Poo Picking (for science!)

At 7:30am we were outside the admin castle, as promised.  Just after 8am we set off with Lukas and Nikoline to head into the park and help with some research.  Lukas is getting back into biology after spending several years building up a business teaching people how to kayak and trail run.  Nikoline is working here permanently helping all the researchers.

As we drove down the road, we learned that we were going to be collecting poo today.  It will be analysed for stress hormones for a research project into food availability and stress.

We parked up and met Leah, a research student.  The five of us set off up the trail to the alp hut, where we’d been to fix the solar panel a few days before.  Lukas was keen to get up there, so we set off at quite a pace and arrived in good time.

Now we were to walk back and forth up the slope, looking for fresh scats.  When we found a nice fresh wet one, we were to put it in a ziplock bag and label it.  Once we had 15 bags of poo, we were done.  It took quite a while to find 15 fresh ones, walking back and forth and up and down in the hot sunshine.  But we made it!  And I even came across a common viper that Dave managed to snap mid-escape.

Dave and Nikoline looking for poo

Dave and Nikoline looking for poo

Found some!  Bag it up.

Found some! Bag it up.

Glimpse of the common viper

Glimpse of the common viper

Then we sat outside the alp hut for lunch and watched some female Ibex and a herd of deer on the faraway slopes.

Lunch at the alp

Lunch at the alp

After lunch, we hiked back up to the camera and solar panel on the other side of the river to fix the cable to the ground with pegs.  Why we didn’t just do this when we were up there the other day, I’m not sure.  But it was nice in the end because we got to walk back on the other side of the river, where we hadn’t been before – and in the shade of the trees!

Alpine flowers

Alpine flowers

Steep descent

Steep descent

Off the trail

Off the trail

I was feeling pretty tired on the way back, my legs complaining about cycling up here then hiking for four days straight.  But we were back to the car reasonably early and headed back to the office.

After another visit to the shop to get dinner things, we returned to the campsite for showers.  Ruedi met us there at 5pm whilst his children were doing activities in town.  We organised the next few days here and chatted about the park before he had to head off.

By the time we’d made dinner, eaten and Dave had chatted to his family, it was bedtime. I am so tired!  Glad we’ve got a day off tomorrow, I think I need it.

– Anna

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