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Settling in and learning more


Alex Rendoulis

From reptiles and plant surveying, to catching spiders at night. Today’s been a big day.

By day 3 you start to feel settled in, everything is more familiar, you start to put names to faces and get yourself into a good routine. After breakfast we headed back out to check our small traps from yesterday - and I know you were hoping for a cool picture of what we found but unfortunately the weather has been far too cold so far and subsequently all our traps were empty. What has been really cool though is the various groups of scientists, all researching their own specialization, have been working and setting up in the same areas.

This meant once we were done checking our empty traps we helped out another team surveying a 100mx100m quadrants for different flora species. I got given responsibility of GPS marking (which you can hopefully see in the photo). There are specific markers along the perimeter of the quadrant that are marked on the GPS and I was tasked with walking to those exact spots, within half a meter of accuracy, and setting peg markers. With those peg markers we could then run 100m long tape measures across the square for our scientists to then go along and take recordings every 10m. I loved learning some new research practices, but it does require a lot of accuracy and therefore patience.

At this point it was 11am, but my gosh it felt like the end of the day. I think when you’re constantly learning new techniques and processes it feels like you’re out there for a lot longer than you really are. Anyway, with nothing in our traps we returned back to camp to do some work, preserve some of the road kill we found, and then get prepared to lay some more traps at a new site.

After learning how to do the traps yesterday I felt much more comfortable when we headed out to another site today. This time we were met with so much limestone, which made digging 40cm pitfall holes an absolute task (It made yesterday’s trap preparation feel like a piece of cake), but again I absolutely love being out in the field, learning new things, and contributing where I can.

So, get this.. it was 7pm, we’d had our dinner and desert and I was about to wrap up my blog talking about how good it’s been meeting all these scientists that work so close to school and how they’ve given me so many teaching resources that relate to their research.. and then what always seems to happen I get offered to go out for a night trip to set up a moth sheet and look for spiders. I can’t say no to that. We went out for a few hours, it’s now 11pm when I write this, set up our moth net using a specialized light with some UV light present to attract moths and whilst that was going we went off on a spider exploration. I’ve never really given much time to spiders in the past, my usual interaction with them is in the bathroom or kitchen right before I have to re-home them in the garden. But wow, I learnt how to search for spiders at dark and the more I found the more I wanted to know about spider diversity and behaviour. Anyway, we didn’t catch many moths but we found some super interesting spiders.

I’m finding that every time I go out I get interested in a completely new area. This morning was all snakes and lizards, then various flora and data collection, then out of no where, spiders. Usually you learn a new thing every day, but here I’ve been learning a new thing every 20 minutes. I’m so amazed with the wealth of knowledge present. It’s late now so I’m going to sleep ready for another action packed day, maybe overnight there will be something in our animal traps, enjoy the photo of me trying to find GPS points.