WSBEorchids

Life after the project part 3

WOW! It has been two years since my last update on the blog and what two years it has been. Firstly, I graduated from University of Chester in July 2019 with a first class degree in Conservation Biology. Then I was lucky enough to secure a job in Greece that summer working with volunteers monitoring Loggerhead turtle in Kyparissia bay, which is the busiest nesting site in the Mediterranean. I helped protect and record nest, watch hatchlings emerge and excavate nests.

I have been determined to spend a lot more time in Africa after my first trip in July 2014 to Rwanda with the orchid project. So, at the end of last year I decided I was going to train as a field guide and came to South Africa in January to complete a yearlong field guide course and as of June 2020 I am now a qualified field guide! With this year posing challenges for all of us, it was not a normal course however being lockdown in the South African bush for 2.5 months is potential one of the best places to spend it. I was meant to then complete a placement in the lodge industry however with COVID and the lack of international tourist this was not possible. I now find myself on a research course instead, across the road from my field guide course campus going out exploring South Africa doing biodiversity surveys. We are currently coming into summer with temperatures reaching 39oC but this is great as we have just had our first rains of the season and all the insects and reptiles are becoming more active.

Being able to spend the whole year in South Africa has meant I am able to see the flowering season of many orchids which I have not been able to before due to being the wrong season. On campus we have a big Ansellia africana which is just coming into flower and I am sooo excited as I have never seen it flower in the wild before. Having sown a lot of Ansellia seed during my time on the project this is the orchid I want to see flower the most. On the research course we also get the opportunity to explore the mountain region which has some amazing forest and high altitude grasslands and it was here I saw my first flowering orchid in South Africa, Polystachya ottoniana and Bulbophylum sandersonii.

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Discussion

  1. Agnes Jones says:

    It is really lovely to hear all your interesting news, I am glad you have had such a fantastic time.

  2. Simon Pugh-Jones says:

    Wow Heather – what an amazing life you are leading. Where in South Africa are you?
    What animals are you mixing with?
    You will be such an amazing field guide, we will need to book trips out for you to lead us around South Africa

  3. Simon Pugh-Jones says:

    Do let Melanie when you are next in the UK and we can arrange for you to talk to students about you experience – inspiring 🙂