More news from the science front :-)
It’s the end of week six that I have stayed on Round Island so far. There are still three more to come. The last week was a very vivid week. With the help of other people here, I managed to get quite a lot done. The main thing was to keep tracking the animals that have radiotags on to see clearer how they use their territories and how large these territories are. There are several animals now, that provide interesting data. And I hope that until the end of the stay more insight into the elusive life of Guenther’s gecko will be possible. One of the things I will never forget was to see Guenther eggs last week. I was locating one animal on a Latania palm when I spotted something white of the size a bit smaller than a golf ball. The geckos place their eggs in different places, on leafs of Latania, trunks of Pandanus, but also under rock overhangs. They appear to either well hidden or then not easy to reach for the hungry Telfairs. It is really fascinating to think about the tiny little Guenther that will hatch after a bit more than 2 months, and how it will develop into a fully grown gecko of up to 20 to 30 cm. Two days after seeing the eggs I even came across a small Guenther of maybe 6cm. When I approached it to have a closer look it just vanished into the whirl of palm leafs that is so characteristic of the fan palms. If you really need to catch an animal in there it can be quite a struggle, best ever described by Gerald Durrell in his well-known “Golden Bats and Pink Pigeons” (thank you, Anneli, for that hint, a truly hilarious book ). ‘The Latanias, however, make life very difficult. The fronds grow on a thick, straight stalk that ends in something like a giant green fan. The stalk has all the resilience of cast iron and the fan part appears to be manufactured out of thick and indestructible green plastic. The tip of the fan is armed with tiny spikes, sharp enough to put out one’s eye. So looking for the Round Island boa, one had to approach a Latania, part the fronds and push one’s face into the interior of the palm until one could see the axils of the leaves, exerting considerable pressure on the leaves and hoping meanwhile that the stalk did not slip through one’s sweaty hand and allow the fan to lacerate or blind one.’ (Durrell, 1977) I usually try to make my life a bit easier by catching the animals on the trunk or out on the leafs. But some times the only way is to climb up, and try and do a safe catch in the crown area. It’s real action, although you need to be very careful to not hurt the animal or yourself.
Locating the animals is then the part that asks more for perseverance. Often it is not very straight forward to guess where an animal might be. The most beautiful moment is each time when the animal becomes visible on a trunk, on the underside of a leaf, or even under a rock overhang. To then see the animals moving around with the tags makes me smile each time. I added some more photos to get you more of an impression of where and how I am working here.