Algarve Field Course – Day One

Prof Mathias Shouten lecturing the students on the landscape of the Algarve in Albuifera

Thirtysix BEES students, including a number of visiting US students are currently taking part in a week long field-based course in the Algarve, Portugal. They are accompanied by 8 members of staff.

One of the students on last year’s Algarve field course, Nora Peters, wrote: “The Algarve field course 2010 was a truly invaluable and unforgettable experience. Delving into the beautiful and varied habitats of the Algarvian landscape, from the intriguing Fiddler Crabs of the Ria Formosa to the beautiful mountains and plants of the Monchique region.  Speaking on behalf of the whole class, this field course was an amazing experience and no amount of torrential rain or volcanic ash dampened any spirits.  It has awoken within us a desire to excel, explore and develop our fieldwork potential and our overall ecological knowledge. Praise must be given to all those at home and those in the Algarve for their tremendous patience, flexibility and sheer determination in making the field course and our journey home enjoyable, insightful and unforgettable!”

The 2010 field course was considerably extended when the visiting party was stranded due to the volcanic ash clouds from Iceland. After 42 hourse travelling, the staff and students finally made it home to Cork.

This year’s cohort of students reached the Algarve yesterday, from where Jacqueline Doolan sends us this report:

“Our arrival at Faro airport was, we were informed, one of the sunniest, warmest and clearest mornings ever to welcome UCC students to Portugal. Safely ensconced in our hotel by 10am, we had a couple of hours free to get some lunch and take a quick dip in the pool (so, so, cold but what a pool!) before afternoon sessions began.

An interesting time followed. Our afternoon was spent mainly outdoors in an old abandoned citrus orchard that had once been a fig, olive and almond tree grove. We spent the afternoon learning about all the tools we would be using during the following week, from the hardy soil penetrometer to sweep nets and clinometers.

We also enjoyed a great lecture while basking in the sun from one of our guest lecturers for the week (see image). In true UCC style it was a afternoon of hard work and plenty of note taking but all agreed that it was also a thoroughly enjoyable day.”

We’ll have further updates from the Algarve throughout the week.

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