Wednesday, 16 July 2014

Hatching, broken quads and mosquitoes

A fun-filled few days encompassing the full spectrum of human emotion. From the highs of catching geese throught the lows of broken quad bikes to warm still days and plagues of mosquitoes. A couple if days ago we had a break from routine in the Schei Camp as we had a helicopter flight to check the status of the nests we found and retrieve the temperature loggers we placed in each nest. On the flight to distant Axel F we also saw a wolf and an arctic fox. All in all most of our 24 nests appear to gave been successful with 4 falling victim to predation. Gulls may be the most likely cause as we found eggs with holes punched through them at the nest.
On True Brant island we saw nest where the female was still sitting but with one gosling scrabbling and squeaking in the nest trying to get under her wing. We also saw several families walking their goslings from the island out on the sea ice. While on Gerry Murphy Island the abominable yellow sludge has mellowed into spongy sand. Here too we saw a female on the nest with her chicks. So hatching success has been pretty high, although Tom noted on the flight up to the breeding islands that there were very few family groups (but lots of non-breeder moulting flocks).

Yesterday we attempted our second catch at the awkwardly named 13 goose pond complex. We were aiming for all 13 geese. Catching involved herding them from one small pond across a bit of land into a smaller pond and then into the net. It soon became obvious that we would have to get wet to get them off the first pond as they were happy to circle in in the middle of it. In the end, Sean (our hero) swam at the geese while everyone else waded in and we forced the birds into the smaller pond where it was simple to close the trap. On land the geese are quick despite their comical gait. We caught all 13 including yet another retrap!! FU White White (phnar phnar) was originally ringed at Strangford.

Alas, our beloved red quad broke down at the catch site and even duct tape could not revive it. Consequently, we had to lug everything back 10 km to camp. It was good exercise in a way and never far from being fun. Kerry, Alyn and Graham are all due to arrive in Ottawa late tomorrow and fly on to Resolute on Friday. The airstrip there has been fogbound for the last three days, so fingers crossed they get in.

Ian and Stu

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