Thursday, June 23, 2016

Tagged marmots on the move?

A Crested Butte resident just posted a facebook post on the RMBL webpage with a video of a tagged marmot in its car.  One of ours for sure, but who?  The marmot, after taking a trip to Gunnison and back and around town, scurried away when he set a trap. All of our animals agree to participate in what we do; this one apparently left to avoid being trapped and look what happened--he encountered a trap in CB!

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

And the fox takes its toll!

This year is rapidly turning into an exceptionally weird year.  We have our second litter up now. It might have emerged yesterday, but we learned about it when someone saw a fox carrying a marmot pup away from the RMBL Library. In town there's been a nesting fox pair for over a decade and the foxes feed their kits on marmot pups (yes, foxes have to eat too).

The litter of at least 4 surviving pups has emerged from a burrow beneath the Library porch. Two litters this early in June is extremely rare in the past 54 years. I thought that this was the earliest, but Ken just checked his early records and found evidence of one litter emerging on the 13th, 14th, 15th, 18th,  and 19th of June.

Regardless of the precedence, our 'pup season' has begun early--too early--and we're now madly trying to spend more time in the field looking for pup emergence (they usually emerge later in the AM). Meanwhile, it's HOT--very hot--and we've ceased trapping adults later in the day.  Oh and learn and there's always something to learn here.  Marmoteering is, after all, a 'full-employment scheme'!


Monday, June 20, 2016

Litters are up!

It's not even the first day of summer and we just had a litter emerge above ground!  The pup season has we have to scramble to catch pups in the day or so after first emergence so as to mark them before they get eaten by foxes, raptors, or coyotes. It's a race.

Ana saw 5 pups in marmot meadow playing around 'south pyramid rock'.  We set some traps to catch them and their mother immediately began moving them to another burrow.  Mothers these days...

This is one of the earliest litters ever recorded over the past 54 years of marmot study!  Most of our litters start emerging around the 4th of July (yes, marmots can be patriotic, or perhaps they're interested in the Crested Butte July 4th parade!), and we normally have only 1 or 2 emerge annually much before the 4th.

It was a cold and snowy spring here; based on spring sightings at Marmot Meadow, copulation probably occurred in the ground before the females emerged from hibernation.

Stay tuned for more details...

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Marmots on the move

It's that time of year again; marmots are on the move!  This morning, while holding a banana and looking outside my cabin window at the scenery, I saw a marmot!  Marmots don't typically live on the hillside where our cabin is located and I think we were both equally surprised--his tail hair was piloerect and he reared up and looked at me while I stood motionless looking for ear tags. After a long look at each other, I peeled my banana and he ran under the porch. A few minutes later I saw the same marmot exploring the area outside my kitchen window while I was washing up my breakfast dishes. But it was when he was outside my bedroom window, fossicking around our wood pile that I snapped this picture.  No ear tags, beautiful pelage, glorious tail!  Marmots are on the move again, looking for places to settle in.  I suspect it's a he (shape of head), and he's a 2 or 3-year old male looking for a colony to invade.  Remarkably, about 5-10 min later, we spotted him 500 m down valley, coursing through two different marmot colonies, exploring burrows and moving on quickly.  We lost him as he moved towards an occupied burrow, but soon after heard alarm calls coming from that area. If he sticks around, he'll get ear tags and a mark so we can identify him from afar.  I hope he does!

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Welcome Xochitl

Hey everyone!

I am Xochitl, the newest addition to the Marmot Team. I am a rising junior at College of the Atlantic, ME. Getting here was a heck of a trip, but it was totally worth it. This is only my third day here, yet I have already learned so much! I am becoming familiar with individual marmots and their (sometimes quirky) personalities and am learning all the dos and don'ts of trapping marmots. I even handled my first marmot out of a trap! Ana and Gabi have been great teachers and everyone has made me feel part of the team. I'm excited for all the new adventures this summer will bring, especially with pups coming out soon!

Yesterday was also an exciting day as we finally trapped and marked the clever little marmot that is living under the library. We had been trying for days, but she would simply sit by the traps with no intention of going in. It was particularly important for us to trap her because she was unmarked. A new animal! Her name is now sunshine, as demonstrated by the beautiful new mark on her back ;) 

Time to do more observations!