Cameroon- Part 2 of 5

Dragonflies- Crater walks- The big storm- Polish lessons- Renovations- Persol ringing- Market day

18/11/2016- Today was very windy, so we weren’t able to go to an do any recordings. I ended up assisting with bird ringing. We caught a beautiful nightjar and a blue-billed fire finch as well as both individuals from a pair of boubous!! In the afternoon I decided to sit in the porch of my tent and listen to some music. I was in a world of my own and when I looked up the sky was alive with movement. The first layer of life came from hundreds of dragonflies out to catch their smaller pray. It was beautiful. I’ve never seen so many. Above the dragonflies were lots of swifts. I’m not sure why they were all out, but I didn’t mind. It was lovely to watch.

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19/11/2016- A normal day today. Went and did 5 successful experiments. Feeling inspired today about possible avenues to go down with the research. I think the females are extremely interesting. I’m already excited for next years field work topics.

20/11/2016- Another windy day today so we took advantage of it and went to the crater Mbe. Paweł showed me, Kasia and Adrian the way. It was quite a long walk but most of it was quite flat and we didn’t have to scrambled through too much vegetation. We crossed lots of streams and came across lovely open pastures with a few grazing horses and cattle. We stopped near a stream at one point and I was about 15 cm away from a long, thin, green snake. I quickly retreated and it decided it didn’t want a confrontation. I know there is a green mamba in Cameroon but I’m pretending it wasn’t that. Don’t like the thought of being so close to such a venomous snake! We arrived at the crater and it was more beautiful than I imagined. It was massive! The sides were sheer drops down into an edge of forest. The centre of the crater is flat and stretches so far. Paweł says it’s used to grow the local tea. It looked so tempting just to run across. We stayed and watched vultures overhead and enjoyed a bag of whiskey each and a tin of sardines with some sliced garlic. After seeing Mbe we went and saw an older crater which was very different but equally lovely to look at. The walk back was tough, we were running out of water, it was very hot and very long. But we made it back. Saw so many new bird species today. I think my favourite is the blue-breasted bee-eater.

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21/11/2016- Had the worst night sleep. But probably one of the most exciting of my life. There was a huge thunderstorm. I was woken up by a huge flash of light and a massive crashing sound right above me. We were camping in the middle of the storm. Unfortunately I’m not very clued up on how to keep safe in thunderstorms whilst camping on top of a mountain. So I was a bit of a wimp and went and stood in the hut. For some reason having a solid structure around me made me feel safer. It was amazing. I sat with Kasia under a blanket and we ate some chocolate spread. The worst of it lasted for about an hour and then I decided I wanted some sleep so retreated to my cosy tent once again. After the excitement of the night time storm it turns out the birds didn’t want to cooperate and did’t call too much. Had a wash in the stream and then there was another storm. This weather is apparently strange for this time of year. I sat with Kasia in the afternoon and she tried to teach me some polish. It’s so hard! But I am determined to learn.

22/11/2016- Today I was bird ringing with Paweł. We didn’t stay at the station, we went and made a temporary base at the bottom of small persol. We caught a beautiful diabowski’s twinspot, they have eyes the colour of blackcurrant juice. It was a great morning and we caught a boubou which was a bonus.

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23/11/2016- A normal day today. Lunch was exciting, Michał and Paweł made chips from batats and plantains and they were amazing.

24/11/2016- Today was market day. Me, Michał, Kasia and Adrian took the 3 hour walk down to Big Babanki to get more supplies. On the way down we stopped at a small pool formed by the stream and washed. Me and Kasia fashioned a swing from a low hanging vine which was quite fun. We arrived in the town and enjoyed a cold beer. It went straight to my head! After enjoying some bananas we headed into the market. We found most things we needed, although this market is a lot smaller than the one in Bamenda so we couldn’t find and tartina, mayonnaise, luncheon meat or coffee. Me and Kasia decided to buy lots and lots of biscuits and sweets. Our base at the market was the market pub. Locals were enjoying listening to Bob Marley and so were we. As well as drinking more of the lovely Castel beer. Eventually we had to make the return journey back up to camp. We set off later than we should of and most of the journey was in darkness. And in rain. It took ages to climb up but eventually we did it.

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