I wrote in my blog yesterday that this is turning out to be an interesting field season. I had no idea that one night later, "interesting" would come to mean "completely insane".
One hundred and fifty traps we set up in the forest of Parc Michel-Chartrand in Ville de Longueuil last night. And this morning, we returned to 53 mice in 52 traps (one of the traps, #128, had two mice in it!). 53. That is a 35% catch rate. I might have just blown the lab record way out of the water! As a rule, we would leave our traps out for 3-4 nights hoping to catch approximately 20 mice. Well, I can say for certain that we need only trap for this one night at Longueuil!
Thank goodness my supervisor (Virginie) and her son, Martin, decided to join us out in the field today. If Sam and I had worked alone as previously intended... well, I do believe we would still be out in the forest right now trying to complete our work. So to Virginie and Martin, merci beaucoup for coming out with Sam and myself today! And for the Timbits! It was a nice source of sugar for everybody that had worked right through lunch!
Frankly, I am still rather stunned at the number of mice we caught. The little furballs are everywhere. Indeed, it was literally raining mice! There was a mouse that fell out of a tree that we were working under. Martin looked up in time to witness it falling through the air (cue music ♪♫ "I believe I can fly" ♫♪...). The rest of us merely heard the 'thud' when it landed (harmlessly) on its back. Well, that and Virginie's rather adorable yelp.
Due to the overwhelming number of mice we caught (53!), we released a number of of them back into the forest. After all, our permit allows us to collect a limited number of mice. Besides, can you imagine having to process over fifty mice? Yikes. Nonetheless, catching so many mice gave us a great opportunity to photograph and video some of them to add to our lab collection. Virginie and Martin certainly had an enjoyable time with that. Who knows, perhaps the TV crews could use some of them!
Throughout the insanely busy day, Sam and I managed to sample the vegetation for ticks. And lo and behold! I present to you, ticks! We found a nymph and an adult female. Since we have the golden trio (mice, ticks, deer) all present within this forest, it would be interesting to see if any of the ticks or mice are infected with Borrelia (disease-causing agent of Lyme disease). Remember, the park is nestled within the City of Longueuil. A great number of people, elders and kids, spend their free time at the park and on the trails within it. They even run summer day camps there!
I was hoping that I would glimpse the deer that Sam and Virginie saw yesterday. Unfortunately, I did not see any today, though Virginie believes she spotted the same couple (a young doe and buck) she did yesterday. I'm so jealous.