The beginning of the week started out slow and rough as the weather was not cooperative. High winds made it so we could not go out to the tern colony as we wanted the adults to stay on their eggs and keep them warm from the howling winds. Finally the weather broke Tuesday afternoon and we were able to do some trapping and banding of adult terns. We do this by selecting a couple of nests, replacing the eggs with wooden ones so they do not get damaged, and placing a chicken wire trap over the nest with the door open. When the adult walks into the trap, they step on a trigger platform that closes the door. As the adult sits in the trap incubating the wooden eggs, we walk up and take it out of the trap through a hole in the top. The adult is then placed in a bag where it is weighed using a spring scale. We then band the bird and measure its wing chord and head-bill length before it is released to return to incubate its eggs which we have switched back to the real ones.
Wednesday we headed over to Matinicus Rock to help them with their tern census. It was nice to get out to another island to see what was going on there; plus we got to see Atlantic puffins, razorbills, and common murres, three species that do not nest on Metinic.
The next day it was our turn to census! With the help of a few guests, we were able to count 608 nests in our colony of arctic and common terns! We did this just in the nick of time as we came across multiple hatched chicks with more popping up every day! The rest of the week was spent securing our productivity plots which are circles of fencing surrounding a number of nests. When the chicks within the plots hatch, we record the hatch date and band them. Every time we visit the plots, we weigh the chicks and keep track of how they are doing until they fledge.
Throughout the week we have also come across savannah sparrow chicks and fledglings, and spotted sandpiper chicks running around on the rocks. An identifying characteristic of spotted sandpipers is they bob their rump up and down as they walk; it is funny to watch the tiny fuzzy chicks do this as well! We are looking forward to more chicks showing up in the upcoming weeks!
Until next week,