Wrapping it up

Wrapping it up

My last day here. And my last chance to actually catch an African bird. Therefore, on my final morning in Mozambique I find myself sitting in a marsh with all three of my mist nets up, just hoping I can sign off, if not in style, then at least with some face saved! I’ve been up since half 5 and it’s now 9 am and the sun is already beating down. The little peak in bird activity that there was at dawn has now ceased. It’s not looking good. “One more check and then I’ll pack up” I think. Then low and behold a bird!! It’s a Green backed Camaroptera. A small warbler like thing. But I don’t really care what it is it’s an African bird. Maybe the first of many??

I spend the rest of the day packing and repacking as well as sitting around and listening to all the specialists waxing lyrical about what they discovered on this trip, and what they think might be new to science. None of it can be confirmed until analysis has been done back at laboratories across the world, but initial signs suggest that the trip has yielded a number of new species of plants, butterflies, chameleons, possibly a caecilian (a very strange creature) and potentially new species of small mammal. Not bad for ten days in the field.

Sitting and observing these guys painstakingly processing and cataloguing their finds I can’t help but be struck by the commonality, the social glue that sticks these people together. They are all unbelievably focused on what they are doing, and they all have an overwhelming urge to do their bit in describing and ordering the animals and plants of the world. Some might say; before it’s too late. It doesn’t necessarily follow however, that these people are also the ones to enact the conservation measures that are needed to save them. Nonetheless their role is crucial. They provide the evidence, the ammunition to allow others to carry that fight. In order to convince people to conserve you need to show them what they stand to lose.

There is one individual around the table whom deserves special mention and that’s Colin Congdon. A Lepidopterist (butterflies and moths), with an encyclopaedic knowledge of African butterflies as well as most other things. He has accompanied Julian on many of his previous trips and has climbed many of the peaks in Mozambique collecting and cataloguing the butterflies. Oh, did I mention that he’s 83?!! A truly remarkable man. Think David Attenborough, Henry Blofeld (cricket commentator) and Rowley Birkin (Fast show). Colin was the managing director of a tea company and lived in Tanzania for forty years and his depth of knowledge of Africa is vast and diverse. Every evening, armed with his ever-present bottle of scotch Colin has entertained us, educated us and encouraged us. Although the climb to the top of Lico was beyond him he did make the ascent to the base of the cliff (260m). Twice. Truly one in a million.

This last evening some genius has rustled up some beers and Matt the Glaswegian chef pulls out all the stops and dishes up a vegetable curry complete with poppadum’s. However, with another half five start tomorrow for the trip to airport we are soon all hitting the sack. The end to an amazing adventure and experience. One that I am truly honoured to have been a part of.

Our final view of Mount Lico

This won’t be the last blog. I intend, after a few days, to post a final piece. I will, of course continue to share photos and videos as they come in. Thank you all for your lovely comments on this blog so far and all the messages of support and encouragement throughout the trip.

3 Replies to “Wrapping it up”

  1. A fabulous blog – really enjoyed the reading each instalment!. I’m really curious to hear about the finds on the expedition and see more images. I’m sure Julian (younger brother) will provide an enthusiastic account when he is back in the UK. Regards to Colin (and Julian). Safe trip.