Posts Tagged ‘fluffy’

Ewe wouldn’t believe that 120 sheep roam Metinic Island!

From September to May the sheep are free to roam the island, this is beneficial to the terns and the work we do here because they keep the vegetation short. This allows for better tern nesting habitat. In the spring they were rounded up by the owners and pushed to the south side of the island. We then put up a fence that bisects the island to keep them out of the north end.

You may ask, “Why do you keep them out of the north point?” To answer this question, sheep have actually been documented munching on eggs. I know crazy right! They can also accidently step on eggs or chicks.

The problem we had this summer was that some crafty sheep slipped passed the round up and wanted to come into the colony where the grass is greener. We nicknamed the lead ewe Nancy. She is one of the few black sheep on the island so she was always easy to spot. She had a small group of four ewes and six lambs that followed her everywhere. We also had a smaller group of just two ewes that tended to stay in the forest. For the first month and a half we often had to chase Nancy’s group away from the colony.

In June we attempted to do another round up to try to get as many as possible to the south side. It did not go smoothly. After much running, falling, mud wading and changing of plans we only got three ewes and their accompanying lambs to the south.

We currently have four ewes and four lambs still on the north side of the fence. We have accepted them and chased them away from the colony every morning and night. But recently they have figured out that we have to sleep at night and can’t chase them so they can easily slip in after we go to bed. They say sheep aren’t smart, I’d have to disagree.

Even though the sheep have caused issues, we do not believe they have affected the colony. We’ve also learned to enjoy our 6:00am and 8:00pm sheep chases, it keeps us on our toes and them on their hooves.

The vicious predators of Metinic Island

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Hello from Metinic!

We’ve been stuck in foggy weather lately so the sunshine today was great!

On Metinic Island we monitor an assortment of birds, one of these is the black guillemot. On July 2nd we found our first guillemot chicks. So lets talk a bit abut these charismatic birds.

We monitor around 20 nests every three to four days. This monitoring is no easy task, because the guillemots like to nest on the rocky coasts here. The first thing we have to do is traverse the rocks out to places where we have nests marked, and that’s not even the hard part! The next step is to peer into the crevasse where they’ve nested. Sometimes we peek in and see an adult on eggs, other times we spot one to two eggs and recently we’ve found chicks!

Sometimes though we can’t even see the nest so we muster all the bravery we can and stick our hand shoulder-deep into the rocks and feel around. Frequently we are lucky enough to feel eggs. Other times we might get a quick jab from a parent, which always makes you jump. Once chicks are in the nest we might even end up with our hand in chick poo. The best thing to grab though is a fluffy little chick. Once we get ahold of them we gently extract them from their rocky hole, weigh and measure them. Eventually we will be banding them so that they can be identified in the future.

I honestly think the guillemot chicks are one of the cutest. Pitch black except for when they open their bright red mouth. Once they are adults their feet will also turn bright red and they will develop white wing patches that make them very distinguished.

Check back in next week for more from Metinic!

Guillemot Egg

Black Guillemot egg in nest

Guillemot Chick in Nest

Black Guillemot chicks in their nest

Guillemot Chick

“Excuse me! Put me down.”

Guillemot Chick 2

First Guillemot chick found this year

Black Guillemot Jumping

Adult Black Guillemot jumping out of its nest

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