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Dr Russell - Op Wallacea Madagascar - 28th July 2011

Day 9

A long but enjoyable day today.  The school students left (new group in tomorrow) so I had the chance to go out on an extended boat trip with Ben, Tash, and Rob.  Walked down to the boat which took about 1 hr 15mins and found the tide incredibly low but workable.  Headed downstream taking note of all wildlife found with GPS of boat, distance and bearing to each one.  Kept us busy.  No crocs seen today again which was surprising as we thought they might be out basking.  Got right out to the coast and the Mozambique channel and headed a little way down the coast to a point where we had to stop and walk inland to do a quick survey of a lake.  Had the satellite BGAN with us for emergency comms and did a quick and successful test call back to base camp in Mariarano. 

The lake only had about a foot or two of water in it and was heavily reeded.  Presumably a lot deeper in the wet season.  A typically beautiful day, clear skies, a light breeze and temperature probably around 30C.  On the way back to the boat we stopped in a local village, a small amount of money changed hands and our guides shot up a coconut tree to cut us fresh coconuts.  A real Robinson Crusoe moment that kept the local children highly amused.

Along the beach to the boat and a quick 5 minute swim before heading back up the estuary. 

After walking back to camp and having dinner, a few of us went out for another herp survey with Rob leading, along survey route 5.  Left around 8pm and went very slowly, inspecting virtually every bush and twig on the way.  Now developing a dubious talent of spotting chameleons and geckos at several paces.  Not sure how I’ll use that skill when I get home.

It took 3½ hours to get to the start of Route 5 so we knew it would be a long night.  By the time we’d finished we’d found a staggering 33 chameleons, 5 Uroplatus, 2 snakes and several other animals.   Got back to camp and bed at 4am, very tired.  The highlight of the night was finding a tree boa in a hunting position, hanging from a branch near a tree, just waiting for dinner to run up the trunk.  Very menacing looking face.