Yesterday I woke up feeling tired. I had gone to sleep late after watching the northern lights. After breakfast, I said goodbye to Helen and Dylan (who headed back to Fairbanks), and worked a bit on my upcoming live PolarConnect events. Be sure to sign up here on the website if you're free then, and you can ask me questions while I show you a squirrel.
Squirrel tracks in the snow.
After lunch we headed back to Atigun to drop off the three squirrels we processed the night before, and I decided to try out the GoPro. It's new for me, and I thought we could start with just filming the squirrels being released back to their burrows. Two of them went as planned, but the male snuck off to the side and got away differently than I expected. It was fun either way.
Cory got this picture of me releasing a squirrel.
Squirrel release with the GoPro.
We also spent some time setting traps and looking for new animals to catch. We ended up with two females and a male, all new for this season. We were able to process the male before dinner and the two females afterwards. Cory let me leave a tiny bit early to get to the women's hours at the originally unplanned sauna that was on that night. Afterwards I stopped by the kitchen to watch my new friends here play a game while we ate some cookies that were made that day – double chocolate and oatmeal, chocolate peanut butter. Wow.
We put the traps on the snow for a moment to make it easier to see any feces to collect.
This morning I learned how to do the data entry for all of the data we've been collecting. We record everything on special data sheets as we go, with each squirrel being recorded on their own multi-year sheet, but then we have to enter it into a database. Cory showed me how to do it and I entered the rest of them. There is a spot on the sheet for me to initial that I entered the data, and a second spot for the person who checks to make sure the data was entered correctly to initial. I think it's really important for my students to know that this is the case, and that good data collection is so important. If we get sloppy here, none of it will mean anything when the data is analyzed later. The same goes for their data.
A squirrel right at the trap.
After lunch we headed back to Atigun to drop off this set of squirrels, play with the GoPro again, and set some more traps. We left with three squirrels including one that I have video of licking the GoPro that we left behind! So funny!
Another GoPro release moment.
From the GoPro.
Back at the lab we processed the squirrels after dinner, which had us finishing up around 8:45pm. These are long days, but you have to get all the field work done while you are here, so we work hard to make the best use of the time we have here.
Now it may be time for another dessert...
The squirrels are much more visible with the snow background than the tundra.