Under The Sun.

Well, it’s been a while since I last blogged anything about wolves/canids! Shocking I know…but, there has been good reason for it! Whilst I did intend to blog about my last field season(ssss) – both wolf and domestic dog! – give you all the gory…errr I mean glory details!! I’m afraid I got side-tracked with winning a research poster prize (wooop!) and with the planning and preparation of my next round of fieldwork, to somewhere new this time, and quite frankly, utterly amazing!! But, more on that in a wee while…

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This is Sam one of my more recent research dogs, who will literally bend over backwards just to please you! (Anything for a tummy rub! Photo credit: ER Hobkirk).

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Here’s Nuka, looking as gorgeous as ever, under the shade of a few conifer trees! (Photo credit: ER Hobkirk)

So, as its now 2017 (Happy somewhat belated New Year everyone!!) and the weather outside is, kinda chilly still, I thought I’d warm you guys up with a tale of blisteringly hot and humid escapades! Back in September 2016 you may remember a slight heatwave spreading its devilish wings across the Isles of Britain, yes? Well, this fiendish cloak of heat and torment swept through Reading (UK), and inevitably the UKWCT exactly when I was there collecting some additional wolf footage for my research! Day by day, hour by hour, I observed our wolves conserving energy – i.e. they were either sleeping, panting, or sleeping– refusing to move about Under The Sun. Could I blame them? No. Even with their finer summer coats (see: On the Trot!) they still felt the 32 degree Celsius heat! Though, they were managing a wee bit better than me, and also seemed to mock me as they played in their water troughs and ponds – paddling in them and lapping up water – before either getting in trouble with ‘alpha’ pack members (such as Massak) or jumping out and throwing water over me…though, that was welcomed – even with the eau de wolf musk! Lovely, just what a girl always wanted!

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Around The Watering Hole: Pukak (right) was having some fun cooling himself in his water trough, until Massak (left) came over to put an end to his fun! (Poor Pukak) For the millionth time, Massak asserts himself over Pukak; note Massak’s highly held, vertical tail signalling “I am alpha wolf”, and Pukak’s tongue sticking out – here Pukak performs what is known as ‘licking intention’, which is an aspect of active submissive, signalling a ‘friendly’ affective state. (Photo credit: ER Hobkirk)

“Around The Watering Hole” video.

However, this ‘conservation of energy’ is exactly that – meaning our wolves, when prompted, would explode into action! Such as when territorial boundaries are compromised by neighbouring (irritating) wolves or indeed wild pheasants who happen to fly right on in! With an ‘alert’ facial expression and then the look of pure determination followed by what is considered an ‘angry’ facial expression with retracted lips, wrinkled noses and baring of teeth, as our wolves fought off the competition (or more to the point, when Pukak tried to fend off Motomo and his exasperating behaviour!). These explosive activities seldom come with a ‘heads-up’ too – but rather cause a researcher to stand to attention and hastily try ones best to capture such events on video! But of course, many, many, MANY (!) hours of video footage does mean many, many, MANY hours of decoding back at the lab – my life now, is just that – while our wolves (and dogs) continue their somewhat (one could argue) less stressful antics…

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Cannot Pick Your Neighbours: Pukak (left) and Motomo (right) having a neighbourly dispute! Motomo frequently irritates Pukak just for fun, and when Pukak tries to get his own back at Motomo he often gets a ‘telling off’ by Massak (Poor Pukak is always in trouble!). Note the body postures of each wolf, the head and ear positions, the raising of the lips and wrinkling of the nose to show the teeth, all of which essentially signal ‘anger’ to each other (Photo credit: ER Hobkirk)

“Cannot Pick Your Neighbours” video.

Until next time, stay barking mad and keep howling at the moon!

2 responses to “Under The Sun.

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