Starwind Rohana (starsong24) wrote,
Starwind Rohana

Musing on the Biodiversity Course.

I had a Biodiversity module that consisted entirely of spending a week in Spain during the holiday, studying wildlife, and then working out and conducting a scientific experiment with two other people.

Pro: It was sunny for five of the seven-or-so days we were there...we only had two cloudy days. Con: The same. It was too sunny, and although I grant that not putting sun lotion on the back of my neck the first day there was my own fault, that didn't make it any more comfortable. Pro to the con: At least I had aftersun.

Pro: We were on hills near the coast, so plenty of wind -it never got too humid. Con: My hat (a baseball cap) kept blowing off.

Pro: The hill near the town, where we did a lot of specimen-gathering and my group did our experiment, had an abundance of plants and wildlife (once you got close enough to look...), including an ultraviolet spider that was yellow in normal light. Con: The local flora was prickly. Also, there were funnel web spiders (the bite of which can be fatal), although I'm not sure if that's really a bad thing...

The hill itself was both a military base and a sanctury for re-introductions of what I think was some sort of ibis; we saw a few of them the first time we were there. It's a military area partly because Zahara (where we were) is pretty darned close to Gibralter -you could actually see Africa from the hill on a clear day -so they have a lot of illegal immigrants landing around there.

Pro: The beaches had chameleons. I got to hold one! That particular chameleon got passed around the whole class before we reluctantly let it go...poor thing. Con...I think that was the day we did a lot of driving? The worst issue was boredom.

Pro: We went to a National Park. Access was restriicted. It's the only place in the world outside of a botanical garden where you can find Abiase pinsapo (probably misspelled), a type of pine tree which looks a lot like any other Christmas tree, but which grows solely on the north side of one particular mountain, because it's too dry for it on the south side. It got trapped there during an Ice Age, speciated, and now can't get out. From one place on the trail you could see about 60-70% of all that species in existence.
Con...that trail? Eleven kilometres for a round trip; we walked for five hours and got a quarter of the way because the instructors kept stopping us to look at orchids/trees/wells/rocks/daisies/extremely poisonous processional caterpillars living in a tree. Yes, that's their job, but...

Pro: The night walk involved the discovery of a snake, which our instructor picked up (it wasn't poisonous, but still) and showed to us! You could see it doing the tongue-flicker thing. We also discovered that UV light does strange things to passports. Con: Eleven o'clock. I was sleepy by then.

Pro: While doing the experiment on the hill, a young griffon vulture flew past maybe six feet from my head, which was awesome, and I got to look at Africa whenever we were fifteen or more feet above sea level. Con: Prickly plants = sore legs, though I was used to it by then.

The food was also excellent; apart from the flam, desserts were inevitably delicious, and the main course was always good, even if it sometimes seemed to be the wrong temperature. I did wish it came before nine PM, but...

On the whole? Pretty fantastic trip.
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