Nature Notes

Vol. XII July, 1934 No. 7

A Patriarch of Paradise

With abnormally light snowfall the past winter, animals and flowers are in evidence nearly six weeks ahead of last year. It is also expected that the ice caves of Paradise Glacier, which have been hidden under the snow for two years, will make their appearance again this season.

Near the banks of Edith Creek dwells an old marmot. Each season, long before the snow has gone, he tunnels to the surface and, "master of all he surveys", sits by the entrance in the brilliant sunshine surrounded by an almost limitless expanse of white. This year the old fellow was seen at the doorway of his snow tunnel on the twentieth of May. Tracks of coyotes and foxes indicated that these surface mauraders had sniffed hungrily but unsuccessfully about the doorway of the subterranean home. The tracks of the marmot showed that he had made one hurried trip to the banks of the creek, where, for a short distance it came from beneath its heavy blanket of snow to plunge over a rugged cliff. Here the sun had bared the earth, and a few early plants sent forth tender shoots that had tempted the marmot's appetite, eager after the long fast of hibernation. Paces showed the distance between the burrow and the stream bank to be 117 yards. Only a strong appetite could lure an old and wise marmot that distance from the safety of his burrow over an unprotected expanse of snow.

Such chances, however, are not often taken--except by the young and foolish and so this old patriarch contents himself with squatting in his doorway in anticipation of the day when the meadows will have become more accessible to him.

Natt N. Dodge, Ranger-Naturalist.

Pentstemon rupicola
Pentstemon rupicola

News from Little America!

During the past months we were favored with a long and interesting letter from Alton Lindsey - one of last summer's ranger naturalists - who is a member of the Byrd Expedition to the Antarctic regions. The letter, which readers of "Nature Notes" will undoubtedly find interesting, states in part --

". . . While in the ice pack of unexplored seas where the last flights were made we killed seals. They "went to the dogs" except for the skins of which we have saved four of the best, and all the skulls. It has been a tremendous job to get the skins blubbered and cleaned up. These are the Crab-eaters which we are not likely to find in the Bay of Whales, the species there is the Weddell."

"We have now made the last flight in the unexplored region to the east of the Ross Sea where it was formerlly supposed to be land of the continent. About 200,000 square miles of "land" has been liquified and the Ross Sea proved to be directly continuous with the Pacific to the east. Heading now for Little America and what a time there will be when we get there. Everyone, regardless of his special function, has been assigned a job to do with the gigantic job of general work that has to be done. The three of us in the biological end have been given the assignment of killing about 900 seals that must be used and stored up for the winter as dog food. This is one sweet piece of work but there are compensations. It gives us a better chance for collecting than we'd have if working at unloading ship, transporting or building the base. We can kill them so that they will be in shape for specimens, select the best ones for this purpose and skin them ourselves . . . . . It also gives us more chance to get around the Bay than anyone else will have during this hectic period for we'll have our own dog teams and a free hand with our plans as to where we go . . . . ."

This letter, written on January 10th was received by the writer on June 2nd. (C.F.B.)


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