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Camping in Karpaz

This week has been a really lovely week. I’ve had adventures galore and it has made me smile so much.

On Tuesday I went to see my friend Doğukan at his house over the other side of Girne. It is a really lovely place to be, he grows all kinds of fruits and vegetables and so we just enjoyed watering all the crops and harvesting what we could. The figs are nearly ready for the first pick which is exciting, but in the meantime we enjoyed some of his home grown honeydew melon. He has an extended cat family that live in his shed. Misty is a Mum who has 4 kittens, I think they are about 8 weeks old. Cezi is also a Mum but only one of her kittens has survived. We called him Lucky, and he’s only about 3 weeks old now. When she first brought him to us he couldn’t even open his eyes! Being a cat lover it’s bloody lovely just watching them all hang out and play. I also got to me Doğukan’s dog, Kucucuk. He is a tiny chihuahua but has loads of personality. We decided that night that we would go on a Karpaz camping adventure and that we’d go the next morning.

Wednesday was the first day of adventures. We headed off to Karpaz in the early afternoon so that it wouldn’t be too hot once we arrived there. The journey there is beautiful, loads of coastline and the sea has so many colours of aquamarine. We got a few supplies in the village so we could cook something for tea! We actually went to a lovely place to get some veggies. It was a families home where they grow loads of vegetables that you can buy. The eldest daughter in the family took us around and let us pick some aubergine, peppers and tomatoes. She recognised Doğukan from earlier trips and didn’t want any money but we insisted! It was such a gorgeous place. They were so kind. To refuel from the journey we stopped at a cafe for a frappe. The owner of the cafe is Greek but it’s a mix of Turkish and Greek people who work there. They were all really smiley and chatty and we bought some lovely dried herbs off of them so we could make some different teas! In the late afternoon we went to the beach of Ayios philon. The water was crystal clear and so warm. We had a nice swim and relaxed in the last of the evening sunshines rays. Afterwards we went and parked the van and set up camp. We had a foam mattress that fit perfectly in the back so we could use it as a bed and we had fold out chairs, crates for a table and a small gas fire that made for a perfect kitchen set up. Doğukan took over the cooking and made some lovely veggie fajitas for us both. We then enjoyed watching the shooting stars and the milky way whilst sipping some lovely chilled Efes.

The next day we got up and slowly but surely got ready to move on. First we had a morning swim and snorkel. From the beach we decided to go for another frappe at the lovely cafe from the day before. Two of Doğukan’s friends turned up there just after us and so we spent the afternoon with them. We enjoyed coffee and chatted about all sorts. After that we started making our way towards the end of the peninsula to find our place to camp for the night. On our way we stopped at a lovely seaside restaurant to have something to eat. We ordered some fresh fish and calamari and got a small meze before hand. The calamari was so lovely and the fish was really tasty too. Luckily Doğukan took over the fish filleting for me, I have no idea how to do it properly! Once we were nice and full we headed back to the van and carried on until we found our place to stop for the night. We came across a lot of the wild donkeys and I fed them some carup fruits we’d picked earlier. We set up our little camp again and enjoyed the last night of camping. We were so full from the fish that we didn’t cook. We just enjoyed some snacks!

The next day we got up and packed up all the camping stuff. We stopped at Apostolos Andreas which is an ancient monastery in Dipkarpaz. We took a look around and even splashed our faces with some of the holy water from the fountain. On our way back we stopped for another Frappe (we couldn’t resist them!!) and then started on our journey back.

It was such a lovely few days and a spontaneous little trip. I really enjoyed it and I don’t think I stopped smiling. I’m now really excited for more adventures to come!

xx

Another week in heaven

This week has been another gorgeous week in my favourite place, Northern Cyprus!!! I’ve seen lots of lovely people, eaten lots of lovely food and had sandy toes!

On Monday Mum, Beth and I went to Janet and Keith’s house! We’d been invited for a bbq which was delicious!! Janet made these hellumi chips which were wonderful!! A couple of their neighbours were there and so I got to meet them too. We had a few beers and laughed and ate!! It was a really nice evening!!!

The next day we were up and out to take Janet’s god daughter, Amy, on a beach trip. I’d wanted to go to Alagadi beach for a while and so we invited her along too. I love the beach!!! I was so relaxed all day. I went for a snorkel to look around some sea grass in case I might be able to spot a turtle having a munch. No such luck, but I saw some fish! We played bat and ball and realised we were all pretty rubbish at that! I went to find some nice pebbles with my Mum for us to take home. And I took Amy on a walk to tell her all about turtles!!! Took me right back to when I volunteered on the project!! It was a really nice day, I can’t wait to go back again!!

The rest of the week I’ve been doing work, relaxing with Mum and Beth and eating nice food! We went to my favourite place to eat, Tervetuloa. The meze there is so bloody good!!!!!! This time of year they serve stuffed courgette flowers which are my favourite!

Me and Beth went to see The Healers on Friday. They are a band I’ve seen a few times and they are so good!! They play reggae music and it’s pretty hard not to dance along!! There was a cat mooching around the bar, I think he must have been a reggae fan too!!

It really has been a lovely week. Mum and Beth go back to the U.K. today, so I’m going to fill my time up with more lovely things next week! Keep me busy!

Forgot to mention, there was a lunar eclipse this week!!! The moon was so bright before it!! It was beautiful!!

Murder at the manor….and more!

 

Goodness me, I haven’t written in a few weeks. I’ve kept meaning to but life gets in the way and then you get bloody Laryngitis! But, it’s another Sunday and I’m going to write about the last few weeks of my little life.

 

First I have to start with a glorious weekend a few weeks ago where all my cousins and aunties and uncles celebrated my Auntie Karen’s 60th Birthday! We all went to a huge house in Monyash, just past Buxton. We spent the whole weekend there which was lovely, it’s quite rare for the whole bunch of us to be in the country at the same time! Usually me, Danny or Steven are off on some travel adventure! We even had the titchy nephews there which was a treat. How can two such tiny people already be my favourite people ever? I introduced little Max to some chickens he became quite fond of and I amused titchy Arthur with a helium Paw Patrol balloon! Anyway, the first afternoon was spent catching up, drinking and eating. Megan and Tom made a wonderful lasagne and so we all tucked in to that and soaked up some of the champagne and wine! That night a bunch of us went into the games room. Me and Mum taught my little cousin Katy (taller than me and stunningly beautiful) how to play pool and Molly had an intense game of connect four with my cousin Mark. It was lovely.

The next day we chilled out for a while. All the cousin generation tried to find a nearby river. Most of us didn’t end up there. We had parked way too far away (on the top of a hill where rivers aren’t usually found) and the walk was really far. We had titchy humans with us and it was really hot. Some of us decided to head back and go to a small ice cream farm instead. Mint choc chip quenched my ice cream thirst and we got to see some lovely little calves and a couple of emu. That evening was the evening of the murder mystery. We all had a character to play and so at about 6 we all emerged in character. I was a policewoman and strippogram on the side! Molly was the new young and glamorous wife of the deceased. Mum was a mystic. Megs a musician. Tom a chauffeur. Mark a french inspector. Holly the maid. Danny the grounds keeper. Karen was Lady Gardener. Steph was Lord Gardener (although I’m not sure he knew this!!). Jane was the flour dusted cook. David the general. Matt was the scientist. Steven the doctor. Ellie the tennis coach. Katy the glamorous sister of the new wife! Jack was the hipster priest. Joe was the butler. And Kinga was the house keeper. We all had parts to read and the murder was told their part in secret at the start. It was so funny to listen to everyone get into character. Marks french inspector role was the best. Although his and my aunties (the cook) love story was probably just as funny! Anyway, the story unraveled and it turns out Molly, the new wife, was the killer. I couldn’t believe I hadn’t guessed, I thought I could read my sister like a book! My guess was the musician…..

The next day was the day of the bake off. All the cousins and significant others had to bake a version of Nana’s famous chocolate cake. We’d all done this before arriving at the house. We played them out with our specific numbers so they were anonymous to the judges. These being my Mum, auntie Karen, Uncle David, Auntie Jane and obviously Nana herself! I’m pretty sure little Max was involved with the taste tests too though! The chocolate around his mouth gave him away! I really didn’t have any hope. Mine was a bit melted because of the heat of the weekend and I thought it was probably one of the worst. We all stood outside and waited for the judges to go through their process. Eventually we were all called in and the countdown started. There were a few people in joint last place. But then as the individual cakes were eliminated, I was in the final two!!! I couldn’t believe it. Anyway, I only went and bloody won! I was so chuffed, I really didn’t expect it. Maybe a slight melt of the icing helps after all?

It was a really lovely weekend and it was so nice to spend it with my gorgeous family.

After that weekend I had a few days before heading back to Cyprus. In that time I had cuddles off of my Dad and the little bunnies. I headed back to Cyprus but caught Laryngitis on the plane and was really quite poorly with it. I went out for one morning to do some field work, checking Roller nest boxes for chicks. We smashed out 16 of them and then called it a day. No roller chicks, but lots of sparrows. I just went down hill after that. I got a really sore throat and completely lost my voice. I basically didn’t get out of bed! My wonderful friend Katy brought me some ice creams to soothe my throat which was really thoughtful. After a few days Mum and Beth arrived and I soon got my voice back. The first evening I actually had to use a notepad and pen to communicate! I can nearly talk normally now, just the really high notes are still missing. So this past week I’ve basically been trying to recover. I’ve been doing some phd work on the laptop and trying to relax. On Friday night me and Beth went into Girne for some drinks. We went to Ego Bar and watched The Healers playing. They are a local reggae band who I’d actually seen before at Roots Bar (you’ll know how much I love this place from previous posts). It was a nice chilled nice just listening to good live music and enjoying the warm Cyprus air.

Anyway, I think that is most of the big events of the last few weeks. I’ll try and write more often again, I know my Nana needs her updates!

Right, that’s all for now.

xx

Nature helps

This week I’ve seen my family and enjoyed seeing friends. I got to babysit my gorgeous little nephew, Arthur. He was very excitable and cute, even if he did sneeze directly into my mouth!!!

I also saw my cousin Danny and our family friend, Andy. It was nice to just chat and chill out. I also saw my friend Jack this week. I got to meet his gorgeous little girl too. We blew lots of bubbles on the patio and enjoyed popping the huge ones!

Mum and Molly moved house this week and so it’s been a busy time moving everything and sorting it all out. It’s a lovely house though and it has a little garden full of flowers. The rabbits really like being outside there. Cuties!!

I don’t feel 100% myself at the minute and I don’t quite know what to do about it. I’ve been really trying to be mindful of nature and the things around me. It does actually help to take my mind off of things and just be in the moment. It’s nice that it’s summer because the birds are singing so much and it always sounds so lovely. The first evening at my Mums new house I got to listen to a Song thrush showing off his repetitive sequences. He was sat in a hedge and loving it! I’ve been appreciating the colours of the flowers and watching the busy bees collecting nectar from them. There are a lot of white tailed bumble bees here. I said hello to a fair few beetles and I got a little cuddle off a gorgeous toad. The best moment of my week was watching a wonderful barn owl flying over the field behind my Dads house. It was at the time of day when there is a beautiful dusk light and it emerged as if by magic. I was so entranced when I was watching it. They are heavenly creatures. I felt so privileged.

So I am trying to find happy moments in the everyday. Nature does it for me. I don’t know anything better.

X

Keeping busy

This last week I’ve been enjoying the rest of my holiday in Northern Cyprus with my Mum and sister. The weather was getting hotter by the day and the sea with it!!

We had a relaxing time because I wasn’t very well and so had to take it easy and rest. Being sick knocks it out of you and the lack of sleep! Stupid bad dreams. Maybe I should take a dream catcher with me for next time?!

Anyway, one afternoon me and Mum decided to walk along the promenade near where we sunbath. It’s quite a long stretch and we chose the hottest part of the day to go so we didn’t make it too far… Mum spotted a gorgeous cuttlefish from the bridge that crosses a sheltered bay. We watched him for ages as he was right near the surface. He was gorgeous brown colours with a beautiful spotted pattern on top. It was a real treat! There were a couple of skylarks singing high above us as we walked. And a Zitting Cisticola was chirping his song over the field nearby.

Another nice treat was going to watch the sunset at Kervanseri. We enjoyed a drink and watched the sun melt into the sea. Sunsets are magical for taking your mind off of things.

Me and my Mum went for a birding adventure one morning. We went to the Kukla wetlands so I could survey the birds there and assess the breeding status of the different species. There were lots and lots of coot nests with chicks, and a load of juveniles that had left the nests. It was an amazing morning actually, so many gorgeous species. We saw a fair few Hoopoe, a Roller, Little egret, Grey heron, Flamingo, Ferruginous duck, Barn swallows and a few Crested lark. Unfortunately the car started to break and so we had to cut the trip short. I’d wanted to carry on to the Famagusta wetlands, but I’ll have to get to those when I go back in a couple of weeks.

It was lovely to see friends again. We met our friend Janet one day for a relaxed day by the pool. And one evening I drove over to meet my friend Veysel for a couple of drinks. I hadn’t seen him in ages so it was nice to catch up with him. He was telling me all about his recent adventures.

Since being back in England the weather has been rubbish. It’s been nice seeing my family and getting cuddles off of the two bunnies though. Today is Father’s Day and so I treated my Dad and sister to a nice breakfast out. It was a lovely way to spend a Sunday morning. It’s not often it’s just us three.

Not the most exciting week, but hey ho, I enjoyed it.

Xx

What will be will be

Sunday is normal blog writing day and so I’m trying to get back into it after my Mozambique adventures. I won’t lie, this past week hasn’t been great. I won’t go into the details, but yeah, I’ve really hated it.

I had planned to come to Cyprus with my Mum and Sister for our first ever holiday with just the three of us. So I guess that was a good thing. The first few days I’ve spent trying to relax in the sunshine. Unfortunately I picked up a stomach bug and have been bed bound which is really rubbish. Today I feel slightly better so I guess I’m kicking it! I can’t afford to be sick anymore, I’m tiny enough as it is!

Being back in Cyprus is lovely because I get to hear and see all of the gorgeous birds. Hooded crows are everywhere. I can hear tinkling goldfinch all the time and chattering swallows. I think my favourite so far has been the black francolin. I’m truly in Cyprus when I hear them. As well as the birds I’ve had a snorkel and seen some lovely guiltheads. I’ve enjoyed watching the ditzy butterflies and I rescued an overturned beetle on a footpath. This morning I was woken up by huge thunderstorms. Never a bad way to wake up. Mother Nature just having a temper. I feel like a bit of a thunderstorm inside these past few days.

That’s all for now.

Xx

Mozambique- part 3

And now for the final part of my lovely Mozambique adventure.

Pretty much the entire last week we were in a site known as Coutada 12. I’d heard a lot about this place and was intrigued to go. Michal and Tomasz had placed recorders there last year and so it felt like a bit of a recovery mission! Anyway… we packed up our tents and what not from Chitengo base and picked up the lovely Noreena, a lab technician working with insects! We packed the boot full of all our kit. I’ve never seen a more full boot! We made our way out of Chitengo and started the 9 hour trip to our home for the next 6 days. On the way we obviously picked up supplies, namely beer, bread and avocados! After a very long trip we reached Coutada 12. This place was a former hunting zone and is now a place where anti-poaching training occurs. There is a really basic and small camping place where we were able to pitch our tents. When we arrived lots of rangers were doing some sort of exercise and it all looked very official and almost army like! At this base there was no running water, no electricity, no toilet, no shower and no phone signal. A bit like I was back in Cameroon! A nice break from the real world though. In the evening me and Michal prepared tea. We went for our standard sardine and tomato mix with some sort of carbohydrate. There was a small hut for the kitchen area and a tiny coal stove we could use for cooking. The two women who worked at the camp were intrigued to watch our cooking style!!

The next day we all got up and had some breakfast. Unfortunately, on the journey to Coutada 12, the gasoline from the generator had leaked and a lot of our food now tasted and smelt of gasoline. My dreams of a bread bun with mashed avocado were dashed. I went for a few biscuits and a banana instead… After breakfast all 4 of us loaded into the car and headed to Miombo forest to collect three recorders that had been placed last year. We literally drove completely off of the beaten track. At points there was hugely tall elephant grass surrounding us with desperate tsetse flies trying to get to us! We were swerving around fallen trees and vines. It was so cool, but the little car was probably shattered. After the first three recorders were retrieved we went to a small local village to get more petrol for the car. Michal got us some of these small donut type things. I’ve had them in Cameroon before too. They are just a sweet, flourey, fried ball. But they are nice!  We then had more driving after the petrol stop. We went to get the other three recorders that needed to be retrieved. We parked up and walked about 2km along a railway track. We saw a huge eagle right next to us at one point. Honestly, it was so so big, I thought it might have been a dragon! We deduced it was not a dragon, but a gorgeous Martial eagle. We’d leave the railway track to go to each recorder and then rejoin it to find the next one. In the rainforest it was dark and cooler, and there were vines everywhere. I won’t lie, I was a little nervous about snakes, and so I armed myself with the machete! We finished collecting all of the recorders and made our way to the car and then to camp. We saw some gorgeous southern ground-hornbills on the way. They are magnificent birds and so so huge! I’d really wanted to see them so I was very happy. It had been a really long day but a good day. Lots of adventuring!

The next day I headed out early with Michal to go and look for birds and do some recording. Right at the beginning of our walk we saw some lovely arrow-marked babblers which was great. They were duetting together which was nice to hear. I also got to see a beautiful Narina trogon. I have never seen a Trogon before and so I was very excited. It was a gorgeous male and he was just sat peacefully in a tree, munching on the occasional insect. I could have watched him for hours. Along with the birds I was taking in the beautiful surroundings too. There was a lot of dew on all of the tree and grasses, and one species of grass looked so magical covered in dew drops. There was also all sorts of different fungi species which was cool to see. After a nice morning, me and Michal made tea for everyone. He wanted to cook some cabbage and so I followed his lead. For some random reason I decided to check my left hip (as you do) and noticed I had a tick! I freaked out! I got Michal to get it out for me and then I panicked for a while wondering what bloody disease I might catch from it. To lighten the mood, a gecko decided to jump on my neck as we were eating. I made a slight fool of myself with my reaction but it took my mind off of things. I decided to name the gecko Kevin. He was a cutie! In the evening I started preparing bird ringing nets with Michal and Noreena. It was actually really nice to chat with Noreena, she is such a tough cookie. She said she gets malaria at least once a year! Made me feel slightly foolish about my tick dilemma! I think it made her laugh a little bit! We placed four nets and left them closed for the night.

So the next day we tried some bird ringing. Well, we eventually did after it stopped raining. It was extremely slow, be we did catch a handsome brown-crowned tchagra which was very exciting. In between checking the nets I did a little recording of surrounding birds. I also saw some beautiful little bee-eaters, a Burchells coucal and lots of lovely Retz’s helmetshrike. We made another sardine and tomato creation for tea. I was getting pretty sick of sardines!

Woke up and opened up the nets with Michal to try some bird ringing again. My hands were covered in bites from palm flies. So bloody itchy! It was Tomasz’s birthday so I gave him the little birthday card I’d made him. It was another slow bird ringing day I’m afraid.  To celebrate Tomasz’s birthday we had a little bit of whiskey which was a nice treat. Me and Michal tried to prepare a nice meal for us all but it ended up tasting a bit weird. We just laughed about it. One good thing was that I’d gotten pretty damn good at making the fire now. I had watched the ladies making it and copied them. As an evening treat we all munched on some pineapple as a sort of birthday cake… it was gorgeous and juicy and sweet. It attracted two lovely moths as well which was a bonus. I also discovered my gecko friend, Kevin, had a lady friend. I called her Carol.

The next day we packed up and headed back to Chitengo. Another 9 hour drive! I could finally have a shower when we got back. I was actually greeted by lots of baby praying mantises when I got to the shower block. They were everywhere, but so cute!

The last day in Gorongosa was spent placing 6 recorders in the jungle. We took a guard with us and headed out. It’s always quite satisfying trekking through the thick vegetation, makes me feel tough! One of my many observations was that some lovely, delicate looking mushrooms like to grow out of elephant poo!! The last evening in the park was a chilled one.

On the 18th we left the park and headed to Beira for a night before the long journey back to Poland. It was a lovely trip and I enjoyed seeing all of the amazing bird species, some of which I’d never seen before. It was also really nice to watch the cheeky vervet monkeys and the baboons. Africa always makes me love adventures, such a magical continent.

xx

Mozambique- part 2

So, to another part of my recent trip to Mozambique.

On Sunday 5th May, me, Michał and Tomasz packed up our stuff to head to Mount Gorongosa. Pesky vervet monkeys had slightly damaged my tent in their midnight antics and so I knew I’d have to do a repair job once we reached our destination! We picked up Marek and one of the masters students, Antonio, and squeezed their stuff into the car too! Then we headed out of the park and towards the mountain! The drive was a little squished but it wasn’t so bad. We stopped to get supplies on the way. Beer, pineapple, oranges and bread! Oh, and some huge avocados!! We thought they were something else at first because of how big they were! After the supply run we soon made it to the mountain road. Bloody hell it was so long and so so bumpy. I can safely say it’s the bumpiest road I’ve ever driven on! There were just rocks jutting out here there and everywhere!! After at least an hour of driving, we nearly made it to the camp site, but we stopped to munch on a bread bun and take in the view. We saw a male red-collared widowbird which was exciting! They have huge tail feathers that they use to show females how fit they are! Very impractical but apparently irresistible to the ladies!! We got to the camp and pitched our tents. I grabbed some duct tape off of Michał to try and fix my tent! The camp grounds were basic but lovely. It’s also the site of a coffee plantation and so there are rows of beans drying in the sun! The main structure was a big hut that housed the fires used for cooking. There were tables and benches made from sticks and logs too! Antonio showed us around his study plots. He’s looking at bird diversity between coffee plantation and natural sites. We had to cross a shallow river to get to the coffee. The water wasn’t too cold, it was actually lovely! Coffee grows as pink berries and they are put through a kind of shredder to remove the pulp and leave the bean. Then they are dried a bit in the sunshine and after that they are set on fire!! I had no idea they were set on fire! I liked that little nugget of knowledge. Anyway, that evening Michał and I prepared tea. We just opted for tuna and sweet corn with tomato sauce and pasta. It was meant to be simple, but the pasta went extremely gloopy when we cooked it and so it was quite a weird meal. But we ate it all the same! In the evening we went and watched Marek’s light trap for a while. Basically, he sets up a huge white sheet with a powerful lamp at the top. Moths and other creepy crawlies get attracted to the light and sit on the sheet. If any rarities come along he can collect them! My favourite one was a smallish moth that was metallic pinks and purples. She just sat there and didn’t move, just enjoying the light. I couldn’t help but feel a bit itchy when I was stood there, all sorts of things were flying around us!

The next day, I went with Antonio to help him with his surveys. I showed him how to conduct point counts and helped him ID the birds we saw. My favourite of the morning was a black headed oriole. The views there were stunning. Both up the mountain and down! We couldn’t actually go all the way to the top of the mountain. There’s a gorilla army occupying the fragments of forest up there, and we aren’t allowed in!! Me and Antonio got back to camp and I made us some breakfast using the avocados and bread. The avocados were so tasty!! The seed inside of them is the same size as the entire avocados we buy back home! Crazy!! As we sat and ate I spotted a Livingstone’s turaco which was amazing. Turacos have such delicate faces, they’re so beautiful! Me and Michał made a big lunch again, this time with no issues! It was actually really tasty and we washed it down with a beer. I took Antonio for more bird watching in the evening. He said his favourite bird was a Black-crowned tchagra because of their song. He’s right, they have a lovely song. That night we watched more insects and drank more beer.

Next day and we prepared to leave the mountain. I climbed down to the waterfall which was great. It was really big and the mist was spraying me, which was lovely in the heat of the day!! At about lunchtime we set off back to Chitengo base. The mountain road didn’t agree with me this time and I had to be sick at the bottom. Too many bumps and turns for my titchy self! I tried to sleep for the rest of the journey. We arrived at Chitengo and set up camp again. Then I showered and washed my clothes. Then we went and got food. We got ourselves a bottle of white wine to share which was a treat. I took it slow, didn’t want to be drunk! That evening was relaxed and I went to sleep easily!

First morning back at Chitengo and I went and recorded some birds around the camp. I saw some brown-headed parrots which was great and some collared palm-thrushes! Michał set off on a survey down the river for the next day and so me and Tomasz stayed around camp. It was good to chat about projects and things. Chatted with family and had lots of smiles. I bloody love my little clan!

The next few days were spent sorting recorders and reading papers. We were waiting for out next trip out of camp. One morning when I was at my tent, I saw two female baboons with a whole bunch of younger ones. It was like they were being child minders. I just stood and watched them for ages. It was actually really nice to just watch the different animals around camp. The vervet monkeys are cheeky. They’d swing from branch to branch and peak at you from behind leaves or branches. I caught them jumping on my tent a few times! Baboons seem to be really territorial. If another group came along there would be loud shouts from the lead males. Warthogs just eat and eat. They kneel down on there front legs and just munch away!! A huge male had obviously worn himself out and decided to sleep in the sand for a while. He looked very peaceful.

One afternoon we went and placed 6 automatic recorders to leave up for a year. We picked up a ranger and headed out. It was hot but it was nice work. And I finally got to see some crocodiles!! They weren’t too big, but they were still intimidating!! Michał would climb a tree and place the recorders, he’s a good climber!! Whilst he was doing that, I took in my surroundings. There was a huge dung beetle that I decided to call Bob. I’d seen other dung beetles near camp, but he was at least twice the size! Dung beetles are so fascinating to watch. They roll their dung ball with their back legs and take it to a hole in the ground. They keep it in the hole and lay their eggs in it so their kids have something to munch on when they emerge. I’ll take a rusk biscuit over a dung ball any day! But they seem to like it!

I’ll leave it there for now. The final section will be all about our trip to Coutada 12!!

Xx

Mozambique – Part 1

Not written anything in a few weeks! I’ve been off adventuring in the beautiful country that is Mozambique. I got a small grant to do some research and so headed there to look at the birds and most importantly, record their lovely songs.

So…

Firstly, getting there. I met my supervisor, Tomasz, in Poznan and we got a train to Warsaw. We then met Michał our colleague at the airport and we took our first flight. It went like this, Warsaw to Doha (6 hours), Doha to Johannesburg (9 hours) and then Johannesburg to Beira (2 hours). I was a little bit shattered after all that. But…. it was exciting to be in Africa again!

The first night in Mozambique was spent in Beira and in a lovely little hotel in the city. I was the only woman in our little group and so I got my own room which was pretty sneaky! We washed up and went and got some supplies for our upcoming camping escapades. This included lots of sardine tins, pasta and beer. The staples. First impressions of Mozambique was that it wasn’t as crazy busy as other places in Africa I’ve been to. The roads weren’t chaos, it was nice! After getting supplies we wanted food and so I asked the man at reception for a recommendation of where to eat. He suggested a take away place called 2+1 and drew me a map. We headed out and couldn’t find it so, naturally, I asked a man with a huge gun if he could help. He had a big smile on his face and his friend escorted us to make sure we found it! We got there and just ordered some beer and fries. A local girl who was also ordering helped me order. She spoke English and so we could chat a little. She taught me how to say thank you (obrigado) which was brill! I don’t like going to a different country and not being able to say certain things! It’s just manners! Don’t get me wrong, I wasn’t setting out to learn full blown Portuguese, but a few words helps! And a smile goes a long way!!

On the 1st of May we loaded the car and headed to Gorongosa National Park where we would be doing our research. The 1st of May is a national holiday in Mozambique and so the roads were jam packed, with people, there was a carnival going through the streets! We managed to zig zag our way out of Beira and drove past small little hamlets of mud or corrugated metal buildings. The recent cyclone has destroyed many of these buildings and taken the roof off of most buildings, even the big cement ones. At one point in our journey we came to a complete traffic stand still. We waited for about an hour and so me and Michał got out and did a spot of bird watching! We saw a gorgeous southern red bishop. He was carefully breaking off bits of vegetation for his nest. I could have watched him all day. Gorgeous!!! I also spotted a lovely flower at the side of the road, it was shaped like a purple star! Anyway, eventually the traffic started to move and we realised it was because there was a bottleneck at the bridge to cross the river. The cyclone had swept half of the bridge away and so there was only enough space for one lane of traffic. Eventually we got to the park entrance and drove for about an hour through jungle to reach Chitengo camp. The jungle smells like the jaguar exhibit at Chester zoo! Hehe We pitched our tents and headed for something to eat. Within the camp grounds there’s baboons, vervet monkeys and warthogs. The warthogs just eat all the time and the vervet monkeys are cheeky!! Always peeking from behind something. We had a wander around the air strip to do some bird watching. There were waterbuck having a munch on the grass, they’re lovely! And we saw some lovely birds. It’s so exciting starting a new bird list!!

The next day we got up early to go on a game drive and a bird watch further away from the campsite. We picked up a ranger and headed out! We found a small lake and stopped there for a while and saw loads of stuff there! African jacana, spur winged geese, knob-billed geese, white faced whistling ducks, saddle billed storks, open bills, just loads!!!! I spotted a really chunky centipede (or maybe it was a millipede), gorgeous butterflies and a massive monitor lizard! It was such a lovely trip!! My favourite butterfly was one that was bright blue with bright orange on the tips of the wings. Such cheerful colours! We had some lunch, I had a traditional Mozambique meal of chicken and rice with a sort of peanut sauce. It was bloody delicious!! We then went to cut some poles to use for our bird ringing nets and then had a walk to a river bank. The sun was setting and it really looked beautiful. There’s just something about sunsets!!

Early start for bird ringing. Although we’d asked for the gate to be opened for us, the ranger wasn’t there and so we climbed over and headed to our site. We placed 4 nets and waited patiently to see if we’d catch anything. Now, I won’t lie, this time of year, the birds are really quiet. They aren’t really singing as it isn’t their breeding season and not much is flying about. So, we really didn’t have a great catch. But, we caught a beautiful pair of red throated twinspots! We took the measurements we wanted and set them back on their way. Shortly after we closed the nets and headed back to camp. I had a shower and was joined by a huge earwig type creature. I was rather intimidated by it but I just made sure he didn’t get too close to my titchy toes!! We had lunch and then I went with Marek, who also works at my uni in Poznan, to see the lab! He’s an entomologist and was out in Gorongosa to collect specimens of butterflies and moths. The lab was so interesting, he showed me specimens of all sorts of creepy crawlies. So so beautiful! There were stick insects, grasshoppers, crickets, dung beetles and creatures that actually looked like leaves!! After the tour he then showed me the database, chock full of information about all the different species of animals seen in the park!! I spoke to my Mum and Nana and then with my Dad which was lovely. Always nice hearing their voices and always makes me smile! That afternoon I went with Tomasz to do some recording of birds near the air strip. It was roasting hot and not much was singing, but I saw some oxpeckers utilising a warthogs back for a perch which was nice. I also saw a pair of yellow fronted canaries chattering their beaks.

Saturday came and we had another early start to try another go at catching some birds. We got to the gate and the guard wouldn’t let us out so we waited until he’d gotten confirmation we were allowed to leave. We wandered along the track and I spotted elephants!!! Gorgeous elephants plodding towards us. They were still pretty far away but I started to back off in case we got too close for comfort, it is their home after all! Wouldn’t want to intrude!! We watched them from a distance, ambling their way into the jungle and crashing through the vegetation. We gave it a while before we carried on along the track. As we did we passed entire trees they’d knocked over and bits of vegetation they’d munched on. The power of the giants of the jungle eh!! The catching of birds was even worse than the previous days efforts, but I saw a lovely male african paradise flycatcher (you should google this!!) and a collared sunbird. When we got back to camp we spotted an amazing spider building her web. The female was this magnificent (and huge) blue and yellow beauty. The male was about a quarter of the size and an orange/ brown colour. I felt very smug that the female spider was the best one! I felt like giving her a high five, but I don’t know which of her legs I’d have to pat!! Later, we had some food, I had another lovely local dish, this time with fish! And afterwards we went on a game drive with some of the other researchers spending time here. I saw a purple crested turaco and a water thick-knee which was exciting, but….. then we saw lions!!! A beautiful female and a younger one by her side. She was wearing a radio collar which was pretty cool. Good way of keeping track of the movements of the lions within the park. We watched the pair for a while. Such huge and powerful felines!! We finished the game drive and then to top it all off, we saw a pangolin next to camp!!!! A bloody pangolin!! I was so happy. What a day!! Pangolins are really heavily poached and so this one had been rescued and was being guarded for the time being. I was asking about the poaching of pangolins and apparently their scales are believed to have certain qualities and they are also used for necklaces in certain places. Personally, I’d much rather see one ambling around, wearing its scales than have them around my neck!

Anyway, I’m leaving it there for now. Part 2 and 3 still to come!!

Xx

Adventure time!

So this week has been very hectic! Lots going on and lots to sort out!! I’m shattered now!

I’ve been helping my Dad move house for most of the time. He’s bought a house with an annex for my Grandpa to live in. It was all go on Thursday! My back was killing me by the end of the day and I lay on my bedroom floor for a while to calm down and try and work out the kinks!!!

I’ve also had a lot of time with my Mumma too. We’ve been busy walking my aunties dog and on Friday we got to babysit Arthur, my little nephew!! He is the cutest little bean!!! He doesn’t stop smiling and he napped on me for a solid two hours! Cutie!

We’ve been on a few walks this week, lots of birds singing and flowers blooming. I heard some birds squabbling and found a pied flycatcher and a coal tit having a bit of a flighty fight! Not sure who won, I was just chuffed I’d seen the flycatcher!

I’m now back in Poznan, the first leg of my journey to Mozambique. I’m currently sat in my office packing my equipment. I have two huge automatic recorders (6kg each!!) a small recorder, a microphone, gps, camera and headphones. As well as the tech, I have my binoculars, bird book and various notepads!! That’s just in my hand luggage! My big bag has my home for the next three weeks! Tent, sleeping bag, clothes and wash kit!! I’m prepped and ready! Just hope no monkeys raid my smellies when I leave my tent unsupervised!!

I smiled a lot walking to uni this morning, I was listening to the yellowhammers and wood warblers singing close by. I don’t get to hear them much at home so I stopped and took it in. They both have lovely sounds!!

So tonight I’m relaxing before a very hectic few days ahead! I’m not sure why, I’m a little apprehensive about travelling to Mozambique. I know I’ll love it once I’m there. Think I’ve gotten too used to being home!!! My family are just too bloody lovely to leave!!!

Xx