Sunday, 8 May 2011

Cape Town Capers

Nearly the view from my room!

So, finally I've found a place I can access the internet from properly! For all South Africa's sophistication and technology, there's something very odd about the way the internet works (or doesn't) at it's research facilities! This has caused a few complications, as I've been unable to organise the second half of my travels properly, but I'm now in Johannesburg and have a place to spend the night, plus (currently) access to the internet, so hopefully I can make the necessary arrangements... Nevertheless, as Mama B reported, I did have fun in Cape Town. It was a bit of a nightmare journey to get there, accompanying the rest of the family to Tanzania then rushing around the corner to check in again to head to Nairobi (a bit touch and go, with the plane in to Tanzania arriving about 1 1/2hrs late, and only a 3hr turn around planned), then on to Johannesburg, arriving there (late) at 1am and with the next flight to catch at 8. Happily, I was booked into a hotel at the airport and they let me in – but the 6am wake-up call failed to arrive and I didn't wake up until 7am! Mad rush down to the airport and I made it in time. From then on all has been smooth – I was picked up and taken to a beautiful guesthouse right next to Kirstenbosch Gardens and as soon as I was out of the shower was picked up by G for lunch. Walking back through the gardens after lunch I found my first new birds – some nice Cape specials – and loved the gardens.
Southern Double-collared Sunbird

Cape White-eye
African Penguin wondering if the storm is coming
In fact, as I was spending the week at the South African National Biodiversity Institute, with offices in the gardens, I enjoyed a morning walk through the gardens each day. As the Monday was a holiday I was then whisked off to see the penguins – though thunderstorms made it a wetter experience than we'd planned!

Yes, it is!

It was pretty hectic meeting lots of folk, trying to crack on with some analyses and actually get things done, so I didn't see as much of Cape Town as your average visitor, but did have lots of fun and enjoyed some lovely walks on the slopes of Table Mountain, and searching out the birds of Kirstenbosch on my way through each morning.
I know a few gardens where this would be appropriate...

Evening view from the Contour Path above Kirstenbosch

Snazzy Cape Franconlins

Yesterday I'd been invited by one of the folk who I took through Serengeti back in November in seach of grass to join a botanical foray into the Fynbos of Table Mountain National Park with a couple of other visiting academic types, which was great – not only to discuss fire and burning bushes with some absolute experts from SA and US, but also to find a few extra Fynbos special birds.
Can you see the same Prof still looking for grass?!

I even noticed the plants - this is the biggest protea, and beloved of...

Cape Sugarbird - it was a bit breezy up there!

And once that was over I was picked up by more folk for an evening birding trip to the local wetland, before heading (for the first time!) into the 'city bowl', or main centre of Cape Town to meet yet more folk and then head down to the Waterfront for a fancy (and yummy!) seafood supper. All in all, a very sociable time, and we did manage to get some interesting analyses started, looking at ways to model seasonal patterns and movements of birds across southern Africa, when the patterns vary considerably place to place. Watch this space to see how long it takes to develop a final model of African Paradise Flycatcher movements... It was great to work with lots of folk there though, and I'm sure opportunities for more things will flow from this. What fun!

Next stop, finding a way to gatecrash a big fire meeting happening about 2hrs away in the next week, and firming up Kruger visiting plans for the end of the week...

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