Pickering Creek’s great line up of engaging online programs to keep you sane during the pandemic continues in February. The month’s highlights include webinars by science writer and cartoonist Rosemary Mosco and environmental educator and scientist Samara Ocher.
Rosemary will present Comics with a Naturalist’s Knowledge on Thursday February 11th ay 7pm via zoom webinar. Rosemary makes books and cartoons that connect people with the natural world. Her Bird and Moon nature comics were the subject of an award-winning exhibit at Cornell’s Museum of the Earth, and they’re collected in the book, “Birding Is My Favorite Video Game”, a 2019 ALA Great Graphic Novel for Teens. She co-wrote the New York Times best-selling book, “The Atlas Obscura Explorer’s Guide for the World’s Most Adventurous Kid” and wrote a graphic novel about the solar system. She speaks at birding festivals and writes for Audubon and the PBS kids’ show, Elinor Wonders Why. Otherwise, she spends a lot of time out in the field, taking pictures of eye-wateringly tiny butterflies. Delight in Rosemary’s whimsical depictions of birds, reptiles, mammals, and more while picking up marvelous tidbits to share at your next (virtual) dinner party! This program will enchant, fascinate and inspire – you don’t want to miss it!
Samara Ocher will present Puffins & Petrels: Seabirds in the Field on Wednesday February 17 at 7:00 PM via Zoom webinar. As their name suggests, seabirds spend the majority of their lives out at sea. These amazing birds soar above the waves of the open ocean, and dive beneath them for fish, without land in sight for most of the year. Come summertime, albatross, puffins, petrels, and more converge on tiny islands all over the world to form breeding colonies, often returning to the same island where they were born. Many birds even find the same mate each year, picking out their partner from among hundreds if not thousands! They’ll spend the summer caring for their nestlings and taking turns heading out to sea to forage for fish, krill, squid, and other seafood delicacies to feed their chicks. At the end of the summer, both parents and chicks abscond to the water, often under the cover of night to escape the hungry eyes (and mouths) of predators. They’ll spend the rest of the year flying, swimming, and eating miles out at sea, then return next year to begin again.
When seabirds come together in these breeding colonies every summer, they present us with a unique opportunity to study and observe them. While they can be difficult to find during most of the year, during the summer they’ve gathered in one location, and on land! These seabird islands tend to be remote, so any scientist eager to get their hands dirty (with copious amounts of guano) must pack up their gear and live amongst the seabirds for the summer season. They keep track of these breeding colonies from year to year, giving them a peek into the lives of these otherwise inconspicuous but fascinating birds. Seabirds also provide us with a window into their marine ecosystems. It’s much easier to record the number of puffin fledglings from a bird blind on a remote island than it is to count the number of juvenile rockfish in a fishery under the waves! If seabird populations are healthy, we can infer that the other members of their ecosystem, such as important fisheries species, are thriving as well. Samara will share more about some of the species she’s studied, life on a seabird island, and how scientists keep tack of populations from year to year.
A lifelong lover of birds and the ocean, Samara has studied seabirds in both the field and the laboratory. She received her Master’s degree in Marine Biology from Northeastern University, and completed her research at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute using computer models to study the population demographics of the Wandering Albatross. Spurred by her continuing fascination of the unique adaptations seabirds use to survive in their marine ecosystems, she then spent a summer as a field researcher on the Farallon Islands in California. These rocky outcroppings are home to 13 species of breeding seabirds, with over 200,000 birds nesting there each year. She worked as a naturalist for Audubon’s Project Puffin in Maine, living on a research island for two weeks and educating the public on boat tours of the breeding islands for the remainder of the summer. Samara always carts her trusty DSLR camera along on all her seabirding adventures, and is looking forward to sharing her experiences, photos, and passion for these unique birds and their ecosystems.
To register for one of these programs visit https://pickering.audubon.org/programs/upcoming-online-events