Today has not been a good day. I woke up sort of late, got ready in a hurry, then realized that Julie had had the same problem; she was still in bed. So I waited patiently and she woke up at about 6:20 (we usually try to leave by 6:00). She apologized and told me next time to just wake her-good to know. She said since we were getting a late start we would "just set ropes for the playbacks today, it should be an easy day." Well, she jinxed us.
We set off for the R territory just after 7:00, found ourselves a perfect tree to set a rope in for hoisting up the loudspeaker so that it will be at the gibbons level. The tree was big, with a few big branches coming off of it, we were going to attempt to set the rope over the second branch from the bottom, probably about 15 or so meters up. Another big tree had recently fallen, creating a but of a clearing, which should have been perfect; giving us plenty of space to throw. So, we started by attaching the rope to a tennis ball and using centripetal force to hurl it up over the branch, but our aim wasn't great and when our aim was spot on we were just shy of the right height. While I showed off every single reason I have never played a sport that involves throwing anything, Julie worked on the crossbow she had bought to try to help us. Crossbows are banned in the park, for obvious reasons, but we were hoping to attach the rope to the arrow somehow and sent the arrow shooting through a foam ball (so the tip would be blunt and not dangerous). The crossbow turned out to be an absolute piece of s***. It was pretty much broken from the get go and the arrows didn't exactly work. so after abandoning that plan, we tried, Julie getting SO close on several attempts, to set the rope using just the ball-throwing method. I think the reason we spent four hours trying without giving up sooner was because every time we'd get frustrated, Julie would make a really great throw and it would almost go over the right branch and then it would just fall short.
So, 5 hours later, both with very blistered index fingers, we decided to pack it in and try again after lunch and a midday rest (because by noon it starts to get hot as Hades and because of the open area we were in we were now exposed to the hot sun). When we got back I cooked myself an enormous lunch of rice, snap peas and little chicken sausages in the rice cooker, then cut up my pineapple which has ripened nicely. Unfortunately it isn't one of the baby ones, so it still burned my tongue a bit. I was absolutely dreading going back to try again, and I think Julie could see the exhaustion on my face, I had gotten all dressed up to go and she said I could stay here and rest. Though I'm relieved, I feel a bit bad that she has to go back out and try again. I'm thinking maybe she prefers to go alone and to get frustrated and curse at the tree in private, because I know I'd appreciate that if I was her.
Well, just as I was typing up that last sentence I heard Julie's voice. Apparently one of the park officials wanted to come with her to help. She said she tried a few times and got very close, and then he tried several times, getting close, but still not reaching the branch. So he replaced the tennis ball with a stone and was able to hurl it up there finally. Apparently more weight was all we needed.
Now that the rope is set I am sitting her in nervous anticipation for tomorrow's playback experiment. It will be our "trial run." It will also be my first time taking data that we are actually going to use (assuming all goes well) all by myself. I've also been charged with video recording the experiment, because someone told Julie she should record it...not sure who, but I'm not their biggest fan right now. So, instead of taking notes in a notebook, since my hands will be full I will just be dictating my scans. I am responsible for following the female (easier to recognize because of the baby hanging off of her at almost all times). I will record her behavior every five minutes (eating, resting, socializing, vocalizing etc.) as well as recording inter-individual distance, canopy height, and position. I also have to record Ad Libitum (as I see it happening) gazes (looking toward speaker, ground, other group members etc) and location (by taking GPS points each time they move. So...this is going to be a challenge to say the least. Wish me luck!
I only took one photo today; of a skink who visited us just as we were throwing in the towel this morning. I'm too lazy to plug in my camera to transfer only one photo, so I'll post it another day.