During my stay at Toolik Team Squirrel has been pretty busy trapping and processing squirrels for our study. We have also spent some time downloading weather and soil temperature data from numerous data loggers placed at each study site. In between the action or while waiting to catch squirrels each morning, I have set up my video camera, pointed at a trap, to try to capture images of the squirrels as they are tempted by carrots. On one rare occasion I was able to watch a female forage for fresh leaf buds 20 feet away from me. Usually the squirrels were more skittish, and would give an alarm call then run back inside their burrow if we were near. The one featured in my video did not seem to mind our presence. This female probably had pups in the burrow, and was nursing them, and was quite hungry. Also, she was probably happy to get some of the first green buds of the season. In fact, she passed up our carrots to feed on the birch buds.

Ground squirrel eating buds
This Ground Squirrel is eating the first Dwarf Birch buds of spring. She didn't mind that we were only 20 feet away.
Atigun Squirrel
Atigun Gorge is Sik Sik paradise!
Catching squirrels has also been quite amusing. Some of them are quite adept at stealing carrots from the trap, or actually rolling the traps over to empty the carrots inside. I hadn't been able to see this behavior, but we knew it was happening, so I set out a remote camera and let it run. Sure enough, one wily male that we nick named "George" (Cloony, 'cause he liked the camera so much), came over and rolled the trap to get the carrots. Once the carrots were gone, he went into the empty trap- we think to stage a sit in to demand more carrots. Enjoy the video.....

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Date
Weather Summary
Sunny and warm
Temperature
60
Wind Speed
5
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Peggy McNeal

I love the video, Andre! It really gives a sense of what Team Squirrel is doing. The squirrels are very cute.