Tuesday, 1 September 2015

Fieldwork: Season one

I'm off to Australia again, but this time I'm going to spend six weeks there (you might recall I went to visit for two weeks in January/February). I should be landing tomorrow night and starting fieldwork asap.

The rough plan is to carry out behavioural observations of male courtship displays and assess their variability with respect to certain female characteristics. I want to obtain data on particular superb fairy-wren individuals and so a very detail plan cannot be made at the moment as I need to see what individuals are available once I get there - all birds need to pair up and settle for the breeding season first. Last time I checked things were still in flux.

I'm planning to spend the first couple of weeks mainly on getting to know the field site and the birds. I need to be able to not only find the birds and follow them, but also to identify birds by their colour rings (nearly all birds on the field site are banded, each with a unique colour combination - so we know which bird is which!). This means practice, practice, practice!

I expect it's going to be quite tough to start with. Hopefully as my brain builds up a superb fairy-wren search image, both when it comes to spotting the birds and recognising their calls, I will be able to find the fairy-wrens easier and also have that split second longer to look at them. This is one of those rather frustrating situations, where you need to stick it out till it finally clicks. One day you just can't do it! and the next it works (seemingly by magic). I don't know whether there is any way to speed up the process, other than spending as much time as possible on trying to get things right. Fingers crossed my brain gets there quickly!

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