It’s been a while since I brought you all a volunteer profile, readers, so now, at the tail end of 2015, I bring you this note about a committed Seanetter of Cape Cod extraction, Alice Wynn. As with many Seanetters, my only contact with Alice was via email and through reading over her survey data. She was diligent, committed–all the usual things we are accustomed to in our volunteers. I suppose I assumed she was a Cape Cod retiree, as so many of our very best volunteers are. So I admit to feeling surprised when Alice asked if I would write her a letter of recommendation…for college. Alice had always demonstrated such maturity and poise, I just never guessed she was still a teenager.
In any case, I very happily wrote the letter, and Alice, not surprisingly, did get into college (not to suggest that the one was a result of the other). This summer, she got to spend some time up in the beautiful wilds of Downeast Maine, and she sent along a few pictures of her encounters with wild creatures, some quite close indeed, as in this one, showing Alice holding the eyeball of a basking shark!
Alice was also very kind in obliging my request that she write a little note for me to share with you all here on the blog. Alice wrote,
“Prior to volunteering with Seanet, I would frequently examine dead birds that I came across on the beach, so getting the chance to actually submit data on what I came across was a great opportunity for me. Volunteering with this organization has also allowed me to be part of a large-scale scientific research effort that provides crucial information in regard to the health and well-being of coastal seabirds, which is something I am very honored to have the chance to do.
I have always had an interest in biology, with a specific focus on ornithology. Currently I am employed at the Cape Cod Museum of Natural History in Brewster, MA. Volunteering with Seanet has helped me improve my beached bird and general seabird identification skills a great deal. This in turn has helped me not only answer visitors’ questions in this area, but also has helped me to better identify dead birds when I lead field walks.”
In her travels along the coast, Alice also saw some pretty cool birds. My favorites, a species I’ve never seen (alive), are these phalaropes:
I have a soft spot for birds like these–the phalaropes and storm petrels, that look far too small and delicate for their seafaring lifestyles. There’s a lesson in that for us all, I suppose.
My thanks to Alice for being one of the people who keeps this program going, despite so little aid or input from me. Now, I leave you with a non-seabird, but Alice and I share an affinity for these airbrushed birds. This time of year, the fruit tree outside my office sometimes seems more heavily laden with waxwings than with the fruit they’re gobbling down. I think Alice has caught this one’s prideful gaze rather well.