Posts Tagged ‘PMI 2017’

Greetings from Petit Manan!

This week we have been focused on monitoring the productivity and provisioning for the chicks on the island. The tern chicks in our productivity plots have been growing strong, many now weighing over 100 grams. So far during our provisioning stints, we are seeing tern chicks mainly being fed herring, hake and sand lance. These are good food sources for the chicks!


Common tern feeding its chick a sand lance

We have also seen many adult puffins flying into burrows with fish, which means more puffin chicks may have hatched this week. So far we have confirmed that 3 puffin chicks have hatched, but we are seeing puffins enter some of the deeper burrows carrying fish, which suggests more may have hatched as well.  We will begin puffin productivity this coming week, where we will do a more thorough search to determine how many chick have actually hatched! Unlike terns, which usually only bring one fish at a time when feeding chicks, puffins are able to carry multiple fish in their beaks at a time! This makes provisioning a bit trickier, since rather than having to identify one fish, there could be multiple. Also, the puffins tend to duck into their burrows quickly after landing with food for their chicks which can also make identification difficult. We decided to try putting a GoPro in one of our puffin boxes this morning to see if we could possibly use GoPros in some of the man-made puffin boxes to add to our puffin provisioning data. We were able to take some pictures of a puffin chick being fed by its parent!



Puffin chick being fed by its parent


Puffin chick checking out the GoPro

The puffins are my favorite birds on the island, so I look forward to finding more chicks this week!



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Here on Petit Manan Island, we’ve been playing catch up after the long spell of fog that decended upon us shortly after wrapping up GOMSWG census. It’s been a little hectic, which is why this post is a little late.

The first day after the fog cleared was a beautiful day on PMI. We were finally able to get up the tower to count alcids for the first time in days. While taking a moment to admire the beauty of our island, we noticed a lot of trash marring that beauty along the western edge of the island. As a crew, we decided to walk the berm to pick it up, and upon closer inspection we realized it was almost entirely balloons…

51 balloons, to be exact.

On one small island, four people collected 51 balloons. Many of these balloons were clearly from recent high school and college graduations, but one in particular really got under my skin. We collected these balloons on the Wednesday following Father’s Day, and this balloon had hand written notes wishing the recipient “Happy Birthday and a Belated Father’s Day.” If you take a second to think about that, a “belated” Father’s Day suggests the balloon was given out after Sunday, which means that in a roughly 48 hour period, or less, that balloon made it’s way from who-knows-where, to the ocean, and to our island.

PMI is just one island out of hundreds off the coast of Maine, and it just happens to be inhabited during this time of the year. Think of all the uninhabited islands where balloons and other trash are washing up and no one is there to clean it up. Or the balloons that never make it back to land. I’m not here to tell you balloons are horrible and you are a bad person for buying some for your next celebration. I hope that by sharing the story of this one balloon, and 50 of its companions, you’ll take a moment to consider where that balloon will end up, and know that if not properly disposed of, that place may be in the stomach of a marine mammal, sea turtle, or the middle of a nesting seabird colony.

I know many of you were hoping for lots of chick pictures this week, but I couldn’t let that many balloons wash up without saying something. I promise the next post from PMI will be all about chicks. We are inundated with them, and though we don’t have guillemot chicks yet, we do have at least two very adorable, very fluffy, puffin chicks!


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Greetings from Petit Manan Island!

Bradford and I have been on PMI for two weeks now, and yesterday we were joined by Kelby and Jenna so now our island crew is complete!

A lot of the work so far has depended on whether or not the birds are around and if the weather is nice, but one constant effort has been the daily tower counts. We have been climbing up the 134 steps of the lighthouse once in the morning at 7:00AM and once in the evening at 5:00PM to count the number of Atlantic Puffins, Razorbills, Black Guillemots, Common Murres, and Common Eiders in the water and around the island. In the morning, we usually see around 70 puffins, 50 razorbill, 150 guillemots, 90 eiders and there is a pair of murres that are seen from time to time. This morning, we had our highest counts of the season for puffins, at 121, and for razorbills, at 63. In the evenings, we have been counting fewer birds overall as many have ventured further out to sea to forage for food.


PMI Lighthouse


Steps leading up to the top of the tower


The view of the grounds from the top of the tower


View of Green Island and the boat house from the top of the tower

I have really enjoyed doing these tower counts daily. The view from the top of the lighthouse of the grounds and surrounding islands is beautiful. It is also amazing to be able to observe all of the birds that are hanging out on and around the island. Plus climbing up and down all those steps is great exercise:)

That’s all for now!


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It’s been a little over a week since I first came to Petit Manan Island, and I’m already in love with it. Before coming, I was a little skeptical about climbing the second tallest lighthouse in Maine twice a day to do tower counts, as well as the 3-mile foghorn that goes off roughly every 30 seconds, 24/7. I have definitely gotten used to the heights and the foghorn, the latter becoming more like a calming constant throughout the day, much like the constant ticking of a wall clock, only bigger, and much louder. Other than getting used to the ins-and-outs of island life, bird activity has been slow. Generally, the terns and alcids are here during the morning but leave to forage for most of the day, only coming back to roost just as the last rays of light are disappearing over the horizon. When the birds are here though, we are seeing more and more nesting behavior, including courtship displays, copulation, and scraping. We have already found our first eggs of the season, eider, tern, and puffin! I’m excited for the season to really ramp up and to find a lot more nests in the coming week.

PMI_2017_May23_First Tern Egg

First tern nest found of the season, 5/23/2017.

— Bradford


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