Life at the Beach

I’m finally settled and back online after a wonderful, leisurely drive from NJ to Florida.   I spent a few days with family while I looked for a place to call home – and then I found it.  A little blue cottage, one short block from the Gulf of Mexico.  Works for me….

black skimmers and assorted terns

black skimmers and assorted terns

I already have a new favorite bird – the black skimmer.  Can’t be helped, after spending an hour a couple of days ago sitting in the sand on the beach, surrounded by about 100 of these weird but amazing birds.  Sorry I don’t have a better photo, but I didn’t have my camera with me on the beach that day.  Above photo is from a birding trip yesterday, in very cold and windy conditions, but a great birding day nevertheless.  BUT, Lynne at Hasty Brook has posted a great photo of a skimmer on her blog, so check it out there. 

Needless to say, given my new surroundings and some other changes taking place, the focus of Natural Notes is going to change.  But first, some explanations are in order.

Raccoon Ridge Bird Observatory will discontinue year-round banding and band only during the spring and fall migrations.  Two major changes have adversely affected our ability to function as a constant-effort banding station.  First, the YMCA camp where we are located has doubled its camp attendance in the last year and a half, resulting in more people and more noise on a more consistent basis.  The increased noise and disturbance is having a detrimental effect on our breeding and migrant species. Most of the juveniles of resident species banded this season showed signs of stress, as evidenced by depigmented feather barring or stress lines.  Numbers of birds caught and observed were significantly reduced from the first year of operation. 

Second, if you’ve been reading this blog at all this spring and fall, you are already aware of our black bear problems.  The bears are becoming increasingly unafraid, and even though they do run away – far too many times it’s been through our nets.  Bear cubs seem to like to play with closed nets, sometimes knocking poles to the ground.  If bears weren’t enough of a problem – add the deer that like to run through nets as well.  Most of the new nets purchased last year have huge holes in them now, and at close to $100 each, it’s no longer amusing.

So, instead of my staying in NJ and enduring yet another cold, dreary winter, I opted to move to Florida.  Cailin, who has been banding with me at RRBO, will continue the banding program there during the seasonal migrations.  I will be working here in a seabird hospital, living on the beach, writing, and banding occasionally with other established stations. 

So, Natural Notes is going tropical, and I’ll be writing more about seabirds and Florida nature.  Trust me, it’s awesome!  And of course, Cailin and I will be in close communication, so come spring, I will share any unusual banding info from RRBO. 

Well, enough for today.  Thanks to all my loyal readers.  Time to hit the beach.  Life is good.


7 Responses to “Life at the Beach”

  1. Lynne at Hasty Brook Says:

    WOW- you really have had a change in your life. It sounds like you’ve found a new niche and feel peaceful about it. I look forward to learning what you have to share about tropical and sea birds. The job in the seabird hospital sounds interesting.

    I saw my first ever black skimmer last month in Cape May. A very special bird.

  2. KGMom Says:

    Well, how about that. I will stay along for the ride! And learn about new birds–southeast shore birds instead of northeast woods birds.
    But, I will miss the bear stories–even though that is part of why you have made this move. I loved the bear stories. Actually, I am very fond of bears–at a respectable distance, of course.

  3. Nina Says:

    What an exciting change for you!
    I can’t wait to see what you’ll be finding as you get out and explore. A nice break from the wintry forecast!

  4. scienceguy288 Says:

    Looks like you may have found your element.

  5. obi4240 Says:

    Thanks for all the encouragement! It is exciting, and I’m SO looking forward to working with the seabirds. Scienceguy – you are right. This is very much ‘my element.’

  6. Giddy Says:

    Well, I’m going to have to check in with you more often! I’m very familiar with the Honeymoon Island area as my eldest son lives in Dunedin and we get out to Honeymoon every chance we get. The Ospreys are spectacular and we even saw several huge owls!

    One of these days, we’ll be spending much of the winter months down there, as well.

  7. mon@rch Says:

    Still waiting to see my first skimmer! Bravo!

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