Maybe this year the growing season is just slow to get started? Last year, likewise arriving at the beginning of June, I was thrown into the thick of a beautiful show of steppe flowers – the nodding heavy purple Pulsatilla flowers (Pasque flower in vernacular English, perhaps due to their early flowering habits?), the bright splashes of the short yellow Iris. And a host of other flowers – small blue Amblynotus (a forget-me-not like species) and bright blue Gentian eyes, the leggy weedy white of the Arenaria (Sandwort), the tall abundant star-like white Thalictrum (Rue), and the common classic yellow flowers of several Potentilla species (Cinquefoils/Strawberries). More notably perhaps, last year most of the grasses (Poa, Festuca, Hierochloe, Koeleria) and the sedge (Carex) started flowering in significant numbers just a few days after our arrival. This year however, there still isn’t any sign of this yet, and we are wondering if the season will ever catch up!
Other news at camp is that late last night we had the arrival of two vehicles and an influx of people champing at the bit to do field ecology, including two of the Principal Investigators (Bazartseren Boldgiv and Brent Helliker), Ariuna, and several Mongolian undergraduates, as well as Hascha, our cook. The camp was consequently a hive of activity from early this morning, unpacking food to add to the stores, starting chores, pitching tents, exploring the steppe, watering plots, moving fence posts, chopping wood etc etc.