Who? Fleur Kelder (Coast and Marine Management)
What? Research on the foraging route of the Cory's sheerwater, a seabird
Where? Faial, in the Azores
Why? ‘I was enormously attracted to the Azores.'
The inhabitants of Faial are extremely neat. I was scared to even drop a cigarette butt on the ground, because all the streets are spick and span. The working day is different from in the Netherlands as well. I was supposed to show up at the research institute at nine o'clock. But after waiting outside the door for an hour a couple of times, I took it a bit easier in the mornings. And indeed, I was told, ‘Fleur, it doesn't matter what time you come in the morning, as long as you get your work done.'
As for my research, I focused mainly on the Cory's sheerwater, a species of bird that is not known in the Netherlands. They are big seabirds and I think they are very beautiful. If you sail alongside them when they are sitting on the water, they will all walk over the water for a while before taking off. That's an impressive sight. On Faial I tracked the foraging route of fourteen pairs of birds during nesting time. I mapped out the route using GIS. That may sound very simple, but it's amazing how much time it takes to make those maps! I compared the patterns of the routes. I also helped with the annual count of the various species of birds, in order to get an idea of the population growth rate. It was a very special experience to spend five months on a small island like that. Always surrounded by the sea. I was drawn to the freedom and the unspoiled nature. Wonderful, all those bird calls around me. The last house I stayed in was practically on the beach. There I could swim by moonlight in the evenings. Much more beautiful than any postcard.'