will fix that! The STRI trucks are diesel and manual, so that will be an interesting challenge. At least Ximena has a Yaris.
We took the video cameras with infrared lights out to the field last night to practice filming the tungara frogs. We need to film an individual male for 10 minutes. Ideally, the male will be calling the entire time, and have midges that land on him back, walk up to his nose, and bite him. The frogs sometimes will use their forearms to swat away the midges. We are trying to record them shortening a mating call because they are swatting away the flies. I recorded 2 individuals last night, in two different areas, and I think I got pretty good footage. The night vision lights are fantastic, you can see a lot more than I thought you would be able to!
We brought 2 of the frogs back to the school so Ximena could show us how to work them up. While Lynne was measuring the first one, we found a full-size cane toad hopping around inside of the school. Measuring the tungaras was out the window for me; I set to work drilling holes and making a quick habitat for this beast (we’re calling him ‘Dusty’, because we found him under a table and he was covered with dust). He’s in a makeshift house today, so I’ve got to go back this afternoon and finish his house up, and make a few more for any other toad sightings. We were lucky yesterday; Ximena brought me a small one that she found under her house, and just as we were leaving, we found another full-grown toad (smaller than the first), hopping around in the school. Ximena thinks I’m attracting the toads. Good, I hope I am! Less work going out and looking for them!
We took the tungaras over to the frog lab, because the “real” tungara project people are doing toe-clipping and swabbing for chytrid fungus. Two of the project interns showed us how to do this on our catches, and then we took the frogs back to where we found them. A long night, but a satisfying one nonetheless; we made it home around 1:30 a.m.
We filled our hummingbird feeder with sugar water yesterday just to see if we could attract anything. This little fattie hung around for hours, flitting from one tree to another, to the feeder, and then repeat! He's a rufus-tailed hummingbird