Hello everyone! Mark here, back for another amazing summer with the seabirds. After last summer on Ship Island, I’ve made my way to Metinic Island for the 2016 field season. Metinic is a larger island, stretching for about two miles north-south. The Refuge owns much of the northern end of the island as well as a swath of forest in the center. Metinic lies about five miles off the mainland coast south of Rockland.
It is still early in the season, so the terns, both Common and Arctic, have only arrived in the past week. They have been around most mornings, but then fly off to build up their strength for breeding by gorging themselves on fish. The most important things to do without the birds around involve setting up the island for the season. Much of my time over the past few days has involved the not-so-glamorous cleaning and organizing of the cabin and camp area.
With the help of Michael, one of the Refuge Biologists, the observation blinds were set up around the colony area. There are five blinds, so it took quite a bit of effort by the two of us to get them all up.
Another construction project involved putting up the majority of a seasonal electrified fence. Metinic Island is home to several dozen sheep. These sheep graze down the vegetation on the north end all winter, allowing for the low grassy terrain favored by nesting terns to persist. The fence, once completed, will keep the sheep out of the colony during the breeding season, where they could possibly damage nests.
It hasn’t been all manual labor. As part of the biological work, we keep track of all of the bird species that use the island, both as a residence and as a migration stopover. As of this morning, with a windblown Eastern Kingbird, we’ve recorded the presence of 59 bird species on and around the island this season. Only a few days in, I can tell that this is going to be a great island for birding.
Until next time!