Posts Tagged ‘Sunset’

This past week on Ship has been very similar to what has been going on at Metinic and PMI. Most of our days have been pretty dreary. On these foggy and rainy days we spend our time reading (A+ to Morgan for reading 8 books so far), eating snacks, catching up on sleep, writing letters, drawing, and staying updated on what’s going on in the real world. It is relaxing, but we’re anxious to get back out there and get a closer look on how our terns our doing.

When it’s not too foggy out, we are able to sit outside and watch the colony. We don’t sit too close because we don’t want to surprise or scare them. We’ve been doing this frequently to deter the Peregrine Falcon who has been stopping by from the island.

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Sunset view while watching for predators

Before the bad weather, we spent most days attempting to re-sight bands, making productivity plots, and trapping adult terns to band, measure, and weigh. To trap the terns we use a Treadle Trap. We first need to replace the eggs with fake eggs. This prevents the tern from damaging their eggs once he/she is trapped. After this we place a wired box over the nest with one end open. When the bird steps through the opening onto the pad, the door will shut and the tern is unable to escape. We quickly retrieve the bird to collect our data, put back the original eggs, set him free, and repeat. It was pretty cool when I got to hold and release my first tern!


One of our productivity plots

The results from our GOMSWG census indicated that we have about 620 nests in total. Hopefully we’ll start seeing some chicks soon!



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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.


Snack time!

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

Metinic 2016 crew banding an arctic tern

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Little white and silver flecks moving through the sky like leaves dancing in the wind. Twisting and turning, colliding and winding, at first glance they disappear with the dark blue of the water.  But with a simple turn, the setting sun light reveals them, and they emerge from the dark backdrop of the water and glow a bright slivery-white. These little slivery-white flecks were terns flocking over the ocean the other night. We were lucky enough to have witness this as we were up on the light house enjoying the sunset. This event went on for about five minutes and almost every tern on the island was participating. It was a foreign feeling to have the island quiet of terns. But the ocean was a roar with the commotion they were making. This flock was the most terns we saw on PMI so far this spring. As we predicted, more terns came to PMI that day and were flocking to strengthen the colony and welcome the new arrivals. We hope to have more arrivals like this as spring progresses.

-Laura Bollert

Photo by Wayne MacCabe

Photo by Wayne MacCabe

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Sunset during the evening perimeter walk

During our evening perimeter walk today, we spotted the first Common Tern egg of the season!

Common Tern egg

This little speckled beauty is about the size of a walnut and is amazingly well camouflaged. The creamy base color of the egg matches the minimalistic dry-grass nest perfectly, while the soft-toned speckles help it blend into the shadowy substrate.  Tern eggs are predated by Herring Gulls, Black-backed Gulls, and Laughing Gulls, all of which frequent PMI, so this cryptic camouflage is critical to the survival of the little tern-to-be. Keep checking back for updates, because you know what comes after eggs……… chicks!

Common Tern preening

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