Thursday, 5 November 2015

Chaos in Crete

A belated post following a workshop on storytelling in science education Rachel (FSC Scotland) and I were running at the European Marine Science Educators Association conference in Crete. Cushy right? 

I'd gotten a little preparatory reading done and, as far as I could tell, the Heraklion area was not the buzzing hub of Cretan bird life; but after a drab Scottish summer and the short winter nights on the horizon, I was certainly ready for a chance to be out in the warm (hopefully not too warm). I was also aware that spare time would be incredibly limited, so I set my sites low with hope of a handful of new species: maybe a shrike or two, or a new heron, perhaps a red-throated pipit... 

On the first day there was the usual disappointment. The venue were nowhere near fresh water, there were very few birds on the surrounding wires, the scrub was filled with sparrows... As we walked along the sea front I failed to spot a single gull or wader. Inside, I was grumbling... too warm... bloody heavy camera... gotta be a dry river bed somewhere...

We eventually reached the aquarium, our venue for the week, and I got my first hints of wildlife. In amongst the ubiquitous sparrows, a few crested larks and pipits foraged... not much, but a start. 

Crested Lark

prob. tawny pipit

The next day I cracked it. Look up. As I sat dejectedly with a coffee I watched a falcon come in from the sea. Then a flock of egrets go over. Then purple heron. Three hooded crows. Over the break I ticked of a further four species before giving up and immersing myself in the haze of networking and strong coffee that is the conference day.

Unfortunately that was abut it, aside from the flyovers the real highlight was the incredibly confiding kingfishers that worked the little inlets along the beach. But there was so much promise in the hills that loomed on the horizon, covered by low scrub. When I return I'll be heading to those hills (more prepared for the hot weather), with warblers in my sights. Until then I have the memory of strong coffee, friendly delegates, and the promise of doing it all again next year in Belfast.

Storytelling workshop

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