23 June 2014

Plotting

This past week, I was lucky enough to go to a conference about digitizing biological collections and working on the ecological relationships of insects in Riverside, California. The conference focused on several groups of insects (they people I worked with were interested mostly in the families Miridae and Reduviidae), and we got to swap all kinds of ideas regarding studying interconnected biological systems.

Luckily, not everyone exclusively works on insects, and a couple of us managed to sneak away and do some birding before we got started with lectures on the second day. We followed Two Trees Canyon up above the campus of University of California--Riverside, and thought diversity was low, we got our fair share of California birds. Lesser Goldfinches sang overhead while Song Sparrows sang in the brush and the occasional Red-tailed Hawk flew by. Nuttall's Woodpeckers foraged in the Western Scrub-Jay infested trees and several pairs of Wrentits called the canyon home. It was a good escape from the indoors, and gave me a chance to see many species that I had not seen in several years.

Chamaea fasciata

Wrentits, like this one I photographed several years ago near San Diego, were fairly common near UC Riverside.

Though it was a nice four day foray into the Pacific coastal region, I am now back in Kansas plotting my next moves. Starting Thursday, I will be meeting up with Caroline to do a lower plains circuit. Together, we will drive to Colorado for my cousins wedding and then make our way to Arkansas to see Caroline's family before working our way back up to Lawrence again.

Rough outline of our route, with Lawrence marked by the letter "J".

Along the way, we have the opportunity to visit the high points of three states (Mt. Sunflower, Kansas; Black Mesa, Oklahoma; and Mt. Magazine, Arkansas) as well as explore much of the plains in the central united states. We will be visiting salt pans, xeric woodlands and the beautiful Ozarks. All of this will be interspersed with meeting with family and generally enjoying our time together as we drive across the states. We will return to Lawrence, and the next day Caroline will return to Louisiana and I will head to Cameroon.

Once in Cameroon, I will be attending the week long Central African Biodiversity Alliance conference, where I will be networking, working with GIS and practicing data collection in Yaounde, Cameroon. From there, I will travel west to Buea on the slopes of Mt. Cameroon, and then head deep into the jungles of Korup National Park. If there is time, I will also head north in the volcanic highlands of Bamenda and search for some of the unique endemics found in the mountains of western Cameroon. After three weeks in this amazing country, I will travel to Douala and return home to Lawrence. Need less to say, come August, I plan on sleeping for a few days straight.

Outline of Cameroon route. Equatorial Guinea, specifically in Bata and Malabo (on Bioko) are where I was in November.

I'll keep posting as I can, and let you know how the summer progresses!

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