Looks like I’ve been out of touch for a number of weeks, but I sort of have an excuse: I’ve been traveling around for most of it, on various field trips.
Daintree National Park
The Daintree protects some of the few remaining coastal rainforest left in all of Australia, so it merited a visit. It’s also the wettest region of Australia, and we happened to visit during the Wet Season, so surprise, it rained for three days straight, the entire length of our stay. But we’re used to that now; it wasn’t as bad as the deteriorating cyclone that dumped rain on us for five days straight, without stop, in early February. Ah, life in the rainforest.
Ever on the lookout for new birds, I was hoping for some of the lowland specialties, but struck out on almost all of them, only Bridled Honeyeater was a worthy pickup. Noisy Pitta was the main target, but none were seen or heard during our stay. The other amazing lowland bird we were hoping for, the Buff-breasted Paradise-Kingfisher, did fortunately make an appearance at the Mardja Boardwalk. But I’d already gotten this bird over Spring Break, near the summit of Mt. Whitfield north of Cairns. For the record though, it remains one of the most spectacular birds I have ever seen in the wild. The other cool bird we got was a Cassowary crossing the road near Cape Tribulation, with two chicks in tow!
On our final morning at our secluded rainforest hostel, we were sleepily munching on cereal when a thunderous crash happened, in the direction of some of the cabins. We rushed over to the scene, and Ian was smart enough to grab a First Aid kit. What we found was pretty sobering: the loose waterlogged soil had caused a massive tree to fall, right onto one of the cabins. We swarmed around the cabin, knocking on the few remaining doors left standing, looking for the injured, but thank goodness, we found that the cabin had been unoccupied at the time. Ten feet away from the tree, in the next cabin over, a mother had been sleeping with her 11-month old child. She was pretty shaken up by the close call, but talk about being fortunate.
The other occurrence of note in the Daintree was a stop at the Daintree Ice Cream Company. You don’t get to pick your flavors, you have to get Today’s Special, which is a mix of four flavors. We got Wattleseed, Soursop, Passionfruit, and a fourth fruit that I’d never heard of, forgot the name of, and tasted like deliciousness. Actually, in general, it was the best ice cream I’d ever had, despite the fact that three of the four flavors were completely new to my senses. It was so, so good. Holy cow.
James Cook University – Townsville
Just two days after returning from the Daintree, we departed for an Ultimate Frisbee tournament at James Cook University in Townsville. Being one of the better players in the program, I signed up for an entire day’s worth of games, knowing full well that I was about to get physically hammered. Temperatures climbed into the upper 90’s, and the air was incredibly dry, making for a really strenuous environment to do heavy exercise in. I made sure to keep hydrated, but halfway through the first game, I was getting dizzy spells, a really terrible sign. Worse yet, the tournament organizers failed to provide the usual bagels and bananas for the players, making it tough to find the necessary calories.
Our ragtag team played surprisingly competitively, against the full-practicing JCU teams, and in our final game of School for Field Studies vs. James Cook University, we almost pulled off the upset. Two absolutely epic points dominated the middle of the match, as both teams played tough defense, and drives down the field were shut down just before the endzone. I was physically doing better than a lot of my teammates at this point, with fresher legs, so my defensive assignment was to shut down their captain Megan, the quickest player on the team, with a constant source of energy. I kept up with her through the first epic point (won by us) and through most of the second epic point, but nearing the end of that point, both of us absolutely hit the wall, and just stood there, planted to the ground. She dug deep and made one final desperate cut, I caught up, and that was it, we were done. On the other side of the field, JCU scored the point, and it took the last of our energy to get off the field. I spent the rest of the day gulping down water, dried bananas, and pizza, and passed out on the bus home. The next day was pretty brutal, but man, the whole tournament was worth it.
Coming up next: homestays, and directed research. Or, in the short-run, a.k.a. tomorrow: finals.
Some more photos:
Mossman River, in the Daintree
And I want people’s opinions on this. It’s a poster I made for my Socioeconomics Values & Environmental Policy course, based on a paper I just wrote. All the students are making posters, and the best one is getting presented at a conference in New York. I just made this poster for fun, but I showed it to a few people, including a professor, and they seem to think that I’ve already clinched the trip to New York. That can’t be true, right? It’s fun to look at it, but there’s no way I can present this at a professional conference, is there? Anyways, let me know what you think of it!
Leeches attached: ~100 (Woohoo!)
Leeches that have feasted upon my blood: 6
Brushes with the Stinging Tree: 2