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Monday, June 27, 2011

June 16, 2011 Preparation for Experiments in Kalloni Bay

The bright eyed and excited field team....wait no....let me start again... The exhausted/drowsy, curious field team headed back to Kalloni Bay in order to:
 #1 the availability of our plants
 #2 set up and clear transects for the behavior study that as to take place the following day
 #3 get nectar readings from the Yellow star-thistle (Centaurea soltitialis)

#1: There was no problem with the yellow star thistle BUT Vitex agnus-castus was still not very abundant. So waiting another day for the behavioral study isn't a bad idea. 
Vitex agnus-castus, a much more pleasant plant compared to the Yellow Star Thistle! (thanks M. Butler)

#2: As a said before Yellow Star Thistle was everywhere in a field. Imagine a field filled with needles, syringes and little bitty knives, that is what it was like. Everywhere you walked little pokey things would stab you. It was as if they reached out and did it on purpose. I definitely could not hold back my automatic yelp followed by some kind of curse word. In order to limit our study range we found two transects, one near the beautiful bay and one located further away tucked into the field of Yellow Star Thistle. 
I have come to the conclusion that if I ever need to protect my home, I won't get an alarm system or even a huge dog, instead I will plant a row of these to surround my home. Id like to see someone steal with a butt full of thorns!!

The worst part about this day is that we had to clear a path in order to get to our study plants. We chose plants within the transect that appeared to be more lively and had a plentiful array of flowers with healthy florets. Once the plants were chosen, we (basically) got down on our hands a knees in a field of needles and trimmed the surrounding flowers that could interfere with the "chosen ones" . Meaning, we cut other surrounding yellow star thistle plants and plants/ bushes that had other colorful flowers that would attract bees. This eliminated the bees range to our transect plants. This part was horrible because we got stabbed repeatedly with the Thistles sharp edges. Scraped arms and bumpy rashes appeared all over everyone's arms and legs (or where ever else you got poked! Backing your butt into a plant held a definite YELP factor!!) BUT that's the price you pay for science! RIGHT? I have to admit being in the Greek Country side surrounded by a beautiful bay DID take the pain away ( a little). 
I mean come on..look at this! This is near transect one. (thanks A. Barnett)

Yikes. Thank goodness for socks...this isnt even thistle but it is what everyones socks looked like! (thanks A. Barnett)

#3 As we finished up the last transect and started bagging up our thistle plants for nectar readings 
( mesh bags served as a control on our experiments) a storm started peaking out over the mountains. 

A paired plant for our experimental study on nectar flow.
 A tagged and numbered plant in our transect
 A paired and bagged plant for our study
 A single bagged plant for our study.
Carmen, a plant lover, checking out the florets. (Thanks A.Barnett)

Before we knew it thunder and lightning threatened our day, so we packed up and relocated ourselves to a rustic and quaint restaurant that hugged the bay only about 10 min away from our field site. We sat outside and ordered a typical Grecian meal of salad (have I mentioned that Greek salad consists of Tomatoes acting as lettuce??) and fish. I decided to skip fish and I ordered a zucchini and cheese dish.  
Storm over the mountains!

 Greek Salad~ no lettuce! Im getting used to tomatoes...slowly and with a lot of cheese!
 The Zucchini and Cheese cakes

Its customary to meet your meat and your cooks! (thanks A. Barnett)
Fish everyone ate. I just cant eat something that looks so damn alive!! The eyes are still very much there! But, I was told they was delicious!

 Greece is for dog lovers! They are everywhere and belong to no one! This day a small puppy joined his cat friend in entertaining sweaty hungry scientists during lunch. ( They worked for scraps!) I couldn't resist the cuteness. If I had received a rabies shot and didn't mind getting worms, fleas and ticks I would have snugged them so hard!

Thankfully, the storm cleared without a single drop and the remaining clouds offered us much relief from the hot, dry sun. With a full belly we headed back to our field site and started taking the nectar samples on our Yellow Star Thistle. We collected good data and sluggishly headed back to the Mylemi Hotel, where sleep was much needed for the long day ahead of us.

Morning in Kalloni Bay

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