Other than social surveys (which is very little this week actually) have been carrying on with photographing parrot pairs. Managed to get one of a pair, although need to return tomorrow to try for the male again. Me and Ville also headed out to the National Park to check some nests. We did find a chick too, but failed to extract him from the nest, so will be returning with some different tools next week to try again.
Have done a little trail cutting also, nearly there now I hope. Then we can start painting signs and get kids out onto it.
Yesturday was a lazy morning, I actually managed to sleep in until 8:30! Then walking with people in the afternoon. Which was very nice and pretty.
More surveys next week. Again. Don't see them being finished by then either, unless anyone fancies flying out to give me a hand?
Writing in town this week as our internet has died. I did however forget it was Sunday, so all the places with WiFi are shut so this will be late posting, and probably require me to climb up the rock to find signal.
Tuesday I worked on cutting the parrot trial for the kids visiting Dos Pos. The idea is that they follow the parrot signs and do/learn things along the way. It should be good when it’s finished, but cutting it is proving to be a bit of a mission. Then office work for the rest of the day. Trying to work with local schools to get them visiting the parrots, so have been organising meetings for that, as well as updating our website to show off our shiny new tree map! Went out in the evening to do roost counts in town.
Wednesday we went out into the national park very early in the morning to count parrots for roosts and check nests. Roost counts were very successful but not so many chicks. We are getting better (slowly) and ringing them though. Maybe. I was then lucky enough to have company on Wednesday afternoon as Carla came to give me a hand cutting the trail. Much faster with two people working on it so it actually felt like we got somewhere. We then came into town to meet Sarah for pizza and to watch a very British, and very good, film. Nice way to spend an evening, although having been up since 4am I was quite tired by the time I got home...
Thursday was gas finding mission. Failed gas finding mission though unfortunately. Never mind. I did drive round many places and get told lots of conflicting information though... Is now my job again for tomorrow, although Carla did say they had some left last thing on Friday, so maybe I will be in luck! I would really like to be able to cook my dinner in my own house at some point this month. And make a cup of tea!!
I then went to Sam’s to sort out outreach stuff, although we still don’t have a plan we have the beginning of one, so it’s a start. And lots of pretty colours on the table, so that must mean it’s organised right?
Then to Rincon to pick up a group to go to see parrots coming in to roost. Very successful evening, with over 200 parrots coming in. And showing off I think, they came out to sit on the wires for us for a good long time, so you could really see just how many there were. I think everyone else enjoyed it too, I was a good evening.
Friday I started by cutting trial again, then headed into town to use the internet, as ours is still not working. More outreach meetings in the afternoon. No ringing of chicks as planned for the afternoon though.
Saturday I went up to the nests we checked last week to get photographs of the parents there. Surprisingly successfully, I turned up minutes before they did, they sat still for a while on top of a cactus so I could photograph them and then they flew round to prove they were the right parrots. I was back on camp by 8am, even with deciding I was still going to eat my breakfast on top of the cliff whether I needed to still be there or not. Far nicer place to eat it I think.
Back at Dos Pos we spent the morning working with the rescue parrots. I then returned to trail cutting before dropping Ville in town and heading back to Sam’s for more office work. I did then steal Bruno and go for a walk along the coast.
Today I went walking on my way into town. After changing the tire in Rincon. I am quite capable of changing a tire, I’ve changed this particular tire now three times in the past few months. I may be small and female, but really, I do not need five people crowding round me taking things out of my hands and getting in the way. I can do it thank you very much. It took 45 minutes to change this tire with so many peoples ‘help’.
Anyway... nice walk this morning, now in town but no internet. Waiting to find out what Ville is doing to know whether we are going fod shopping or I am heading back to Dos Pos this afternoon. However as I’ve forgotten my kindle I’m not sure what I’m doing, I guess I’d better go snorkelling...
Week with nest checks, abseiling and new bikes. And running out of gas, but never mind...
Tuesday we had visitors to Dos Pos in the morning, although the rain kept most of the birds away. Office work and cutting a trail for a kids ‘Parrot Walk’ then in the afternoon, along with meetings and sorting the geo-tagging website.
Wednesday I went early to collect Sam to do a nest check in the national park. Nice walk to the nest down one of the back roads, although no chicks to be found. Return to Dos Pos to do some more ringing of our birds with Ville, in which we both realised Sam is far better at handling birds than we are and we need more practise. And these are only captive ones. Back to office work then for the afternoon.
Wednesday evening also saw us running out of gas at Dos Pos. The island has a bit of a shortage of it right now too (oh the joys of living in a place where everything is imported), so there is a delivery coming in tomorrow and we’ll just have to queue to get some. Hopefully. Does mean a lack of tea though, which is a rather large hindrance (especially today, where it has rained all day). Sam and Sarah have very kindly been letting us use their stove for dinner though.
Thursday was my appointment with immigration. Unfortunately I was missing a piece of paperwork, but I have another appointment, so hopefully all will be good soon enough. Errands in town for the rest of the morning, before back to Sam’s for office work and then Dos Pos for parrot visits. Successful parrot visits I think, older group from Rincon, so again it had to be translated, which I hate. But Papiamentu lessons start on 23rd so hopefully once I have a basis to work from I can learn the language and things will get easier.
Friday Sam needed the car, so I spent yet another day doing office work, although not the most productive day ever... but never mind. Sam also returned from town with bikes! This is very exciting as it means we can actually get places without taking the car out. They needed a little work, and are still not perfect (my back brakes are permanently slightly on, which is a little difficult) but they are still better than any bike I’ve ever had before and me and Ville did have to ride them round Dos Pos when we got them home just to give them a go.
Saturday morning was lots of nest checks and roost watching and generally a very nice morning. Began at 5am with Sam and Sarah arriving, from which we headed out to station ourselves in 3 different places. Spent an hour watching for parrots (not seeing huge numbers, but some), before checking some of the nests in my area. After a little difficulty finding the last one I walked down the road to meet Sam, who had the car to go and join the others. Picked Ville up on the way and went to check more nests. Beginning with big, exciting and surprisingly not scary abseil. Sam went to collect the chicks, of which there were two, and brought them up to be ringed. Ringed and happy (well, ruffled and slightly disgruntled probably...) I then abseiled back down to return them (under the watchful eye of the parents in a cactus not too far off). Abseil down was easy enough, and although they did bite me while I was returning them I think it was probably only fair really. I did then spend a very long time trying to detach one of my descending pieces of equipment before I could climb back up, but I got there eventually, and all was good. Very happy Michaela then. We did then check 2 more nests, but no chicks.
Today is day off. Ville and Sam went to play with bees (strange people), I elected to stay at Dos Pos, deciding that actually downpours of rain probably didn’t make such a good day to go exploring the EarthShip they were removing the bees from. Went for a walk this morning and cycled the long way round to Rincon this afternoon (up a really long hill!). And spent a lot of the day sleeping or dozing, as a combination of rain and people arriving at 6am to ask if they could park their car here (I don’t get it either, who arrives to someone’s house at 6am beeping their horn and yelling to ask to park there? And to get to our house you have to go through the closed gate and up a dirt track, why did that suggest we were a car park?) meant I didn’t get a whole lot of sleep.
Spent the beginning of the week at DCNA's nature education workshop. Very useful and I have lots of new ideas to teach everyone how awesome parrots are (which clearly they are). Was also good to see everyone else from the other Dutch Caribbean islands and look at what they are doing too. Spent the final afternoon showcasing our geo-tagging project, which went well apart from some minor technical bumps (of course... honest, using technology does make things easier... sometimes). But everyone seemed interested (or at least not bored!) and I've sent the info to a couple of other people now too so they can do something similar. Also then had to spend the end of our afternoon out with Woodwind on the sail boat snorkelling round Klein Bonaire. This conservation work is so hard sometimes...
Wednesday we worked on plumbing (well, I tried, but I'm not sure I didn't get in the way more than actually help), so we now have a shower and everything! No water as yet, but come Thursday there will be shower! Yay.
Thursday we headed into town in the morning to do some roost counts, before picking up Thea and Laura, visiting from the Netherlands for the workshop to come and see our parrots. Very co-operative parrots and even more new ideas from Thea too. Also had a visit from Clara, a new volunteer on the island who is going to give us some much needed help too.
Friday was more roost counts, after which I spent some time working on our geo-tagging website. Now as soon as the issues with Echo's website in general are sorted we will have geo-tagging live and ready to be seen. Only a couple of months later than planned, but better late than never. Quite exciting and hopefully it will mean we can get more people involved in it. Also spent Friday afternoon surveying in Rincon. Very different to Kralendijk, people are far less happy about the parrots there, but it shows us where we need to work and the problems that need solving, so it is good people there are willing to talk to us so we can try to help. Finally a meeting with the organiser of Rincon's after school program to get his group involved in geo-tagging too.
Saturday I ran errands in town as well as doing yet more surveys. Began to cut a trail to be used with the kids too, so we can have our own parrot adventure right on Dos Pos.
Diving yesterday was good fun, although fairly barren site (by Bonaire's standards that is!). All went well and hopefully lots to be done.
OK, last weeks update but I didn't get a chance to post it, so here you go, a week late.
First parrot chicks this week! Very exciting. Went out Tuesday morning to visit two of our nests. Climbed up to the top (with the help of ropes in the end... my climbing may improve, maybe...) and then abseiled down to the nests. Or rather Sam did the first one as between us we’d managed to get all of my equipment out of the box, and then pack the descending half back into the box again. Somehow. But we found chicks! Two of them with nearly all of their feathers. We weighed them, measured them and ringed them before putting them back in the nest again only slightly ruffled and hopefully with a life-long fear of humans.
Sam then did the infuriating thing of running back down and up again with my equipment as we walked over to the second nest. Abseiled down to check it but no chicks there. Then continued all the way to the bottom, narrowly avoiding landing on a cactus. Ville also did his first abseil following me down.
Spent the rest of Tuesday working on office stuff, more grant writing and organising more outreach.
Wednesday we had a group of kids from Rincon come to visit the parrots, aged 3 to 11. They seemed to enjoy their morning, with the exception of being attacked by ants when we were looking for birds on the pond. As our pond is rapidly turning into a puddle they weren’t even rewarded by any exciting birds. Then into town to run errands, including my first visit to immigration. A very painless one however, in that I was in and out in less than 10 minutes. Hopefully we will continue in that vein.
Also found some trees to geo-tag next week, as I’m presenting to education officers from across the islands so needed trees in town to map. And searched many many places for rat poison. Then sat myself in the empty house with the internet doing more office work while cars were juggled until I could get home again.
Thursday was more field work! Although no chicks this time. Me and Sam visited one nest that had had eggs earlier in the season, but no more. We did see what was probably the pair though, so I might head up there and try some more photographs. Ville joined us for the second nest then. Also empty except for twigs, meaning the parrots were probably chased out by Thrashers. More abseiling too, although somehow this was more scary in that I was on the top of a hill. The cliff was shorter than the previous one, but somehow being on a hill was more scary. Strange brain.
Was supposed to do more grant work on Thursday then but it didn’t return from the reviewer, so I spent my day sorting out the geo-tagging stuff. Which now works properly! I may have actually cheered when it uploaded automatically. Changed the program we’re using, which is more complicated but actually works, so all is good.
Friday arrived at Sam’s early to do the grant, to then spend an hour climbing up the hill trying to get internet. Finally had to give up and drive into town. Spent the rest of the morning doing social surveys (which was less painful than expected, but so not my favourite thing to do) before heading to DCNA offices to use their internet. Sam reviewed the grant for me in the end, so I did get to work on it, as well as inputting the data from the surveys. Also apparently people don’t work after 5 on a Friday. I ended up locked in the offices, not that I realised this until Sam called to tell me to sit still so not to set the alarm off and that Nat was coming to rescue me. Whoops.
Back to Sam’s house in town then to load the last things up and then to the new house to send the grant, as the internet was working (although not very reliably!).
Day off today, as I’m at a Nature Education workshop for 3 days from tomorrow. Went walking this morning, round to snorkelling and then up through the hills home. Linked lots of trails together to get a long walk, as they are all far too short otherwise. Snorkelling was very good, lots of fish (that we’re pretty but I don’t know the name of), 4 turtles and some cuttlefish.
Been grant writing and working on parrot ID's other than that really. Up at 5.15 every morning to sit out at a parrot nest and try to get images of the pair, to match to old images we have. I really enjoy it, if on occasion I do groan when my alarm goes off. (Particularly when I have been up chasing a donkey out of the living room at midnight. And my alarm goes off at 3:15 instead of 5:15 and I don't notice until I get into the car... less than good morning). There are definitely worse ways to start the day than watching the sun rise and playing with posh cameras taking photos of parrots.
Tried to take a group of kids out geo-tagging on Wednesday but they didn't turn up, which was unfortunate, although I think it was just a confusion over what was actually going on.
Sam and Sarah also moved out of town on Wednesday, so are now also on a kunuku. And a very nice one at that. Means everyone is very busy and manic but that's nothing new!
Hopefully will attempt to go and sort riding tomorrow, as it has been far too long since I've been.
Was supposed to spend Tuesday working on the hide for parrot viewing, but my office work took longer than expected. So everyone else headed back to camp in the afternoon and left me sat in town working on the computer. (Which was probably more productive all round, try as I might my handiwork is not quite up to scratch... although I can now at least use the power drill without too much issue!).
Wednesday was the first of our parrot viewing groups, a group of teenagers from an after school program in town. They were mostly enthusiastic and all saw parrots in the newly finished hide, as well as birds down at the pond and did some conservation related games. Also spent about half an hour hiding from the rain inside too, but never mind, everyone was still happy!
Went to town that afternoon and got my applications finished. Just as I did so was told that communication had got awry somewhere and there were a group of kids waiting for me to pick them up. Quick turnaround and I went off to take them from town to Dos Pos to geo-tag some trees. They picked it up very quickly and actually cheered when I said we were going to use GPS, so I think it was a success. And they are coming back again next week.
Thursday’s group of parrot viewing kids were a little smaller than expected, aged from 3 to 9. I think they still enjoyed their morning, if the conservation messages were a little beyond most of them. But we saw pretty parrots and their leader was happy, hopefully he’s going to bring us some more groups as well. New grant applications in the afternoon, while the guys went chainsawing for nest boxes.
Friday was a big group visiting, around 40 kids in total. Again some of the kids were younger than expected, but hopefully had a good time anyway. Think I’m going to have to come up with some activities aimed at younger children.
Saturday was back in town again, Ville and Sam made beehives and I did more grant work. Hopefully this one will take less reviews than the last one, I think I’ve learnt at least something... Finally changed the tire on the car with a slow puncture too. I then went to see the camp kids from Friday do their end of camp show/barbeque thing. They were all very enthusiastic, telling us all what they have been doing all week (in Papiamentu... I understood the words lora (parrot), prikichi (parakeet) and Echo though! I am going to learn, honest). I think every child also told me they had seen parrots in the calabash tree on camp.
Yesterday was a day off. So we did what all people do on a day off, and spent the day cleaning years worth of sludge from the pools at Sam and Sarah’s new house. It was oddly satisfying, although we did also cover ourselves fairly fully in sludge in the process. And ache quite a lot this morning.
Today we’re off into town and then diving again once we’ve done shopping and internet bits. I think roost counts are on the agenda for next week, but who knows...
Week of field work and getting ready for lots of outreach next week. And having to say goodbye to Robin, who is now back in New York and hopefully missing us terribly!
Visited one nest on Tuesday morning that I have been to repeatedly over the last few weeks, but armed with my camera rather than the temperamental sound recorder this time. Far more successful, and I got pictures of both birds, although the lens on my camera is slightly too short to do the job entirely properly. Went up to another nest Wednesday afternoon, but yet again the male didn’t turn up. Either I’m not hiding myself well enough (although I do now have my invisibility cloak to hide under!) or they’re not there. Hopefully the former, but I didn't have any more luck with a morning visit today, so maybe not....
Wednesday morning we caught and ringed our rehab birds, mostly without getting bitten, so they all have shiny new rings to show off. Early afternoon I visited a few people to organise parrot viewings and roost visits, which was very successful and I now have a busy week next week.
Thursday was one-of-those-days in which nothing worked right. Got up at 5am to do a nest visit to find a flat tire. Waited until sunrise to change it, but after half an hour of all three of us searching for how to release the spare we had to give in and call (and wake up) Sam to get him to explain it. (Turns out you have to bolt three bits of metal to a hook, feed it through the back bumper into a slot and turn it. Obviously. Why didn’t we think of that???). Changed the tire to find the spare was flat too. Called Sam to tell him this to find he is broken down on the side of the road having delivered the keys to the other kunuku as they left without them. Tried to build the hide and spent half the morning getting confused and not having the tools we needed. Then the only bit we did do was in the wrong place. But Sam arrived, him and Ville went and rescued his bike from the side of the road and by the afternoon we had successfully got 3 posts in. Days worth of work and not much to show for it, but we survived mostly unscathed.
Went into town on Friday to sort the final things for the groups coming next week (including a group of 38 six to twelve year olds...). We have conservation games and ring sighting sheets and it will all be fine. And made brownie for Robins leaving dinner (a vital part of my working day I think!). Lovely dinner with everyone at Sam’s, including lots of things made with honey, as Ville and Sam were successful in getting bees into the hive.
Me and Ville spent Saturday morning working on the hide again, with much more success. It now has all the posts and a front to it, so it is mostly functional should everything go wrong before Wednesday and we not get anything else done. Did bits of office work and had the afternoon off. Walking this morning and we’re off to give Sam and Sarah a hand this afternoon at Fontein (in return for dinner). Tomorrow morning should be more hide building, before heading into town to go diving! Haven’t been in a long time, but hopefully the refresher course will sort that out and I can do lots more while I’m here.
Grants gone! On Saturday, so I’ve had a whole weekend without thinking about it. Admittedly it did take up my entire week again. But it’s gone! Very happy.
So yeah that was pretty much my week... We did take the rangers out again on Tuesday, all very enthusiastic, which was good, and we got loads of tree mapped. Tuesday morning we went into Rincon to see where the birds are roosting too, so we can do ring ID’s there at some point (soon I guess...). Bit odd hanging round Rincon at the crack of dawn, but we did find the birds. It was like someone turned them on at 6am and then sent them away at 6.10am.
Robin and Ville came out recording with me Wednesday, although yet again the sound recorder didn’t work. That is my job for tomorrow morning I think, to try and get the damn thing working properly. But the birds behaved themselves so we got to see some good behaviour which was nice.
Thursday we all headed to Hato for more roost watching. Didn’t manage to see any rings, although Robin and Ville both did (my excuse is they have more practise!). And managed to annoy a lot of dogs, and probably people through that. But never mind.
Kids were helping with the nursery again on Saturday, although I was in town finishing the grant. They got so much done though, the nursery is up apart from the door, and they planted some seeds. Very impressive. Hopefully they are going to come and lend a hand during the week too, as it is school holidays here at the moment. Come and visit some roosts as well if they want too, and geo-tag some trees!
Went to the National Park yesterday. Very pretty place, even if it is slightly full of goats. Snorkelling with some huge fish, about 3ft long. And saw lots of flamingos and karakaras. The sea on the West coast is impressive, so much different to the calm on the East coast.
Field work! All week. Actually, I haven’t really done any office work all week, other than Wednesday but I did field work then too.
Have been trying to get recordings of the males calling. I say trying because something has gone wrong each time. One day the recording just didn’t work, another two afternoons the male didn’t turn up, once he turned up but didn’t call (just inconsiderate really...) and the last morning it only recorded for 25 minutes, for some unknown reason. I don’t understand why, we had battery and memory left and everything. But it will work next week! Maybe...
Robin and Ville came geo-tagging with me Tuesday morning, so we have lots more trees on our maps. Robin came out in the afternoon with the Junior Rangers as well. Two of them really enjoyed it, two not so much. And poor Robin had the two that didn’t... whoops. Hopefully we’ll be taking out another group tomorrow.
Also have ring ID’s to do next week at roost sites, so how much more recording I’ll get done I don’t know. Hopefully at least something. And the grant I’ve been working on has to go off on Friday, so that will probably tie me to the computer too.
Saturday was Robin’s birthday. Which didn’t get her out of kunuku work, but we did go out for dinner in the evening in town, which was very nice. (And I wore my grey dress Mum).
Went walking yesterday. A little further than I meant too, but never mind. Or rather for longer than I meant too, not really further. Had Robin and Bruno (the dog) with me too, but we all survived. I did leave them and go pick them up in the car in the end, but it was fine. Only had to push through the bush a little... maybe a lot...