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Update from Sagehen on Seal Island

Posted by: nina-karnovsky | August 8, 2017 | No Comment |

Mid-July update from Clare!

Everything’s still going great here! Almost all of the chicks on the island are hatched, so we’ve been super busy with feeding studies. I think my favorite thing we do out here is tern feeding studies, where we sit and watch 6 nests for three hours and mark down when parents bring in food and what they bring in. I love just getting to observe their behavior, and you get to know the birds in the feeding studies really well. Our tern chicks are fledging right now, so it’s getting pretty crazy in the colony with all these new fliers!

An Atlantic Puffin with food for a growing chick.

Filed under: Puffin Project


Posted by: nina-karnovsky | June 26, 2017 | No Comment |

Clare received a Summer Undergraduate Research Grant to carry out seabird research this summer and sent in this update:

Right now I’m with the Audubon’s Project Puffin out on Seal Island, Maine, which is 25 miles off of the coast.  There are only 6 of us sharing our 65 acre island, which contains a cabin with a stove and a table and 6 tent platforms. We each have our own tent, and hang out there or around the cabin area during our downtime.

SEAL ISLAND, my tent does not have a tarp in this picture but it has one now.

While our main focus is helping restore puffins to Maine, we also work with all of the island seabirds- puffins, razorbills, common and arctic terns, guillemots, murres, and double crested and great cormorants.

A PUFFIN CHICK is the softest thing I’ve ever felt.

An average day starts with waking up at 5:45 to do the morning bird count at 6.  We then eat breakfast and have some coffee, and start working again at 8.  We’ll often do a blind stint in the morning, where we sit in a blind for three hours and try to read the bands on terns and puffins or conduct feeding studies where we keep track of what fish they’re feeding their chicks.  We’ll then break for lunch and leave the birds alone for the hottest part of the day, then start back up again around 2:30. We also do a lot of puffin and razorbill productivity checks, where we go around to their burrows in rock crevices and check to see if they’ve laid an egg, or if an egg has hatched.  We all take turns making dinner, then hang around in the cabin for a little bit chatting, before an early bed time of around 8:30.


Seal Island is absolutely beautiful, and I feel so lucky to get to work with such incredible birds every day!


Filed under: News, Puffin Project
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Allison Bailey’07 earns her PhD in Tromso, Norway. Her research was on the effects of ocean acidification on Arctic zooplankton. She studied little auks in Spitsbergen, Norway for her senior thesis.

Julia Gleichman’10 (middle) graduates from medical school! Julia studied stress in little auks foraging in different conditions in the Arctic for her senior thesis.  

Corinna Cook’07 finished her dissertation in History. As a senior thesis student she analyzed the rhetoric about the Pebble Mine in Alaska.

Filed under: Congrats to Students, News, Senior Thesis, Where are they now?
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SAGEHENS win awards at scientific meeting

Posted by: nina-karnovsky | May 12, 2017 | No Comment |

Gail’17 won an award for Best Undergraduate Presentation and Kyle’17 won an honorable mention for Best Undergraduate Poster at the Pacific Seabird Group Meeting!

Congratulations to Gail’17!

Congratulations to Kyle’17!

Filed under: Farallon Island, Sea Ranch
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Posted by: nina-karnovsky | February 26, 2017 | No Comment |

Gail’17 presented part of her senior thesis at the 44th annual meeting of the Pacific Seabird group.


Great job Gail!

Filed under: Farallon Island, News, Senior Thesis
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Sagehens at the Pacific Seabird Group meeting!

Posted by: nina-karnovsky | February 25, 2017 | No Comment |

The 44th annual meeting in Tacoma is underway. Kyle’17 presented the results of three years of study at The Sea Ranch in a poster. Co-authors were Ellie’18, Jeffrey’17, Ramon’16 and Diane Hichwa from Madrone Audubon. Kyle’s parents came to see him present!

Kyle explains his results

Pomona students Gail (left) and Kyle (right) with Prof K.

Filed under: News, Sea Ranch
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Wrapping Up At Sea Ranch

Posted by: ellenh | July 28, 2016 | No Comment |

Hi All,

Today is my last day collecting data at Sea Ranch–the weather is very foggy and a little bit rainy. I think Seattle might be sending its weather down here, telling me it’s time to head home. Here is a photo from this morning at GPI N that shows the fog and the difficulties it creates in collecting data!



The breeding season here at Sea Ranch has been a little unusual this year, especially at GPI. Overall, there were a total of 38 nests at GPI N and 41 nests at GPI S. Unfortunately, we did not see any WEGU chicks from any nests reach the juvenile stage of development. About half of the WEGU nests hatched chicks and half were abandoned before any chicks were seen. We suspect that a Peregrine falcon may be the cause of this abnormal number of chicks, as one morning, a group at GPI S witnessed the falcon swooping low over the gulls and snatching up a chick! Following that incident, we often saw a Peregrine falcon perched on the far north end of GPI, spying on potential prey.

The Pelagic cormorants at Breakers Reach had a better year than the WEGUs at GPI, with about a 50% success rate in the number of nests that hatched chicks. Of 28 nests, so far 14 nests have hatched eggs, 13 nests have been abandoned, and one is still sitting on a nest with three eggs. Overall, it seems like once Pelagic chicks hatch, they make it to adulthood. Only one nest had a chick that disappeared after a few days and the nest was abandoned shortly afterwards.


Thank you to everyone who played such an important role in this summer’s adventures! This was an incredible experience that taught me so much about long term ecological studies, dedicated observation skills, and asking thoughtful questions that may not have a clear answer. It was wonderful meeting many Sea Ranch locals and visitors and getting to share what we have been working on these past three years (at Pomona) and past several years (with the Sea Ranch Task Force).

For now, goodbye Sea Ranch, I hope to see you again!



Filed under: News

Update From Sea Ranch!

Posted by: ellenh | June 28, 2016 | 1 Comment |

We have a chick! On June 17th, the first Pelagic cormorant chicks were seen at Breakers Reach at Site E, nest #4. There appears to be at least 3 chicks, but may be four. Two days ago (June 26th), I saw the first chick at Site C, which is the site I am doing feeding observations at this summer. That day, I set up my station and started looking at all of the PECO nests. When I got to nest #4, there was a tiny chick peeping out from under its parent, bobbing its head around, looking for something to eat. The following day another chick had hatched at the same nest and I expect a few more from that nest and a few other nests over the next week.

I attempted to take photos through the scope, but as you can tell from the photo below, I haven’t been that successful…


This was an attempted photo of the BLOY nest I have been watching. I am working on my skills and hopefully will get better at this, so more people can see the Pelagic chicks! For now, please enjoy a photo of a banana slug I saw and a beautiful sunset from Sea Ranch!



More photos and updates coming soon!


Filed under: News

Hello From Sea Ranch! Summer 2016

Posted by: ellenh | June 15, 2016 | 2 Comments |

Hello from Sea Ranch! This summer, I have embarked to Sea Ranch to continue the work of the past two summers (thank you to everyone who came the past two years!). I visit Gualala Point Island almost every morning and observe sea birds and their nests from either the north or the south. Here is the beautiful south view point


So far, we have fewer visible nests, but more Brandt’s nests from the aerial photos. We are waiting for an aerial photo from June, in which there will hopefully be a lot more nests!

I also spend most afternoons at Breaker Reach, watching a group of Pelagic Cormorants. There are seven nests there and three of the nests have eggs in them. Two of the nests have four eggs and the third has three eggs. I am keeping my eyes out for more eggs as they come. Once a week, I observe a Black Oystercatcher pair at Tidepool. The pair recently hatched three chicks! Below is a photo of the observation point. I attempted to get a photo through the scope, but was unsuccessful.


I will continue posting with more updates on the sea birds and life at Sea Ranch!


Filed under: Sea Ranch


Posted by: nina-karnovsky | June 14, 2016 | No Comment |


Gregor and Nik.

Gregor Mendel and Nik’11.

Nik’11 who studied how the distribution of seabirds varied around Santa Barbara Island for his senior thesis, is finishing his Master’s degree in Economics at the Univerzita Karlova, in Prague, Czech Republic. He is doing the important work of environmental economics. He has managed to combine his interests in biology, botany and economics! Nik made a pilgrimage to the birthplace of Mendelian genetics; Mendel’s abbey where he carried out his classic pea experiments!

Nik is behind the E in Gregor.

Nik is behind the E in Gregor.

The peas!

The peas!




Filed under: Channel Islands, Congrats to Students, Herring, Senior Thesis, Where are they now?

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