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
Read Full Post »
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.
Photo by Wayne MacCabe
Read Full Post »
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
Read Full Post »