Our first survey was a vegetation survey in a quartz field. This area is an area of Scientific Interest. many plants can only grow here because the quartz can lower the temperature by about 10°C. As the area is semi-arid, it gets rather hot during the summer months. Spingboks are known to come lie in quartz fields to cool down during the hottest parts of the day.
We had a 10x10m square grid area. During our survey we recorded the abundance of species in the area we were looking at as well as mapping out where each individual plant was within the grid. The height, width and length of each individual was also recorded. the idea of mapping out the plants on a grid is so that it can be compared to previous years and years to come and see differences between and to get a bigger picture of this particular area of the reserve.
Above: Easily distracted on breaks; especially when your lecturer is into ants and termites. This an entrance to a termite mound.
We ran out of water and beside from needing it for washing, we were starving and needed dinner! on the way back from sorting out the pump at the dam, we stumbled upon an aardvark burrow. This is a feeding burrow as it below a termite mound. The termite mounds are underground and the easiest way to distinguish where a mound is, is to see the ash bush that grows on the fertile soil of the mound. The aardvark (that feeds on termites), will burrow below a mound, use this mound for feeding for a while and then move on to another.
We learnt how to put up mist nets. These nets have to be set up properly, otherwise you wont get anything flying into it, making it pointless. Mist nets have to be set up in shaded areas with a backdrop behind it (eg. lots of trees/bushes), not in an open area and set up where flight paths are. if you dont do these things then the birds will see it and avoid the net.
After getting it out of the net safely (this has to be done by somebody trained, or will risk injury to the bird). Its wings were checked for feather mites. If there was any, the number of mites and which feathers they were on were recorded and a small sample taken of one feather.
This particular bird is a Karoo Chat (Cercomela schlegelii).
As with the views, pictures just cannot capture how beautiful the night sky was. The moon was glowing!
This plant is called; , however its nickname is Babies Bottom, I think its pretty obvious why...
This is one of the plants that is found in the quartz fields.
I saw many Bush rat nests, one of which was right outside camp. We could often see them scurrying about whilst sitting for lunch or doing work outside.
Springboks (Antidorcas marsupialis); are medium -sized antelopes. They are South Africa's national animal. They are easily distinguishable and we saw rather a lot of them, though not to complain as they are very graceful.
Starting off our 16 hour journey
In the UK you drive along a motorway and you will more than likely be able to stop and get a coffee, go to the toilet and get some fast food not 20 minutes tops when you feel the urge. however in South Africa, if you need a wee, you could be waiting a long while until any sort of shop or toilets (which I had to wait for A LOT!). One place we stopped was a waterfall. It was extremely pretty and was hidden in some valleys which were beautiful and made the 16 hour drive a lot more bearable.
The pool below the waterfall was open to swim in, If it wasn't so chilly and we weren't on a time limit I'm sure we'd all be straight in there! It was so beautiful picturesque.
On the walk back down, there were a couple of malachite sunbirds. These metallic looking sunbirds have ling tails and beaks. They have long beaks as they feed off of nectar of flowers, so they need to be able to get their beaks in.
We stopped in a small town to get petrol opposite a butchers, and the sign on the building gave us a giggle.