Finally, reindeer within reach of my camera. We have seen many reindeer, usually every day, but they are not always close enough to get a picture.
According to an article in National Geographic News, a wildlife biologist with the Alaska Department of Fish and Game states both the male and female reindeer grow antlers. During the rut the male reindeer fight and will loose their antlers by November or early December. The females typically keep their antlers until January. According to the Large Animals Research Station in Fairbanks, Alaska, the wildlife biologist stated that only the pregnant reindeer keep their antlers until late spring. This presents the question; are Santa's reindeer all female, possibly pregnant females? Even though we think of Rudolph as a male, some of the other reindeer names are not very masculine; vixen and dancer?? According to experts, good animal husbandry practices would not allow pregnant females to be used for work such as hitching a sleigh and loading it with presents to circumnavigate the globe. Of course, Santa, would only do what is best for his reindeer. The original reindeer herders of Norway used to neuter some of their animals for work purposes and they would loose their antlers later. Could this be our explanation??
The original people of Norway, the Sami people, were reindeer herders following the animals during their migration. They lived off the land, were one with nature and used the reindeer for clothing and food. The reindeer spend summers at the coast and will swim to islands if necessary for food. We are at the coast so it makes sense for them to be plentiful in our area. The Samis used the reindeer for their own needs and also used the reindeer for bartering and to pay taxes. The culture and lifestyle of the Sami people however was leaning toward extinction. The herding skills were passed down to the next generation when the children travelled with the parents and learned the trade. The government, however, began to require the children be sent to boarding schools where they were educated in the Norwegian language.
In the late 1980's the Same culture made a comeback. The Norwegian gov't has protected the Sami right to herd reindeer and their culture has regained the respect it deserves. They have their own Sami Parliament, their language has equal standing to Norwegian, they have their own flag and their own National Anthem.
Arctic Terns everywhere. I am on a never ending quest to get a good photo of an arctic tern, which I have not been able to do yet. We came across a flock of terns when we passed the small island in the middle of Lake Linne.