Thursday, 16 June 2011

The hills are aliiiiiiiiiive...

...with the sound of snow voles! (and marmots, and chamois and other wonderful alpine creatures).

Good evening everyone, it's nice to be back after an short absence. I have been away on fieldwork helping Swiss scientists catch snow voles, little rodents that live in rock crevices at altitudes of 1000m and over.

The voles are most active at night so the traps (with hay and food) were set out at around 8pm and checked first thing in the morning, when the moon goes to bed (i.e. at 5am!)

So I have spent the last three days running up and down boulders, under the sun and in the rain, swearing at marmots which kept opening the traps to get at the food before pushing the traps down the hill. I will add here that no rodent was harmed in the making of this post: the vole walks into the trap attracted by the smell of peanut butter, it walks over a trigger that closes the door behind, it has some dinner before falling asleep in the hay provided. A few hours later, we come along to measure it, weight it and take a little skin sample for DNA before setting it free again to roam the mountains.

Look at me, I'm cute (when I don't bite...)!

It has been hard-going surviving on 4 hours sleep and walking up and down steep boulder hills 12 hours a day but it has been a great experience working in such a beautiful landscape.

I wasn't quick enough at getting my camera out to take pictures of the terrorist marmots. It was hard enough trying not to fall down the hill without having to one handedly struggle to get my brand new camera out of the bag without dropping it or letting go of the cliff. But I did get a picture of these quite rare alpine newts...

...and of this fantastic-looking bug

The muscles in my legs are so sore I am considering chopping my own legs off...or I might just go to bed!
Good night!

PS: Thank you to all your lovely comments on my "Cat or mouse?" post. The votes are in and it has uninanimously been decided that the "thing" is feline-looking. It just needs a body now!


Lucy said...

I want a snow vole! So cute! And worth the hike up the mountin?!

Elisa @ Globetrotting in Heels said...

Such beautiful views! And that vole is just adorable. Though I have to admit I might just be too much of a girl to hold newts in my hands ;-)

Anonymous said...

Wow what an experience!! Not sure I could survive on 4 hours sleep though lol..! I've never seen a vole close up before they do look cute!

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