Archive for May, 2018

Hi my name is Alex Vidal and I am working on Petit Manan Island this summer.  I graduated from the University of Maryland in May 2016 with a biology degree.  I have been involved in wildlife research, field work, and management for over five years now.  I feel very lucky to have worked in some of the places that I have.  I’ve held jobs in Maryland, Florida, Idaho, Georgia, and now Maine.  I’ve gotten to work with wildlife like seaducks, raptors, and sea turtles.  Now I get the opportunity to study some really neat seabirds on Petit Manan Island.

The island is a bit colder than I expected.  The average temperature has been around 50 degrees which I am not used to in May.  I have lived in remote places before, but not quite like this.  PMI is only about 10 acres.  It is definitely a unique experience living in a place that you can walk to every corner of in minutes.  While PMI is a little on the cool and small size, it is proving to be a really neat place to live. The birds are fascinating and you can’t beat the views from the lighthouse.  I am excited to spend the summer here and hopeful that our cozy island will warm up just a little.


Our field house at sunset.  Photo by Chris Gilbert

The first week was somewhat slow on the island, but with each passing day it seems like we are getting more and more busy.  The puffins are hard at work finding a burrow to call their own, razorbills are pairing up, a handful of murres have made an appearance, and the guillemots come in droves every morning.  The terns are certainly getting geared up for the summer as well.  We are finding more and more of their nests every day.  Overall I am very excited for the summer to progress and grateful to have an opportunity to work on this island.


Puffin with nesting material.  Photo by Chris Glibert

You stay classy mainland,


Read Full Post »

Daily bird walks are conducted at 7am, where we identify every bird we observe by sight or sound. So far, we have documented 37 bird species on Ship Island. Below are a few photos of the new species saw this week, including Common Yellowthroat, Wilson’s Warbler, and Black-throated Green Warbler.

The last few days we have been intensively pulling garlic mustard. Garlic mustard is an invasive weed that grows in what seems to be large clusters here on Ship Island. We have scoured the island, pulling all of the flowering plants and spraying the base as well as the rosettes with vinegar. Our efforts over the last two days have filled 7 large trash bags.


Olivia pulling garlic mustard

Today, we spent a few hours over on Bar Island to document a shell midden found two years ago. On the island we searched for any sign of mammalian predators, finding very few raccoon tracks and scat. While walking the beach we also found a Lion’s Mane jellyfish that had washed up in the tide.

We look forward to the nesting season and hope to find eggs within the next few days!

Your 2018 Ship Island Crew                                                                                                                  ~Olivia and Bailey

Read Full Post »

IMG_2959The first week on Metinic Island is complete, and what a week it has been! We’ve found the first common eider, black guillemot, spotted sandpiper and savannah sparrow nests. The terns are settling onto the island, and hopefully we’ll have our first nests this weekend. And migration is still going strong!

We thought we should introduce ourselves briefly before we get too distracted telling you about the birds we’ve seen. Nick began birding when he was 6 years old and has just finished his first year at the University of Maine, where he is studying wildlife ecology and forest recreation management. Nora has spent the last three years at Humboldt State University, CA, where she completed a master’s degree in wildlife, studying survival in snowy plovers.


Migration on the island has been spectacular. In the last week, we’ve recorded 111 species, including 18 species of warbler. Highlights have included a pair of harlequin ducks, cape may warblers, bay-breasted warblers, yellow-breasted chat and male Baltimore oriole. On the morning walk, there can be 20 birds in a single tree, and vireos feeding in the bay berry bushes. It can be deafening to listen to all the birds singing at once. There are times when northern parula, red-eyed vireos, (myrtle) yellow-rumped warblers, and American redstarts are in a single tree.


When we aren’t looking at birds, we are working to improve the habitat for the terns. We’ve caught nine common garter snakes that have been released on the mainland. We catch the snakes and harass gulls in the colony because they prey on tern eggs. As migration continues and the terns begin laying eggs, we look forward to sharing more of our adventures with you!

-Nick and Nora

1N9A0392   1N9A0443

Read Full Post »

I have been bird watching in Maine for 4 years now. For the past 3 years, I have taken a number of boat trips out around Petit Manan Island (PMI) to see the puffins, razorbills, guillemots, and terns. It had always been so exciting to see the little flying footballs we know and love as puffin skimming by the boat, seeing the razorbills relaxing on the rocks, and the terns making their usual ruckus as they fish around the island.  Whenever I was on one of these trips, excitement grew as that beautiful lighthouse became closer and closer. This year, I’ve made the trip out to PMI once again, but as a field technician for Maine Coastal Islands National Wildlife Refuge. All the familiar faces I loved seeing are back again but now the interactions will be different. Instead of viewing them from the boat like in years past, now I can see them from the top of the lighthouse tower, or from my bedroom window, or in a more intimate manner; from the blinds. It is always an amazing feeling to watch these beautiful birds. Alongside the viewing, I will be interacting with the birds in a whole new way! This year I will assist in the banding of chicks, fledglings and adults so we can monitor the population’s survival rates through the re-sighting of these bands. I will also aide in food provisioning surveys to see what the adults are feeding the chicks. I’ll be monitoring the hatching and fledgling rates as well. All of the data that will come from these projects ultimately help the biologists here at Maine Coastal Island National Wildlife Refuge make decisions that in turn, will keep these beautiful birds here in Maine.

Thank you all for reading about MCINWR! Till next post,


Read Full Post »

We are excited to be coming to you from Ship Island, a 11 acre island owned by Maine Coastal Islands National Wildlife Refuge. The island will be our home for the next three months. We would like to introduce ourselves and share a little about the experiences that have led us here.


Your 2018 Ship Island Crew: Bailey and Olivia


As a Minnesota girl with a passion for wildlife and photography, I am loving the beauty of the Maine Coast! I am excited for the opportunity to be living on Ship Island for the summer, expanding my knowledge and experience as an Island Supervisor. Previously, I have worked with the Kittlitz’s Murrelet on Kodiak Island, Alaska – Steller’s Eider, Spectacled Eider, King Eider, and Long-tailed Duck in Barrow, Alaska – as well as Bighorn Sheep, Bobcats, and Merriam’s Wild Turkey in Custer, South Dakota. I plan to attend graduate school to become a Wildlife Biologist.


This Thursday was the start of many firsts for me. My first field job, my first time living on an island, my first time relying on solar power, and my first time living with no running water. Last summer, I worked as an education intern at Scarborough Marsh Audubon Center located in Scarborough, Maine. While at the marsh, I spent most of my time observing birds and am very excited to expand my knowledge on other bird species. Since arriving on the Island, I have already encountered my first Black Guillemot, Black Scoter, American Coot, Black-bellied Plover and Savannah Sparrow. The terns have been coming back and forth periodically throughout the day, but I am looking forward to them staying their first night with us. I am excited to learn more about these beautiful birds and can’t wait to find out what the rest of the season has in store!


Read Full Post »