Thursday, August 11, 2011

Monday, June 20, 2011

Along the Kinabatangan River
My confidence that this journal is not going to be lost is increasing by the hour and I feel that I can now actually write something meaningful in here…
~To step back a few days:
We settled into Danau Girang Field Center (DGFC) into dormitory style living, perched amidst towering jungle and a chocolate colored oxbow lake.
The first day gave us a chance to settle in with a few short introductions and talks.
The second half of the expedition has already proven to be much different from the first. I like that things are broken into two distinct experiences. We are living dorm style which is actually quite comfortable after “home stay” only because we feel like we can let our guard down and relax a bit (there is a hint of awkwardness when you are living in somebody’s house)
Many in our group felt a little edgy and uncomfortable during long periods in their “home stay” home, however, I can say I felt very comfortable most of the time, except for the awkwardness of the “dress up” time, but that is all in the other journal.
The canteen and meeting/computer facilities here at DGFC are VERY nice! This camp, hiding in a terribly remote area of the jungle is well cared for, well equipped, nicely staffed, and very beautiful. I have already had a number of unique experiences here. 
Frog huntin'
Last night, three of us joined Sarah, the frog lady, on one of her nightly “hunts”. We left DNGC very near dark an ended up traveling up a small tributary of the Kinabatangan River. We trekked a short distanceinto the jungle and waited for nightfall. Then the headlamps came on and the jungle was transformed into a sensory nightmare! Moving shadows, screaming sounds, and glowing eyes made the darkness come alive, in the most creepy way!
Up to this point I had been surprised at the relatively small number of spiders I had seen. But, I soon realized that each diamond like sparkle in the forest is the reflection of a headlamp in a spiders eyes. In some spots it looked as though somebody had taken a bucket of diamonds and tossed them in every direction where they became suspended in space and time, dangling in the air, resting on the ground and tucked on the underside of a leaf. It very much reminded me of the movie Avatar; only this was a real-life 3-D freak show!
Each time we found a frog it kind of brought the experience back to reality and we saw several frogs, but we had to work for it!
The areas where we were hiking were the most dense, most muddy, and most wet places I have been! Our guide slowly cut away trees and strangling branches so we could inch our way into the darkness; the glowing diamond eyes watching our every move.
The whole thing was intense and it was utterly awesome at the same time!
Sarah and our guide check the GPS coordinates.

Most of the frogs we found were very tiny.

Spiders rule the night!

~This morning I had a similar experience but without all the cruelty of the night before. Three of us joined the camera trap team on their daily routine to collect SD cards and change batteries. We trudged through similar terrain but saw very few critters.
The crew instructs me to rake the trails near the camera traps to encourage animals to travel along the path.

This afternoon our Biodiversity group boarded a boat and collected data on vertebrate sightings along the river. I saw a few “firsts”: wild boar, silver leaf monkey, and many new birds (horn bills and raptors).

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