Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Tuesday Morning Island Report

View of Middle and West Anacapa from East Anacapa Island and, in the distance, Santa Cruz Island

It was actually yesterday that I went to Anacapa Island. As a part of my continuing training to be a Channel Islands volunteer naturalist, I observed what leading a hike there entails. (Observed is not quite the right word since I still had to climb the 157 steps from the boat to get there.)

Some of the steps....

Just in case you're already making your Mother's Day plans for next year, a trip to Anacapa is an inspired choice. At this time of year, western gulls are nesting there and you can experience an apt description of motherhood. Depending on your particular take, you'll hear the gulls describe their experience pretty much non-stop by calling out OW! or WOW! every time you come close to a nest which is what happens with every step.
Gull describing motherhood (of course it could be a male since they look alike)
Mother's Day bouquet (Giant coreopsis, endemic to the Channel Islands)

Fancy nest with a little shade

Every white speck in this photo is a gull
Gulls eggs

Typically there are three eggs in a nest. Why three? Maybe because the fledgling survival rate for gulls on Anacapa is 40%. Maybe because when the Chumash people were stoping over there back when they traveling the islands, it was so they could harvest one egg from each nest without putting the gull population at risk. Yesterday my mentor said that if a nest has fewer than two eggs, a gull will often replace the missing egg with a rock.

In the next few weeks the island will be hopping with tiny puffball hatchlings and the gulls will be even more raucous as they protect their chicks.