Wednesday, 26 August 2009

Gathering brainwaves

When I first began my fieldwork I was faced with making some pretty major adjustments to my life. For one thing, I was going to spend the largest continuous period of time in Cyprus since I left for university five years ago. I was also faced with spending a huge amount of time driving around unfamiliar places, often off road, and living a bit like a nomad. My circadian rhythm also had to be shifted, to allow work to begin soon after dawn every day. I was about to experience what it's like to work in the countryside, outdoors, on my own.

There are much worse conditions to do fieldwork in and people find themselves in much lonelier circumstances than in my case. But it was really tough.

I sound like a wuss. I am a wuss. Can you imagine I'd gone off to somewhere like SE Asia instead?! I'd be dead meat in a matter of hours. Transportation would be incredibly difficult, no-one would speak English, and communication with the outside world would probably be limited to one e-mail every month when I'd manage to go to the nearest major city. And my childhood dreams of being a researcher in the tropics were shattered. I just wouldn't be able to deal with it. Ever. Wuss.

Anyway, I ended up loving the moving around and the driving and the working outdoors (the fact that it was early summertime helped), and now I'm back at the office. Small, confined, dark, and to make matters worse, everyone in it has left. They've been moved to a brighter office (next to the coffee room!), where I will be joining them next week (I hope). Still. Four walls and computer screens. My whole body is feeling it.

And I'm telling you, a month and a half of not walking 3km a day, and sitting on my rear eating deserts, has had a huge impact. And so begins another endeavour to look good naked. I wonder if I'll ever be able to keep my abs for longer than a few months at a time.

Monday, 24 August 2009

Fieldwork Roundup

I'm back!

I have been missing in action doing fieldwork since March and now I am back at my office in Norwich. It's pretty claustrophobic and quite a transition. I've been starting slow and steady trying to focus again.

Fieldwork was not so hard in the end. It was long and repetitive, but I now have 202 sites' worth of data on birds and habitat. I ended up being pretty good at bird identification, both by sight and by call. Surprisingly, but thankfully, it turned out to be very easy to pick up. I had two field assistants during the course of the season. As I predicted, it was interesting. But without them I wouldn't have been able to complete so many sites, so it was excellent to have them with me.

The best thing about the fieldwork was the opportunity to see so much of my country. I've been to so many places and seen so much of the Cyprus countryside, and I would never have done anything like this had it not been for the PhD. Cyprus is a gorgeous place to explore and I love it. I will be going back for more of the same fieldwork in winter, and will face a whole new set of challenges. It scares me, but it's happening, so I won't worry about it quite yet.

I've got other things to freak out about now: data analysis.