Cameroon- Part 3 of 5

Music- Oxo- Baby boubous-Confetti butterflies- Being poorly- Cows & Nets- Cows at night- Boubou nest- Ndola

25/11/2016- Bird ringing again today and got a new species, a beautiful Green-headed sunbird. We all had lunch sat around the one big pot, forks at hand. For some reason today the usual one whiskey turned into several, and we all got quite drunk. It was really nice to just chat and laugh and after a while we all crashed out. I fell asleep outside my tent on the grass in the sunshine, which unfortunately led to some slight sunburn. We all woke up and continued the drinking. Tomasz set up the loudspeakers and put some music on. It was such a lovely evening, we had a dance and just enjoyed listening to music. Polish music is actually really good. I had no idea what they were singing about but the tunes are nice.

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26/11/2016- Woke up and went and did experiments. In a few days we will have finished the duet playback experiments and will be able to start new experiments using just male calls. The female birds seem really interesting to me, they seem to move around more and some do strange calls. Got back to camp and went to wash in the stream with Kasia. The cold water doesn’t even phase me now, it’s just part of the routine. Me and Kasia were in charge of lunch, we had some meat left from the market so we made a meat stew type thing. I added a few oxo cubes I’d brought from home to try and give it a British-stew flavour!

27/11/2016- Woke up with really bad stomach pains today and felt quite sick. Stayed at the camp and did bird ringing with Paweł. We caught females from two different territories which is amazing!

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28/11/2016- Still don’t feel good today. Stayed at the camp to try and rest. Paweł came back from bird ringing and told us that he had found a boubou nest! After lunch me him and Adrian went to investigate. As we got there the largest of the two chicks had fledged so we took the opportunity to catch it and apply rings. It was the most beautiful bird I have ever seen! When we had processed the first chick I climbed our handmade ladder and reached for the second chick. This one was slightly smaller and was making a lovely call. I got to hold my first ever boubous! After processing, I climbed the ladder and put them back in the safety of the nest. They were happy enough and didn’t try to escape. Climbing the ladder was so funny. It involved Paweł holding the bottom because there was nothing for it to lean against. It was so shaky but fun! We were all very excited because we might be the only people in the world who have ever held Yellow-breasted boubou chicks!

29/11/2016- I love the sky when I first wake up. It is still dark and I get to see Mars, the plough, Orions belt and the seven sisters. It’s one of my favourite times of the day. Stargazing whilst brushing my teeth! Still not well so I stayed to bird ring again. We caught another female boubou which is great.

30/11/2016- Very bored of being ill. Stayed at camp again. When we ate lunch there was an eruption of beautiful white butterflies. There were hundreds. They were floating about on the breeze and looked life confetti. I was watching them all for ages. Some of them stop on perches and eagerly await a visit from a partner, some aren’t so successful. It was such a nice sight.

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01/12/2016- Ill still. Paweł brought back a Petit’s cuckoo shrike he had caught whilst bird ringing which was nice. It was so beautiful! Plain spaghetti for lunch.

02/12/2016- Felt really poorly this morning. Helped Paweł with bird ringing. Found some antibiotics in my first aid kit so started to take them. Rested for most of the day and then we all sat around the fire and listened to music. Me and Kasia had a bit of a dance which was nice. Paweł had a dance too! It made me feel happier and took my mind off of my stomach pain!

03/12/2016- Still ill.

04/12/2016- Slightly better today, stayed at camp to rest some more. Two of the mist nets we use for bird ringing were destroyed by cows overnight. Me, Paweł and Adrian removed all the debris but unfortunately they were too ruined. I was talking to the Czech team about Christmas traditions. They told me that Father Christmas visits on the evening of the 5th of December and leaves sweets for the children to open on the 6th. On Christmas Eve it isn’t Father Christmas that visits with presents, but Little Jesus. I enjoy listening to all the different traditions.

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05/12/2016- Still ill so stayed at camp, but feeling better than the previous days. During the night the cows had entered the camp and you could hear them munching away. They got chased away though incase they decided to take a stroll over our tents. Had a wash in the stream in the afternoon to try and feel better. In the afternoon I went with Paweł to retrieve the now empty boubou nest. It was so small! And so beautiful. They make the cosiest homes. Sat around the fire for the evening as usual.

06/11/2016- Feeling better and so finally back in the field. Went to new parts of the forest which was nice. The male only playbacks are interesting, the boubou pairs seem to respond for a longer time compared to the duet playbacks. Got back to camp and the boys prepared some traditional Cameroon food for us. We had Ndola which is a bit similar to spinach, fufu which is ground corn, and then a stew. It was really nice. For a snack, me and Kasia have taken to haven rice mixed with Brolli. Brolli is the local condensed milk and it is amazing! When you mix it with rice it tastes like rice pudding. AMAZING! In the evening I saw three beautiful Great blue turacos. They are the best bird species I have seen here so far. They are huge and have really long tailed and large crests. Just beautiful.

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