Pitch Black

IMG_1242As though the dark is not scary enough, let’s add in the mix of an unfamiliar location, thousands of animals and a truck full of inexperienced surveyors.

Portland (last year’s EFTA intern), asked Deisy and me to join Angelica and him on an amphibian survey Thursday night. We agreed and headed off to the wetlands at 8:00pm. The wetlands are a vast area that contains over 200 ponds. Deisy and I know how to navigate around 10 of those. Thank goodness Portland knows the territory better than the rest of us in the truck because he was able to get us to each survey point.

Here is how everything went down:

We started at 8:00 with Portland, Angelica, Deisy, me, Stefan, and Seth packed like sardines in the government truck. The survey was to consist of frogs and identifying the different species in which the survey point contained. The struggle to this was the fact that one: it was dark and two: we were not able to actually see the frogs to identify their appearance. On the 45 minute drive out to the wetlands we listened to a CD that contained the different calls of frogs around the world. Deisy shuffled through the play list to the frogs that we know for a fact would be at the wetlands (thanks to past surveys). After we got familiar with the sounds it was time to start surveying. At each point we had to stand outside the truck silently and listen for approximately 5 minutes. When the 5 minutes was over we would discuss the different species of frogs that we heard. Although the survey did not call for it, we often tried to estimate how many of the species were at each location. I thought at first the process was going to be easy, BOY WAS I WRONG! It was so hard to ignore the loud frogs in order to hear the frogs producing a much deeper and lower sound. It became a process of training my ears how to distinguish the difference and how to separate the sounds from one another.
I am happy to say that by the end of the survey I was able to distinguish the difference and with confidence tell them what frog species I had identified. The bonding time with the other interns was beyond great. We shared countless laughs, sang numerous songs, and left with a few battle wounds from Deisy hitting us as the truck bounced down the roads. I am looking forward to next week’s survey and the stories to share. Sadly our shorebird surveys have come to a stopping point because of the lack of birds however, we are staying busy with other fun adventures tasks. Until next time…

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