Sunday, September 25, 2011

A not so silent lurker

At this point, we had tracked the hatchlings for almost a week and it was my turn.  I headed out with one of my bosses and a supposed expert on this tracking equipment.  Because the radios are so small and weak and we only could rely on how loud or quiet the infrequent beeps are, it was difficult tracking.  Once you thought you were very near, you would take the antenna off and then play stethoscope with just the wire and receiver.  We successfully found 1 of the hatchlings, but the next one was throwing us for a loop. We would get a very strong signal with the antenna, but once the antenna was removed, we just couldn't get a signal at all.  My boss was about to give up, but I wanted to try across the noisy and swift brook in this patch of weeds. I headed over there and picked up a weak signal sans antenna. We hand searched this patch of weeds but couldn't find it.  We ended up giving up and assuming that it was there but that we just couldn't find it.  We tracked the next one pretty quick and then my boss wanted to take another shot at the one we couldn't get a visual on. I then saw him checking this steep bank next to the river. I headed over there and sure enough the hatchling had successfully crossed the swift and somewhat deep brook and then scaled a 5 foot tall embankment. We saw it booking away from the brook. Very exciting! I called it bruiser because it had been the biggest of the bunch and clearly it was up for challenges. 
We were walking out and heard what at first we thought was a cicada in this very dense grass and tree saplings.  But towards the end of the sound it sounded like a classic baby rattle. It then made the noise again and we were both "That's NOT a cicada".  My boss took my walking stick and started to move the vegetation away.  Sure enough it was exactly what we thought it was and it was NOT a cicada.  The pictures came out horrible because it would move just when we had cleared the vegetation around it. I guess it heard us talking close by and was alarmed.  Otherwise we would have never had found it.
 It's now about half a week away from Hurricane Irene hitting us.

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