We had a great presentation from Chris on climate change last night, but afterwards I was just too tired to blog. This morning I got up to two inches of snow on the ground--and it is still falling! I am worried that I won't be able to find all of my small mammal traps, but Christina assured us they have plenty of food to manage for even 36 hours. She also told us we have a "snow day"--we aren't going out today. It is 31 degrees right now and light rain is predicted later. It doesn't sound like it would be one of our best days in the field.
Yesterday was an exciting day as one of my traps caught a vole. We saw three traps that had been sprung, possibly by shrews, which are small enough to escape through the "escape hatch" we leave for them. Because shrews have such high metabolism and not much body fat (insulation), we don't want them to spend the night in one of the traps. Sadly, the one trap which had been repaired and the escape hatch taped shut, did catch a shrew, which froze to death overnight. I was very happy that our vole looked healthy. I am holding her by the scruff of her neck the way a mother cat holds her kittens. This does not hurt the vole--actually her skin is loose enough that she can often turn around in her own skin. Christina told us her cat often catches voles but they are able to turn and bite the cat's nose so the cat drops them and they run off. We released the vole at the trap site and replaced the food in the trap. The food we are using now is oats, which is less yummy than the horse food (coated in molasses) that Christina originally brought us. Still, with the current snow cover, I imagine it will look enticing. I am happy now that we built some "habitats" yesterday. We gathered up fallen and cut tree branches, piled them together to make a home or burrow for small animals. It was hard work, but I'll bet those habitats look good to animals on a snowy morning. It is hard to believe that yesterday noon we were sitting in warm sun!