Last Days with Amphibians

The amphibian transect went through a lot of savanna and one small patch of forest, so I stayed in the forest. I have plenty of photos of them in the savanna so I looked for scenic shots and frogs. I only saw two species of frogs in the forest, but there were lots of cool trees and patterns to photograph. Few insects for a change.

Stuck with Frogs…

Today was a busy studio day with a back-up of frogs after the trip the day before.  I learned my lesson with that one, the frogs do not last long, unlike the fish.

The amphibian team has had some troubles at night with getting the truck stuck, the day before they had to spend the night in the forest.  Tonight it happened again, but thankfully they were able to reach us by phone and we headed out to pull them out.  It’s been tough for them; long nights and  getting stuck really aggravates the nerves.  Tobi jinxed himself by saying he has never had to spend the night in the forest away from camp, and sure enough the next day he had to.

I’ve only had to send the night in the forest unplanned for a few days, but thankfully I had a one man tent with me.  It was my first trip in the forest with only Nick, without the family.  It was a good learning experience, Nick thought he new the trail and that he didn’t want to wait for the porters since they took too long, and sure enough we took the first wrong turn and went deeper and deeper into the swamp of Ndoki National Park.  It was in the days of the first watches with compasses (that do not work at all) so that “helped” us go off track.  The great Marcel from Bomassa saved us; we ran into one of his cuts in the forest, with a nice arrow point to camp…  Nick then said he knew the trail again and we should go the opposite direction of the arrow since that would lead to the forest camp. I refused and I think its the one time in my life Nick has had to listen to me, thankfully we eventually got back to camp.  It was Thanksgiving while we were lost, so we had puddle water to drink and Cliff Bars to eat.  It was a great bonding experience, we burned Pickwick papers to start a fire, and shared the one man tent.

To the end of the line

We drove to the the starting point of the road in Loubomo today, and they kept going to the river crossing to Mayumba where the government is building a huge bridge.  It is impressive, the new President is doing a lot for the country.  We left at 8am and we’re back at 2pm so it wasn’t that far for a round trip.  It was good to see the changing landscape, where we are in the study area is a flat savanna area with patches of swamps and forests. Once we got on the other side of the Boume Boume river the landscape changed to huge rolling hills and then forest.  Cell service became standard and there were villages all along the road.

So many frogs, so little time.

We have a ton of frogs for the studio work today, and I am so exhausted from the night before.  I spent all day photographing the frogs, it’s helpful when there is enough to focus a whole day on the studio work, I noticed that with the fish too.  You can get into a good rhythm, plus the rechargeable batteries work better right after a charge so that helps too.

I’ve noticed the personalities of the animals matter a lot with the studio work.  Some frogs go nuts, some are calm, and some get aggressive.  There’s one type of frog that decides to go after you when your photographing it.  I noticed in the forest, it was the one species that instead of running, it turned around and started moving towards me, it did the same in the studio; rather ballsy for a little guy.

The two stars are the turtle frog and a red toed frog that makes me think of red lipstick for some reason.  The turtle frog is funny, he started to burrow into my hand as soon as I grabbed him.  Not to mention how funny he looks!

The bouncy frogs are the hardest, as soon as you let them out of your hand they start jumping around.  I added black velvet to a cardboard box that I duct taped up to contain the frogs when I photographed them, and it helped a lot, otherwise they would immediately hop away.  Thanks to Joel Sartore for that one, I learned it from watching him.

Day and Night

Tonight was my first night walk with the amphibian team.

During the day we set up the transect, checked it for frogs – not many – and then went to the Boume Boume river to get clean water for camp.