Stopgap

June 10th, 2011 | Meera

The Science Essayist is volunteering at a bird observatory in Sweden this summer.

I keep making mental notes about things I want to tell you, and then finding that it is suddenly midnight and I don’t have it in me to write about the ferocity of lemmings, how it is possible to hear water levels changing, why I forgive the mosquitoes their pursuit of me, what almost-fledged nuthatches sound like when they are frightened, or the way you can see rainstorms coming for hours in the sky before they actually let fall their first fresh drops.

More on these subjects later. For now, I wanted to pop in to tell you one thing:

There is at least one Great Snipe here in the mountains with the grounds to take out a restraining order against me.

Convinced she had a nest and determined to find it, I spent an inordinate amount of time today tracking and flushing, tracking and flushing, tracking and flushing the poor creature, looking each time for that longed-for circlet of dried grass containing a clutch of four perfect mottled eggs. I never saw any such thing in the locations from which she scissored herself up when I came close.

Johan has already found seven such treasures, so it’s clear that some birds are currently nesting. But after having observed that this particular female (transmitting on channel #20 on my receiver) was never found in exactly the same spot twice, I concluded that she probably hadn’t actually built herself a nest yet. I’ll go back to that spot in a few days and check again, and hopefully by then she will be well on her way to motherhood.

In the meantime, I’ll do a little penance in my head for harassing her so today.

tools of my temporary trade
Teaser view of my radio antenna. I’ll do a post about that and the rest of my equipment soon. I swear.

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