It has been a very busy summer, but that is because there have been so many lovely chicks! We had our very first kittiwake chick fledge this week. I got to watch him fly away and later saw him return to the Tower! Rhinoceros auklet fledglings have been heard scurrying around at night, and gull chicks can be seen running around trying to fly on the beaches. Things are slowing down as the birds begin to fly off into the sunset. Soon, I will have to say goodbye to Middleton, but for now I shall enjoy every moment.
I celebrated Canada’s 150th today by doing what I do best: cuddling baby birds! The kittiwake chicks have started coming in droves so the Tower is a busy and active place! I also cooked dinner tonight so naturally I served up a Canadian meal of poutine and maple cookies. Yum!
Happy summer! With the new season comes lots of chicks of all species! Today on my adventures I found rhinoceros auklet, glaucous-winged gull, Savannah sparrow, and least sandpiper chicks! They are all rearing to go in this big new world and it is my pleasure to be able to watch them grow. Best of luck little guys!
So much has happened in the last few days! Yesterday I spent the entire day walking around the island counting kittiwake, cormorant, and murre nests as part of the annual island census. I got the incredible task of going inside the great shipwreck to count the 500 or so nests. Today, we got to go up on the roof of the Tower as the second part of the census. We have all been working very hard preparing for the arrival of all of the chicks, and its a good thing too, because this arrival began today with the first cormorant and rhinoceros auklet chicks of the season!
I have been on this incredible island for 1 month now! In my time here, I have already seen so many amazing creatures and some incredible events. The eggs are coming in droves on the Tower now with our first eggs being laid by birds that we do not feed. The weather has been pretty insane lately with low temperatures and extremely high winds. My tent sweet tent seems to be holding up against the onslaught of weather… for now. Despite all of the craziness, chick sightings are being reported! Today on my adventures I came across a lovely gaggle of goslings and a nest of Savannah sparrow chicks! The sparrow nest was very interesting; it was partly underground as if the sparrow had burrowed like a puffin! The chicks looked very snug and warm cuddled up in their little nest. It was quite amazing.
After a long long wait, the kittiwakes have finally started laying eggs! We got our first 3 egg all in one day and the momentum hasn’t been lost! We have also been finding glaucous-winged gull, rhinoceros auklet, and pelagic cormorant eggs! Despite the windy and wet conditions (we’ve even had snow!), all of these birds still persevere to create the next generation.
After 8 months of dreaming, I’m finally back on Middleton Island! It is just as beautiful as I remember 😀
I have been so busy in just this first week with setting up. I have expanded my study even further this year to include even more species, so I have been busy locating them and their nests. Lately, I have been going on beach walks to find oystercatcher nests. So far, I have found 5 of them! They aren’t really what you expect to see in a nest; they are merely divots in the ground which makes them very hard to find.
It has been very cold here with high winds resulting in a few flattened tents! Everything is sorted out now and it seems to be gradually warming up.
This year has already turned out to be exciting! I can’t wait to see what this fabulous island has in store for me!
We left the island around 1pm today. The flight was smooth and clear so we could watch as we passed over our beautiful island home. Landing in Anchorage was surreal. It took me a little while to remember what a skyscraper was when we were flying in. Everything is so different from the island. It was truly a unique way of life. I am happy to be back in society again and to return home, but a part of my heart will always stay on Middleton Island. Thank you for sharing my experiences with me. It has been quite the adventure and I can’t wait for more like it in the future.
Today was a very busy day that is not yet over. There is still last minute cleaning, packing, organizing, and data entering to do. I will even be working tomorrow trying to get my last videos done. It has been chaos which helps distract from the general melancholy feeling of leaving this paradise. I have had one of the best experiences of my life here on this island. I have learned so much about nature, science, and myself. I will take these lessons and experiences with me wherever I go. I am so grateful that I got to call Middleton Island my home.
Rhinoing is officially over for the season. We have collected all of the stakes and fortified all of the burrows. We are also done rhinoing at night. The other night, we caught 8 birds which is pretty good considering many of the chicks have already fledged. We even found a chick wandering the road on our way back. Rhinoing at night has been one of the many highlights of my time here on Middleton. Something about sitting among the bushes in the mud and rain and dark, waiting to catch birds with a net really makes me understand how unique and incredible this experience is. I am here doing something that only a handful of people have ever done. To the rhinos I must say, “So long, and thanks for all the fish!”