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One of the best things about this project is being able to work in a variety of different sites. After putting out our last few tags in Texas, we packed a cooler full of blood samples in dry ice and drove 900 miles to the Florida Panhandle, trading rattlesnakes and cactus groves for cabbage palmettoes and... some more cactus. I guess it's inescapable.
Our first tagging site, Smith Island in St. Mark's National Wildlife Refuge, looks from the water like the archetype of an unspoiled tropical island paradise, and over a few days of work we increased our capture total to 38 birds-- just 22 to go!
We also sampled chicks at our second site, Audubon Island, and will return to trap adults within the next few days. Tiny, treeless, and directly offshore from a busy shipping port, the island is a great counterpoint to Smith Island and will help us to compare pelican movements at different levels of human influence. As well as pelicans at all stages of nesting, the island was full of Laughing Gulls with medium-sized chicks.