Aug 07

Project Puffin: Day 10

Monday, July 18th was almost a day off for us. We began the day by banding 70 more Arctic tern chicks, which took several hours of searching, but after that we had some free time. It threatened to rain all day, with clouds rolling past, wind howling at gusts up to 23 mph and big waves crashing against the shore. We spent a lot of time indoors reading, and Tricia, an aviculturist from SeaWorld Orlando, baked a yummy batch of cookies that we all ate too many of. I finished up some data entry, and made everybody dinner – salmon pie and mashed potatoes and gravy, followed by more cookies!

We did have a bit of excitement when Nathan, the island co-supervisor, found a “geolocator” in a puffin burrow. 18 puffins had originally been affixed with geolocators, which are tiny devices that measure the changes in light levels at different latitudes and longitudes. The puffins wear the geolocators affixed to a plastic band around their leg, and the goal is to discover where puffins go during the winter, which has been somewhat of a mystery. The trick is that the bird must be re-captured in order to remove the device and download the information. As I’m sure you can imagine, trapping a puffin is no easy feat. It was definitely luck that this one happened to fall off in a burrow, and not at sea. To date, 16 of the original 18 burrows have been recovered.

I just have one more full day on the island, as long as the weather is good – the boat can’t land if seas are too rough. I think the one thing I will not miss is the foghorn. It goes off like clockwork every 15 seconds – which is why I sleep with earplugs in. Speaking of sleep, I need to get some, since tomorrow is my morning to get up and do bird count!