Freshwater Ecology 4/4

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More pictures of this day can be seen on my Flickr page.

Thursday: Wieden

Yesterday’s programme announcement was a success: we had another plan for today. It told us we were going to be in boats again most of the day, except this time we would have to punt! Some students sighed, but I had looked forward to this. Punting boats are even better than electric ones. While we were getting ready, I noticed someone had caught an exotic looking moth (last night?) and I took a picture of it. Then we were off to collect our rented boats, but not before we made a spontaneous stop (not on the programme) at the Spinnekopmolen. We were on our way to the Wieden, a different wetland area than the Weerribben, which we had visited previously. (Both are connected now in the National Park I mentioned earlier).

On the radio in the car, the DJ of Radio 2 asked to call in your favourite Eagles song, as they would soon do a few concerts in our country. Right before they played one of these songs, we had arrived. It didn’t matter much, as I’d be seeing them live soon, in Antwerp. Anyway, we were here on a mission. The other students were pleased I was so keen on punting and I did the whole outwards trip. When they saw how much fun it is, I let them take over on our way back. The tests that had to be done were pretty much the same as yesterday, except we didn’t have to do them in ten different locations. Our teachers had predicted this environment might be a bit more nutrient rich. Besides our tests, we would also still pay attention to the wildlife and we spotted a few nice creatures.

We saw a few aalscholvers flying over, there was a fuut sitting on a nest and we saw bitterzoet growing on the edge. It was all so beautiful and quiet and I felt a bit like an intruder. We had to head to one of the floating islands, as that was one of the two spots we had to look into. We also needed to make a few drawings. Punting to this island through the open water was not hard to do, except for the fact I had a broken stick. It was doable, but in certain areas it would get stuck in the muddy ground. One time I couldn’t get it out right away, so I hung on to it and fell in the boat. This resulted in a big purple bruise next to my big mosquito bite. I got the stick though. When later one of the others was punting and we couldn’t get away from the midges quick enough, I jumped in and pushed the boat away.

Getting back in was more tricky and I fell in again, on one of the sticks, which resulted in two big bruises on my bum. (There is only a picture of my knee on my Flickr page). I was wet and muddy and bruised, but I just thought this added to the fun. You know, like we were on a survival camp. Except here the hardest obstacles were the bridges, I suppose. It was very exhausting though, this whole week. But like last time, I just felt how good spending a week in nature really is for you. And on our way back in the van, we weren’t too tired to sing along to Brown Eyed Girl. I said it before, but in case you missed it and you’re still wondering about the meaning of life… this is it: to enjoy it!

During the presentations of our results, we concluded that the water we took samples of, didn’t differ much from our results yesterday. There was one spot which appeared to have an unexplainable spike in nutrients, until we remembered we actually took that one near a little farm. After a beautiful sunset (and a nice meal of leftovers) there was some more last-minute studying and we eventually ended up in the garden late at night again. Our small group and our two teachers. I had a good conversation with Huub. I can’t remember the context, but at one point he said he likes it when things become clear (!) I told him honestly that the lack of structure at our university (Windesheim) is the main reason for me to switch. To my surprise, he said he understood.

We missed Ed as well. Especially when sharing memories of the Salty Waters trip. Huub remembered one of the students had been so drunk, they had moved a mattress. I told Huub that that was us and we hadn’t been drunk. This week we did have a nice group too. Especially with the young ones there. When we went to bed, there was the sound of rain on our window and I felt very happy. The next morning we packed, cleaned up, took that towel off the door handle (which prevented it from making a lot of noise), had breakfast for the last time at our picnic tables and there was one last test to make.

We drove back again with Wichard and Huub and we had to leave quickly as there was another midges invasion coming up due to the grass being mowed. The teachers wished me the best for my English course as we said goodbye. I will miss biology so very much and I wouldn’t be surprised if I pick it up again at a later stage. This just seems like the best career move for me now. Back at the university, Steven picked me up and we would soon be on our way to the next camping expedition (sleeping at the science centre, but more on that later). When I arrived home to repack, I noticed Sharinda had put a message on Facebook saying she still feels like she’s in a boat. Trauma or homesick (a.k.a. ‘Wiedenwee’)? I think the latter.


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