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Day 5: I am now obliged to crochet little birds for the girls, in exchange for not having to knit underwear. I'm not really sure how this happened. XD Elanore requested an Indigo Bunting, and Alessia wants a Yellow-breasted Chat. I am to finish them by next Fall, and I plan to embroider their names on them as well. These girls are so sweet. In fact, I just realized that Elanore's mom works at my college! I may deliver them sooner than the Fall after all. :D

Quiet, quiet day, despite a good tailwind starting around midnight. The most exciting bird was a Yellow-breasted Chat, which is a very large warbler, and the most exciting event was when some sea kayakers stopped on the island and one of them somehow got past all the signs saying "PATH CLOSED FOR BIRD BANDING, KEEP OUT" and ended up in the net lane, a foot away from a netted bird, wondering where the cemetary was. Not. Cool. Stay the fuck out of our net lanes. You're putting unnecessary stress on the captured birds and scaring off the uncaptured ones.

I'm finding that I really, truly adore working with the general public. I like teaching them what we do and putting a bird in their hands for the first time. I'm pretty good at multitasking with recording data and explaining what we're doing. I really, really like it. I think I need to work on my ID of various wildlife and plants and see if I can get a job as a naturalist. At the very least, this volunteer work will be really fabulous on my resume.

Today is SO QUIET. We got some nuthatches and some yellowthroats and that's about it. Not even catbirds.

Day 6: If yesterday was quiet, today is SILENT. Luckily the day has gone by quite quickly. The morning was full of uncontrollable giggles, with Lauren keeping us company until she departed, along with all the students and faculty. It's just island staff and us, now. They're altering mealtimes and doing away with hot breakfasts altogether. Sorrow. I miss having eggs. OH THE IRONY??? Reportedly we get another bander tomorrow. Which is excellent, since the weather tonight will be absolutely perfect for a migratory flight. We should be inundated with birds.

Day 7: No birds. No bander. I am laughing so hard.

Day 8: David the bander arrived! He missed the boat yesterday due to shenanigans, but at least got some rest. I finally got the chance to go soak my feet in the ocean, and it helped a great deal. I also found a HUGE piece of smoky quartz that I may smuggle back home for my aquarium to go with the giant rose quartz. Naps were had. I burned the back of my leg and got a spider bite on my arm somehow. Ow.

Day 9: Lindsay leaves today. :C She's awesome and I'll miss her. I sat down to talk to her about how I'm doing, how I can improve, and got some excellent pointers. I am apparently right about in the middle of the intermediate skill level, which is fantastic for someone who only started extracting birds last Fall with no practice in between. I need to work on more severely tangled birds and tongued birds - the latter I had to hand off to Lindsay even when I could see how easy it would be, because we both forgot that there are little plastic picks in the banding box that I could use. Oops. Some VIPs are apparently on island - I tried putting on a nice shirt, but it's too damn hot. Tank top it is. Apparently late tonight the director's son will be here, who is a very tall young man who is the combative kind of special needs. His diagnosis is the same as my brother's, so it might not be that bad now that he's a bit older. We'll see, I suppose!

Pictures later, probably in a "day 10/11" post. Whew.
lex: (Default)
RAIN. Today was dreary. Not just that, but the kind of dreary where you never quite know if the rain will start or stop or turn around and come back. Which means the nets were open, then closed, then open, then... Slightly annoying, but it did give us time for a leisurely breakfast. I got a fair bit of my crochet project done - I really hope to be finished by the time I leave, and I think it might be possible! XD

Our wonderful children keep reporting dead gulls with bands, which is AWESOME. (A dead gull is a data point instead of a question mark.) We even had a nice couple up at sunrise and they helped us check the area around the turbine for dead birds (there are never any, btw). Other than that, though, the visitors have been come-and-go. There's just not much going on. Not complaining! XD I am lazy at heart, despite volunteering for this gig.

I definitely think the Metformin is what's keeping my energy up. Yay medication! I forgot it until after breakfast today, when I started to crash and feel super hungry despite having just stuffed my face with oatmeal, fruit, and eggs. Well, if I ever needed evidence that I really should take the damn horse pills, there it is.

We had a huuuuge flock of tree swallows at lunchtime. I felt like I could just spread my arms out and have them careen around me. Such cute birds, too!

A07 was finally sighted! He's been missing this year, despite many islanders looking out for him, and there were some territory wars over his usual roost on the porch. Today I sat beside him, though! He is as handsome as ever. I'm tickled that I can recognize his face - he was sitting on his bands, but I was pretty damn sure it was him, and confirmed when he stood up much later. It doesn't look like he had any babies this year - the feeding spot on his bill is orange rather than red.

Today is technically shower day - the fresh water is extremely limited, so although we can drink as much as we want (and are encouraged to make sure we're well hydrated) flushing and showers are always restricted. Bathing is "Navy-style" and limited to every four days on-island. Even if you get pooped on. I'm going to see if I can get up early enough to take mine tomorrow morning. I really don't think I want to get up at 4:30, though... Tomorrow will be busy. The wind's going to shift tonight to the perfect direction and speed for a bunch of new migrants to come in. Birds migrate at night, so it's really ideal for an extremely busy day. I'll probably end up taking my shower tomorrow night. We shall see! XD After four days, you really do obsess over your upcoming shower. It is cause for celebration.

Pictures! None of birds today, weird. )
lex: (Default)
This day's been reasonably quiet. We had another flush of baby catbirds in the morning, but by mid-morning we had a few runs of 0 birds. Perfect time to actually explain what I'm doing.

I'm not a bander, but rather a band-aide. (Yes, yes, beautiful pun.) We set up the mist nets, a very fine mesh arrancged in long pockets. The bird flies into the net and falls into the pocket. They get a bit tangled (some more than others) so we carefully extract them. I had to learn several grips so I could hold them without hurting them, and the actual process of removing the bird from the net is pretty darn fiddly. I can't take pictures of it because PETA flips out even though the birds' safety is the absolute top priority. We check the nets for birds every 20 minutes unless conditions are such that it would stress or endanger the birds to be left that long, in which case we shorten the timing. Yes, we even band through meal times! When there's enough people we eat in shifts. The second shift gets shafted though, there's not often much food left at that point. The nets open at dawn and close at dusk. At this time of year, that means getting up at 5am and going to bed at 9pm. In the spring, the hours are much longer and the banders generally get 3-4 hours of sleep a night. As you can imagine, things get a bit crazy around here. I'm in the process of making a tail from gull feathers to shoo flies away from my ankles. That's just normal around here.

Anyway, Liz left around 3pm for a family emergency. It will just be Lindsay and I for several days, which makes mealtimes even trickier than usual, since I can't band. Dinner worked out well since we had a quiet evening with few birds. I called her back due to a dragonfly in the net, though. That story does not end well. ) In happier news, almost every time I went out I came back with a new species for the season. American Redstart, Magnolia Warbler, Canada Warbler, even a Blue-winged Warbler! We've had Red-breasted Nutchatches, a Carolina Wren, a Northern Cardinal... So many beautiful birds. I had to make a tough call on a Common Yellowthroat though - it was wrapped up so badly I could barely tell which side of the net it was on. I gave myself about fifteen seconds to figure it out and then called Lindsay. It even took her a bit, and I watched the whole procedure and there was absolutely no way I could have gotten that bird out safely. I'm glad to know my limits, though.

Tomorrow I get to shower! I don't know when, though. Kiiiinda busy. I might have to make it a 9:30pm shower, because I really think a 5am shower is out of the question. XD

Physically, I am doing waaaay better than I expected. The last time I was out here, I was a wreck by the second day. Hurting all over, intensely. Heart exploding when I went up the hill. I still need to pause halfway to catch my breath, but I find myself ready to go for every net run. I'm not as starving as I was last time, either. I think it honestly might be the Metformin kicking my body into actually getting energy from my food. Not complaining! XD

Picture time! )
lex: Longarm Prime complete with noodly appendages. (NOODLE ARMS)
Day 1: Getting to the island was a bit of a pain. Google sent me to the wrong Park And Ride, but that worked out eventually. I started crocheting a shawl while waiting for the taxi. As usual, I got sunburned on the boat ride over. I will never learn to put on sunscreen, apparently. The two banders I'll be working with were on the same boat - Lindsay is about my age, and we've met before and got along great, and Liz is an older woman who is just fantastic. I greatly enjoyed the salt water as the wake splashed all over me. XD

The rest of the day was spent unpacking our stuff, then unpacking the station and getting everything set up for the season. I tried very hard to be useful despite knowing nothing about where things were or what we needed. We didn't get the nets up that evening, just called it an early night. The gulls kept waking me up, though they get much quieter after dark.

Day 2: WE SLEPT IN. What luxury! I got up at 6am and took my time organizing my stuff, doing some crochet, and then just hanging out in the commons. It has such a beautiful view of the ocean and half the island. The whole thing is so tiny - I could walk end to end in about 15 minutes. And that's the long way! The short way is like... three minutes. If that. I love this place.

We got the nets set up and open by 11am. Time to do the real work! Right away we had a flush of birds. It took me a couple of birds to get my head back into extraction, but the banders helped and kept watch. Their teaching is mostly hands-off, just advice on how to approach a serious problem. I keep having issues with pinfeathers on the head catching the net and holding onto it for dear life. Just put a finger on the tip of the beak and wiggle the right square of net and it SHOULD pop off, but gosh these baby catbirds are determined to stick like glue to that net. They're mostly what we're getting, too. A flush of baby catbirds.

We did recapture a bird that had been banded three years previous, so we put color bands on it! I got to help decide what combination. It got a red one over the numbered aluminum band, and the other leg got white over purple. Yes indeed, there is now a Decepticon Yellow Warbler! XD

The flies ate me alive. It was a bad day for shorts. Blood everywhere. The end.

Somehow the Decepticon bird wasn't the highlight of the day. Nope. It was a CRAZY day. We've had a whole bunch of kids coming through, from about 5 to 18 years old. Well, when we had a bunch of birds and a bunch of kids, all of a sudden we get called outside to help remove a band from a gull chick with a swollen leg. Well, it turned out the leg was very badly broken and the circulation was cut off from the foot. It was just dead weight, literally. So Lindsay and one of the boat captains performed an amputation on the picnic table outside the banding station. I am so sad I missed almost all of it - I had to wrangle the birds inside. But I am told the chick is moving MUCH better now, and the parents might still be feeding it. It has a chance now, instead of being doomed to sepsis.

Pictures so far:

Just three, not many today. )