We had hoped to have a full team effort beach clean at Fishing Pond the other day but torrential rain stopped us – we had been rain dancing for sometime, the ditches and ponds were drying up and the Frogs weren’t looking too happy, but finally the skies unleashed the heavens and instead our day out turned into a surprise visit to Pax’s Guest house – a lovely tea house in the hills ran by the monks of Mount St Benedict’s monastery.
An assortment of cakes, sweet bread, fruit and tea was served to us on a long wooden table surrounded by antique dressers, candle sticks and exotic flowers. From traipsing around in the mud as sweaty beasts in the rain – how did we get here!?! And wowa! We are in the Caribbean? (Some of us first timers are still pinching ourselves!) The lunch was a treat from Roger, which we greatly appreciated – beautiful and peaceful surroundings over looking hummingbird feeders and avocado trees towards the jungle! We were so civilised, not even an elbow on the table! Though a few of us have forgotten how to use cutlery, never mind which knife was which.
Later in the evening, since the rain had brought out the frogs in abundance, we went on a group adventure up Lopinot Road. Further north of the village we followed a stream into the bush where we heard the calls of Hypsiboas punctatus – the polka dot tree frog! We spotted a few females of yellow colouration lurking in the tall lily pad like plants. We were knee deep in the mud – some wellies temporarily lost and recovered! This male was soon found: his red pattern comes out at night – he is normally green during the day! Oh and Tom found a snake – Sibon nebulata nebulata aka The Cloud Snake – an Expedition pet for the rest of the week but soon to be frozen and dissected by John Murphy….
The survey team recorded the where abouts, and number of H.punctatus and then it twas offski down the road to our favourite frog city – chicken shack! Here we found adult Leptodaclyus fuscus (below) whistling and many Trachycephalus venulosus mooing loudly! Amongst the mass of pustulosus and microcephala! We collected samples of tadpoles and fuscus and headed to the car with all our nets and gear.
During the journey home we heard the calls of Bufo beebi, the Trinidadian Toad! A rare sight which none of us had seen before… apart from Roger! An overgrown field next to a mall became our next sampling site. A stream cut through the middle, providing high foliage and shelter for an array of spiders and creepy crawlies to live in. Trekking through the ploughed field, Mark and Roisin heard an usual screeching sound, was it a frog? Well yes, it was, a beautiful L.fuscus. Roisin foolishly went to pick it up only to realise before it was too late that a snake was devouring its hind legs! She was so close to playing tug of war over its feast… ooops! (Lesson learnt!) Was it a Ferdelance – Bothrops lanceolatus? There are many species in Trinidad which have a similar pattern and colouration in order to seek protection….
The Bufo beebi were caught; a few pairs, one in amplexus, and taken to the lab but unfortunately no spawn yet.
The next day a group set off on the long drive Columbus Bay in the South of the Island, where they hoped to find the giant tadpoles, Pseudis paradoxa. A few minor glitches on this trip – the car broke down, there was not a drop of water in the ponds and ditches and we could hear the calls of the adults but couldn’t access the equipment to collect or take photographs as the boot was jammed. Another trip soon and we hope to report back with positive findings! Cheers