05 Sep Finishing Off Strong
As I near the end of my internship, I want to emphasize how grateful I am to have been given this amazing opportunity. I want to thank everybody that has any way contributed to my life during this internship, as well as to everyone who I have interacted with. Each interaction has positively impacted me and made me into the person who I am today. I have accomplished so much, while continuously expanding my knowledge on the natural and cultural resources around us. As I head towards my last month as an intern at Yaquina Head Outstanding Natural Area, I will dedicate all of my energy to finishing off strong.
I have had the pleasure of working on many different projects and events during my internship. Most notably, I have recently finished my time working with Oregon State University’s Seabird Oceanography lab under Rachael A. Orben and Will Kennerley. I got to work alongside an amazing team of researchers comprised of Will, Jacque, Neci, Mariam and myself. The research is dedicated to monitoring the reproductive success of the Common Murres (Uria aalge), Brandt’s Cormorants (Urile penicillatus), and Pelagic Cormorants (Urile pelagicus). These seabirds nest on the offshore islands of the Pacific Northwest Coast that are all apart of the Oregon Islands National Wildlife Refuge. Every Wednesday and Friday I would use a spotting scope and binoculars to assist in monitoring and recording any eggs or chicks observed on the rocks off of Yaquina Head. I would also record any predatory disturbances on the Common Murres. It was almost unreal seeing the whole predator – prey interaction between the Bald Eagles and Common Murres. At any time of day, anywhere from one adult to three juvenile Bald Eagles would swoop in from behind the headland with hopes of capturing a Murre in it’s sharp talons. More often or not, the adult Bald Eagles would easily grab an adult Murre and take it a nearby tree where it would feed on the helpless Murre. As that happens, Western Gulls group together to deter any Eagles from coming too close to their nests as well as seeing hundreds of Murre’s flee the offshore rock in hopes of feeling more protected in the water. The Bald Eagle is now gone, which is fortunate for the opportunistic Gulls because they then feed on the exposed Murre eggs that were left unattended. It was a sad sight to see so many Murre eggs get eaten or dropped by a careless Gull, but I then thought to myself “everybody has to eat”.
During my remaining time here I will prioritize completing as many interpretive events as I can. Every Tuesday and Thursday, I host guided bird walks at Yaquina Head for visitors to view and learn about the seabirds and shorebirds in the surrounding area. My program is called “Seeing Sea-birds by the Sea” and I heavily focus on educating people how seabirds, shorebirds, and humans all depend on the ocean, however seabirds and shorebirds can actually tell us about the health of our ocean. So it is crucial that we protect our ocean thus protecting seabirds and shorebirds. I believe the act of bird watching is the first step in wanting to help birds. I am also preparing to lead my first Yaquina Head Lighthouse tours for the public. These tours are about 10-15 minutes each and four tours are done within an hour. My goal for this program is to help visitors gain an interest in lighthouses and lighthouse history by teaching visitors about the lives of the lighthouse keepers, assistants, and their families. I am very passionate about these two interpretive programs and I hope to connect with as many visitors as I can.
To end off my time here at Yaquina Head I am in charge of hosting a free bird walk open to the community of Newport on Saturday, September 9, 2023 at 10 am. This bird walk will be available in both Spanish and English. I have always believed that Spanish speaking families face language barriers from events such as bird walks or any outdoor recreational activities. My goal for this bird walk is to reach out to the Hispanic community of Newport and inspire them to want to recreate outdoors more often. My final event as an intern will be hosting a BioBlitz at Yaquina Head for National Public Lands Day on September 23, 2023. I am really excited about hosting a BioBlitz because I am a strong advocate for community science and viewing wildlife from a respectful distance. A BioBlitz is great for generating metadata for research projects that don’t have enough manpower to gather enough data out in the field. The observations that are identified by the public are entered into apps such as iNatualist, eBird, etc… and these data points are all recorded within a certain area and distinct time frame during a BioBlitz. It is a fun and interactive way to get people to care about the flora and fauna around us as well as contributing to a great cause.
I am very excited for these events and programs, if you are in the area of the central coast of Oregon, make sure to stop by Yaquina Head Outstanding Natual Area to join me in these activities.