Greetings from Ship Island, Maine! Situated in Blue Hill Bay to the west of Mount Desert Island (home of Acadia National Park), this small island belongs to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The island hosts a full-time, two-person crew during the breeding season to monitor nesting seabirds, most prominently Common Terns.
Sarah and I arrived on the island late last week to clear skies and warm temperatures. Two long days of training at the office had us raring to get outside. After setting up camp and reviewing protocols, we got a chance to explore the island. At only about a quarter mile long, Ship Island has a surprising diversity of habitats for its resident species. While the terns prefer to nest on the gravelly beach, the island has large areas of grass and shrubs to support dozens of sparrows, a grove of small cherry trees teeming with warblers, and a bluff along the southern side popular with bank swallows.
To the north, across a low tide exposed sandbar, is Trumpet Island. Common Eiders, as well as Herring and Great Black-backed Gulls, make their homes on Trumpet, feeding in the water between the islands. To the south and west are two rocky islets known as the Barges. East Barge is a favorite spot for seals to haul up at low tide, while West Barge hosts a small colony of Double-crested Cormorants. Black Guillemots are frequent visitors to the waters around the island.
The warm, sunny weather lasted for our entire first two days, with dense fog limiting our view yesterday morning. Both of us are new to working in coastal Maine, but we’re excited to spend the summer, fog and all, working outside with the island’s birds. We’re looking forward to more fine days, plentiful birds, and a wonderful summer. Until next time!