So lately we’ve been doing lots of work involving deer mice. They are a native and endemic sub-species and the only rodent on the island – thankfully there are no rats! Last month we helped out Helen Fitting, a park biologist, with mark-recapture studies of the mice and then more recently we’ve been doing some mouse density studies for Sarah’s research using track tubes. It turns out that I LOVE deer mice. Or maybe I just love Santa Barbara Island deer mice. They are painfully cute and endearingly lacking in proper flight responses. After releasing them it is not uncommon to have one run up your leg looking for shelter or sit in your lap to groom itself before casually scampering off. They will even groom their faces immediately after you’ve punch a tag in their ear while you still have them scruffed by the neck. I imagine them to be a bit vain actually. Also – and this is probably a factor of the incredible density of mice on the island – it’s difficult to walk around without nearly stepping on the little guys. They just don’t seem to know where to run or if they should run at all. It’s not surprising that the owls are well fed these days.
In addition, we helped Helen catch some island night lizards (an endemic and threatened species) in transects with cover boards, which are kinda like lizard condos. It was a pretty exciting task as we were crunched on time and ended up having to catch them in warm weather… which meant the lizards were fast! The only way to catch them in such conditions is to move at the speed of light. Once the boards are lifted they run for the grass faster than you can blink. On one capture attempt I was so full of adrenaline that I didn’t even realize I had grabbed a mouse instead of a lizard (my hands worked faster than my brain). Upon realizing my mistake I screamed like a little girl (which was both ironic and embarrassing considering we had spent the entire morning happily – and bravely!- handling mice). Good thing I was still wearing my mouse gloves. 🙂
And while we are not talking about birds, here is a sea lion hanging out by the dock….
And a flower that I thought was really pretty (I got lazy and didn’t edit the photo quality, sorry)…
Annnnnd, since this is a bird blog here are some horned lark eggs….
And a brown pelican to end on. 🙂