Happy Christmas and new year! At the very least we hope you had a better day of it than we did… At Christmas we tried to explore the national parks and have a day on a deserted beach 1 hour south of Sydney, under the perfectly understandable reasoning that everyone else would be at home with family. Oh no. After a disgusting 2 hours in stationary traffic we were turned away at the park entrance by police, who informed us that the park was “dangerously full”. When we got back home the bird we had taken out of the freezer for our Christmas feast had not only defrosted but gone thoroughly off in the heat, and had to be thrown away! Chiz.
It’s not been all bad. We finished our second field season at the end of November, which was successful. I discovered a new species of thrips! Akainothrips francisi is the first species of thrips to be recorded living and breeding inside the nest of another thrips, i.e. a social parasite. Very exciting. Just FYI I am taking bids from anyone who wants the next one named after them. Other highlights included the Melbourne Cup, a legendary horse race for which the whole of Australia grinds to a halt and indulges in much revelry and derring-do. The local watering hole, usually very chilled out, was suddenly thronging with people behatted and bedecked in finery, and creating races out of everything it is possible to race, crayfish, beer, spouses, each other, etc. Great fun.
Back in Sydney we found a lovely little flat that overlooks the city skyline, with a balcony perfect for kicking back with a beer in the evening. Awesome. I got the funding I had applied for, so we will be here for at least two more years before coming back to the UK for a year.
Lucy has been out bird-ringing several times at a local National Park, disappearing at unspeakable times of the morning. We both went out last weekend, and got up close and personal with some beautiful kingfishers. Less beautiful but also exciting was seeing the biggest thrips in the world (as I am told).