The 32nd year of research and observation of puffins and least terns has closed along the coast of Maine. Lisa White '05 was the first HWS intern to participate as part of the Audubon Society's “Project Puffin.”
By Aug. 10, nearly all seven field stations were closed for the season; interns remained on Stratton Island for only a few days later, working to control bittersweet (Celastrus orbiculatus), an invasive plant that wraps around other plants for support, and can damage or kill them.
On Aug. 11, the interns presented the results of the field season at the 21st meeting of the Gulf of Maine Seabird Working Group at Hog Island. Many student projects were presented to more than 70 seabird biologists from throughout the region.
Highlights for the summer included the successful nesting of Least Terns on Stratton Island and continued growth of the restored puffin populations at Eastern Egg Rock and Seal Island National Wildlife Refuge. These populations edged to all time high numbers despite storms in May that flooded nesting habitat and destroyed many eggs.
The Project Puffin Visitor Center is scheduled to open in September on Main Street in downtown Rockland and will feature live streaming video from Matinicus Rock, a new film titled “Project Puffin,” by Daniel Breton; and an exhibit of seabird photography from project islands by Bill Scholtz. The Center is a partnership with Maine Audubon.
The Matinicus Rock seabird cam continues to scan the cliffs of this outermost island, where viewers can watch and listen to the sites and sounds. The remotely operated camera is providing information about how birds use the island at the tail end of the nesting season.
For spectacular views of this rugged coast, the Matinicus Rock lighthouse, and the last glimpses of nesting seabirds for the season, visit the seabird cam at: www.projectpuffin.org
A syndicated editorial, “Puffin Magic,” by Derrick Jackson appeared in the Aug. 12 editition of the Boston Globe. Read the editorial at http://www.boston.com/news/globe/editorial_opinion/oped/articles/2005/08/12/puffin_magic/.
White's internship project is supported by the HWS Provost's office, and is in conjunction with Stephen Kress, a research fellow at Cornell University and vice president for bird conservation and manager of the Maine Coast Seabird Sanctuaries for the National Audubon Society. He is the father of junior Nathan Kress.
Mark Deutschlander, HWS assistant professor of biology, coordinates the internship, which he initiated. The internship is expected to continue for two more summers, when additional HWS students and graduating seniors may be involved.
The research project, started by the National Audubon Society in 1973, involves restoring the puffin to its traditional nesting islands several miles off the Maine coast. In 1973, all the puffin eggs in Maine were in two sites: Matinicus Rock and Machias Seal Island, and those colonies were vulnerable to a disaster such as an oil spill, or accidental establishment of predators such as rats or mink.