Down Under

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Well, here we are, I arrived in Down Under (Australia’s nickname), where I am about to spend at least 3 years for my PhD with Deakin University near Melbourne. During this time, I will work on the foraging ecology of different species of seabirds – shags and penguins. I’ll spend a lot of time in the field, so keep in mind that if you wanna contact me, I might not be able to answer right away. I hope to share with you through this part of my blog my new life, with my impressions, my rants, my favorites, pieces of advice for travellers or expats who will chose or have chosen Melbourne, my fieldwork and research in general! Feel free to leave comments and contact me with questions and suggestions. Enjoy!

Christmas and New Year

For Christmas, the penguins gave me a nice gift : a few days without field work to do in order to rest and party ! Because I actually found out at the last minute, Pip and I could not make any plans nor bookings and ended up missing out on going to Tassie for a festival as we wanted. Finally, we decided to go on a bit of a road trip to Adelaide, to spend a few days at some of Pip’s friends.  

 We drove over there on the 24th, which took us a bit less than 10 hours and we arrived for dinner. I was surprised to see that Aussies actually throw their Chirstmas parties on the 25th rather than on Christmas’ Eve, as most people do in France. We spent that day at a friend of Pip’s, playing in the refreshing swimming pool with the kids, and enjoying great food and drinks. It was way hotter in South Australia than it had been in Victoria and that, for me, did not contribute to being in a Christmas mood – this actually was my first Christmas in hot weather… We also spent time at another friend’s whose parents have a very lovely house on top of the famous Adelaide Hills, with an amazing swimming pool overlooking the city. On Boxing Day, we got pretty much baked on the beach – the water temperature was nice though, although colder than I expected. We also had a wine tasting down in MacLaren Vale. That allowed me to discover an original specialty – that was made thanks to a Frenchie actually : a sparkling red wine, which I found pretty good ! All in all, Pip and I were a bit tired and did not do a lot of walks and visits since we wanted to rest instead of running everywhere. We drove along a different road to go back to Melbourne. We followed the coast and reached the Great Ocean Road, where I had to check my study colony, in London Bridge, to know if the eggs from the second clutch had hatched and if there were deployments to do. A volunteer came with me to do the survey for a few hours but the eggs actually had not hatched and I came back to Melbourne and joined Pip who had gone to Melbourne early to see a cricket match.

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Where was I ?

Alright, finally I’ve got time to write ! I apologise for not taking the time to send more news, via this blog or emails/letters to the ones who have written to me ! Before I forget : Happy New Year, dear reader !

A lot of things have happened since I last posted anything on this blog, I am now not sure where to start… There’s been fieldwork, fieldwork, fielwork, stress and fatigue, moving out, a week-long vacation, more fieldwork, a few dives, a heatwave… This post will tell you all about it in detail and here are a few photos as well (sorry again about the quality, I have had to take them with my phone – btw, I shall gladly accept any donation to help me afford a new camera ! lol)

During the past few months, I alternated the field sessions for my PhD between London Bridge and Gabo Island (for the ones who ask me to clarify such things, here is a map of Victoria with the location of both field sites). London Bridge is a very small colony (about fifty nests this year) compared to Gabo, which has the biggest little penguins’ colony on earth as well as a big shearwater colony – another kind of seabird (see the photo below). The configuration of the colonies is very different in both places but so are the working and living conditions, the landscapes and other species encountered. As I’ve mentioned in a previous article, a house is available for us to stay on Gabo (what a luxury compared to doing fieldwork and sleeping in a tent or hut !) whereas in London Bridge, accommodation is in a backpackers in the next town, Port Campbell. The hostel is actually nicely set up and the owners always try to book a room just for ourselves so we can work more easily.

Field sites

My field sites 

shearwater

A shearwater on Gabo

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