Sunday, June 13, 2010

Fieldwork Begins

From June 7, 2010

This morning I was woken by the sound of capuchin vocalizations in the backyard. Because my current room has a window next to the bed that overlooks the yard, the capuchins were right by me. Though we didn’t go out today because we’re going to be heading to town to take care of a few errands, its nice to start out the day watching monkeys.

Overall, we’re off to a good start, although I know Aga and Katy are feeling very intimidated. Thus far, we’ve been running into spiders about twice a day, in the morning and in the afternoon, but visiblity has been pretty tough. Just seeing individuals clearly enough to get age and sex categories down is proving challenging, and under those observation conditions, conducting focal follows and getting individual IDs

Nonetheless, I’m trying to remain optimistic. I have been able to identify one male, Dracula, who I’ve seen as a subadult four years ago, and have run into again two years ago. He’s easy to identify because he has these triangular markings above his eyes, giving him the appearance of a vampire-like hairline. I also remember that when I started my masters research, I worried that it would be impossible, but I managed to learn to individually recognize all the juvies and their moms, as well as a few other individuals. Furthermore, I did managed to collect 70 hours of focal data, and so with more time and hopefully a greater learning curve, things should improve. And though the visibility has been bad lately, I know that sometimes visibility is just impossible, but other times we do actually get to see the monkeys much more clearly.

It’s so nice to be back in the forest as well. We’ve been running into capuchins a lot, as well as some howlers, and the forest has been relatively dry, which makes the trails a bit more pleasant. The field station is a comfortable home-away-from-home, the food as been delicious, and with my phone card I’ve been able to talk to my boyfriend nearly every day. So thus far, though I am worried about getting the research underway, I’m happy and content in the field, and actually really glad to be down here. So thus far, I definitely think I’m off to a good start, and hope that as I get my “forest legs” back, we should start making headway towards IDing individuals and being able to start collecting data.

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