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[Ashmore Trip 1] Final Logistics

May 1, 2013

[This is the first in a series of ‘Ashmore Trip 1′ posts, essentially diary entries. Internet was unavailable at the Ashmore Reef, so they are being presented one-day-per-day now that I am back in Melbourne.]

28/03/2013

We fly out, Melbourne to Broome, on the 7th of April, and from there two days North to Ashmore. Today, then, was time for a final logistics meeting.

We are taking an unseemly pile of equipment: two types of geolocator loggers, a stack of needles and syringes sufficient to put a hospital to shame, nets, pliers, calipers, gloves, reinforced picnic fly-covers (for protecting chicks from predation as we handle their parents), capillary tubes for blood sampling, ammo boxes, chilly bins, several thousand bird bands, and enough ethanol to cause serious kidney damage. The ethanol, in particular, is causing logistical headaches: we cannot buy it in Broome, and if we fail to get it through security at Melbourne airport we will have severely limited sampling ability for genetic or stable-isotope work. It is being scrupulously divided between people’s checked and carry-on baggage to make sure everyone carries just under the legal limits.

The remainder of the meeting was given to the exact techniques of logger attachment – a Wandering Albatross foot, and a whole Southern Giant Petrel, were procured from the School museum, and by judicious application of duct tape and superglue, the loggers were attached and detached multiple times. It remains to be seen if any of the birds we encounter in the field will be as placid and compliant as our museum specimens, but we can hope.

The next few days will be a frenzy of activity – hundreds of loggers to be charged (via USB – I shall forgo my mouse), programmed, and packed into boxes. Personal field gear to be purchased (I and one of the other new PhDs have moved to Melbourne from foreign countries, and left our field gear at home). If we forget anything at this stage, the field site is two days’ sail away from anywhere we could buy replacements, so it’s rather important not to forget anything. Fortunately, we have the Easter Public Holidays to complete the packing in, so very few distractions.

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