The race is on to find as many species as we can over one week! With tension mounting for weeks as we at GVI Amazon planned out the bio ‘blitzes’ the excitement finally began. One of the main events that I was most looking forward to was our Mega VES (visual encounter survey). This involved taking fifteen or so of our best spotters and sending them to search the most densely populated transect we have found, known only as VES A. Previously we had found 87 frog and reptile individuals on this transect with a team of just six spotters so we were eager for similar results.
Having fifteen people instead of the normal six we felt that on this night we would not leave a single frog, snake or lizard unseen. The VES started with quite a shock as we slid down the hill towards the start of the transect, Charlie (Assistant Base Manager) yells out “caiman!” At first I thought she must be joking – there’s no way a caiman would be out here without a stream. But sure enough there was a 2.5 foot caiman in a small creek. With the night off to a good start we plunged into the forest looking for more. We came across many of the usual suspects and diligently took vital measurements and photos of each new species. These will later be used to add to an online database called iNaturalist that compiles data from around the world. We also ran into some rarer species and a couple that had us stumped. The next day, after taking them home for a better look, we discovered that they were new to our species list – success!
A highlight for me, however, was probably when a glass frog decided he wanted to jump into my mouth. We found him on a leaf off which he jumped to land on my bag. As I looked down at him, he looked curiously back up at me with his big eyes and I could just see his thought process “hmm that dark place up there would be a good place to hide from these crazy people.” Then sure enough, he had jumped onto my face and was desperately trying to squeeze his way into my tightly shut mouth. After this effort failed he hung off my lower lip by his hind foot – a common position for a glass frog looking for a fight!
When he detached himself and disappeared off in search of a better hiding place we moved on to find the concluding species of the night, an Enyaloides laticeps – a type of lizard known as a forest dragon – quite content on Charlie’s head. Overall it was a great night with some amazing encounters.
Sateesh Venkatesh – GVI Amazon Field Staff