Happy spring migration from the Ship Island crew of two! As the common terns begin to establish the breeding colony and initiate courtship, we’ve been busy making sure the island is ready for them; in short, this means lots of invasive vegetation control. Typical plant culprits include black bindweed (Polygonum convolvulus) invading the brand new gravel nesting areas and garlic mustard (Alliaria petiolata), which we struck hard with the help of some mainland visitors.
After our push against the invaders, we’ve been able to turn our focus to observing the wildlife around us, which includes numerous passage migrant birds on their way home from the tropics, in addition to resident breeding birds and neighboring seals. These early weeks will be filled with anticipation as we wait for the terns to start nesting, but in the meantime there is plenty to see and do. So far, we’ve documented 40 different species to visit Ship, plus a bonus hybrid Mallard x American Black-duck!
Since we don’t have too much in the way of tern nesting progress to report, we thought we would provide a quick introduction to this year’s Ship Island dream team. First off is our lovely Island Technician:
Greetings from Ship Island!!! My name is Kelby Leary ( Yes that’s me in the photo above) . I was born in raised in central Maine and I’ve always loved being outdoors. I just finished my first year in the wildlife ecology program at The University of Maine and working of Ship Island is my very first field position. This is also the most time I’ve spent on the ocean as the area I am from is pretty heavily forested. I’m excited to learn more about all the animals that frequent the island as well as gain valuable field skills. In this first week prepping for the colony we haven’t been to insanely busy so we’ve had some time to really get to know the island. So far my favorite things to do in my free time on the island are watch the seals on the neighboring barges (I’d also never seen a seal in real life before moving to the island) and sitting on the beach watching the sandpipers.
And your friendly neighborhood Island Supervisor:
Hi everyone! I’m Meredith Miles, and I’ve been spending my time since graduating from Bates College last year hopping from field job to field job around the world. My work has recently taken me to Alaska, Peru, and Oklahoma, but I couldn’t be more psyched to be returning to beautiful Maine for the summer. This season I am most excited about getting an insider view of seabird breeding season behavior and gaining a deeper understanding of the ecology of this amazing bird group.
We’ll update soon with more news from our tiny paradise. Happy spring!
Meredith and Kelby, Ship I.