Thursday, August 11, 2011

Day 72

To start out, I thought I ought to provide a few visuals to accompany yesterday's post, so the next few photos are from the insect transects that I walk at 7:30 every morning. This morning was a particularly cloudy day that started out rather foggy. The location of the transects is down a bit of a hill from the centre and then into this tundra area surrounded by forest and willow stands. On the best of days, I carry a firearm and a radio, though it isn't very far from the centre, I am going alone. I'm glad that I am cautious this way because later in the day yesterday, I had found out that a bear was spotted right in the area I was walking alone just a few minutes after I had returned to the centre. That worried me a bit this morning, that and the fact of the fog, so I drove the distance down the hill and to the tundra field so the safety of a truck was just that much closer. The distance isn't insignificant from the Centre to the transect, at least a good 2 or so minutes of walking, the length of a song, if I can measure by converting any unit relatively. Anyway, I took the truck this morning, with no incidents or encounters.

This is the marker for the start of the transect. I've always wondered
what it was, as had Hope who had shown me the site and what to
do before she and the rest of the Godwit team had left. I asked LeeAnn
and found out that this is the thing that people climb up onto to get
into a tundra buggy in the winter. The tundra buggies are just that big.
So incase you were wondering.

The first cup. As you can see, the brim is level with the ground
so insects walking along will fall into it. The flagging tape
just helps me see it from far away. It's a big transect and I could
easily get lost on the tundra looking for these little cups.

This cup had a spider at the bottom of the ethanol which I
scooped out and into a jar to measure the length of back in
the lab.

The next adventure of the morning was to go to my five lakes, collect water samples, and take some measurements of water chemistry (water temperature, conductivity - kinda like saltiness, % dissolved oxygen, and pH). At one of the lakes, Larch, there was this huge area of tundra covered in cloud berries! They were the perfect soft ripeness that just falls into you hand just by brushing the top of the berry, so naturally, Caleigh and I harvested a couple bags full!

They taste a bit like baked apple, which is a really interesting
taste for a berry... The blueberries are almost ripe. The crowberries
have been ripe, but they are really hard to eat with all the seeds, and
I just don't find all that appealing. The wild strawberries are ripe,
but other animals (researchers) ate them all before I got a chance. I've
managed to steal just a few of the flavorful strawberries. The cranberries
won't be ripe for another three weeks or so, so I will miss them. And
the bear berries are ripe, but I don't think they taste like much either.

We also harvested a bunch of Myrica gale or sweet gale or bog myrtle to make tea. It smells really good so I can't wait until it's dry! Apparently, it also makes for a decent insect repellant, though I have yet to be desperate enough to smear the leaves all over me. I've gotten close at times though!

After our harvesting break, we went to Caleigh's sites to pluck the dryas puffs. Another thing that I talked about in an earlier blog post.

The afternoon was mostly filtering and bruising up my shoulder. Obviously the more interesting story here is the water filter, which I do twice a week, so I will now write several thousand words about triple rinsing, the electric pump, the cellulose-acetate filter, the sulphuric acid... Well, I could, except the interest level may be lost. Instead, I will talk about my bruised shoulder and how it became bruised. Can you guess?

I had bad form. That's right, I went shooting! One of the most important parts of shooting a shotgun is getting the butt of the stock snugly into the "meaty" part of your shoulder. That was were I failed. That and probably not doing the teapot stance, as in "I'm a little teapot, short and stout, here is my handle, here is my spout, when I get all steamed up, hear me shout, tip me over and pour me out." In the stance, you have to lean forward from the hips, kinda like being tipped in the song or like triangle pose in yoga. That way, the recoil takes the force from the lean rather than directly into your shoulder. So, I have a nice big bruise there now! But the upside is, I'm getting a lot better at aim! I got 6 holes through the target (out of 14), which isn't too bad! Definitely an improvement over the last time I shot, which I managed 0. It was a lot of fun to go out on such a beautiful afternoon! I also got to fire a 22 semi-automatic hand gun! I really didn't expect to do that, I though it was just shotgun practice day. A hand gun is so different from a shotgun. The recoil is there, but in comparison, nonexistent. And that was just really really cool. You can just keep pulling the trigger (unlike squeezing the trigger on a shotgun) without having to reload, since it does that automatically (unless it gets jammed, which it did rather often). With a shotgun, you have to pump between shots to load the next slug, assuming you are using a pump-action which is what I use here. So yea, super cool! I kept my target paper for proof!

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