Sunday, 13 December 2009

Much more statistical analysis and a seminar talk later, I found myself back in Cyprus for Winter fieldwork

I can’t say that my stats results so far are particularly groundbreaking. My supervisor and I basically came to the conclusion that the multivariate methods I’ve been using so far are too coarse to pick up the subtle differences in the habitat requirements of the various bird species. So the next steps are to look at individual species, instead of the big amalgam I was using up to this point.

This is where Distance Sampling analysis comes in... Let’s just say that I am two books and a week-long workshop at The University of St. Andrews away from getting anywhere closer to analysing my data in a species-specific way.

My final week at the university was taken up by my seminar talk. It was an interesting experience. My supervisor decided to give me completely last minute suggestions for the presentation on the evening before the talk was to take place. The result, of course, was inadequate preparation. The PowerPoint slides were fine and I’m actually quite proud of them (you can see a version of my presentation here). It was just the actual spoken part that I had no confidence in. Although I received some very positive post-talk feedback, and I was very glad to hear everything was clear and understandable, I felt that I let myself down a bit. Next time, I will practice my talks properly! In front of a mirror if necessary.

So, after this, I returned to my beloved island, this time to repeat what I did last field-season and count birds at the same sites as last Spring/Summer, but this time, in Winter. The original plan was to have a good idea of what my Spring/Summer 2010 fieldwork is going to be about before setting off for Winter 2009/2010 fieldwork... That didn’t go as planned at all. After a very short brainstorm with my supervisor, we sort of decided that Spring/Summer was going to be about vines. A month later and I have yet to make any progress on gaining some background knowledge of viticulture and vine management in Cyprus and locating extra vine sites for springtime fieldwork. So, for next Spring/Summer, I am F-U-K-T  f*cked.

I wish I didn’t have to do another field-season after this one, to be honest.  I’m only going to have 4-6 weeks back at university in between this field-season and the next one. It’s hardly enough time to do anything! The idea is to bust my ass doing more stats to better direct my next fieldwork, but it’s just not enough time. I mean, last time, it took me more than a month to conclude that cereal and forests host significantly different bird communities. An additional month of stats might lead me to the more detailed conclusion that Larks like cereal and Cyprus and Sardinian Warblers like scrub. No sh*t, Sherlock! Anyway, I’m sure I’ll somehow pull myself out of yet another tight spot.

The tight spot I have to deal with now, however, is completely beyond my control and the only thing that can help me is prayer... i.e. nothing. I'm referring to the weather. Euch. So far, it had been fine, so I’ve managed to work up a head-start. But the last few days have been dreadful. Torrential rain, gale-force winds, hailstones, thunder and lightning, the works! Proper Cyprus storms that last days. I’ve lost 2 full days of fieldwork so far. But I guess that’s what the head-start was for. And rain is good for my parched island. Except for the idiots who think one wet winter is license to build golf courses *sigh*

More on fieldwork and also my exciting encounters with Cypriot hunters later.