No rhyme or reason, just a few pics from the last two days.
And finally, for tonight...
After doing a bit of research, I am reasonably certain that the "odd frog" is an hourglass frog (Dendropsophus ebraccatus) without the usual markings. Here is what they usually look like:
I photographed this frog quite near where the "odd frog" was, but notice the roughly hourglass shaped dark blotch on its back. It would seem, however, that the frog can come in just a plain yellow without the blotches, just much less commonly.
Obviously things went on here today. And I have a lot of photos. But it is really late and I just want to put up this one photo. Of a frog.
Don't miss the final posting in this series!!! It is #5 and is out of order, so find it below #4.
There are five Drone Fail posts. Best to read them in order, even though they are not actually in order on the blog. From top to bottom they go #4, #5, #3, #2, #1. This happened because #4 and #5 were posted on the same day and thus got flipped.
This bit has taken me away from posting pics of stuff at the FCRE. Agreed, recovery of the drone was necessary, as it is key to some important new aspects of the really amazing mapping we have done here. Can't have your tools sitting on top of a tree.
But I do have some very cool pics yet to come, not of dudes in trees, but critters. Stay tuned.
Okay, so the drone is still in the tree, but making the world's hardest tree climb is now complete. Guy van Rentergem can climb no higher, as the branches are now just too small.
I was asked to assist this afternoon as things have been tough and are now reaching the end for better or worse. Probably good that I was there, as some bits happened that I was able to fix.
To get the tree, we drove a short distance to the other side of the Rio Baru, and then hiked about 400 meters along the river. Then, it was up and so steep in most places that vegetation assistance was needed. Which is all good, except that so many of the trees have thorns and you have to be really careful about which you grab.
Some 300 feet of elevation gain later, we were at the tree. And what a tree! Not huge, not small, but here is a picture of it to decide if you would like to climb it...
And here is a pic of Guy getting ready to climb it,
Time to get started. Don McFarlane is holding the rope so that Guy does not swing into the tree as he begins his climb.
And then the swing happens and...
So he has to turn around and get his boots on the tree and not his back...
And the ascent continues...
So Guy gets the rope rigged to the highest point possible in the tree, but things will have to continue tomorrow.
Just to remind any new viewers, this story is told from the original Drone Fail posting, and this is the one that will end such. Guy van Rentergem leaves tomorrow for San Jose and without him we can not recover the drone. Did we overcome all odds in the jungle to pick a bit of expensive equipment from an impossible scenario? Or end up leaving it there as an expensive tree ornament.
Scroll down a lot if you haven't been following this and read this last. If you have been following along, then here is the last post on such.
This morning I got up at six in the morning to see if Don and Guy needed my help. They politely said I could get more sleep. Partly because I had to make lunch for the students and us and couldn't do that while on a mountainside. Their mission was, now that Guy could climb no higher, to cut the branch with the drone on it and hope it would fall enough to recover the drone.
The morning mission successfully cut that branch, but it refused not just to fall, but to be moved in any manner including an angled rope with a 2 to 1 ratio tied to it. Fail.
I had suggested that since the drone was stuck between the tree Guy climbed, and a slightly smaller tree, that I just cut down that smaller tree with my machete. The drone should come down as the tree comes down and drags everything with it.
So after all other option had been tried, this afternoon I went up to cut down the smaller tree. Another Ceiba, with a diameter of about 14 inches. We all knew that it wouldn't just fall down, as the canopy was a tangle of vines, but little did we know that we would have to cut down the same tree five times.
Guy got a shot of me taking down the tree for the fourth time, which was much easier as the trunk was smaller, but way more dangerous as falling spiny trees on a killer steep slope are not really how one wishes to spend an afternoon.
And, after felling the tree five times (thank you Don for jumping in to spell me a bit on the machete), we found that...
The drone was still in the original tree. But, much easier to recover now that it had a way down with the big gap we created by dropping the nearby slightly smaller tree.
Which means, Guy had to once again climb the tree, and now try to move it off the canopy and into the gap, using a bamboo pole that he raised up after climbing to the top of the tree.
Poking, prodding, vines spines, energy levels. This was hard stuff. But then he...
but the parachute cords are tangled in the vines. He used the bamboo pole to work it out
So after much effort to remove a drone from an almost impossible situation, we succeeded in doing just that. There is a website:
that lists 7 of the worlds most difficult trees to climb. Our tree, the Silk Floss Tree (Ceiba speciosa) is the first they list (although they are not ranked).
Not only did Guy climb the tree, many times, he recovered the drone. What an adventure. And I don't plan on using my machete to cut down any more trees soon. We are all tired, and thankful for the permission we were given to access the property and do what was needed to get the drone back.
Tonight we had dinner in Domincal for celebration, Awesome food. Guy heads out tomorrow, but I will still be here for the weekend to work with the students.
Very busy here as we are trying to do all the work while spending a lot of time working to recover the drone from what is a very remarkable tree. This morning they gained a bit more up the tree and then this afternoon I had to go along as well to help out as the climbing is nearly done. Guy finished the climb as far as this tree can be climbed, and tomorrow he will climb back up and start cutting branches while we try to control their fall so as not to impale him. Hopefully the drone will come down with one of those branches. He can see it from the top of the climb, but only he knows how to proceed as we can't see anything from the bottom.
I still have another trek to do yet tonight that will take me into the forest possibly as late as 11:00pm. I will post photos of the tree and the climb today if I can, but I have to head back to the tree by around 6am in the morning so time is short.
Just for something to enjoy, here is a fantastic-looking spider close-up from down along the Rio Cacao.
Not so much to report. They gained another bit up the tree of doom, but the drone is still further up. The thorns on the tree continue to make it really hard work, and especially what they did today, a stretch with no branches.
More as this bit progresses ever upward in what is one of the toughest trees to climb in the best of conditions with great gear.
Keith Christenson - Wildlife Biologist