After a few hours of walking in shorts & hiking boots through stubs & shrubs of newly burnt Fynbos-veldt near Franschoek Pass in South Africa, combined with several months of Teva-sandal fieldwork in the Namaqualand desert — my legs & feet looked rather…unusual. And in the end we didn’t find the Satyrium orchid we were looking for. All in all, it was just another day in the mad office of van der Niet & Hansen Explorations Inc. Otherwise known as Dirt’R'Us, or simply ‘dirties’ in short.
Back in Pietermaritzburg after three months of fieldwork in Namaqualand and the Western Cape. Magic. Sitting in my office in front of my laptop. Tragic. Actually, I am enjoying myself back at uni (if nothing else, then because it has the coolest name of any university, ever. ‘University of KwaZulu-Natal’. Savour it on your tongue as it rolls across it on the way out. Yum). Our first weekend was a fieldcourse with third-year students to the small Vernon Crookes nature reserve. Zebras, wildebeests, impalas, sunbirds, hornbills. Bliss. This week I have been lecturing the same third-year students on seed dispersal, mutualistic networks, and the geographic mosaic of coevolution. Nerdism pure.
And yet, my thoughts often wander back to some of the almost infinite wonderful observations & events in the field. Lucky me, I caught at least some of them (well, ok, many of them)with my camera, so I can share them with you. Like this fluffy juvenile Malachite sunbird sipping some of its first drops of black nectar from the weird flowers of Melianthus pectinatus, at one of our study sites near Kamieskroon, hub of Namaqualand.