Written by Eve Woehrling
Without doubt, the hardest part of writing about the Croatia trip is thinking of which part to write about. The sheer quantity of activity we have done in less than a week is crazy (the group’s collective mentality of ‘a minute is long enough for a nap’ is testament to that: any students with free time can reliably be found passed out on their bunk beds for a moment’s quiet).
All of it has been fascinating. Every day is dedicated to learning about a particular species, plus a few lectures scattered in here and there, and this means every day’s timetable is different to account for the type of animal one is studying. Those going into caves get a wonderful lie in, while the bird group has a treacherous four AM rise. On the first day, my team did Herpetology (or ‘herps’) – which involves the study of reptiles and amphibians. This found us bright and early in the morning setting traps for tortoises and terrapins along the banks of a lake near our lodgings. We also found an amazing legless lizard – a creature caught between the evolutionary pathways of lizards and snakes, and which manages to slip into the category of lizards despite having only the barest trace of legs.
The following day was devoted to bats, and at dusk we left to set up mist nets to try and catch some examples of the animals we’d been taught about earlier in the day in the lab. We had a really good time setting up the nets, and despite not managing to catch anything, we did see several bats around the pond where we were set up, and that was pretty cool.
Over the next couple of days we looked at birds, mammals, and fish – and even got to dissect some of the specimens we collected to learn more about anatomy. What with lectures, excursions. Lab time, and sign-up activities, there was barely a moment to stop and think, which is probably why the four days since arriving have gone by so fast. We’ve gone to bed each night both exhausted and excited for the day to come. There is no boredom. And of course, there’s always the chance to pretend to be on a normal holiday and sunbathe in the wonderfully un-Scottish weather of Croatia. Its been an incredibly rewarding trip so far, and unlike any other school holiday I’ve ever been on.