The seabird season is coming to an end on St Paul. Least auklets are no longer hanging out in swarms, murre chicks are following their fathers and taking the leap of faith off the cliffs, kittiwakes are clumsily navigating the winds of the Bering Sea (and occasionally returning home to beg mom and dad for food… hmmm sounds familiar), and we’ve banded the last of the cormorant chicks that could be reached with our ladder. Fox pups are turning into wiley teenagers. Seal pups are learning how to swim and flopping around in the surf. Even the carpets of every-shape-and-color-in-the-world-wildflowers are slowly fading away. All in all, it was a great season that went relatively smoothly with all goals accomplished. In the process I only fell down three times: once fell in a cryptic hole, once got blown over by winds gusting over 30 kts, and once fell over after stepping on a loose wobbly rock. I’d like to point out that John fell over several times per week (usually just walking on the beach), so I consider myself lucky (and more coordinated). Also, luckily, the handful of boulders that spontaneously morphed into large male fur seals did not eat me and their roars were merely empty threats. Oh, and the foxes only peed on one pair of my gloves and none of my other possessions, for which I am very thankful. Seriously thankful. Fox pee is perhaps one of the foulest, most pungent of odors on earth. I’d rather sit on a rotting seal than anywhere near my gloves.
If you’re at all interested in the project I was working on you can visit the following website: http://bsierp.nprb.org/focal/index.html – of course, I was only part of the USFWS seabird team and not involved in the rest of the project, but if you browse the website you can get an idea of what we’re working toward. Most of the work John and I did was setting up survival plots and collecting diet and blood samples. If you want to know why you can ask me, but I wont go into the details here. 🙂
Soooo, here are some photos that more or less summarize this season’s shenanigans: