Welcome :) Follow my blog as I explore the mammals of Nova Scotia!

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

For Mrs. Clark's 7th Graders :)

Hi Guys! Great Questions you had for me yesterday, I am so happy you posted! Here are the answers to your questions:

1. No, we did not catch the porcupine that caused all the tree damage. They are very hard to find at this time of the year. In the summer when it is warmer you might be able to find them up in the trees. They like to climb up the tree and then sleep on one of the branches with their legs dangling on either side!

2. We have not yet figured out how many porcupines are in the area here, but I will ask the scientists and let you know.

3. I have not seen any bears... YET! The type of bear they have here is the Black Bear.

4. The largest mammal that we have caught so far is a pregnant vole. You can see her picture in my blog from today. The largest mammal that we have seen so far is the Bobcat!

5. The 9 animals that we have seen signs of during our researching up here are the porcupine, deer, snowshoe hare, coyote, voles, mice, chipmunk, bobcat and raccoon.

6. We have caught 7 voles so far (but one of them was caught 3 times!).

7. The Red-backed vole is named that way because it has a reddish color of fur that runs along its back. You can kind of see that in this picture:

8. The Longworth traps that we use work by placing food and hay (for them to make a nest) in the trap. This makes a nice place for the animals and they smell the food so they want to come inside. When they come inside the trap they walk to the end and hit a little piece of metal that closes the door at the front of it. This keeps them inside until we come and let them out. Some smaller animals such as a shrew, are able to slide out the hole in the back of the trap. This is ok because we are not wanting to trap them. They are also very nervous and would be upset if they were stuck inside.

9. We can tell the differences between the animals by the way that they look. You probably know that animals are very hard to find sometimes so we also need to be able to identify them in other ways. One way we do that is by looking at the droppings they leave behind. Their droppings look very different from one another and that helps us find out who has been there. You can see pictures of droppings on my blog!

Day 11- Cook's Lake/ Tim Hortons ;)


Congratulations to A LOT of you for getting the antler vs horn differences correct!

"It's cold and miserable out there"... that is how Dr. Christina came in this morning as we were ready to have some breakfast. It had been pouring rain all night long and was still raining. I was not sure how this day was going to turn out but I was hoping it would stop soon... it didn't.

We left in another dense Nova Scotian fog after breakfast and drove out to Cook's Lake. When we arrived it was raining even harder than in Cherry Hill. Things were not looking good for us! We hauled in our lunch cooler and made our way down the very muddy and wet trail... the pouring rain. The temperature had dropped significantly since yesterday and unfortunately it looks like this will continue to happen as the week progresses :(

When we got to the cottage at Cook's Lake we immediately started checking our traps to see if we caught anything overnight. I cannot explain how much rain was falling as we did this. I had probably put on 4 layers of clothing on my upper torso and then had a scarf and a rain jacket on. I had long johns and another layer of pants on my legs... but NO RAIN PANTS!! :( I also had on my big boots and the liners to keep them warmer as well as a pair of mittens. Unfortunately this did not work out well. By the time we had checked the traps my mittens were soaked and weighed about 5 pounds each, both layers of my pants were soaked as well and the water was starting to drip into my boots :( Miserable does quite a good job in describing how I felt.

I had no animals in my traps but one of mine had something in it that must have escaped. Another one of my teammates did however catch 2 Red-backed voles! One of them was a pregnant female and the other was a thin female who looked like she had run a little low on her food storages over the winter. The pregnant female was pretty cool because she was so round and it was nice to compare the body shapes. I felt a bit bad too because it was so cold and rainy and we had to release them back into the wild in such awful weather.
Ms. Dosmann with the pregnant vole

The pregnant vole gets her clipping

After the traps were checked we managed to do 5 quadrats to look for scat as the rain continued to pour down on top of us. We found nothing in the first quadrant but then a few deer and hare in the rest of them. It was really tough to do when the wind is blowing, its raining and you are freezing cold... but science doesn't rest! Can you tell what these droppings are?

What animal does this come from?

In our last quadrant I saw something run out of the corner of my eye and I stopped and looked over. Guess what I saw? A little common shrew (also known as the masked shrew)! It was going in and out of the thick grasses in the farmland, probably looking for a dry place to stay. I cannot imagine how flooded it was underneath all that grass! Shrews have a hard time dealing with stress and I think this was probably a stressful situation.

Common Shrew

After the quadrants Dr. Christina said something we thought we would never ever hear.... "Do you want to go inside, to Tim Horton's to get dry and have lunch"?? I am sure you can imagine what the answer was to that question! Off we went, freezing cold and soaking wet, back down the path to the van. I was soooo happy!! Here is a quick video of me squeezing out all of the water from my gloves...
We arrived at the mall and immediately headed to the bathrooms to look for the hand dryers to try and dry off our clothing. It was tough because we were all in need of them and there were only two! Needless to say none of us were completely dry when we headed off to Tim Hortons in the mall for coffee and lunch :) We lined up and purchased coffees, hot chocolates, soups and sandwiches. We spent awhile sitting there eating and trying to warm up. We were pretty successful. I even found a place that sold waterproof pants... so you know what? I went and purchased them. As soon as I put them on I started feeling warmer and that was a great feeling. With the weather forcasted for the rest of the week, they are totally going to be worth it!

When 2:30pm rolled around it was back to the van for another trip back to Cook's Lake. Remember I told you before that when we trap we need to check them twice a day? Well today was no different with the rain! Unfortunately we didn't catch anything this time, I think all of the animals were being smart and staying in their warm comfortable little homes. What do you think?

I was definitely ready to come back home to the accommodations and dry off! We hung up all of our soaked clothing and made some tea before having a talk with Dr. Chris about all the animals that live up here. It was nice to be inside listening to the wind and rain before dinner but I found myself thinking about all the "other" animals outside dealing with Mother Nature... we are lucky!

We had an excellent dinner made by Dr. Chris and then we spent a little time relaxing and teaching Yuma English tongue twisters. He taught us one too "Nama mugi, nama gome, nama tamago." I know it has something to do with raw eggs, raw rice and raw wheat ;) For all you who love espanol here is one for you too! "Erre con "erre" cigarro,"erre" con "erre" barril.RĂ¡pido corren los carros,Cargados de azucar del ferrocarril."

Tongue Twisters

We also played a Japanese game using "Koma" which are little wooden tops. This is an old game but it was kind of amusing to play.

Well I am really tired from all of the events of the day, but probably mostly from trying to stay warm in such wet and cold weather! I am excited though about what we might find tomorrow morning when we head back out to the traps. I can't believe it will already be Wednesday!