04.04.2011 - 09:45
Field work March 2011
Project: Locating local foxes, see if they are active during the day and collaborative to photographers.
Volunteers: Conor Handley and Lexi Siebuhr
Volunteering for the Arctic Fox Centre was an unforgettable experience.
The first day we arrived in Heydalur we were greeted with a delicious soup made by our host, Stella, a kind and ever giving woman. That evening of our first watch was quite stunning and pleasantly nerve shaking when we found a few tracks. Although the wind had a cold bite, the scenery around us was breathtaking. The majestic fjord, surrounded by tall snowy mountains and open terrain where the fox(s) tracks were all around us.
The people in Heydalur were kind enough to lend us a car from the harsh wind, so we admired and monitored from inside. We were picked up and fed a lovely dinner (one of many). Even though we had not seen any foxes that evening, it was a great start to the next few days of monitoring. The next day we woke up and walked around the land and valley that we were staying and where the foxes were known to hang around. There was an infinite amount of recent (perhaps that night) [Arctic fox] tracks up and down the valley, across the road, and towards the bay. That evening we went to check on the bait, that had been left a few days before, and it was gone. That was very exciting because it seemed obvious that the fox(s) had been there and the camera had hopefully gotten the footage [unfortunately it didn´t seem to catch the foxes´ movements]. Our monitoring session that night was as beautiful as the last and we were actually fortunate enough to hear their [the foxe´s] "barking" in the mountains a few minutes before we left back to the house. The next day there was a strong wind that picked up much of the snow and covered most of the tracks. That evening we stayed a bit later, hoping to catch site of the little fox(s) but when we got picked up we had yet to see anything of them. We figured that perhaps the foxes were trotting about in the early morning. So we woke up our last day before dawn. No one was awake yet to take us down and we had a few moments to appreciate the serenity around us.
Walking down to the horses we had the opportunity to catch a glance of a small field mouse running about. When we went back to the house people had told us that they heard much "barking" during the night which was exciting although it was another sign that the foxes had become nocturnal. We got to our car shelter before sunrise and were able to observe for those few hours.
Might I add that the people that we were staying with were also kind enough to give us hot watch for tea when we went out for monitoring, which was a sweet relief, because of how much it warmed us in the freezing weather. We found many very recent tracks close to the car and watched intensely, but no fox came. That morning was incredibly beautiful, the sun shined down over mountains and sea, shimmering off both the water and snow. Although we did not see any fox(s) the experience was amazing. The place that we stayed is filled with kind and giving individuals, mouth-watering food, and the surrounding land was absolutely gorgeous. We hope to return again to the WestFjords in the future and help out in any way we can with Melrakkasetur Íslands.
Lexi Siebuhr and Conor Handley
[ added by Ester at the Arctic Fox Centre]
- so, the foxes are still nocturnal in Heydalur, no sign of Frosti or Flame but let´s keep on hoping they are still there...