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Posts Tagged ‘Blue Hill Bay’

Hi folks,

I know it’s been a while since I have posted an update from Ship Island. As you know from reading Ship’s past posts that our tern numbers where very low. In fact when I went on my break we had only 9 active nests here on Ship. This Monday I returned to Ship to find that the number of active nests has more than quadrupled to a total of 67 with the very likely possibility of there being more laid as I write this. This is a very exciting time for Ship, and we are expecting a few chicks by the end of this week.

Tern Incubating

(Photo above: Common Tern incubating one of the many newly found nests)

I also got to help conduct a census of several islands in the blue hill bay which took most of Monday. It was a wonderful day on the boat with nothing by sunny skies, and the day got better when we found over 200 nests on a tiny island called connery nub. I even got to see my first tern chick of the season. We believe these the birds  normally nest on Ship, but for some reason they were more comfortable nesting there. The hope is that if the nests that we have now succeed then possibly next season more terns will choose to nest on Ship.

Tern Chick.jpg

(Photo Above: Jim holding Common Tern chick from Connery Nub.)Boat.jpg

(photo above: Jim driving boat around the Blue Hill Bay.)

Blue hill Bay.jpg

In the next week I hope to be able to report our first hatchlings here on Ship island.

-Collin

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Greetings and salutations from Ship Island! It is getting down to the last couple of days. The majority of our chicks have fledged; after checking them today, we have only 9 chicks total in our productivity plots (from 73 hatched). We conducted our remaining bird surveys of Trumpet and the Barges and counted lounging harbor seals for the last time. The next few days will consist of taking down empty productivity plots and slowly packing up our gear. I am eating my way through these unhurried days.

One of Ship's first chicks!

One of Ship’s first chicks. Going to miss these fluffy babies.

A tern I discovered after Mark told me to survey the Barges. Hmm.

A tern I discovered after Mark casually reminded me to survey the Barges.

The nightly shorebird walks have become a focal point of entertainment. Familiarizing myself with the migrating shorebirds is fun in its own right, but the walks coincide nicely with dusk settling over Blue Hill Bay. When you’re working every day, it’s surprisingly easy to forget you’re living on a beautiful island. I’m making sure to take in everything here for the last time.

Ruddy Turnstones spicing up the shorebird walk

Ruddy Turnstones spicing up the shorebird walk

The Common Tern colony on Ship Island increased significantly this year, from 393 nests counted last year in the GOMSWG Census to 673 this year. The productivity rate for our colony (the number of chicks to fledge per nest) has been estimated to be at least 1.27, meaning that more than 850 chicks have successfully fledged this year so far. Hopefully the colony will return in such numbers again next year and for years to come. It’s been an incredible process monitoring the terns. This was my first season with seabirds and words can’t really describe how much this summer has meant to me. It’s hard work and long hours, but it is the most rewarding job I’ve had. Looking back at Ship Island for the last time will definitely be a somber, reflective moment. But, I’m also looking forward to eating my weight in ice cream.

COTE in flight

COTE in flight

That’s it for this season! Best of luck to our fledglings!

-Sarah

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Greetings from Ship Island! As one of the researchers normally stationed on Petit Manan Island, I had the privilege of island-sitting Ship island for just over a week while the regular crew had their break and visited Petit Manan. Visiting other islands gives us new insights into seabird biology as each colony behaves in their own way slightly different from all the rest. Plus, who wouldn’t want to check out the Puffins?! In 2013 I spent the summer here, so when I stepped out onto the warm, sandy shore, it was a bit like visiting an old friend.

Lazy sunset on the beach.

Lazy sunset on the beach.

With me came Shelby, a young student just learning the ropes of being a biologist. We had a fun time learning what birds, plants, and insects live on the island. Every morning we went “birding” to conduct the morning bird count, learning where each bird family lived and what theirs songs sounded like.

Common Yellowthroat with a little morsel for his chicks.

Common Yellowthroat with a little morsel for his chicks.

Spotted Sandpiper

Spotted Sandpiper “defending” his nest as we attempt to find it.

During our time here the chicks started hatching en masse, so Shelby also got to band quite a few birds! Banding is a very delicate process so first we practiced in the house several times, but she did great.

Shelby banding one of her first chicks!

Shelby banding one of her first chicks!

We even got a bonus with this adult Tern I caught out of the air.

Adult Tern caught by hand!

Adult Tern caught by hand!

Tomorrow we go back to where we belong – me to Petit Manan, and Shelby to her home on the mainland. It has been a great week on Ship with beautiful weather and many laughs but we are ready for whatever’s next!

– Julia

Our favorite sandy-color chick.

Our favorite sandy-color chick.

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“Research birds on a coastal Maine island for 12 weeks? Sure!” was my first thought. I had never researched anything but black bears and birds are a different concept altogether. Experience has taught me that it doesn’t matter if you have no experience; you just have to be open to it and dive right in. The Maine Coastal Islands National Wildlife Refuge allowed me to do just that. What I wasn’t prepared for was the moment the boat left. Imagine packing up two totes with all you will have for a summer, enduring two days of training, and being dropped off on a small island with someone you just met the day before yesterday. Imagine the boat driving away and knowing that your entire life relies on them coming back and your next three months will be spent getting to know the stranger next to you. I can’t explain that moment when the boat leaves, when you know all you have to contact the outside world is a phone, your only means of leaving is a dingy. What I can tell you however is that I am a week in and I don’t regret it for a second.

Ship Island is in Blue Hill Bay, just southwest of Mount Desert Island (Acadia National Park). From the island, my supervisor, Mary and I have a gorgeous view of Cadillac Mountain and the small coastal islands that surround us. East and West Barge are covered in seals, cormorants, and gulls. Trumpet Island is slightly larger and covered with common eiders. The past week Mary and I have set up an outhouse, cut trails, documented species, and put together our new home for the summer. Terns are our main focus here and we are excited to let you know that we have seen them every morning! Lately they have even returned at night. We have high hopes that it will be a good season for them. If you want to know more about living on a Maine island and about the tern colonies, then keep up with our blogs. Thanks so much for reading! Till next time!

Rose & Mary

( Yes, together we make Rosemary).

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View of Trumpet Island!

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