The morning started off foggy and pretty gross so, after doing the morning weather data collection I dove back into my sleeping bag for a while. After I got back up the fog had cleared a bit and I could see that a good number of puffins were loafing on the rocks near the blinds. We ended up heading out and I chose Cadillac blind for my first stint.
It was a slowish stint in terms of number birds and since the terns were uneasy for most of the morning the puffins had a hard time settling in as well. But, I managed to get 14 band combinations which wasn’t too bad for a 2hr resighting session. My goal was to find some puffins that had been set up with geolocator tracking devices last summer so we could capture them and retrieve the unit. After we capture them we can connect the geolocator to a computer and see where the bird has been the last 10 months or so. Pretty cool stuff! Unfortunately, none of them were spotted this morning… But, overall it was a great first blind stint. One of the best moments of the morning was two Puffins copulating on the island. This was a first for me and is an unusual behavior considering Puffins usually mate in the water. Steve Kress the director of the project told me that this has only been observed a small number of times. Other courtship and pair bonding rituals were in full swing as well including some head bobbing and billing. Birds were also seen collecting nesting material!
Also, during my stint about 20 meters from the shore a small group of Harbor Porpoise were hunting a school of pollock. The pollock were brought the surface and it appeared as if the surface of the water was boiling. Ton of birds were attracted by the commotion including; Great and Double-Crested Cormorants, Puffins, Common Loons, Herring, Great Black-backed Gulls, a single unusual Lesser Black-backed* Gull, and Common and Arctic Terns. A very cool scene to watch for sure! Hopefully there will be more of this to come.
In addition to the blind stint this morning we conducted a Puffin Productivity check on 68 burrows and four of them had eggs! Hopefully our nest cameras will be up soon! I will post the link here when they are available to the public. Lastly, our annual visitor from the tropics a Red-billed Tropicbird fittingly named “Tropy” has returned to Seal Island for yet another summer!