Thursday, September 20, 2012

June 12 - lemmings and birds in hand

The winter nest of a lemming - we found hundreds of these as the snow melted

The wind died down some today – sustained low 10s feels like a light wafting breeze. Today was my first day banding shorebirds, it was a ton of fun to hold and band a couple different species throughout the course of the day.

Semipalmated Sandpiper fully decked out with bands and a flag

Pectoral Sandpiper, we only put a metal band on this species

Tonight after dinner I caught my first Collared Lemming, a young individual that was fantastically adorable. Collared Lemmings are one of the most enjoyable creatures to have around in my opinion, for quite a few reasons. First off, they are small, fuzzy, and cute, in addition to being easily catchable at the same time. We will just be sitting around in the tents and see this small lump moving under the floor of the tent – a lemming going about it’s business. It is incredibly easy to intercept them at the edge of the tent, and then after about 30 seconds they forget you’re something to be afraid of, and then you have a little furry friend for however long you’d like.

Alfredo enjoying a lemming after dinner one night

In addition to being good temporary companions, Collared Lemmings have one of the most baffling responses to danger that I have ever heard of or encountered. When they feel threatened or cornered they hastily flip onto their back and spasm, while making crazy squeaking noises and chattering their teeth. Apparently it works since it hasn’t been evolved out of the species! The below video illustrates their full display - despite the poor quality that Blogger compressed it into.

Back at the tent at the end of the day I’m excited because I have my favorite socks to wear tomorrow. It is the little things that matter sometimes – it is amazing how after only nine days out here issues like which socks to wear are the sorts of things that make a day more enjoyable or not! 

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