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  • Krista N Oswald

You can't always get what you want

As with most fieldwork, the last few weeks have had their ups and downs. The ups being the incredible resilience of our birds at Blue Hill, who are trying their best to produce the next generation of wily bastards despite the drought (currently 6 nests, 2 with eggs!); I have to thank Lizzie and John again for their unerring ability to find the darned things. The downs being the many ticks I pulled off my skin after a rather unsuccessful trip to Kammanassie –– especially difficult to locate when you are covered in tick-imitating freckles.

western range of Kammanassie Nature Reserve

Above: western range of Kammanassie Nature Reserve. General Mao was put through the ringer on this trip, but pulled through in the end.

This was one of those occasions where I had to remind myself there was a time when catching 2 birds in 2 days was considered a success... unfortunately, I now expect much more. At least I know we did all we could, the birds were just having none of it. After watching birds stand beside traps without going for the worms all day, Alex, Sophie, Nick and I were almost lost to the mountain mist as a cloud rolled by in the afternoon. Note to self: next time take a GPS point at the car.

Above: action release shot of second day female (photo: Sophie Monsarrat).

Below: left - Alex watching as I take a sample from the male we caught the first evening, right - female we caught the next day (photos: Nick Pattinson).

Meanwhile, at Blue Hill, our new infra-red motion sensor camera caught footage of a honey badger raiding the eggs of one of our nests out the west road (see footage on my main page under "Current Research). I was pretty torn about this one. I consider honey badgers my spirit animal, and love rockjumpers enough to put a giant tattoo of them on my back, so I kind of placed my bets on both sides (spoiler: the badger wins).

While Lizzie and John wait patiently for eggs to hatch so we can reach the next stage of filming, probably in the next 3 weeks if no other badgers feel like disturbing our s**t, I will head to the eastern and western sides of Swartberg with Sophie and Alex to take more blood samples. Thanks again to Tygerberg Bird Club for providing funding for this!

Stay classy.

Below: yellow bishop male with floof on display.

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