03 August 2008

Drowning Eggs, Mystery Nests and Loco Boomerang

It's been quite a week at Gulf Islands National Seashore. I must admit, the lack of sleep and constant mini-crises where rather tough on my nerves. At times, I need a clone or another biologist!

The week started off well with the offshore release of Loco Boomerang, our sea turtle escapee from Galveston. I was very excited that we didn't see him again for over 24 hours... He's still swimming around in the Gulf as I wait for more advice from the NMFS Galveston lab. Guess I should take the time to call there, huh?

With so many nests due to hatch, most of the rest of the week was a whirlwind of listening for hatchlings, setting (and building) screens, nest sitting, nest assessments and hatchling releases.

I seem to always have a cooler of hatchlings with yolk sacs these days -- maybe 72 to 96 hours isn't long enough for all the hatchlings to emerge on their own...

There are still new nests as well.

This one on Perdido had a wandering crawl over half a mile long.

She also had some rather odd eggs -- there's another snowman egg and spacers here -- I really wish we saw the nesting mothers more often!

We had a few drowning nests as well. Since we have to wait til two weeks after a nest has been laid to move it, if we don't relocate it within 12 hours, we had to just watch these nests get closer and closer to the Gulf as first H. Dolly, then another storm front eroded over 35 feet of beach in less than two weeks...

While I was moving this precarious nest, I got a call about an unknown nest hatching on Perdido Key. I have no photos as visitors to the park escorted all the hatchlings to the Gulf.

It sounds like a Kemp's nest based on their descriptions, but I have to find the nest to be able to tell for certain. Having this photo of the two most common species this year together really helps! With all the recent rain and heavy foot traffic in that area of the park, I may not be able to locate the remaining hatchlings and eggs.

Somewhere in there, I actually had a leisurely day to spend on a bird survey, on my favorite north shore in the Santa Rosa area.

Aren't these semipalmated plovers handsome birds?

Who said reddish egrets are solitary birds?

We don't usually have them in the park, so it was exciting to see so many!

I have the most wonderful job, even if it means subsisting on about 2 hours of sleep a night during the turtle season. That just means the animals are doing well!

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Hello World!
Which way to the sea?