Hello again from Ship Island!
Summer is almost here and the terns are sticking around more and more every day. We’ve noticed the number of terns visiting the colony is increasing as well, so hopefully within the next week the colony will be formed and full of nesting Common terns. In the meantime, Mark found our first tern egg! The colony is on its way!
Many of you may be wondering what life is like when you’re living on a seabird island. Our days here start early; at 7 AM we conduct daily surveys of any and all birds on the island. These surveys typically include songbirds, waterfowl, and any marine birds. We get new avian visitors to the islands almost every day so these surveys are a fun and interesting way to start the day.
The rest of the day is weather dependent. Aside from the important and almost constant roles of monitoring general movements of the tern colony and keeping an eye out for any predators visiting both Ship and Trumpet Islands, some tasks cannot be completed in rain or dense fog. Days when we are stuck inside (such as today- rain and wind gusts up to 30 mph!) typically include lots of reading, card games, checking up on emails and listening to the radio. We will venture outside for a quick survey of shorebirds at high tide and dusk, but the day is low key and relaxing. When the weather is cooperative, one of us will spend some time in the blinds observing the terns. The rest of the day is filled with completing projects for the Refuge staff. These can range from trail maintenance to removing invasive plant species to marking the 30 meter grid plot around the whole island. Once our main goals for the day have been accomplished, we take the time to enjoy the day. Exploring the different fauna on the island is always fun and there is usually time to squeeze in some beach chair lounging. It’s always great to spend an hour or two sitting outside, listening to all the birds calling, watching the harbor seals play and observing butterflies as they go about their days.
Starting the day at 6:30 AM means we’re usually done with dinner and looking to get settled down for the night at around 8:30. Doing the dishes and sweeping are mundane activities typically, but there’s usually a beautiful island sunset to accompany you. This is my first time living on a seabird island and it is a beautiful, interesting and tiring experience all in one. I’m learning new things every day and looking forward to the round the clock work that goes into monitoring a seabird colony!
Until next time!