A day's work

When you are out in field the days fly by. At this time of the year the sun is up all day, and sometimes you can lose track of both the date of the month and time of day.

Svalbard rock ptarmigans. Video: Silje-Kristin Jensen / Norwegian Polar Institute
Two scientists on snowmobiles with communications equipment

Testing communications equipment. Photo: Kine Hokholt Bjelland / Norwegian Polar Institute

Scientists in the field sitting down for lunch

Lunch break! Photo: Kine Hokholt Bjelland / Norwegian Polar Institute

If it is sunny and little wind we get up around 7:00, and prepare to head out at 8:30. Reaching the various valleys where we count ptarmigans can take up to 50 minutes, so we have to be out early.

The hours pass by quickly once we have started the counting. The snowmobiles are fitted with GPS with the survey points punched in, so it's easy to find each location.

We spend 15 minutes at the survey point. Here, we try to stand still and listen for the males. We note if we hear a male, and if we see one, we measure the distance to him using the distance measuring binoculars' built-in laser. We also measure the direction he's sitting in, using a compass, and we note if he's got any hens around him.

When our 15 minutes are done, we pack up and drive to the next point. Will we spot a ptarmigan there?