News from the dunes (& beyond)

It's all go in field! We have updates from the red dunes, the Cape mountains and the new temperature-controlled facility at the University of Pretoria:

Krista with a cape rockjumper

Krista with a cape rockjumper

  • MATT NOAKES is busy building aviaries for his field season for an translocation experiment to understand drivers of heat tolerance in white-browed sparrow-weavers.
  • AMANDA BOURNE is about to be joined by SAMANTHA KIRVES at Kuruman River Reserve where the pied babbler breeding season is off to a flying start! Virtually all of the groups we follow are either nest-building, incubating or feeding chicks! Samantha will help Amanda keep on top of it all until SELLO MATJEE can get into the field to lend a hand in mid-October.
  • RYAN OLINGER is also inundated: his fork-tailed drongos are likewise all attempting to breed early this season (making up for last year's El Nino-related wipe-out?) and he is busy perfecting experiments that will let him unpick the mechanisms linking high temperature to changes in foraging and provisioning rates in these birds.
  • SUSIE CUNNINGHAM has just returned from the dunes, where she was helping Ryan and Amanda get started and assessing what is happening with the yellow-billed hornbills (TANJA VAN DE VEN is busy writing her PhD thesis on these) ... Susie and Tanja found that although the birds have paired up for the season and are inspecting boxes and cavities, breeding activity hasn't started yet.
  • MARGAUX RAT and SAMANTHA KIRVES have completed building fully collapsible and portable aviaries for use in the temperature-controlled chambers at the University of Pretoria, for experiments looking at how temperature affects social networks in sociable weavers. CCTV cameras going in today and then we're almost ready for the birds!
  • KRISTA OSWALD is out in the Cape mountains collecting genetic samples from cape rockjumpers to understand how climates past, present and future affect gene flow between fragmented populations of this declining species.
No pain, no gain: margaux and samantha complete the collapsible aviaries at the temperature controlled facility in pretoria

No pain, no gain: margaux and samantha complete the collapsible aviaries at the temperature controlled facility in pretoria

Updates from the rest of the team will follow soon!