Arctic Tern Egg- First egg of the season!
Good news! The first tern eggs of the season have arrived on Metinic Island. Soon all of the eggs will be laid and the incubation period will start. Terns usually lay from 2-4 eggs one at a time until they are all laid. Because the terns are colonial breeders it is advantageous to them to all lay their eggs around the same time. This reduces the chances of predation through the protection of sheer numbers. We are excited to see the first eggs because this means the busy season is on its way. This past week we put together the three blinds on the island and have begun to record sightings of banded birds.
Inside the blind using a scope to read bands
Because we live on an island there are some things we have to do differently that many people take for granted. We thought it would be interesting to show you how we accomplish some of these everyday tasks. Today we will give you our step-by-step guide on how to clean the dishes with no running water:
Step one- retrieve water from well
Step two- fill pot
Step three- boil water in pot using propane stove
Step four- pour boiling water into two tubs; one for washing and one for rinsing.
Step five- clean the dishes
And then you are done! 🙂
So long for now,
Katie and Chelsea
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We found our first confirmed nest on Ship Island on Monday evening. The nest contained one egg at the time, but by Tuesday morning another egg was laid.
A Common Tern on Ship’s first confirmed nest in 2012
As you can (hopefully) see, Terns don’t build much of a nest – it’s called a scrape for a reason! Their eggs are also very well camouflaged, so it can be difficult to spot them from up in a blind 10 feet in the air. Luckily, we were tipped off when this particular tern chose to stay put when the rest of the colony had taken off as part of a behavior known as dreading. After a few minutes of observation, the tern also stood up and changed position, revealing the egg.
In addition to being our first nest of the season, this nest is exciting for another reason: one of the parents is a banded bird. We’ve seen several banded terns along the beach, but we haven’t been able to read the identifying numbers on the band. Now that we know where this particular bird is nesting, we’ve place a stake that can serve as a perch near the nest. With any luck, the banded tern will stand there long enough for us to read the numbers off the band.
Spot the tern egg…
We’ll be on the lookout for a third egg sometime today, as the usual clutch size
for a Common Tern is 2-3 eggs. These eggs will be incubated for a little over 3 weeks before chicks start to hatch.
Yesterday we also took a tour of the colony to look for more nests, and we were in luck: we found three m
ore. In a few weeks, we might have as many as 150, but four is pretty exciting right now!
Finally, I’ll share with you a photo of Ship’s fantastic new cabin:
Until next time!
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Posted in Petit Manan 2012, tagged Barn Swallow, Bird List, Brown Thrasher, Chipping Sparrow, Island, Magnolia Warbler, Maine, MCINWR, Migration, Petit Manan, Red-breasted Nuthatch, Spring migration, Warbler, White-throated Sparrow on May 24, 2012|
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A beautiful Magnolia Warbler sitting on top of a washed-up lobster trap
The Petit Manan 2012 Bird List!
Starting the day we arrived on the island, we have been keeping track of all the bird species that we’ve seen. In just over two weeks, our list has exceeded 50 different bird species! The majority of them are migrants—birds that are passing through on their way to their summer homes.Offshore islands provide valuable stopover points for migrating birds to rest and refuel during their long journeys to or from breeding grounds. Oftentimes birds also get blown off course by foul weather and will spend several days on PMI waiting out storms, high winds, or fog.
A Barn Swallow perched in the intertidal
Migration season is a fun and exciting time of year because it is possible to observe birds that might otherwise be difficult to spot (like the Brown Thrasher), birds that are outside their normal habitats (like the Red-Breasted Nuthatch), and birds flocking together during their travels that would not normally be in close association (like the White-throated and Chipping Sparrows).
Don’t let us make you think that PMI gets all the cool birds—keep an eye out on the mainland, even in your own backyard, for colorful and interesting migrants!
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View out the window of the puffin blind, with a spotting scope on the right
Christa assembling a blind
On Tuesday we finished setting up the last of our six bird blinds on the island. A blind is a structure that is designed so that you can see birds, but they can’t see you. Our blinds are raised 6-10 feet off the ground so that we have a higher vantage point from which we can observe the seabirds on the island without disturbing them or altering their behaviors. Once inside the box-shaped structures, we can open small windows and peer out. As long as we only have one window open at a time, from the birds’ perspective the inside of the blind is dark and they can’t tell that we’re spying on them!
Jordan assembling a blind
Collectively, the PMI crew will spend hundreds of hours in these blinds over the summer, gathering valuable data about the birds on Petit Manan—from predation to productivity and from feeding to fledging. Keep checking back as we share our discoveries throughout the season!
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