Monday, September 28, 2009

Musk Ox

Late in the afternoon while working on the wood pile, I noticed four Musk Oxen on the island just across the river channel.  These were the first musk oxen seen near our home all summer.  They had most likely been spending the summer more to the east, along the Arctic Ocean, and were now heading for higher terrain inland where the wind keeps more of the ground swept bare during the winter months.  I quickly got my camera gear loaded in the boat and headed across the channel  to get a few pictures of them on this bright sunny day. 

The group was comprised of 2 adults and two sub-adults from last year.  As I was taking pictures, I noticed one of the musk ox kept swinging its head like it was watching something near its feet.  Finally I saw that there  was a short-tailed weasel running around the musk ox. Muskox-weasel_3980

Weasel can be seen in the foreground between the two animals on the right side of the photo.

He would dash in close then bolt back towards the river bank, where there were tunnels into which he would disappear.  I worked over to that side of the island to get the sun behind me for pictures, and then the weasel started checking me out.  As usual they never stay still very long, which makes it hard to get a good shot. Weasel_face-male_4018

After I got all the pictures I wanted, I headed home and the Musk oxen continued to feed and rest until evening, when they continued on their way upriver.  At dusk I could see them about 2 miles away,  bedded down for the night on another island closer to the mainland.


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Arctic Smoke Signals by James W. Helmericks is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.