Monday, September 14, 2009

Almost done ;(

So I have about three weeks left here in Maine…for the last two months I have been searching for that next adventure in my story. I have been sending out applications like they are going out of style. The farthest I have tried for a job was in the North Mariana Islands in the South Pacific. I have applications out to a permanent job in Florida working for a state park, Rusty Blackbird study in Mississippi. I have probably over 20 pending applications out in the government job system. So I am trying to find anything for right now. Some good news, I had a call today from McFaddin National Wildlife Refuge near Port Arthur, TX. I will keep everyone informed as to where I end up next for the continued adventures. I can guarantee that i will have about two weeks home before I leave off again.

In further news, I am still looking for a small point and shoot to use while i am out and about. Oh yeah so while I was on Petit Manan my long lens suddenly started working again. Not sure why but at least i don’t have to manual focus for a while.

Ok I am tired and am Migraine grumpy so I am going to sign off for now

Be well everyone

and so we go…

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Petit Manan Island National Wildlife Refuge (PMI)

I am still thinking about my time on PMI and am trying to think of a way to get back out there. I had the most fantastic time out there. It was peaceful and i got to band! so where is PMI from where I live? allow me to show you:


This is a close up of the island, it is not very big. I walke dthe perimeter of the island a few times just exploring.

So I was to meet Linda Welch the US FWS person at their office at 0800 and we were to head out from there. It takes just over an hour to get to Milbridge, ME from Bar Harbor, so I left at 0650 to make sure I got there in time. which I got there at 0800, nice timing I thought. When I arrived Linda was not there just yet so I looked around the office and got my float coat for the boat ride out to the island. Linda arrived shortly after I got there. I followed her to the boat launch and put my things onto the boat. The trip out to the island took about 30-40 minutes. When I arrived there was a crew out there painting the house and one scraping the boat house in preparation for painting. Jim, the boat operator, lead this crew until 1400 painting and scraping.

I met the two women working the island as the banders, first was Pam:

Pam with a Northern Flicker

and then there is Alison:

Alison with the Northern Flicker

When I arrived Pam and Alison were in the middle of their banding day. I started immediately with helping them on net runs and banding birds. It was good to take a bird out of the nets again. Today continued another project, shorebird banding. Apparently they had been trying different methods to capture shore birds for the avian influenza study. They had tried a large bow net contraption that apparently did not work, unless you consider a slow motion trap a success. I will see if i can get the video they took of the net closing. The mist net was a success, easy to set up, not too many birds so the pace was not hectic. typically they would set net up for passerine banding 30 minutes before sunrise and band for six hours and start the shorebird net no more then an hour before the end of passerine banding. this was also dependent on tides. In the photo above the rocks you see are all covered during high tide, what you see here is low tide. the reason for waiting till high tide is that at low tide all the birds are dispersed over a large area. At low tide they are concentrated in small areas and with the proper placement of the net you can capture quite a few birds in a single run. The first day we captured Least Sandpiper, Semipalmated Sandpiper and a Spotted Sandpiper. the Songbirds were much less exciting, Savannah Sparrows dominated the nets. there is a resident population on the island so the majority of birds captured were of the SAVS variety.

Savannah Sparrow

I went for a walk around the island after the events of the day to see what I could, here are a few images from my first day and my walk.

 Petit Manan Lighthouse, constructed in 1855

the FWS sign at the top of the boat ramp on the island

a bad image of a Spotted Sandpiper

Moon rise on my first night


Saturday was blur for me…I had a migraine and was not into anything that day. I took my pills and took a huge nap and woke up refreshed and ready to take on the night…ugh! I had to get up at 0450 the next day. Pam and Alison had made dinner that night and offered me some which was really nice because I was not in any mood to cook. Here are some images from Saturday, this is really the only way I kinda remember this day:

Moonset over Cadillac Mtn.

the boat ramp right outside the door of the boat house, which is where we band at

'Trail's' Flycatcher

Bald Eagle, Immature

Flying away

Semipalmated Plovers

Least Sandpiper

Pretty sure that this is a immature Yellow Warbler, someone correct me if i am wrong



Sunday we got up at our normal time but the winds were at a sustained 15 mph. So we sat around staring a one another trying to stay awake. So I sat and listened to my iPod, which at this point was dangerously low.

***just a side note, I wasn’t told much about the living conditions before i got there so didn’t expect much. when i arrived they told me that there was power, solar, and that if i needed to charge anything that I could with no problem…If i had known that i could have brought my laptop too… Oh well maybe next time.***

it wasn’t until 1000 that the winds had died off enough for us to open the nets. so we headed out and got net up by 1030 and started banding. We ended up having a great day. that is until i fell of the stupid boat ramp and got soaked…although that was kind fun too especially since I didn’t hurt myself. I also climbed up to the top of the light house this afternoon it was pretty amazing view, here are the photos I took Sunday:

Tennessee Warbler

Least Sandpiper

Lighthouse light

Boathouse from the top of the light house

The House. Starting from the house and moving clockwise, the pit toilet, the Destroy-let (a propane powered, incenerating toilet), the tool shed, the picnic table, the flag and finally the solar panels for the house. the light house has its own set of panels.

the light house at night, not too bad for handheld and a long exposure time :D

Monday was a copy of the other days, with out me falling into the ocean.  We did have quite the collection of shorebirds in the area:

  • Willet
  • Ruddy Turnstone
  • Sanderling
  • Semipalmated Plover
  • Semipalmated Sandpiper
  • Least Sandpiper
  • Spotted Sandpiper
  • Dowitcher
  • Black-bellied Plover

Here are the photos from Monday:

I say this in one of the photos but I thought of the Circle of Life song every morning, here is something for the next few pictures


Good Morning PMI!

Good Morning PMI Lighthouse!!!

For the entire weekend I kept singing the Lion King Theme song, you know the one.


Tuesday – The original plan was for me to get picked up early from the island and head back to the main land so I could go to work. Well at 0930 we got a phone call that said they would be out around 1330. Well there goes that plan…I did get to enjoy another full day of banding…of course I didn’t get back to MDI until 2030. Oops, Guess I am not going to work today, LoL.

these are the last days sunrise, we were so slow that I got a great series:

 20090908-IMG_2928 20090908-IMG_2930 20090908-IMG_2932 20090908-IMG_2934 20090908-IMG_2935 20090908-IMG_2937 20090908-IMG_2941 20090908-IMG_2943 20090908-IMG_2944 20090908-IMG_2946


and finally one thing that occurred the entire time I was there was a family of Peregrine falcons and a pair of Merlins kept harassing the shorebird population. the Peregrines were particularly vindictive, they would tail chase the birds until they almost had them and then break off from the chase. they would return several times a day and chase the flock. Kind of funny really. Well the Merlin landed one time and we took the time to stalk him and this is the best shot i could come up with:

Merlin, petit mananIsland

Well I have been sitting in fonrt of this computer all day. I am ready to relax now. Miss everyone, I have less then a month till I am home.


And so we go…

Oh Yeah!

Oh yeah because I went to Petit Manan but more on that later. First let me start out by catching you up on what has been happening at work. I believe that the last time I updated you till the 28th of August so we shall start with the 31st of August…

on the 30th of August ‘Danny’ was supposed to hit but fell apart and basically all we got was rain. the week before we had ‘Bill” blow through. I mention this because my week started off with me heading down to Stanley Brook to see what had happened after the big rain we had. I don’t remember if I mentioned this in my last post (honestly to tired to look it up) but after ‘Bill’ came trough it basically filled up the antenna array with sand it was all but impassable. After ‘Danny’ came through it was completely cleaned out, and I mean CLEANED OUT! there used to be a sand bar that block half of the water way and sort of held up the water at the lower end of the brook. it is gone it is free flowing from bridge footing to bridge footing. That is a good thing. After this i headed to the west side to check on the pain in our collective asses a.k.a. Seal Cove Pond. It was still bad…both ponds were full again… the workers were putting things away for the day because the water was rushing through the middle of every thing. so there was no work going on there. I finally got back to the office and work on putting together some GIS maps for the Isle au Haut hawk watch for Bik who was leaving on Tuesday.

We saw Bik off this morning as he headed off to start the inaugural Hawk Watch on Isle au Haut. After Bik left  I worked on creating maps for our Big Beaver Census. The idea is that we will walk every watershed and conduct a full survey of the island to gain an idea as to the number of beaver living on MDI. Bruce and I started by heading out to one water way at Sand Beach. We walked down stream from an old fire road and found one family group area with activity. We stopped early and did not complete the up stream area. We came back to the office and had a strategy meeting on how to logistically complete the beaver census along with all the other projects we have to complete.

Today started with me creating a more field friendly beaver census data sheet. I went out with my roommates wife, Jen, and we surveyed two watersheds.

**Jen was working in Alaska for the summer on a Fish and Wildlife Service project with Pacific Salmon. She is now volunteering at Acadia with Bruce and she will now be a regular player.**

The survey was the entire day…Bruce accompanied us for the rest of Sand Beach drainage and then Jen and I went and did North Schooner Head road drainage.  I also found out today that I would definitely  be going to  to Petit Manan Island on Friday…I was SUPER excited. I will have a separate post for my trip to Petit Manan, it will be chock full of pictures.

Thursday arrived and we went out with a representative from Inland Fisheries and Wildlife (IFW) a state agency. They have started a long term study site at a stream (brook, all Mainers call them brooks, whatever) called Lurvey Springs Brook. We electro-shocked from a culvert crossing to 150m downstream. It was pretty cool, we got the largest Brook Trout I had ever seen, most are around 4-6 inches this behemoth was 10 inches. We did three passes to ensure we had cleared the reach we were working. When we finished up with that in the late afternoon Jen and I headed back to HQ. When we got there Bik had just returned from IAH. We sat and talked to him for a while and to find out how the Hawk Watch went.

Bik did see raptors but not where we expected them. Every single Hawk seen was during his travels to get to the watch spot or on his ride back to the cabin. Even then he only saw five raptors, five different species but still not an encouraging number.

***The next five days were spent on PMI I will have a separate post about my time out there, I am going to pick this story up with the following weeks worth of work. Which as I write this is last week.***

September 9th to the 11th we electro-shocked Stanley Brook. Since I had missed a day of work because I was at PMI my week started on Wednesday, I was kind of wondering how I was going to make up those hours for Bruce. Well no problem there…I ended up on the plus side of things at the end of this week. we worked for three days, for a total of 34 hours. We started at 0700 every day and went till we couldn’t go anymore, which was right at 11 hours. Here are some photos (not my best to be certain) to show you the fish and what we do with them. It is like banding but with fish instead of birds.


**FYI, not sure if i had ever mentioned this but the info about pictures are embedded in the image, this means if you put your cursor over the image it will give you and explanation of the photo.***

The fish 'banding' station

These are the 'bands'. They are called PIT tags, which means Passive Integrated Transponder tag. when it is passed through an electromagnetic field it is turned 'on' and can be read by an antenna and stored. slick little device.

they are weighed

 they are measured

was looking for a tie in with a knights tale, ‘you have been weighed, measured and found wanting.’

Checked for sex and sexual maturity

if they lack a tag they have a small incision made

and a tag is placed into their body.

finally if they have not been tagged before we take genetics. The Adipose fin is harvested.

and that is what I did for the last three days. I did get to use the electroshocker, I find that I am better doing that then trying to catch the fish…especially with Bik around, he was mister trout slayer. typically Bik was the one who would catch fish, there would be a shocker and then me the bucket boy. let me give you an image, if you have ever seen History of the World Part 1 you will get this. Remember the French Revolution and the piss boy…that was me.


And so we go…

Expect a new posting soon about my PMI time.