Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Galápagos Rails, Media Luna, and Cerro Crocker

Yesterday, we welcomed Marco to the field who joined us from Montreal where he is working on his masters on adaptive landscapes and Darwin's finches. Today, Jaime thought we could go to Media Luna because the storm petrals would be returning to their nest. Unfortunately, nobody bothered to check when the Storm Petral breeding season was. (hint: it's not the end of February). That being said, we spent the morning wandering Media Luna looking for the elusive Galápags Rail, a ground nesting bird that is very quick to run along the ground.
Attempting to find the Galápagos Rail

The microclimate in the highlands is extremely different from the semi-arid area of El Garrapatero where we do our regular mistnetting. We hiked from Media Luna up to Cerro Crocker, which is the highest point on Santa Cruz.

The fog and clouds kept rolling in and out, creating at times a mystical, foggy atmosphere, and then clearing to provide spectacular views of Santa Cruz.

In our attempt to find the Galápagos Rail, we did get a beautiful Warbler Finch

One thing we did manage to get (not the Rails) was a recording of the Galápagos Rail.
Marco recording the Rail
The fog also created a wonderful opportunity for some macro photographs.

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Galapagos 5.0

Here we go Galapagos 5.0! Special thanks to Newnham College who awarded me a Gibbs Travelling Fellowship so I could have this field season. Thank you to Clare Hall and Christ's College as well for providing financial assistance for this season!

This year will be a mix of mistnetting to continue our long term data set on Darwin's Finches, as well as my continuing to study behavioural adaptations in Darwin's Finches. This year, we got started right away as Jaime had brought our equipment over from San Cristobal. Carlos, Angela, and I had arrived and were excited to stay in some new apartments that Jaime had kindly found for us. We headed to El Garrapatero for our first day of mistnetting this season.

The EG parking lot

We had a good first day, getting some mockingbirds that Angela had studied the previous year, and getting a nice assortment of finches as well.

For several years, we've always warned volunteers and assistants the perils of opuntia cactus. For the first time (at least it took five years), I managed to get my first major opuntia encounter. I tripped on a rock, mildly sprained my ankle, and managed to fall/sit on the only opuntia in a 10m radius. Thankfully, Angela (a) knew me from the previous year, (b) had experience pulling out opuntia spines, and (c) had some tweezers. So, our first day in the field, and Angela and I bonded over opuntia cactus needles being pulled out of my bum. #overlyhonestmethods #fieldworkfail.