Having more time on my hands while the laser scanning is taking place in our vegetation survey plots in Bicuar National Park, and being confident in the protocol, has given me the chance to explore some more of my senses in the miombo woodlands.
I’ve found, for example that the vascular cambium of some of the tree species have very distinctive smells. Baikiaea plurijuga smells like a mint cornetto, or sometimes a caramel chocolate. Some other species with distinctive and pleasant cambium smells:
- Lonchocarpus nelsii - wall of a damp limestone cave
- Julbernardia paniculata - mild antiseptic like watered down TCP
I’m also noticing more of the bird song. There are lots of birds around us all the time, of many different species. In a 60 second window at Plot 13 in the Baikea woodland I heard 6 different calls, some constant and others only ringing out intermittently. At the side of the road there’s often hornbill birds to be seen and groups of guinea fowl. The Angolans hilariously call guinea fowl ‘Galinhas de Angola’ (Chickens of Angola). The same for the insects, lots of different types of fly, stick insect, beetles, grasshopper and butterfly.
Having been exposed to far too many bees, I’ve now learned that bee sting poison smells a little bit like cherry drops but more floral. The box for the laser scanner and the tripod have picked up this smell quite signficantly.
Digitaria eriantha is my favourite grass to take a piece of stem and chew in the mouth. It’s very smooth if you remove the leaves and quite firm, like a plastic straw.