We’ve had an exciting last week here on Ship Island. Everything is really rolling now! On June 16th we completed the annual GOMSWG (Gulf of Maine Seabird Working Group) census. After factoring in a correction factor, we had a total of 403 nests, which is on par with last year’s count of 436. On the weekend of the 13th a storm coincided with the highest tide of the month, which flooded at least 30 known nests and more than likely 50 more. Because of the flood tide and the slow start to the season, we were all surprised by such a high number, however, we continue to see new eggs throughout the colony.
On top of the census, we have been busy getting ready for our productivity studies. Depending on the size of the colony we try to monitor 5-10% of the colony. Throughout the season we check the egg status and then hopefully the chick status after that. We use these selected nests as a way to gauge the success/failure of the whole colony. As has been posted in the past, terns can be quite aggressive towards intruders, which includes us. When working in the colony this includes their constant kipping at you, but they also enjoy hitting you and defecating on you. Here is Rose searching for a chick and getting hit by a common tern…this one actually tore her jacket!
And now because it’s the only appropriate thing left to do: I am happy to announce the hatching of our first chicks! We noticed starring (appears as slight cracks in the eggs) and then piping several days ago, and on Saturday the 21st the first chicks of the colony hatched. Here is a picture of the newest residents of Ship Island.
Rose and Mary