Posts Tagged ‘Maine Coast’

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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This weekend the Ship Island crew headed over to Pond Island to take part in a beach cleanup along the shore. Morgan and I, as well as several other volunteers, collected dozens of trash bags filled with lost buoys, cans, bottles, and more. This year is the first year the group will be able to actually recycle the plastic that was collected. Through the company, TerraCycle, our collection of plastics, no matter how dirty or broken they may seem, will be sent over to be thoroughly cleaned and re-purposed. Typically, most objects made out of recycled plastic only consist of about 30% reused material. Though it doesn’t seem like a lot, or maybe even not enough, if the concentration is increased then the new object becomes closer to the end of its lifespan and can no longer be reused. It was good to get off the island and spend some time with others working to keep our environment clean, but we’re glad to be back on Ship with our terns!



Section of a boat that was found washed to shore. We needed all hands on deck to carry this one over!


Beach Cleanup Volunteers

Back home on Ship, we’ve had problems with other birds predating on our Common Terns and their eggs. Currently, Great Black-backed Gulls, Herring Gulls, American Crows, Peregrine Falcons, and Northern Harriers are our main concerns. Almost every day we spend two hour shifts in the blinds to observe the tern behavior and keep an eye out for any of these predators that might pass by. During the evening we’ve been marking nests with predation sticks so we can notice if any eggs have gone missing. By doing this we are also able to get a good idea on how many terns we really have on the island. It doesn’t look like it, but so far we have counted over 500 nests, which means we have over 1000 terns! So far so good! In a few days we will be doing a GOMSWG census which will give us an even closer estimate on our tern population size. We’re excited to share the results with you next week!


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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).


View of Trumpet Island!

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