I haven’t posted all that many photos from our time in Turks and Caicos, in part because I was worried about my friends on the islands as Hurricanes Irma and then Maria rolled through. Luckily the team stayed safe through both storms. Unfortunately, the damage and time delay from the storms means that the eradication efforts are going to have to be put on hold for a year.
Before the eradication was postponed I put together this little video. I held off posting it when the project future was in limbo but it seems a waste not to share it. We will be continuing this work and returning as soon as we can to look at the Anoles of Pine Cay following removal of the rats. It’s just going to be a slightly longer timeline than originally planned.
Hope you enjoy the footage. Remember to watch on “HD.”
This last Saturday was the 75th anniversary of the Fenway Victory Gardens so the Garden society hosted a terrific party. I caught a couple of lizards in the compost pile the day before and had them on display for visitors to learn about the Italian Wall Lizards in Boston.
I need to work on the signage for next time, but one of the coordinators helpfully spray-chalked this awesome lizard right in front of my table:
I had a great crowd stop by, admire the lizards, and ask terrific questions. Lots of people were interested to hear about how the lizards were surviving the winter (in the compost I think), where they’d come from (Italy originally but maybe by way of NYC?), what they ate (insects – just about anything they can get their mouths around), and whether they’d be a problem in the gardens (almost definitely not). I had a blast talking about these cool little immigrants.
I did get a few tantalizing mentions of other lizards around the Boston area so keep your eyes open! If you notice a lizard please, let me know. Preferably with a picture!
For new visitors, want to learn more? I have more posts on the blog and you can read some news stories here. Thanks to all who came out to visit and check out the Green Monster!
This is an update from my previous blog post on Toepad pictures.
I’ve taken more than four hundred toepad pictures using the new macro photography technique I introduced in an earlier post and I’ve learned a few tricks that I want to share in this update.
First and foremost, I highly recommend this approach. For those of you looking to capture a lot of toepad data, particularly in the field, this kit is way faster and more portable than using a flatbed scanner and the images I’m getting are at least as sharp.
A few tips:
- Petri dishes work great as a clear platform to place the lizard feet on. I found that the 60 mm diameter dishes were much easier to balance atop the lens (~40 mm in diameter) than the larger dishes I’d originally shown.
- I cut and taped a scale bar to one edge of the petri dish so I wouldn’t have to worry about juggling a lizard and a tape measure.
- Make sure you have several petri dishes – they scratch fast – and keep some ethanol and a kimwipe close at hand.
- The app that lets you remotely trigger your iPhone is absolutely maddening. Do not download it. I’m not even going to relink the name. Instead, I suggest a much more stable alternative: connect your phone to your computer with the USB cable, open QuickTime Player, select File > New Movie Recording and click the down arrow next to the record button. This will give you the option to select your attached iPhone as a recording device. This live-view is far more stable and less frustrating. *Windows and android users I’m afraid I haven’t had an opportunity to sort out a solution for those platforms. If you know of something that works, please include in the comments!
Unfortunately, through the live view all you can see is whether the lizard is in position. You cannot remotely trigger the shutter this way. That means you’ll need a second pair of hands to help. I found it worked best when my partner was in charge of putting the ID tag in the frame after I’d placed the lizard foot and then pushing the volume button on the side of the phone to trigger the camera shutter.
- Lighting is really important. I suggested a headlamp in the previous post providing an oblique light source through the diffuser around the lens. I tried using a microscope fiber optic light source but I was really unhappy with the “warmth” of the light. I found that the white-LEDs in my headlamp produced a much more realistic looking image (see above). Also, make sure you don’t have any light sources above/behind the subject. Backlighting confuses the camera’s auto-contrasting and results in dark and sometimes unfocused images.
I’m prepping for the next trip to check out a rat infested island in the Caribbean and it’s bringing back a bunch of memories from Redonda. A few members of the eradication team have put together some terrific videos and photo galleries and I just want to quickly highlight them here.
For some stunning pictures of the flora, fauna, and landscape of Redonda check out Ed Marshall’s gallery here. He’s a fantastic photographer so keep poking around at some of his other trips (and maybe buy a print!).
And for an even more immersive look, watch Thea “the terrific” Eldred’s fantastic video from her time climbing the rock faces of Redonda to set rat traps in some of the most unreachable corners of the island.
Frequent visitors to the blog will remember my Redonda adventure earlier this year. If you want to catch up, here are a few posts about my trip to Antigua and Barbuda, and from there to the remote island of Redonda. My goal was to collect baseline data so I could figure out how three endemic lizards adapt following a rat extermination effort.
The group responsible for the rat eradication is at it again, this time in Turks and Caicos. Next week, I’m headed to Pine Cay to see how lizards, specifically Anolis scriptus, will change following the eradication.
I don’t have pictures to share just yet, but here’s a map of the destination:
(by the way, who could possibly give this place a one-star review?!)
This is a reblog of a post I wrote over on Anole Annals
Getting good pictures of lizard toepads in the field can be tricky. Flatbed scanners are heavy and don’t take well to transit bumps and bruises, and getting a digital camera to focus on the toe, not the glass, requires surgical precision on the manual focus ring. I’ve just found a new solution for an iPhone (or GooglePixel, if that’s how you roll), and I’m eager to share.