Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Earthwatch Team Fab-fortis: Day 5

Yesterday saw the team enjoy a day off, with the volunteers doing different things. Some went to the beautiful Tortuga Beach, where they got to snorkel among marine iguanas, and others went to the highlands to see the giant tortoises roaming around.

The team returned to work today, energized, refreshed, and ready to catch some more finches. I helped head the observation team today, and the transect took us past the Municipal Market. I’d never been there, and since today was Tuesday, it was only about half of what it is on its main day, Saturday. However, there were lots of finches roaming around the market, happily eating the little human scraps that were on the floor.

Sandia (watermelon) at the municipal market
Our transect on the walk back to the station revealed a vegetarian finch happily munching away on some seeds. This was the first year I’d done observations, and while we often saw finches eating human food, I was pleasantly surprised to see the finches were also eating their ‘normal’ food.

Vegetarian finch
The afternoon was pleasant, with it raining lightly during the afternoon. An ani came to visit us at the dorms during the afternoon break.

For reasons we cannot definitively say, the finches near the research station have begun reproducing, as we saw with the small ground finch nest with nestlings we found in town a few weeks ago. We think this might be due to resources such as water and food being more readily available near town. The start of the mating season doesn’t seem to have started yet in EG. Part of the mating process is nest building, and this finch at the research station seemed quite happy with his nest making material.

Another finch was quite adept at wiping parts of its beak off. The finches like the fruits of plant called Cordia leutia which has large yellow flowers that the finches also like to eat. The fruits have a very sticky flesh so it can build up on the beaks and then the finches have to scrape it off. These finches are quite flexible!

Tomorrow will be our last time in the field with Team Fab-fortis, a sad prospect indeed. It’s amazing how fast the time has flown by!

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