05 Sep Fun Times at Yaquina Head pt. 2
I’ve had a pleasure interning at Yaquina Head and I’m really grateful for having spent this spring and summer with the crew at Yaquina! This last blog will be a continuation of my previous blog as I share the rest of my experience working at Yaquina as an Education and Outreach Intern. Thanks for reading!
I had the opportunity to monitor seabirds with the Seabird Oceanography Lab with Oregon State University from June to mid August! Yaquina Head is home to many seabirds during the summer because it provides great habitat for avian breeding and nesting sites. One of the main goals of this research project is to monitor the annual reproductive success of the common murre and cormorant populations at Yaquina Head. This information can tell us about how seabird breeding, reproductive success, diet and other behaviors might be affected by oceanographic changes.
For mornings that I would monitor seabirds, I would use my scope and binoculars to observe cormorant activity up to four hours at a time, most often during early mornings too! For the initial few weeks, we would identify up to 30 cormorants with nests, providing an identification name starting from B1-B30. Once cormorants and nests were identified, we tracked cormorant egg production and how many of those eggs successfully hatched into fledged chicks.
Unfortunately, the murres experienced a tough season this year and weren’t able to incubate many eggs due to high predation activities and winter conditions that lasted well into June. There were a few major bald eagle disturbances that flushed the murre colony off the rocks, which exposed the eggs to seagulls. The murres also demonstrated some flighty behavior to other avian non-predators such as the brown pelican. Few murre chicks were spotted but it was unsure whether they came from the Yaquina Head colony or from Depoe Bay, located about 11 miles north of Newport. The cormorants experienced higher reproductive success than the murres this season, yielding about 16 healthy fledged chicks on Flat Top rock, yay cormorants!
I got to work on other projects which were also really fun! I developed an Agents of Discovery mission for seabirds and shorebirds at Yaquina Head. The birds featured in this mission include the black oystercatcher, pigeon guillemot, great blue heron, common murre and the cormorant. I also got to work on establishing a more updated iNaturalist page for Yaquina Head by photographing and identifying various plants and wildlife on-site. If you’re ever in town for a visit, make sure to check it out!
Thanks again everyone at Yaquina Head for a wonderful experience!