There are a great many things I like about New Zealand. Chillaxed people, strange (if dwindling) native wildlife, and of course the scenery (which really is the essence of NZ). But their autumn just isn't right. Autumn and winter are my favourite seasons, and I love the changing colours, early frosts and different animals and fungi that are associated with it. Autumn in NZ is a very confused season though. Some days are like summer, others like winter. You get a lot of non-native mushrooms such as Amanita spp. (there are a few around the university now), and the only trees that are doing anything interesting are also non-native. NZ dips its toes into the swimming pool of winter before diving in at the deep end.
My seminar went well, I think. It's hard to know, because people never want to crush you after you present something, but I said everything I needed to say and didn't make any mistakes without correcting them (to my knowledge). I could have put more energy into the way I presented it, maybe I focused too much on getting the facts right. Now I just have to wait for the outcome of my assessment. Hopefully my assessor will let me do everything I want to do, and give me some good feedback. I don't think there should be much of a problem with anything.
So now I have to face my field trip...perhaps the reason why autumn seems particularly strange this year is because I know I am going away to look for the spiders. I'm looking forward to getting some meat into my project, turning some of my promises and ideas into reality, and figuring out what bits of my PhD I should focus on the most based on which populations I manage to find. But there is part of me that is freaking out a wee bit, because these things are hard to find, and if I don't find any then I will not be doing this PhD. But that is the nature of biology. You can't force organisms to give you good data, you just have to roll with whatever happens and have plenty of contingency plans.
I'm hoping I collect lots of spiders carrying mites and worms. Particularly worms. I'm really interested in these worms.