(Originally written on 06/07/2020 — First lock down, DE.)

Mental health is a largely neglected topic in the world of academia. The probability of hearing this topic during a coffee break conversation or a random post-seminar chat is next to none. When you join a new department your boss will not talk to you about it or your senior colleagues will not point your attention in this direction. There will be no seminar series on this particular topic or it won’t be the highlight of any (online) conference dinner event. Let us face it, it is not a fun topic.


It is October in Europe and the signs of change are in the air. The season of autumn is starting to set in and the leaves have changed their colors from green to yellow and red. It is a sign that the days will become shorter and winter is about to arrive soon. The change of seasons also announces the arrival of new guests at the lake of Konstanz located at the southern border of Germany and Switzerland. These guests are migrating birds that come from different corners of Eastern Europe and the Arctic region. Lake Konstanz is a large…


It is 6:00 a.m. in Konstanz, Germany. It’s March and spring has arrived a bit too early for everyone. The weather is a little unpredictable; windy, cold and rainy days are squeezed between some sunny days.

I am getting ready for another adventure with researchers from the Max Planck Institute of Ornithology ( Dechmann Lab). Lara, a new Ph.D. student, is going to lead the charge today. …


I remember those days when I fell in love with bugs and insects. I do not know if it was because of my father, or whether I was destined to live my life discovering the amazing world of insects: ants, ladybugs, mantises, beetles, butterflies, dragonflies and many more.

They reveal their secrets

I would spend days looking for different kinds of insects. At first, it was difficult, but then I got the hang of it. I learned where to look for what, and most importantly, I learned to have patience.

I figured that Nature has interesting ways of revealing itself to you. At first…


I am a simple farmer in a remote part of Bhutan. I live in Bumthang Valley, right in the heart of the country. The valley is famous for its scenic views and vast green forests. One could sit for hours by the river and admire the beauty of the mountains, the rivers, the birds and the endless spark of life.

I go fishing regularly for my survival. I choose spots away from the other anglers to find a better catch and enjoy my time with nature. …


It’s about 4:30 p.m. and I am waiting at the coordinates given to me by Lara, one of my colleagues. She is an upcoming Ph.D. student at Max Planck Institute of Ornithology, and she has invited me to join them for the monitoring of bat boxes.

The location is a well-maintained park in Switzerland. People are walking around, enjoying the view of the lake, plenty of trees and open spaces for families to come and play. Some species of goats are in a small enclosure and children are feeding them or staring at them with curious eyes.

I am sitting…


We walk back to the car with the few bats we captured. Suddenly, we hear Dina screaming at the top of her lungs from the other side of the park. She needs help: A big bat box probably contains more than 10 bats, the door is heavy and she is alone on the ladder. She wants to capture all the bats, but assistance is required to supply her with bags.

I see one bat escaping from the box while I run to her, and she explains the problem. I take hold of the ladder and hand her extra bags. First…


On October 4, 2018, I went out with Javi ( Dr. Javier Lázaro Tapia) to catch some hedgehogs. He is a postdoc in Dechmann Lab at the Max Planck Institute of Ornithology. I work at this Institute where everyone is passionate about wildlife and many are keen to share their knowledge with others.

Javi is one such scientist, and in his own words, he is becoming an expert on insectivores. He has previously worked with shrews, and his current project involves studying hedgehogs. In the near future, he wants to study moles. …


The second hedgehog is near a small pond by the castle near our Institute. There had been heavy tree-cutting activity during the day, as some trees had become diseased and needed management. We feared that the hedgehog would be difficult to find if it had decided to go under broken branches. It can be hard to remove a stack of branches.

This time, I have the antenna, and while Javi knows the rough location, for a moment I feel like I am guiding the team. I play with the signal strength options in the receiver, and slowly, we get closer…

Hemal Naik

I like to write stories about nature, animals, trees, birds and people. I am happy if people find a reason to connect with nature through my stories.

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