Today was Snowy Owl day, Frank and I finally hooked up with Denver to go out and monitor and band some snowy owl chicks. He had mercy on me/us and took us out to two nests that are "close" in--He covers 100 square miles of territory with 30 nests, mostly on foot, some of which is accessable by 4 wheeler, but mostly on foot. These nests are a long ways apart, at least 1 mile usually 2-3 miles to give the pair a decent hunting territory. they feed on lemmings, and they kill the lemmings and leave them whole for the chicks, which either eat them whole or if they are little, the parents, will tear them apart so the chicks can swallow the parts whole and then regurigate the bones and fur as a pellet. They are suprising passive as they are approached, the parents are also very tolerant, the female usually sits about 40 yards off and watches, the males tend to do flyovers and dive bombing runs, sometimes actually clobbering the researchers from behind. If anyone thinks these guys are small;, take a look at the picture of Lauren with a female snowy that is earth bound because she molted too many feathers. We checked two nests and banded 4 out of 6 chicks in one nest and 4 out of 5 in the other. It was something we both wanted to do and I'm glad we did.
Lewis Brower was in the lab today talking about his fater who is 86 and out fishing --getting about 40 whitefish a day, and expecting to get about 150 a day in august. The stuff you learn by keeping your ears open and just listening to the kids talk amoung themselves is wonderful--Every alaskan citizen can kill 5 caribou a day, A DAY!! Kyle was telling David about him and a couple of friends, killing a caribou and then discovering that no one had a knife to gut and skin it--they sat there debating what to do until they got hungry and opened a can of spam for lunch and Shazam!! figured they could gut and skin it with the Spam lid, which they did --You can't make this stuff up even if you tried. Krista was asking Kyle if he had any polar bear claws he was willing to sell and for how much, while bebating the price, he let ship it was a bear he had killed when he was 13--
There are 7 divers and 2 bear guards going down to expore the Point Franklin site where 31 whalers were trapped in the ice, crushed and sank in about 1875--they are being helicoptered in and Anne gave the task of coming up with the shopping list to David and Kyle, Camp food for 7 people for 14 days, ended up being about 300 pounds of food, with debates amoung the kids and adults as to what would work and what wouldn't refigeration is no problem, simply dig a hole and put it in--it'll keep just fine.
We'll be in the field tomorrow, working on Clare's driftwood feature, hopefully it won't rain--we've been in the lab for the last couple of days, so it'll be nice to get back out--check the pictures--