We’re coming to a close here on Metinic. Most of our tern chicks are flying around or landing near the water’s edge. We’ve taken down most of our productivity plots, since we can’t monitor chicks that can fly out when we get close. The guillemot chicks get closer to fledging every time we check the burrows.
Shorebirds are becoming more and more plentiful, with dozens of short-billed dowitchers and semipalmated sandpipers flitting around the north end of the island every day. Several whimbrels have taken up residence atop the hill by the gull colony and a few semipalmated plovers, least sandpipers, ruddy turnstones, and yellowlegs have been gleaning the tide line for food.
Short-billed dowitchers use their long bills to probe deep into the seaweed
Ruddy turnstones got their name from their habit of flipping small rocks to seek food
It’s the time of year for berries, and the island is covered in raspberry bushes in full fruit. A few early blueberries can also be found growing low to the ground. On one of our birding trips through the woods, we came across a bountiful clearing rife with raspberries. It was a great spot for a snack break.
We’ll be heading back to the mainland on Tuesday. It’s been a great summer out here of monitoring birds, racking up bird species (still at 96), and chasing sheep. The weather has generally been fantastic, and the sunsets continue to be beautiful. It’s bittersweet to leave, but as the terns depart, so must we.
Sunset from the tern colony
So long, and thanks for reading!
-Mark and Helen
Metinic 2016 crew banding an arctic tern
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Posted in Metinic 2016, Uncategorized, tagged Arctic Tern, Black Guillemot, Black-throated green warbler, Common Eider, Common Tern, Maine, Maine Coastal Islands, Metinic Island, Ruddy turnstone, USFWS on May 22, 2016|
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Hi all! Helen here! My first week with the seabirds on Metinic Island has been full of exploring, birding, and learning new things! We started out the week by rounding up all of the resident sheep and driving them to the southern end of the island where we put up an electric fence to keep them out of the tern colony for the season. We did this just in time as both the arctic and common terns have returned and are actively seeking out mates and nesting sites. We have begun observing the terns from the blinds and have watched them settling in throughout the week. We have seen the terns landing on the ground, evaluating various potential nesting sites, and showing courtship behaviors such as the males presenting the fish they caught to females.
Common terns checking out the area!
The terns aren’t the only ones settling in for the season, the black guillemots are courting and seeking out burrows in the rocks as well. We have also observed a number of common eider nests with eggs! We even saw one hen with three ducklings today, which is early for them. We are expecting to find many more eider nests in the coming weeks as they are still displaying courtship behaviors. To prepare for the arrival of the chicks, we have begun setting up snake plastic as a means of predator control. Metinic has a population of garter snakes who enjoy feeding on the seabird eggs and hatchlings, so we set out black plastic that the snakes will be attracted to because they create a warm place for them to hide. We will periodically check the plastic and gather any snakes into a bucket to release them on the mainland.
A hen common eider on her nest, they have excellent camouflage!
Freshly laid eider eggs
Along with setting up and preparing for the upcoming season of seabird chick monitoring, we have been keeping track of our other feathered friends on the island. Every day we start out with our morning point counts then spend the day exploring around and recording any additional bird species seen/heard, and we end the day with shorebird counts right before sunset. So far, Mark and I have recorded 71 different species! Metinic is a great location to support a variety of birds as the island includes rocky coast, open field, forest, wetland, shrub, and pond habitats. We are looking forward to adding to our list as the season progresses!
Black-throated green warblers are very common in the island forest!
Ruddy turnstones on the shore
Until next week,
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