31 May 2015A few stories from the overlook
Recently a couple of RV volunteer bloggers have written about their duties and a typical day 'on the job'. I enjoy reading those accounts to see what others are doing. So, tonight I'll give you an idea of what I do, and a few stories about encounters with visitors to my station.
Every Thursday through Sunday, I'm posted at an overlook to Bird/Goat Island. I have to haul down all my equipment from the parking lot above, and set things up. That includes this banner, scope, tripod, books, pictures, first aid kit, cameras, a stool, and a step stool for kids shorter than I am.
I arrive at 8:30 in the morning, and stay until 1:00 in the afternoon. During this time, my main duty is to introduce the visitors to the breeding seabirds on the island, and the sea mammals that can be seen from the overlook. Most folks are most interested in the whales and seals. As you can see, so far I've encountered fog and overcast skies, so I really bundle up in layers for my stint at the overlook. It's also my duty to pleasantly inform visitors that all of these rocks and islands out in the water are part of the Oregon Islands National Wildlife Refuge, and are therefore protected areas. They are not allowed to swim or kayak out to them or climb on them.
I've done a lot of volunteering in visitors centers and talking to the public, but never anything quite like this. I'm finding the wide variety of people I meet most interesting. Although I've only been here a little over two weeks, I've met quite an assortment of characters. Probably the funniest was a lady that wanted me to show her the penguins! Sorry Ma'am, we don't have penguins here, but perhaps you'd like to see some common murres. They sort of look like penguins.
About every other day that I work, a small white bus arrives and disgorges four gentlemen, and two caretakers. I believe they're from a half-way house or assisted living facility. One man is in a wheelchair and comes to practice slowly learning to walk up and down the ramps. Another makes a beeline over to me. I always have the scope set on the harbor seals for him. He always says hello, and then asks to look through the scope. I've learned that he wants to see the seals most. Afterwards he will tell me facts that he knows. Yesterday it was the six largest living things in the world. Then he asks if I've seen any whales. They are the second largest living things on the planet don't you know, after the Redwood Trees.
The other day, a gentleman came down from his picnic lunch with his wife and friends and told me he wanted to see six new bird species today. He keeps a yearly list of birds seen, and needed six new ones to make it an even 400 species for the year so far. I'm at your service sir. How about a Brandt's cormorant, a pelagic cormorant, a pigeon guillemot, a pacific loon, a common murre, and a black oyster catcher? He left happy as a clam!
And then there was the retired lady that travels around on a motorcycle and carries a tent. She was about to have a picnic lunch at the table just above my station. She got out all her food, and then turned around to ask me if I'd seen any whales today.
That was a mistake for her. Lurking nearby was a crow...
...and a western gull. In the three seconds that she took her eyes off of her food to ask the question, these two bandits swooped in and made off with her entire sandwich and a chunk of cheese! All she had left was an unpeeled hard boiled egg. She was fit to be tied, but looked at me, and we both burst out laughing. Moral to the story? Don't take your eyes off of your lunch, or only bring hard boiled eggs!
There have been other interesting encounters, but that's enough for tonight. What a place this is going to be for experiences this summer.
Thanks for stopping by... talk to you later, Judy