Miss 16's course was at a university about 4 1/2 hours drive south of here. My parents live about 30 minutes drive away from the university so the plan was that we would drive down and I would stay with them while she attended the course. Us being us we managed to turn a four hour trip into a twelve hour trip in one direction and an eight hour trip in the other by means of taking the very long and scenic route on the drive down, and making several diversions from the shorter route on the way back. The reason for such a convoluted journey was of course to maximize the number of birding opportunities along the way!
|Miss 16 shared a lot of the driving load so I could sometimes sit back and enjoy the views|
|We did a lot of bush birding this trip. The scenery was more beautiful than the mudflats where we often do our birding.|
|Sometimes we didn't even have to walk to find the birds. This Red-billed gull landed on the car while we were eating lunch|
|Kaka are Miss 16's favourite bird. We visited a predator-proof reserve and saw 14 at one feeding station alone, the most we've ever seen at one time.|
|Miss 16 is involved in a Young Birders group. She was pleased to see their new poster on display at the reserve.|
Miss 16's programme was called Hands-On, an opportunity for students going in to the final year or two at high school to get a hands-on experience of university life. She was in the zoology section where her hands-on experiences included a dissection (no small scale here, the students were given wallabies to dissect), ecomorphology (basically analyzing bones - she was delighted they were given bird bones to work with and especially delighted to get to work on the bones of a Kakapo, a critically
|Measuring and analyzing bones|
|A Hochstetter's frog|
Her favourite activity was a trip to an eco-sanctuary to focus on ornithology. The group learnt about triangulation and used their skills to locate marked bird's nests. They also used radio transmitters to find specially hidden collars (since there are no suitable birds to practise on at the sanctuary). Finally, they looked at South Island Robins and the research to understand their behaviour, especially the ways in which they are losing their alert behaviours in this predator-proof sanctuary and what that means for their survival - especially if they get translocated ou of the sanctuary to a less protected environment. She was the only one in the group really keen to handle the mealworms they were using to bring the robins in. She'll do pretty much anything when it comes to birds!
|First nest successfully located!|
Using a radio transmitter
|A very bad photo of a South Island robin!|
In addition to the projects in their focus area, course participants were given a taste of other university programmes. Since this university is introducing a new degree giving equal weight to arts and sciences they made sure the science students were given a taste of arts and vice versa. Miss 16 experienced physical education, which she said was lots of fun, as well as theatre studies and art conservation. She enjoyed them both but wasn't inspired to give up ornithology/zoology to pursue them further! As well as the academics the course involved lots of fun social activities - a dance, quiz night, an Amazing Race type event as well as a lip-synch contest - plus the chance to experience living in a hall of residence. She was lucky to get one of the best rooms, but felt the food quality was rather variable. All in all the week was a great experience for her.
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