Thursday, April 18, 2013

First day in the field!

I woke up at 5:30 this morning, got all my stuff ready, had some instant oatmeal and headed out to the forest with Julie at about 6:30. We stumbled upon the E group of gibbons first-my first time seeing gibbons in the wild! We didn't stay with them long because we were looking for the B group. Next we crossed the T groups territory and saw them briefly. We finally got to the B group at around 8:30am. We heard a great call and got to see the baby and the adult male playing with a giant squirrel (mostly just chasing it). These squirrels are honestly huge, like the size of Tori. After a while we noticed another adult male was with the group, which is weird because the B group should only have one. Apparently sometimes there is an extra adult male, but he never participates in duets. Julie took some photos to try to figure out who he was, and to make sure the singing (main) male hadn't been replaced by the new male. The singing male had not changed, which is good because this would affect the experiments.

The juvenile of B

After a while we were ready to try the python experiment. We use a fake python as a stimulus to see if the gibbons will vocalize. Finally after two failed attempts to place the python in a place where it could be seen by the group, we were successful. The poor things called for over an hour. We had to be very quiet and still during this whole time so as not to affect the recording of the vocalizations. The alarm call sounds sort of like a whining, howling dog. I have a video, but I don't think the internet is good enough to upload it. I wish I had taken more pictures, but I wanted to make sure I was paying attention on my first day. I am worried now though, that taking pictures will only be harder as I start to collect more data, and when the rainy season begins.

After the python experiment we headed back to "camp". We got back around 2, showered, had lunch, and did laundry (there's a machine, WHAT?!). Then I was pretty bored and lonely...I hope once Julie and I get to know each other better it will get better. But until then I have plenty of books to read and movies to watch (thanks to Julie).

Another thing I should mention is that the mosquitoes actually weren't bad at all today. The only bites I've gotten have been here in the building around dusk. I was surprised because it rained the last few days. What was bad were the leeches. Yeah, here leeches don't just live in the water. They crawl around on the ground looking for someone to feed on, and apparently sometimes they fall out of trees onto your neck and chest, which sounds just fabulous. Apparently I'm going to need a scarf. When you are standing still watching the gibbons they take the opportunity to climb up your boots, onto your legs and up as high as they can before you notice, hopefully finding some bare skin. Fortunately for me today none were so lucky, but I'm sure that will change soon, especially during the rainy season or when we follow groups closer to the river. Lovely. My nastiest encounter today was one somehow got into the eyecup of my binoculars and I didn't notice and put them up to my eyes and felt it wriggle and touch my eyeball. Thank goodness I have quick reflexes and it didn't have a chance to take hold on my eye.

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