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Archive for May 29th, 2016

The nesting season is ramping up on Metinic! We found our first tern egg on Wednesday and more nests have popped up every day since.

tern eggs

Two egg Arctic Tern nest atop a boulder

 

Elsewhere on the island, we’ve found Common Eider, Herring Gull and Great Black-backed Gull nests. Some of the island’s birds are further along and already have chicks. At least one eider clutch has already hatched, with the three ducklings sticking close behind their mother as she cut through the waves. On our first trip to the southern end of the island, we came across half a dozen Killdeer chicks darting around the marsh while several Canada Goose goslings swam across a protected cove with their parents.

Killdeer chick

Killdeer chicks can run soon after they hatch. They also look like cotton balls on stilts.

Metinic is unusual among Refuge seabird islands in that it hosts a permanent terrestrial predator: garter snakes. Though generally small, these snakes could pose a threat to diminutive tern chicks, so we do our best to catch any near the colony. When caught, they often release a musky smell that fades from clothing after a few hours. These snakes then take a one way trip to the mainland, where they can get their fill of rodents, away from nesting seabirds.

garter snake

This snake and two others are now spending their days near Rockland.

Between stretches of fog and steering sheep away from the tern colony, we managed to find some time to continue our shorebird monitoring efforts. People up and down the Atlantic coast are curious about shorebird numbers and movement, so we do our best to keep an eye out for birds on the rocks and beaches. It’s also a good way to get our species list up. Two American Oystercatchers and a Purple Sandpiper helped to get our list up to 81 this week.

PUSA

Shorebirds can often be found in mixed-species flocks. This Purple Sandpiper was noticeably smaller than the Black-bellied Plovers and Ruddy Turnstones it was with.

Until next time!

-Mark

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