Greetings from Petit Manan!
There is a lot of work left to do this season, but having just returned from my break I am much more aware of how limited our time out here is, and what an amazing experience living on this island has been.
We are living in a house that was utilized by lighthouse keepers when maintaining a lighthouse was something that you couldn’t entrust to a circuit board and a bank of batteries. We depend on regular deliveries of food and potable water, a solar power system for the limited electricity we do use, and collected rain water for washing up.
Depending on your perspective that can sound like hardship or luxury, but for me it is a taste of the sweet life. I get some distance from the hustle and bustle of the rest of the world while having most of the comforts of home. There is also the benefit of almost no biting flies. I never thought I would have a summer in Maine where I didn’t get any mosquito bites.
We are also living in the middle of a large seabird colony. We have a perspective into the lives of these animals that few people are privileged enough to experience. I have seen adult terns court, nest, lay, incubate, hatch, and now feed their ravenous offspring all within the span of a few weeks. Soon these new lives will begin their first migration to the southern hemisphere for overwintering, and hopefully return here to raise young of their own.
In addition to the Terns we have Puffins, Razorbills, Guillemots, Gulls, Petrels and others all involved in the same mad race to pass on their genes.
As amazing as it is to sit in the middle of this genetic maelstrom and watch a new season unfold, the realization that you can extrapolate this madness to a global scale blows me away. It’s not as though I have just learned how successive generations are made, but to see it happen in this kind of density has given me a greater appreciation of what an awesome place our planet is.
I have also had the good fortune to learn some new (to me) skills from some great biologists and instructors. Prior to this season I had almost no practical field experience and was more than a little nervous at the prospect of hitting the ground running. Wayne, Julia, and other member of the refuge staff have done a fantastic job at ensuring that we (myself and Laura B.) were able to step right in to our roles as seabird technicians.
I am very excited to get back to work here on PMI, and for now I will try not to think about the coming end of the season. I have my very own backstage pass to a world class concert, and I’m going to enjoy every bit of it while the music keeps playing.