Chris Gaus' Blog

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11/12/16

Well I was sent off with a bit of a bang today.  I was back on Pen 10 and the total number of chicks in that section is now up to 147!

We had five of us scheduled on the routine today. The morning was still pretty hectic with moving birds around to clean the corrals and getting all the birds that needed to be nebulized into the boxes, but we managed to get it done and basically still stay on track time-wise.

After a quick lunch it was right back to it.  in the afternoon not all of the corrals are on the same feed schedules so that made it a little easier and we were able to get a nice system down with one person in the corral passing penguins out to the three to four feeders.  With all of us working like that we managed to get it all taken care of on time and were able to help other areas wrap things up for the day.

At debrief I was thanked for my hard work for the past couple of weeks and the staff, much like me, were surprised that my time had come to an end.  I was at least able to say goodbye to a few of the people I had worked the most with and offer my many thanks for all they had shown me and for a great time.  I think the one word that would describe my time with SANCCOB would be, humbling.  The amount of work these people put into this center, day in and day out, to help save this critically endangered species is astounding.  The days are very long, the work is exhausting, but they keep coming back everyday, sometimes even on their days off.  If the African Penguin is to have even a slightest chance against extinction in the near future it is because of SANCCOB and the staff that work there.  We can all do our part to support this species and try to make changes to our daily lives to minimize the impacts that humans have on the penguins. 

Tomorrow Jamie and I get on our planes to head stateside; fortunately, there are more volunteers from other AZA facilities to replace us.  If you ever have a desire to get your hands dirty, make a difference, I cannot recommend coming and volunteering at SANCCOB enough.

I would like to start wrapping the blog up by thanking Cheryl, Executive Director of the National Aviary and Kurt, my director, for giving me this amazing opportunity.  Robin, our Director of Marketing, and her team for helping Jamie and I put this blog together.  Finally, my wife Christa, for holding down the fort while I had this awesome adventure!

I hope you all enjoyed this glimpse into my time at SANCCOB and my work with African Penguins. If you ever have any questions the next time you visit The National Aviary please feel free to ask! But fair warning, I may talk your ear off!  Thanks for following, everyone, and keep helping the Aviary support SANCCOB and protect African Penguins and other endangered species! 

11/11/16

I had a bit of a change of pace today!  There are two staff members from the Steinhart Aquarium in San Fransisco that started earlier in the week so they were scheduled for Pen 10, which is up to 130-plus chicks in it at this point.  This meant I was scheduled for a full day in the Nursery.  There are around 40 or so chicks that weigh between a kilogram and a kilo and a third.  

Around 16 of these are in needed of some sort of medication.  Because of the size of these birds and the fact that their immune systems are not really developed, anyone working in this area does not wear the oilskins and you need to switch between pairs of Crocs when entering the indoor section of the nursery.

I was pretty much responsible for the set of birds that need additional medications all day, including nebulizing them, similar to the way we do it at The National Aviary.

Because there are also a lot less birds than other sections, there was also a little more down time in between feedings.  This gave me the chance to learn a little more of the recording keeping for SANCCOB.  Individual cards are made up for all the penguins and information from weights, to meds, to fish amounts are written everyday on the cards.

This allows the information sheets that are used in the area each day to then be written as well. 

The cards follow penguins to each section as they progress through each area until hopefully they are released.  Once I understand the system for the cards and the sheets I was left to fill out all of the cards for my birds.  This included figuring out the percentage of weight gain for all of them from the day before.  This is also something that we have done at The National Aviary when we hand-raised the six penguin chicks we have had hatch.

Over lunch I was asked to take about 30 minutes to talk to the staff, volunteers, and interns about my job at the National Aviary and how important it is for facilities like ours to have connections to and support places like SANCCOB.  I think it went pretty well and there were some good questions from those in attendance.  The general thought was just to make sure those volunteers who don’t come from a zoo or aquarium background understand that it is going to take more than just rehabber groups and local organizations to save critically endangered species around the world.

Tomorrow is the last day at SANCCOB and I know it is going to be bittersweet.  I am ready to come home and return to the Aviary with a stronger passion to get the Aviary more involved in additional programs to support African Penguins.  I have enjoyed immensely the time I have had here and can’t believe it is about to come to a close already.  Cape Town and the surrounding area is beautiful with a lot to do and see, especially for someone who enjoys being outdoors.  One of the things I really enjoy about working in this field is everyday is a new day, and volunteering at SANCCOB has been that and more.  I am sure tomorrow will not disappoint.

11/10/16

Today was a day I have been waiting for, for quite some time. Today was release day.  I went to SANCCOB a little later in the morning to see how they prepare the birds for release.  They were releasing five birds out of Pen 3, 1 adult and four “blues”, younger juveniles.  The staff does a quick check on the records to make sure the bird is truly ready to be released.  After that their center ID bands are cut off and the staff also verifies that the transponder, that all penguins being released are given, is working.

As well as take a few final measurements. From there they are loaded into a box for transport with no more than two birds per box.  The boxes are then put into a SANCCOB pickup for a ride to the release point, which today was Boulders Beach in Simon’s Town.

The ride was about an hour and a half, and there were about five of us in the back of the pickup with the boxes of penguins.

Upon arrival I took one of the boxes that contained two of the “blues” to be carried down to the beach.  We were met by the ranger who is charge of the colony at Boulders Beach and another staffer who walked us down the boardwalk to the release point.  Boulders Beach is a huge tourist location so we had to carefully navigate through the tourists down the walk for the release.  From there we went down on to the beach for the release.  As we came down the walk you could already see penguins all over the area.  The instructions were very specific: make sure the boxes are in a semi-circle and to turn them on their sides at the same time.  It all happened really quickly because they didn’t necessarily want us staying on the beach for too long.  Once we got the tape off the boxes we tipped them over at out the penguins came.  We backed off soon after.  The younger penguins looked pretty confused and stayed put for a little while.

After we were back on the walk we took more pictures of that part of the colony. 

At one point I noticed some penguins looking like they wanted to come onto the beach and they expertly body-surfed up onto the sand.

It was tough to stay on that part of the walk for too long as there have been some really strong winds out of the south-east for the past few days and the sand was whipping into our faces.  We also learned that there were a few new birds that needed to be taken back to SANCCOB for admittance.  Most of the group headed back in the truck but I hung back with Jamie and Tamlyn.

What an opportunity.  Tamlyn had worked with the beach ranger a bit and was able to walk us around a while longer.  There were penguins all over the place!  In the brush, using the artificial nest boxes, up on rocks…

The artificial nest boxes were of particular interest to me because of my recent involvement in the AZA SAFE project to create and test improved boxes for the colonies.  We even had the chance to go down on to a beach where people and penguins occasionally mix. It was very interesting to see the change in behavior with the penguins.  Those that are mostly around the walks are pretty desensitized to people, but those around the beach were definitely a bit more skittish.  Obviously we didn’t want to disturb the penguins too much but we were able to get some amazingly close pics with wild penguins.

Across the board this was a once in a lifetime day that I will never forget.  From releasing rehabbed African Penguins to spending time in and amongst a breeding colony, having my feet in the South Atlantic Ocean, and seeing African penguin chicks that were hatched in the wild.  It only fueled my passion to continue to help this critically endangered species.  Their population has declined by 98% and drastically need help. I was ecstatic to be able to do my part the past two weeks and today.  I still have a couple days left to help at SANCCOB and am going to do all I can to do that.

11/9/16

Well it doesn't appear that the injured juvenile penguin from Robben Island was brought in.  This may just mean that by the time the spotter got to the group it had gone back in the water but at least they know to be on the lookout for it.  With that being said there are plenty of other chicks to be taken care of!  The group in Pen 10 is up around 100.  I was working with Carolina, the volunteer from Brazil, who was having her final day with the center, and Romy who I worked with while admitting the large group last week.  Romy had a plan laid out for how the pens were going to work and all of us could tube so the day went like a well-oiled machine.  She has been doing this for almost five years and is very willing to share what she knows about rehabbing penguins.  I definitely think I am getting more confident, but not overly so, in my abilities and am able to move quickly but safely through groups of penguins.  We were able to not only get all of the groups fed when they were supposed to be, but also give them a nebulization treatment as well.  This was something we definitely struggled with on the previous days I was on Pen 10.

While I enjoy working with the penguins I was pretty excited about being at SANCCOB today because Jamie and I were finally able to get some, albeit brief, time with the Executive Director, Dr. Stephen van der Spuy, to present him with a check to SANCCOB of almost $1,800 that was raised by you, our guests, through donations to “Percy” our African Penguin bank in Penguin Point.

Stephen was very grateful for the donation and appreciated the continued support of the National Aviary and its visitors towards their mission.  We both hoped to continue a strong relationship between our two facilities.

I am pretty excited about tomorrow as it is my chance to actually go on a penguin release. I don’t what penguins are being released tomorrow but I am hopeful it is some of the ones I worked with initially in Pen 3 last week.  I will definitely have pictures from that and hopefully some video as well!  More to come tomorrow!

11/8/16

Today was definitely one of the more sobering tours I have ever taken part in.  Jamie, Tamlyn, and I visited Robben Island this morning.  We took a boat over to the island, which was much bigger than I thought, and immediately went to the former political prison where Nelson Mandela and many others were held during Apartheid.  What made this tour very real is that they are lead by former political prisoners that were jailed there.

Our guide was a gentleman named Sparks who was sent to Robben Island when he was 17 years old.  He served seven years of a 20 year sentence before being released in 1990.  Sparks provided first hand stories of his arrival to the prison and the humiliation that inmates were subjected to right away.  Sparks then began walking us through the different areas of the prison.  This included a stop in the actual cell that he served his time in.  He was housed in the general population section of the prison.  This mean there were 60 men in a room 40 feet by 20 feet. There was one bathroom with three shower stalls and two toilets.  Initially the prisoners were only given a couple of foam pads to sleep on, laid on the floor.  It wasn’t until the late 1980’s that they were given actual bunk-beds.  If prisoners were not cleaned and ready to go to the limestone quarry by a certain time, they would be subjected to horrendous punishment.  This meant the group had to be up very early to make sure everyone had the chance.

Sparks then took us to some of the points of interest involving Nelson Mandela.  This included the garden the Mandela planted and used to hide his manuscript, The Long Walk to Freedom, which was eventually discovered and he was punished for, but not before he was able have someone smuggle it out to get it published.

Mandela’s cell was very different from the one that Sparks was held in.  As a leader of the opposition to Apartheid he was housed in his own cell with nothing more than three blankets to make a bed.  The cell was only 9 feet by 12 feet.

The one similarity was that both areas had intercoms in which authorities could listen in to conversations and if they deemed anything as illegal they would respond with extreme prejudice.  We wrapped up the tour shortly after this.  But not without one more surprise.  Sparks ended up telling us that not only does he still reside on the island with his family but the community is made up of a number of not only former inmates but also former guards as well.  And they truly are a community.  The atrocities that occurred at the prison are basically “water under the bridge” and that everyone gets along very well.

After the prison we boarded a bus that took us around to other historical locations on the island.  I initially thought the island was basically just the prison, much like Alcatraz, but there was definitely a lot more to it throughout history.  It was a leper colony for a time and a strategic defensive base used by the British during WWII.  It never saw any “action” but the decision to fortify it was made because of the possible route around the Cape of Good Hope.  About three-quarters of the way throughout he bus tour we took a ten minute stop at a little cafe.  What was exciting about this stop for us was right along the shore line, across a small inlet, was a group of African Penguins!!

Jamie and I immediately went as close as we could, a chain on the opposite side of the inlet from the group and began taking pictures and watching them through binoculars, see Jamie’s post from today to see a couple of great pictures he took.  There were a few swimming and coming on shore but most of them were already out of the water.  Unfortunately, or perhaps fortunately, we did spot a juvenile that appeared to have an injury to one of it’s legs/feet.  It was not using it well if at all.  Tamlyn quickly got on the phone and made contact with SANCCOB to try and get someone who is a spotter on the island to try and get a better look.  After that we got back on the bus and headed back to the docks for our boat ride back to the mainland.  First off this was a cool boat ride because this time around we were on a nice catamaran and we sat outside on the front.

There were some crazy, big swells on the way back which made the ride a bit more interesting,  The other great thing was we were not done with penguins, as we approached Cape Town harbor we spotted a juvenile and adult swimming just off to the side.

Tomorrow it is back to SANCCOB.  I’ll be curious to see if we have a new admission from Robben Island and also how many chicks are now in Pen 10.

11/7/16

Well we made it to the top of Table Mountain.

It was a bit of an adventure though.  We took the bus there. It took about an hour with one transfer, and the public transit system here is pretty efficient and pretty easy to use.  The adventure started when we got to the foot of the mountain itself.  There were two lines to get on to the cable car, those that bought their tickets online and those that did not.  You can guess which line Jamie and I had to get in.  Thankfully they had free wifi while you were standing in line. After about 30 minutes of waiting, we got the brilliant idea to get on the website and ordered tickets using our phone.  We hopped out of line and basically walked right into another line to get on the cable car.  This line moved much faster too!  We got there around 11AM and were up on the mountain by 12:30 at the latest. 

Once at the top, they offer short guided tours that start on the hour so we got in on one of those and learned a bit about the mountain itself, like it is older then both the Himalayas and the Rockies.  The guide also told us about the surrounding area as well pointing out other spots of interest.  When he pointed out Simon’s Bay and mentioned the colony of penguins at Boulders Beach, he sort of motioned to me while saying something about “friendly penguins.” I promptly showed my hands (see previous entry about hands in a bowl of razors) and said that I work with them and that he isn’t fooling me, we had a good chuckle about that.

After the tour we had a good lunch at the cafe in preparation for our hike across the top of the mountain.  There are a few different trails you can take including one that takes you to the highest point on the mountain which is on the opposite side from the cable car station.  The hike takes most people an hour just to get there.  The trails are somewhat paved using the natural rock work but there were lots of chances for true bouldering along the way and amazing views.  One of my favorite was when we got to Mclear’s Beacon (the highest point) you could see clear down to the Cape of Good Hope.  

The weather could not have been better.  Along the way there are other trails to take including some that you can use to hike up and down the mountain.  We thought about just hiking down but thought better of it after realizing how late in the afternoon it was getting; we had already done some serious hiking, and we did not have a whole lot of water with us.

Perhaps some of my favorite moments were seeing one of my favorite animals in its natural space.  The Dassie or Rock Hyrax. 

 

One of the more interesting facts about dassies to me is that their closest living relative is the elephant, not a rodent which they really seem to resemble.  Another impressive fact is that dassies can jump about five feet into the air from a still position.  We were able to see one dust bathing as well.  While in the gift shop they had stuffed animal versions which meant there was no way I was getting off that mountain without one for my son.

Overall it was a great day at the top of one of the new seven natural wonders.  I would love to be able to come back and hike up it one day and do more of the trails I did not get to do.  We also heard it is an amazing place to watch the sunset.  Tomorrow we head out to Robben Island (postponed trip from Friday).

11/6/16

I was assigned to Pen 10 again today, it was still pretty hectic with the number of birds in there; 63, as I think a couple of the older, stronger ones moved into the next pen in the process; but I definitely felt more confident.

The corrals that divide up Pen10 are sized fine to fit the penguins, but trying to fit three people, equipment, and food into the corrals, felt a bit like a jigsaw puzzle. By dividing the penguins to one side of the corral, while myself and the others were on the other, we were able to remedy the problem of making sure the penguins were properly fed. However, this solution led to the team being surrounded by a bunch of loud, rambunctious penguin chicks, while trying to continue to care for the others. Needless to say, feeding a bunch of penguin chicks requires a lot of energy and patience, and you might get more than a few cuts (think razor blade slices) on your hands or feet in the process!.

During the feedings we are venturing into pools of a fair amount of water.  We wear oilskins – think of the waterproof overalls that fishermen wear – to keep us relatively clean. We also wear Crocs, but do not wear socks, leaving our ankles and feet unprotected. Since penguins have pretty sharp nails, it was important for us to watch which direction the chicks were headed in while in the corrals, in order to keep our exposed skin protected. One of the ways we sped up the process of the feedings was for certain corrals to have one person on the side with the chicks. This person was responsible for passing them over to us, checking the clipboard for what the chick might need, and then getting the feeders any medications the chick might need. Amata was responsible for this task.

Since Jamie and I are staying at a location close to SANCCOB, we walk there every morning.  The weather has been beautiful so far the entire trip, although very breezy.  But yesterday it was very calm.  SANCCOB sits on the edge of a marshy nature reserve with a lake in it so the water was very still.  The area we are in is called Table View because of the amazing view of Table Mountain from here.  The combination led to an amazing reflection of the mountain in the lake this morning so I needed to get a picture of it.

We have the next couple of days off so tomorrow we are going to go to the top of Table Mountain.  There is a tram car that you can take or there are hiking trails.  Jamie and I haven’t decided how we are going to get up there yet, but either way we are looking forward to the views from the top.

11/5/16

Whew.  This by far was the toughest day yet.  Although I don’t know if they got anymore chicks in from the colonies, Pen 10 was up to 65 chicks, mostly I think from those moving over from the nursery.  This basically meant that it was non-stop feeding.  Initially they assigned three people, including myself, to the section, but only two of us were trained to handle and feed. The third person, was there for her first day and she was there to help us clean.  We realized fairly quickly that two people were not going to be able to feed that many chicks, especially when a lot of them needed medicating as well.  Thankfully there were a few people that jumped in to help.  It was that kind of day where you just had to help each other out because of the number of birds and what they needed. 

Although we got everyone fed by 5:30PM, the normal wrap-up time, they were now behind in what is called “general”, which is where all the food, formula, dishes, laundry, etc. gets done.  Everyone who was out in the pens helped get that all wrapped up.  We managed to be done by about 6PM, and I think everyone was just ready to stumble out of there.  Hopefully tomorrow we will be able to have three people dedicated to feeding Pen 10, otherwise I think it is going to be another tiring day. With the craziness today, I was not able to take any pictures for this entry. Better luck tomorrow!

11/4/16

Unfortunately the trip to Robben Island needed to be pushed back until next week.  The tours were booked up for the day.  I still got to learn about some South African history though. In the Victoria and Albert Waterfront area, they were building a new bank building in the early 2000s and unearthed a Battery that was buried from the time that the Dutch occupied the Cape. Because this was an important discovery in the history of the country, they determined to make the ground floor of the building a museum which contains the ruins of the Chavonnes Battery as well as other findings from the archeological dig. The museum discussed the importance of the location of the fort for defending Table Bay and its involvement in battles between the Dutch and English for a foothold on their routes to the West Indies.

In the evening we tagged along with Tamlyn as she gave a talk to a local scuba diving club.  It was held at their store and she talked about impacts of plastics on the environment. She offered simple take home ideas that people can do to help lessen the impact of plastics on wildlife, specifically sea going wildlife. Her method of teaching was very emotive and clearly tried to make a connection with those in attendance to really drive home the point and it seemed to work.  There were definitely a number of heads looking at one another and thinking about what they could do.  One of the big take homes was the use of straws, or rather not using them as they cannot easily be recycled.

Tomorrow I am back to SANCCOB. I have no idea where I am going to be, but I would not be surprised to be back in Pen10 and nursery. I am curious to see if they got in any more chicks today.

11/3/2016

The staff at SANCCOB weren’t kidding about my placement today.  I was in Pen 10 and worked some in the nursery as well.  In Pen 10, we had chicks ranging in size from around one kilogram (about two pounds) up to a little over 2 kilos.  They were separated into three groups based on their weights as they would need different care.

From there it was a lot of tube feeding and supplemental fish feedings.  There were times we would need to add medications to their formula or darrow’s solution.  This group would need some kind of feeding every two hours or so.  In the “down time” I was recruited to help with even smaller or less healthy chicks doing more feeding in the nursery.

After he was done with observing a class, Jamie came down to help me and my supervisor for the day, Sarah.  That is pretty much how the entire day went, moving from one group of chicks to the other.  What made it pretty interesting was that it was also Sarah’s first time on Pen 10 as well and we had over 40 chicks in the pen.  We were able to figure out a system to get things done but we both agreed that we were going to continue to improve our efficiency! 

Sarah is from Australia and volunteered with SANCCOB a little while ago and loved it so much she went home, got her visa, and came back to do a full internship at the facility.  I think this is one of the other aspects about this opportunity that has been really cool, working with people from around the world.  There are staff members from South Africa, interns from Australia, volunteers from Brazil, Germany, the UK, and Norway.  Although there are the occasional difficulties with accents or phrases, everyone works really well together to take care of the penguins and other sea birds.

Tomorrow I have a day off, my back is pretty excited about that, and I am going to tag along with Jamie and Tamlyn, from SANCCOB’s education department, as they travel to Robben Island. There is a colony of African Penguins that are on the island but this is also where the political prison is located that held Nelson Mandela, and many others, during Apartheid.  I am looking forward to learning more about a difficult time in South Africa’s history as well as being able to see the penguins in their natural habitat.  

11/2/2016

Well that escalated quickly!  After stating the morning off in Pen 3 again, with the normal routine, around 11AM we got word that the 20-25 chicks that were going to be coming in to the facility was now up to around 80.  I was tapped by one of the staff members to assist in the admission of these birds into the facility.  I started off by drawing up about 30-40 syringes of fluids that might be needed during admission.  Around 1:15PM the birds arrived.  The staff put together sort of a triage area in what is called the “wash bay” which is in the middle of the main building.  With that area being so centralized it was important for everyone to remain calm, stay out of the area if they could and keep voices low to provide as little stress to the penguins as possible.

The penguins were all in SANCCOB carrier boxes which were brought in from the wash bay into the admissions room; there were about 4-5 in each box separated into similar ages/sizes. 

 

 

 

 

Initially I was just weighing the chicks and holding them for staff to take measurements as well as draw blood.  Once we got through the really young chicks, about a week old, I was allowed to start medicating, and feeding the chicks with formula as well.  

After they received their formula they were put back in a box based on what area of the facility they would be going to.  Most of the time I was the one that would take them where they needed to go after around 4 or 5 were placed back in the boxes.  This was how I spent the afternoon until about 6:00PM.  My back was sore, I was exhausted but it was amazing.  From what I was told I’d better get used to it because most likely tomorrow I am going to be working in the Pen where a number of the little ones were going. We also found out that this wasn’t even close to the most they have ever admitted in one day. That was around 200 penguins… WOW!

11/1/2016

Today I was working in Pen 3 again and it was a little bit more “normal” of a routine. We had a volunteer from Brazil who started today and she was assigned to the same area.   I think one of the things that is very interesting is that one person doesn’t run an area every day; it rotates.  So I had a new supervisor as well.  Thankfully I felt more confident in my abilities and training, so I was able to just jump in and start catching penguins, feeding them, and tubing them to give the penguins darrows (electrolyte fluid) and water. I was also allowed to medicate some of the penguins that needed pills.

There were definitely a couple of surprises!  While we were doing the morning feeding, a cormorant and Kelp gull escaped from their covered pool and were flying around the outdoor part of the facility (the whole area is netted in) staff and volunteers tried to catch him but to no avail ( we will come back to him). The other fun surprise was that I was asked to assist in swimming the pelican that came in yesterday.  All this really entailed was staying low along one of the walls of the pool and help catch him if he tried to get out.

Now back to the Kelp gull, while they were taking the pelican back to his enclosure he flew into an area that made it a little bit easier to try and corral him.  It took about five of us but we were able to get him into a corner and get him in hand.  After that it was back to the end of the day routine of feeding and tubing again. 

What I forgot to mention yesterday is that the penguins are allotted a certain amount of time in the pool based on their feather condition and water proofing but at the end of the day the gate to the pool is left open so if they want to go in and out, they have the ability.

10/31/2016

Wow!  Talk about hitting the ground running!  The first day at SANCCOB was definitely trial by fire.  I was assigned to Pen 3, which is the holding area for penguins who are very close to being released. This wasn’t any ordinary day for Pen 3 though.  Mondays are the day they get caught up for health tests! 

Very quickly into the morning I was asked how I have been trained to handle a penguin (which ended up being very similar to how we do it in Pittsburgh) and then told to get to it!  From there it was catching penguins for the procedure, placing them in groups for how long they are being given to swim that day, and on to the next.  After that it was feeding, which was very different from our Penguin Point Feedings. These penguins do not take food from hand.  What I haven’t mentioned yet is that there are around 30 penguins in this one pen! 

Not surprising I did end up with a couple of bites, meanwhile I look up and Jamie is in the “home pen”, which houses the permanent residents, with a penguin sitting calmly in his lap.
After the feedings were done, the penguins got placed into the pool for their allotted amount swim time. This allows the birds to build up their waterproofing and stamina for eventual release.  From there it is cleaning and sanitizing and other projects until the next round of feedings and swims. 

Another project today was to cobble together a larger pen for a pelican (called a “pelly” here) that arrived this morning.  I and a few other volunteers were able to put together something fairly roomy and comfortable in between other tasks. The staff seemed very pleased with what we were able to accomplish at last minute with only a certain set of materials and limited cable ties! 

Needless to say my first day was more than I ever expected, in a fantastic way, and I am looking forward to what comes next!

10/30/2016

Greetings from Cape Town, South Africa! 

Jamie and I arrived a little after noon on Sunday, 30 October, after about 24 hours of travel. 
We are staying only a 10 minute walk from SANCCOB’s Sea Bird Centre in an area of Cape Town known as Table View.  The area is right next to a marshy, nature reserve, where Jamie and I got to do some bird watching. After just one outing, we have already had the chance to check off some birds from the life birdwatching list, including Cape Weavers which have also built nests in the back yard of our accommodations!

Tomorrow, 31 October, we start our time with SANCCOB, so stay tuned for more of our continuing conservation adventure!