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Archive for July, 2011

They are so big now!

This chick is about 12 days old and is already almost 90 grams!  Soon his down will be replaced with the feathers that are forming underneath it, but getting a good picture of those is far more difficult then you would think.

Emerging feathers!

Feathered wings are starting to appear across the island, and even though these developing wings wont allow the chick to fly yet that doesn’t stop them from trying.  One of the highlights of our day is watching “jumpers” turn into the wind and flap as hard as they can while bouncing up and down.

Even tiny little tails have started appearing!

They haven’t made it anywhere yet, but any day now we expect to see one of our chicks fly by the blind.

-The Metinic Crew

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The Metinic Mansion

Here, after popular demand, is a quick video tour of our cabin here on Metinic.  This spacious cabin can accommodate four, but currently houses two.  (We miss you Courtney and Adrienne!)

And our Tern chicks just keep growing!  Feather shafts are sprouting out of their wings as their fluffy little bodies mature.  We’ll keep you posted with plenty of pictures as they progress.

These sheaths will slowly open to reveal the developing feather inside.

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Metinic Island was socked in by a dense fog last night, so no fireworks from the mainland were seen. But that did not stop us from celebrating! Brian Benedict, who has been on the island so Charlie could have his birthday weekend off, made an all American meal of burgers, fries, chips, and carrot sticks! The fries were an awesome surprise since we cant just drive down the road to McDonalds!

After dinner we set off some fireworks of our own!… Well OK, no we were not breaking the law, they were morning glory sparklers! Here are some pictures of our AMAZING display!

I think Brian is having a little too much fun!

Jennie and her morning glory

The morning glory extravaganza!

OK, fun’s over, back to work!

~The Metinic Crew; Jennie, Charlie and special guest Brian Benedict

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A Common Tern productivity plot

One of the big projects that take place on many seabird islands in Maine is productivity monitoring, or seeing how many chicks survive to fledgling age. For the Gulf of Maine Seabird Working Group, fledging age is 15 days old for Tern chicks. To monitor productivity, we take a sample of the colony and fence off about 10% of the nests into small plots. These plots allow us to contain the chicks and to find them day after day. We have 5 plots; two Arctic Tern plots, and 3 Common Tern plots. These contain 59 nests in all! The number of Arctic and Common tern nests in our plots correlates to the overall species ratio for the colony.

Jennie banding a chick

Everyday, we go through our plots to check the progress of eggs and chicks. When chicks hatch, we band them so the next day we will know which chick is which, or which one has hidden from us.

We also weigh chicks so we can get an idea of how fast they are growing. Chicks can start out weighing as little as 10g, but one Common Tern chick started at 26g and is now 46g only 6 days later!! It is amazing how quickly they grow!

Charlie weighing a chick

At the end of the season, data from our productivity monitoring will be used to calculate a survival rate and growth rate for chicks. This can then be compared to other seasons. Last year, on average, Common tern pairs fledged 0.85 chicks per nest, and Arctic Tern pairs fledged 0.32 chicks per nest. Common Terns usually do fledge more chicks per nest because they have a shorter migration. This allows them to invest more energy in chick rearing. It will be interesting to see how this year’s rates compare to last year. We are very excited to watch our chicks grow a little more each day! We can’t help feeling like all these chicks’ Aunt and Uncle!

On a side note… We spotted an American Oystercatcher today! This was a rare sighting since the Oystercatcher’s breeding range is typically only into Southern Maine. We are a little too North for this to be a common sight. Sorry no pictures, it was at a distance!

Have a great 4th of July weekend!

~The Metinic Crew; Jennie, Charlie, and special guest Brian Benedict

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