We can’t believe how far the tern and guillemot colonies on Eastern Brothers Island have come along in just three weeks! This week has been beautiful almost everyday, sunny and high 60’s! This amazing weather has allowed us to spend full days in the field and monitor the colonies, both tern and guillemot. Now for the exciting news… we have our first tern chicks! Our first nest has two healthy chicks, and we’re preparing to band them mid this week.
The process of hatching can be thought of in three stages. First, the adult will incubate the eggs, providing much needed warmth for development. Second, the egg will begin “staring”, which means fractures on the surface of the egg will become visible (sort of resembling a star, hence “staring”). Lastly, the chick will poke a hole in the egg, which we call “pipping”. Once this happens, the chick will most likely be hatched within 24 hours. Our second nest has both a pipping and staring egg, so we are expecting more chicks in the next couple of days!
This week has also been a first for both razorbill and Atlantic puffin sightings on the island! Although we haven’t yet seen them land on the island, the razorbills are here almost daily, flying around and floating close to the decoys. Only one puffin was seen so far, floating and diving in the water just below both the razorbill and puffin decoys on the southern end of Eastern Brothers. We’ve also had a massive increase in common eider creches. A creche is a group of eiders (usually female) that float along with and protect a group of ducklings. They can be anywhere from just one hen and one duckling to several of each; the largest we’ve seen has been 13 hens, 20 ducklings and 2 males, totaling 35 eiders. It’s surprising watching the ducklings dive and forage all on their own, they’re still so tiny!
The old abandon sheep herders cabin located just a short walk from our current cabin is home to a number of barn swallows, where we found our first active nest!
Not all our time is spent looking at birds, however; sometimes we gotta eat! The other day, we noticed a lobster boat with the crew checking their pots very close to the island. We were told no crew on the Brothers have ever flagged down a boat and bought fresh lobster, so we naturally took that as a challenge. After a few minutes of waving our hats in the air, they came a little closer and they told us they had lobster to sell. That was all we needed to hear, as we ran to our inflatable raft and hopped in the water, quickly rowing our to their boat. We bought two fresh 1 1/2 pound soft shells and came back and boiled them up for lunch. That and having so many island firsts this week has made it the highlight of the season!
Until next week,
~Nate and Dawson, EBI 2016