Sunday, 6 September 2015

September Update - Australia to Skomer and back again

It's been a long while since I last updated my blog. This is entirely due to lack of time, rather than a lack of things to write about.

I forgot to blog about the BTO conference last year, I never got round to finishing off the blog post about the end of my January-February Australia trip, I didn't write about my second season on Skomer, Birdfair, my sisters wedding, or the week long Wash Wader RG  trip I've just finished. 

All of these were brilliant and I'm glad that they kept me away from computer screens. However, I'll give a brief summary of all the aforementioned adventures now.

By the end of my Australia trip (28th February) I had driven 2700 miles up the Queensland coast, seen 195 different bird species, met lots of lovely people and had the best break from work and home life that I could have dreamed of!

Typical Aussie picture
Mercury hits internal body temp (37C)
Rainbow Bee-eater
Rainbow Lorikeet
View from the top of Pioneer Valley nr Mackay
Sunset whilst sailing around the Whitsundays
Jacana on a lily pond
Cabin in a tropical fruit orchard - pure paradise!
About half of the coast that I drove up
Platypus!!
Southern Cassowary and his chick -
both strolled by right outside my tent door at sunrise
Mistletoe Bird in her nest
Bar-tailed Godwit in Cairns


I returned on 1st March to a lovely family reunion:

My lovely family (minus Bob) at Exeter Quay

and then on the 15th April (after a busy month doing things I now can't remember) I was back on Skomer monitoring 6 seabird species for the season (Manx Shearwater, Puffin, Razorbill, Kittiwake, Lesser Black-backed Gull and Herring Gull...plus Storm Petrel as extra at the end of the season). The data I collected will be published in the Skomer Seabird Report 2015 at some point in the near future. It was another busy season with apparently good productivity compared to last years' poor season. I look forward to returning to Skomer again next year.

Beautiful evening after a rainy day
Very wet Manx Shearwater researchers
who were my absolute rock this season
Island entertainment. Every
Bananagrams tile was used.
White Ermine and Angle Shades
on our bathroom door
Newly colour-ringed adult Lesser Black-backed gull
Manx Shearwater chick in my study plot

Since I finished on Skomer I have volunteered at Birdfair with the African Bird Club, been to my sister and (now) brother-in-law's wonderful wedding, and joined the annual main week of Wash Wader cannon-netting.

My next exciting adventure sees me heading back out to Australia. I have a position as a field worker / research assistant for a Post Graduate (Will Feeney) studying Cuckoos and their host species, near Brisbane. Will works for the Evolutionary Ecology Group at Cambridge University, and is also an affiliate of The University of Queensland, and his primary research investigates the communication between various hosts of different cuckoo species. We'll also be working alongside researchers from The Cornell Lab of Ornithology who are interested in the social behaviour and interactions of Fairy-wren species. I'll try and keep my blog updated once I'm out there so you can see what all this research involves.

Once I've finished there, I'll be spending 3 weeks of February on the other side of Australia. I'm going to join the North-West Australia Wader and Tern Expedition, in Broome & 80 mile beach. This should be fantastic, with flocks of (literally) millions of waders, pristine beaches and international companions. It will also be another good step towards gaining my A permit, and offer invaluable experience that may eventually help me train to become a cannon-net licensee. All-in-all, it should be a good 6 months!

I'll return in mid-March, have a brief break, and then head back to Skomer for a third season in early April.

So that's a brief(ish) update of my last 8 months, and a sneak preview of what's next.

Many thanks for reading.

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