Last fall we built the "Habitat Ridge" on Año Nuevo Island, and the eucalyptus log structure is certainly living up to its name by providing protection for the island's new plants and the sensitive soil of auklet burrows.
It's been fun this spring, however, to observe how the Habitat Ridge is providing habitat in a diversity of other ways. One very satisfying find was a Rhinoceros Auklet burrow tunneling below the Ridge, using the logs as a sturdy entrance! Rhinos love to burrow under something solid, be it a rock, a board or a Habitat Ridge, and we designed the ridge hoping it would attract prospecting rhinos.
Other species seem to like the Ridge as well, especially Brandt's Cormorants. They've set up a colony right up against the Ridge, enjoying both the visual blind from human activity on the island and the nice break it provide from the prevailing northwest winds. The ridge makes an incredible blind, and the birds can be seen from only a few feet away without being disturbed! The Ridge has been an effective solution to the long term issue of human disturbance to cormorant nesting on the island, and also functions to limit disturbance to the many marine mammals using the island.
Ever the opportunists, the many Western Gulls breeding on the island have also taken advantage of the perching possibilities provided by the Ridge. On a dusky evening in April, they were perched on each vertical post of the Ridge, watching the sunset.