We've had a few questions about how we found our current position as "Bird Migration Volunteers". Though we posted the information back in March, we always have new readers and it never hurts to go over it again.
On the main page under "Find A Volunteer Opportunity", you can search for positions based on various criteria including location and, under "Housing/Amenities", you can filter down to spots that have RV/Trailer Pads or Camp Sites.
Searching there this morning, there were 515 volunteer positions across the country at federal park units that have RV/Trailer Pads. However, sometimes, the positions that have RV sites aren't always "tagged" properly and they may not come up in the search. So, we'll always look at the "Recent Postings" and we'll do a search on location if we have a particular area in mind. Every once in awhile, we'll come across an interesting position and the details will show that an RV site is available even though the position didn't show up when we filtered by "RV/Trailer Pads".
So, knowing we were going to summer in the northeast this year, we did a search last February for positions in Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, and New York. There were two positions in Maine on the Schoodic Peninsula so we applied for both in late February. One was a late-summer, short-term campground host position at the new Schoodic Woods Campground, but after doing our phone interview, we were informed on March 3 that they decided not to hire for that position at all. So, we inquired about the Bird Migration Volunteer position which we had also applied for.
I think our initial interview regarding the campground host position helped us with the Volunteer Coordinator, and she suggested we send an email directly to Seth.
We got our first email contact from Seth on March 8, and we set up a phone interview.
In his original email, we were told that there were the following limitations for the RV parking:
- We cannot accommodate a 5th wheel RV
- The length cannot be more than 40 feet
- The RV cannot be a tow-behind, rather it must be “enclosed”
The motorhome requirement didn't make any sense to us, so we pressed the issue. Seth liked us in our interview, so he tried to find out more details - clearly the limitations didn't come from him. He was told it was an access issue, but he wasn't convinced. So, we sent him photos of our rig, and he sent us photos of the road and of our proposed site. He even went the extra mile and took measurements of the site and took photos of his car there for perspective.
With the photos and measurements, we assured him we would have no problem getting in and the site was plenty big enough. I had already checked the Verizon Coverage Map, and knew we were good to go there.
So, on March 25 we had our Volunteer Agreements and it was official.
Arriving here, it was hard to believe that having a fifth wheel and the length restrictions were ever an issue. There is a somewhat tight turn at the bottom of the hill coming into the camping area and it could be a little difficult for some folks with big rigs to back into the sites, but we've seen a lot worse. I guess the lesson is to question potential disqualifiers if they seem to be somewhat random.
Another lesson for those looking at workamping or volunteer positions is to follow up. If we don't hear anything back after our initial application, we'll follow up with an email or phone call just to make sure our information was received. That's not intrusive, and it often prompts the employer to take some action. If the action is telling us "no thanks", then at least we know and we can move on.
Anyway, I hope that discussion was helpful for some.
We were back out on "The Point" at 6:30 this morning. Each of the last two mornings there have been people out there already. The sunrise isn't visible from Schoodic Point, so it's been surprising to us not to be the first ones there.
It was another lovely morning. Fortunately, the biting flies were gone and we got to count birds in peace. We had several strings of migrants numbering in the 30 - 70 bird range. And the Harbor Porpoises swam by several times. The ocean was so calm, we could hear them blow as they surfaced.
Seth had told us "It will be hours of sitting on a bluff looking out over the ocean". And this morning was the epitome of the attractiveness of that statement. We know it won't always be that perfect, but we'll take it as long as we can.
We wrapped up our morning session at 9:30, and headed home for our exercise and late breakfast/early lunch routine. Linda said "This routine is good for me", and I agreed it's good for both of us.
After finishing the prior day's Journal entry, we were back out on "The Point" at 3:30. The parking lot at Schoodic Point was full, and there were people scattered all over the rocks. We really like to see people just sitting and enjoying the beauty of nature.
The clouds had come in which actually makes seeing and counting the birds easier.
However, we didn't have much bird activity in the afternoon session, just a few singles and doubles and a couple larger flocks. But the Harbor Porpoises put on a show for everyone. They went up and down the shoreline time after time.
I managed to get this shot showing their rounded head and lack of a "beak" that their dolphin cousins often have.
Harbor Porpoises are one of the smallest marine mammals (cetaceans) with a maximum length of about six feet and maximum weight of about 200 pounds, although most are quite a bit smaller. The American Cetacean Society calls them "shy and elusive", but they certainly didn't seem shy today.
Twice, in the vicinity of the porpoises, I saw a seal. I couldn't identify whether it was a Gray Seal or a Harbor Seal, but I suspect it was a Gray Seal. They are aggressive hunters and while we'd like to think they were feeding with the porpoises, they have been known to attack Harbor Porpoises.
We had quite a few interactions with the public. Most wanted to know what we were looking at and what we had seen. Some wanted to know where the birds were migrating from and to. Guess we need to brush up on that answer for the various species. It's not very helpful to offer up the obvious "They are going from north to south". :)
After our time ended at 5:30, the sun was shining through a hole in the clouds, and I couldn't resist a few photos hoping they would show what we were seeing.
It was amazing.
Here's a zoomed shot of the above photo - a boat and the illuminated clouds behind.
And with that, we called it a day. :)