It's a strange thing to be finally going. Off to French Guiana, and its gorgeous wasps lurking on the forgotten frontiers of the French Amazon. I'm laden down, like some kind of Victorian naturalist, with vast piles of peculiar goods. Two-thousand-five-hundred sterile vials, seventy wasp-detecting radio-antennae, two-thousand radio-tags, two beekeepers' hats, twenty-four jump-lead crocodile clips, thirty-five metres of electrical wire, one letter of recommendation (French), a French phrasebook, a small flask of RNA preservative, a dissection kit, the names and addresses of my contacts in Guiana, and a sense of wild immediacy. Back to the tropics, with the dust and the sunsets, the crazed pageant of evolution, the sloths, the toucans, the caiman, the anteaters, the ants, the vast tropical trees stretching far above to the elusive canopy. It's a scary thing, putting a field trip on the ground under your own stream - at least, that's what I feel! But here goes! And so to the tropics!
When I first read Life on Air, the passage that made the most impression on me was Attenborough's first vision of the tropics as he landed at a small airport in Sierra Leone in the 1950s. It's magical being a tropical biologist. It's like stepping into this bonanza world where evolution has gone haywire.
See you in Guiana. P.
Adventures of a
Dr Patrick Kennedy, Radford Lab, University of Bristol | Zoology