27 June, 2002
OK, this will be the first time I won't begin with the idea of "wow, what a great day!" Although not a bad day, I believe I was tired going into it, it was cold and windy, and I just had a tough time really enjoying everything surrounding me.
First, I don't think I'll ever get used to the surprises the weather throws at me up here. Yesterday - warm, muggy and BUGGY, with hardly a breeze. At about 8:00 pm last night, it began to rain and the temp drops about 20 degrees instantly. It rained off and on all night, the wind blew, and brought in a very chilly morning of 38 degrees. Unlike yesterday, it didn't warm up, so the high today was around 45, with a pretty brisk NE wind all day. I never could really get warmed up inside.
OK, so the weather was a bit of a downer, but it wasn't all that bad, and there were no bugs. I've put in quite a few miles and hours this week (as has the whole group), and I think they were all adding up. Then, to top it off, after I walked about 45 minutes away from camp, I realized I lost my field notebook! I knew I had put it in my pocket before I left, as I had double checked, so it must have fallen out somewhere as I walked already. In the last TEA teleconference call, a student (I believe Josh) asked what would happen if we lost it - I explained that we also put the daily data into data sheets and in a computer spread sheet, so we had back-ups. After losing it, I realized how much was really in there - thoughts throughout the day, extra observations, other bird data - LOTS! Well, I backtracked, and finally found it within 5 minutes of camp. So, I picked it up and went back to where I was originally going - that means I did about 2 hours of extra walking just be! cause of carelessness! I definitely looked up and said a few thank you's when I did find it, though!
So, I finally reach my destination of Cheyenne Marsh and King Eider K1. When I got to the nest, I found it had been depredated (eggs destroyed) and the hobo temp torn apart! I also visited Tundra Swan 12 nearby - thank goodness that nest was still in good shape! From there, I decided to go further SE than we've been before and check out another marshy area. After 2 hours of wading, all I saw anywhere were 2 loons being harassed by one parasitic jaeger, a white fronted goose nest and one pair of long-tail ducks (oldsqauws). Nothing was around today!
Anyway, from there I head back NW to Tundra Swan 2 and placed a hobo in its nest . The 4 eggs were still in good shape and both birds were around behaving like good parents. After getting that done, I finally headed for home. Got back a little after 5:00, then with very tired legs, walk down the 50 m to our drinking lake, filled up 2 buckets (wow, lots more swimmers now!) and then slowly climbed the hill. Cooked a little supper, reported data, chatted with the group (Yumiko returned today), then headed to my tent early. I am exhausted - everyone else seems to feel the same way.
I'd like to end tonight by responding to a couple of questions . . .
1) about bird egg weight decreasing as incubation and chick development continues: I think it was Meghan the other day that asked a little about this, but I didn't give a very clear explanation of why. First, I believe (and hope) you were thinking about the 1st law of Thermodynamics - Energy/matter cannot be created nor destroyed, they can only change forms. So if the egg started with a certain amount of matter - food and fluid for chick development, and the chick utilized them, why would the egg mass decrease? It seems that the matter is just changing form. Which it is. The loss is diffusion of some waste gases through the shell. Although the amount of gas increases within an egg during development (which can be tested with a simple bouyancy test), some gas does escape, thus accounting for the loss of mass.
2) Plants of the area (I know Kallie asked this for sure - maybe others are interested): There are many new flowers blooming around here now, and most of the original flowers of spring are still in bloom (some are seeding out already, though). So, here is a list of most of the ones we've found and identified so far:
Mustard Family (Brassicasee)</ib>
Draba sp. (hirta and probably caesia)
Buttercup Family (Ranunculaceae)
Ranunculus sp (possibly eschscholtzii)
Pulsatilla palens (pasque flower)
Caltha palustris (marsh marigold)
Lots of willows
Well, there is quite a science lesson for the day. Missing everyone - Today will be an incredible day! Time for some sleep now.
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