Monday, August 1, 2011

monotony is key

It is hard to think of things to say when you do the same thing every day.
I have been conducting sent trials with snake sheds to see if Cape ground squirrels use their sense of smell in the recognition of snakes. So in other words I spend hours everyday out on the floodplain chasing squirrels down burrows, placing cubes covered with snake odours by the burrows waiting for them to come back up, and then recording their behaviours when(if) they re-emerge again. I record what the squirrels are doing on my ipod (thanks dad!) and in the evening I transcribe my recordings into spread sheets. It feels a little odd talking to myself and then listening to myself for hours. I am predicting I may come back a little stranger than when I left. People who know me well are probably pretty worried by that remark. People who know me really well probably are having a difficult time imagining how anyone could get any stranger. Rest assured. I can.
In all seriousness though-- the monotony is not bad. I am handling it better than I thought I would. I find the day in and day out routine of field work meditative. My mind comes alive with ideas and songs. Since I am testing the same 10 colonies of squirrels over and over I even see the same wildebeest everyday. I have named him Bruce.
I think there is something amazing about visiting the same piece of nature consecutively for a span of time. You are no longer a tourist from the outside looking in. You are right in the midst of it-- looking around. I have felt this way before doing field work. When you visit a forest everyday for a while animals that run and hide start to come out. Critters habituate and you can really watch them.
I think everyone should get to know a forest at least once in their life. It does not need to be a rainforest or a savannah the forest down the street is just as good—if not better. Nothing feels more satisfying to me than recognizing all the voices of the birds in a forest or seeing Bruce first thing in the morning snoozing.