Well the winds are stirring things up here out at sea. We got gusts up to 29 miles per hour
yesterday, presumably from the tropical storm off the coast of North Carolina. The white-capped waves swelled in one direction while streams of foam flew off in the opposite. We carried out puffin prod, hiding between boulders from the heavy gusts and pulling out still-fuzzy chicks that just didn’t seem to want to grow. Many were losing weight and we found a couple dead that we’d been following all summer. We did have two almost fully-feathered individuals that seemed active and ready to split but the were disturbingly low in weight, almost 100g less than what we’d like to see when they’re at this point. It’s pretty disheartening to see and experience. All that work and energy from those parents and it just doesn’t seem to be enough. But we’re still seeing feedings, smaller fish than about three weeks ago, but they’re trying..
Meanwhile, the western winds brought us migrating visitors from the mainland. This morning I found my comrade in arms sitting on the porch, scope set level to a comfortable seated position, watching flycatchers landing on the ropes that hold the composting lavatory down (for some unspoken reason the flies tend to converge on that area..). Over the course of about an hour or so of birding, we had a kingfisher, willow, least and yellow-bellied flycatchers, yellow warblers, a handsome black and orange redstart, purple finch and plenty of cedar waxwings. Red-breasted nuthatches have been an everyday sighting, one of which landed on Frank’s leg, propped up on the porch. The purple finch landed on the scope right next to me and then upon our beautiful driftwood burl knot where he burst into song.
We’ve also had a harrier hanging around, going after our still-stubtailed fledgling song and savannah sparrows. We’re thinking it’s a young male and he seems to like to ride the breeze, flying low over the grasses. He must be having success as we’ve seen him for several days in a row. This is a great time for raptors to hang around, knowing that there are all these exhausted, perhaps somewhat disoriented songbirds (many of them in their hatch year) that’ve blown out here. Probably pretty good hunting. We’ve also been seeing a sharp-shinned hawk over the past week, but he seems to have moved on. Lots of activity on this island! Who know’s what’ll blow through next!