It's been crazy here, as always, so here's a series of photos showing what I've been up to....
This is Heidi, she's nested as BHI for at least 6 years now and this was her second nest for the season. Fortunately we had a camera crew here from a Wilmington tv station so we were able to take pictures with the light from their red lights. One of the camera guys rode with me on patrol to film some of the interns in action, so I think I'll make my tv debut in the next couple months (be sure to watch for shots of the back of my head as I drive and the blank stare of an intern on turtle patrol).
The BHIC hosts an annual picnic and fundraiser on the 3rd of July. One of the highlights for the interns (and executive director Dr. Dorsey - who has been grooming her team since day one) is the pie eating contest. The Gator Gurgitators (the BHIC intern team) faced off against the Hungry Hunks (the team from the police dept) and of course we dominated. I'll spare you the pictures of them shoving their faces with pie, but here's a victory shot. After watching this I may never eat pie again.
On the 4th, after my night of patrol, I woke up early to watch the parade. As the Dalby side of my family knows, the 4th just isn't the 4th without a parade. Tons of islanders decorate their golf carts - this was an intern favorite. Later that night we watched the fireworks over the island from the UTV on patrol. Nothing like working on a holiday...
On the nights with no turtles I keep myself awake by looking for other cool things on the beach. Sometimes I come home with a beautiful whelk shell or pictures of an alligator. A few nights ago this made the 5:00am run exciting. Apparently cannonball jellyfish and spider crabs have some sort of mutually beneficial relationship and the crab hangs out under the cover of the jelly's lid. I had no idea, but it made for an interesting find.
So I made a new friend this week, this is Mary Ellen, the bird lady of Oak Island. Every once in awhile we find an injured bird on the beach or we get a wildlife call from someone on the island. This was a particularly special bird because everyone on the island has watched two baby red tailed hawks grow and learn to fly this summer. Well, one of them had an accident and the two Merediths and I were able to take this big guy to visit Mary Ellen who gave him a once over. Her diagnosis was positive, but she took him to a vet for x-rays the next day. As it turns out the hawk only has a pinched nerve in his shoulder and with a few weeks of rehab should be ready to come back to the island. Point for the interns!
Since the three of us made the trip all the way to see her, Mary Ellen took the time to show us around and introduce us to all of her birds. We arrived right at pelican feeding time so we got to see her feed three juveniles (I would equate this experience to letting loose a bunch of hungry teenage boys on a table of food). She also showed us a Cooper's hawk, a baby tern and this loon, a bird she's especially proud of right now. I had no clue, but loons are particularly finicky birds that often die of shock in rehab. This guy is doing really well and will be released soon.
Only five more weeks here for me! It's amazing how quickly the time has passed. Unfortunately the turtle count is still low (23 nests and 37 false crawls now), but I still try to rush out at every turtle call. I've seen hundreds of turtles now and I still can't get enough.