Recently I and many other from the Bioscience department here in Cornwall, attended the annual summer meeting of ASAB (The association for the study of Animal behaviour) in Newcastle. I’d been to a few ASAB meetings before, but never one on this scale. Every tier of this building was full of posters, every room was used for talks, all related to animal behaviour.
We made an epic 9 hour road trip from Falmouth to get there, fighting our way through traffic jams and accidents and the Cornish tourist season to get to the north.
This sort of conference is a great way to share your results with others, get inspiration and ideas and to meet people interested in the same topics as you are. It’s always nice to meet people at the same stage of their research career and to chat about the work you’re all doing.
“Networking” (read: talking to people and going to the pub) is therefore an important part of these events. Here is a demonstration of such networking.
I’d never been to Newcastle before and found it to be a pretty nice city. The most bizarre thing about it was that it was absolutely covered in Kittiwakes. As in, the seabird. Which I had previously only encountered on bird islands. Nesting on buildings by the river and on the bridges.
Apparently the locals find the a nuisance. Personally I never got bored of hearing kittiwakes yelling in the streets, though it was rather surreal.
We also went for a meal at the St. James’ park football stadium, but as the room we were in could have been any function room in any building ever, I unfortunately can’t give much in the way of interest. We didn’t even manage a pitch invasion. The meal was rather small, but there was an awful lot of wine, which I think rather helped with the céilidh and dance (I refuse to use the word disco!) after.
As well as the talks and poster sessions, there were a few extra activities, like this play/lecture about Nikolaas Timbergen by a Dutch theatre group. Here we see a rather angry gull chick (sock puppet) helping to recreate the famous red spot experiments.
I was here to do more than just talk to other science-types, drink beer and watch funny plays about famous ethologists. I presented a poster, based on the GPS tracking data we’d gathered in the first year (click for a larger version)
The poster session went well, with me wearing my voice out from talking to people. The one free glass of wine we were given helped for a while, but after a couple of hours of speaking quite fast and enthusiastically while wildly waving my arms around (no doubt to illustrate some point about how shags raft and dive) I became quite hoarse. Some more beer at BrewDog helped with this condition.
All in all, a pretty successful conference, though I was glad to catch up on my sleep!
Big thanks to Lolotte Faraut for the photos!