Hello from Ship Island! The beginning of summer marked not only the start of a new season here on Ship, but the start of something that has been highly anticipated for over a month now: the arrival of Tern chicks!! These tiny bundles of life began hatching yesterday, June 21, and now we have over 30. With each nest having typically 3 eggs, and with at least 436 nests, we are looking forward to seeing many baby Terns in the coming days! We knew they would be arriving soon and found “pipping eggs” a few days prior to hatch. Tern chicks possess an “egg tooth” at the end of their bill to help them break out of their shell. They poke a small hole near the top a day before they hatch which we call a “pip.” Once they hatch, the chicks are wet and have bits of shell stuck to their down, but soon dry out into fluffy little babies.
In additional news, the island was visited the other day by two very important guests: Least and Roseate Terns! Ship island is at the northern end of both species’ ranges, and both are State Endangered while Roseates are also Federally Endangered. Both came in pairs, and both were landing on the beach repeatedly and integrating themselves into the colony. After an hour or so the Leasts flew on again, but the Roseates were seen courting with fish on the beach and searching for nesting sites in the grass. We believe they stayed the night, and were heard the next day, but have not been seen or heard today. We hope that they come back and decide to make Ship Island their home! Since they were here only briefly, and to minimize their disturbance, I was not able to get photographs of them, so will substitute photographs I have taken in the past from another protected Maine seabird island. And lastly, I couldn’t resist sharing a photo of the Summer Solstice Sunrise from the beach!