Seabird and Restoration History: Terns have nested on Stratton Island since at least 1900 and in the early 1930's supported the largest Roseate Tern colony in Maine with about 200 pair. Tern numbers fluctuated dramatically between the late 1950's and early 1980's and by 1984 the island was abandoned, due primarily to competition for nesting habitat by Herring and Great Black-backed Gulls. Tern restoration began on Stratton Island in 1986 using decoys and sound recordings combined with resident island stewards that worked to displace gulls from tern nesting habitat. Tern numbers peaked in 2001 with over 2,000 total nesting pairs. Predation has had a significant impact on both numbers and success since the inception of restoration work.
Access: Stratton Island is open to public visitation; however access is restricted during the nesting season (April 1 to August 31) to the designated landing area (Little Stratton and Bluff Islands are closed throughout the nesting season). Individuals visiting the island must secure their own transportation or join organized tours. In most summers, Maine Audubon Society offers three tours. Maine Audubon also offers volunteer work day experiences to assist with vegetation management. Staff provide travel to the island from the Prout's Neck Yacht Club aboard the project's 19' General Marine boat (Ardea). The 1 ½ mile trip from Prout's Neck to the island is an open crossing that takes about 15 minutes. Stratton Island has the most protected and generally easiest landing of any SRP island. However, like all Audubon-managed islands, access is dependent on marine conditions. Personal gear, food, water and supplies are rowed ashore in a small inflatable rowboat (stored on the island). Staff are responsible for securing their own supplies and groceries as needed when no one is scheduled to arrive from the Audubon base camp in Bremen. Use of personal vehicles is necessary.
Nesting and Migratory Birds: Stratton Island is notable for having the highest diversity of nesting waterbirds of any Maine island. The island provides nesting habitat for several species that are at the northern limit of their range (e.g. Glossy Ibis, Little Blue Heron, Great Egret, Tri-colored Heron, American Oystercatcher and Least Tern). Likewise, several northern species reach the southern limit of their ranges (e.g. Arctic Tern, Black Guillemot and Common Eider). The interior pond and wetland provide breeding habitat for several waterfowl species (e.g. Northern Shoveler, Blue-winged Teal and Gadwall) and Sora and Common Moorhen. The island's beaches provide nesting habitat for Common, Roseate, Arctic and Least Terns.
Migrant songbirds abound in May and a number of Maine rarities have been seen on the island in recent years including Yellow-nosed Albatross, Fork-tailed Flycatcher and White-winged Tern. Two hundred and forty species have been seen on and around the island. In late July and August large numbers of migrating shorebirds and staging terns roost on Little Stratton. Several hundred harbor seals also haul out in large numbers on Little Stratton.
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