It’s week two out here on Eastern Brothers and seabird activity is ever increasing! We’ve had a season record of 180 black guillemots, 29 common eiders and 7 common terns. This year is an island record for tern nests, totaling three with three eggs each, which is one more pair than they had observed last year; one of the males in the third pair is even banded, meaning he’s returned from a previous year and made Eastern Brothers home!
As one of our main objectives here being monitoring black guillemot productivity, we’ve been actively searching for their burrows. Guillemots lay their eggs in small cracks and crevasses on the steep slopes of the island, so burrow searching is usually an intense all-day effort. It’s our job to get our hands dirty and meticulously check every crevice for their eggs (it’s surprising how little space they need to raise their chicks, sometimes a powerful LED flashlight is even needed just to see their eggs!) They typically lay two eggs, which are about the size of an Easter egg and are white with specks of brown. We’ve mainly been finding them on the southern end of Eastern Brothers, but our most recent searching efforts have discovered them on just about every spot on the island. So far, we’ve marked 29 burrows, but we expect these numbers to triple as more pairs take refuge and lay their eggs.
Although this is a seabird island at heart, it’s also the temporary home for many migrating songbirds, including: savannah sparrow, magnolia warbler, cedar waxwing, and Eastern Wood-Pewee. The island is also home to a variety of marine life, such as harbor seals and harbor dolphins; we even saw a Great White Shark going after a school of fish close to shore!
More to come next week,
~Nate and Dawson