May. 28th, 2011 01:20 pm
lex: Text reading "what is this I don't even." (what is this I don't even)
[personal profile] lex
Okay so I probably forgot to mention before I left, but I'm on the island now! One week into the two weeks, actually. It's amazing and I really, really, REALLY want to be a bird bander. I helped out at the banding station one morning and it was possibly the coolest thing I have done in my life. I'm not allowed to actually band, or remove the birds from the nets, or even use the bander's grip to hold the birds, but I got to release a bunch and take down the records and I learned all kinds of stuff, and I can age and sex and identify SO MANY BIRDS now! We caught the tail end of the warbler migration, so there have been a lot of truly gorgeous birds that I have never seen in my life. Also, cedar waxwings are rock stars, I swear to god. So cool.

One of the coolest things I'm doing is monitoring gull nests. I've got six Great Black-Backed Gull nests that I check every day, and I'm waiting for my eggs to hatch! One of my nests is the Nest Of Doom. The parents are VERY determined to kill me, especially E31. I am seriously afraid of E31, he is terrifying. Next time I check that nest I'll try to get some video, I don't think I've captured the UWAAH sound yet - they only make it when they've got you in their sights. Their poop sights. Projectile poop. Yes I am covered in gull poop and I can't bathe D: (Actually my helmet has taken the brunt of it, but I may have lost my favorite shirt.) Anyway, I'm waiting for some of my eggs to hatch! One nest will be a loss, it has an ant colony living in it and these ants (myrmica rubra, for those who care) are highly correlated with chick mortality, plus one of those eggs is actually cracked and I think it was the chick trying to hatch but that was like two days ago so it's definitely dead in there. Alas.

Aside from the Nest of Doom, I also keep an eye on this one nest with two eggs in the middle of the path through the colony. No one had ever seen anyone on it, which is weird, so we assumed it was abandoned. Well, yesterday someone was on it! I kinda accidentally scared them off and took a peek at the nest, and it still had two eggs! ...and a rock. Not even a smooth rock, it's a sharp, jagged, painful-looking rock. WTF, gull. Seriously.

Expect a million pictures and videos when I get home. I'm gonna have to make a whole new Photobucket account, I think. XD Soooo many pictures! The island is beautiful, the birds are beautiful, my teacher is funny, my classmates are cool, I'm not a COMPLETE outcast, the food is amazing and there is ALWAYS a vegan option worth eating, the bird banders like me, and I think my project next week will be a mini-study of whether gulls have facial recognition. The only bad parts about this trip is that yes, class is from 6am to 10pm nonstop, it's constant activity running around everywhere and back again, my feet are swollen, and there is SO MUCH TO DO. Here's a normal day:

5:30am: get up, throw on dirty clothes
6:00-7:30: bird banding station, or run around looking for birds
7:30: breakfast (eat fast and you get a sliver of free time), tape up feet
8:30: brief lecture, possibly a boat trip to another island, where we will run around on rocks getting shat on by angry gulls
12:30: lunch
1:30: another lecture, presentations we prepared the night before, more running around
sometime between 1:30 and 6: check on nests (run from one end of island to the other, dodging angry gulls after forcing them off their eggs, and heaven help you if any hatched because a. they will strike to kill and b. you have to go back and measure the chicks while the enraged parents try to kill you, and each chick is measured on day 1, 3, 5, 7, and 9 for that chick so you have to do this to every nest every day but for different chicks)
6:00: dinner, thank god
7:00: gather to list all the birds seen that day (avg. 50 species a day)
8:00: start homework readings, research, and presentations, squeeze out a quick email to family
10-11:00: SLEEP, PRECIOUS SLEEP (or shower, if a shower day, since you're not allowed to bathe around meal times)


So anyway that is what I am doing! Next week will be slightly different, because we'll have a sliver of time for research projects, but oh my god when I get home I am going to take the hottest shower ever, sleep for days, and read ALL THE FIC. And then write eggfic! And I will feel naked without binoculars around my neck. D: And then I will buy a goddamn hammock because I deserve a reward for getting a B- in Physics. FUCK YEAH I'M AWESOME

send Earl Grey and dried apricots and Febreeze D:

Oh hey, if anyone wants a postcard from the island, hit me up with your address at swordage at gmail dot com! I can send things out on Monday. :D

Date: 2011-05-28 08:52 pm (UTC)
sharpest_asp: Nate Ford sitting on a bench, Sophie Devereaux resting against his lap (Default)
From: [personal profile] sharpest_asp
Totally awesome to hear things are going well for you!

Date: 2011-05-28 09:39 pm (UTC)
swordage: Skyfire flying. (tf fire in the sky)
From: [personal profile] swordage
SO AWESOME. I had a gull chick earmuff today (okay I was listening to its heartbeat) and it was SO WARM AND FLUFFY I COULD DIE. I was like "HAND ME THE OTHER ONE, I NEED A MATCHING SET" but luckily they didn't listen to me. XD