Welcome to the Marine Mammal and wildlife Research and Community Development Expedition blog where you can keep up to date with all the happenings and information from Kenya

Monday, April 16, 2012

Fun Forest Friday!

Every Friday the forest team embarks on a day with a slightly different focus then the rest of the week. Known as “Fun Forest Friday” or “Things with wings”, aptly named for the Butterfly sweep netting and Bird surveys we conduct.
With a weekly Friday treat of pancakes for breakfast the team leaves base early with butterfly sweep nets and binoculars in hand.
Extreme butterfly catching on the soft sands
Butterflies are especially important to study they are highly sensitive to disturbance, and are used as an indicator species for the increasing destruction of our forest. We can see that as soon an area is more than mildly disturbed by logging or shifting agriculture a number of butterfly groups quickly disappear. By simply looking at the butterflies we have caught we can quickly get a good understanding of how the area had been affected and which specific plant species have been disrupted.
Some butterflies are faster then others!
Photos are taken for identification
Catching the butterflies is not always the easiest of tasks, with our DIY nets made from old mosquito nets, a sweep net survey is conducted for 20 minutes, chasing butterflies through the undergrowth. 

We conduct the survey in a variety of habitats even on the beaches next to the forest. Once you manage to catch a butterfly you need to gently ease it out of the net taking pictures of both upper and underside of the butterfly ready to be identified back at base, letting the butterfly free so you can try and do it all again. 
Its not as easy as it sounds!