As Tropical Storm Elsa blew through the Gulf of Maine last weekend, researchers and seabirds alike hunkered down to ride out the deluge. In light of high tern chick mortality during wet weather in earlier weeks, there was understandable concern about how chicks would fare. Some chicks managed to survive Elsa’s torrents, but the continued food shortage and challenging weather has taken a toll.
Still, more islands have seen tern fledglings this week! Becoming a fledgling doesn’t mean a bird is safe, however. Emily Sandly, Research Assistant on Eastern Egg Rock, spotted a fledgling being carried away by a Herring Gull. After chasing them down and finding it in the intertidal, she was able to save the chick which then flew away to freedom. Way to go, Emily!!!
Our Alcid species have also grappled with the food shortage this season. Feeding rates fluctuated from day to day this past week, and at times puffin chicks were heard begging from their burrows. The rain has taken a toll on these fuzzy chicks, as with terns. Some guillemot nests have mysteriously shrunk from two chicks to one and researchers speculate that rain and lack of food may be to blame.
Other Bird News
- Outer Green Island was treated to the sight of several Short-billed Dowitchers flying over the island.
- Many of the Common Eiders and Spotted Sandpipers on Pond Island NWR have fledged this season.
- Stratton Island has had quite the mix of visitors this week, including a Ruby-throated Hummingbird, Brown Thrasher, Barn Swallow, Eastern Kingbird, and Yellow-crowned Night Heron!
With most seabird islands getting around 3” of rain during the big storm, researchers have had plenty of time to get caught up on data entry and proofing. As the skies cleared, teams enjoyed swimming to escape the heat, star gazing in the evenings, and preparing for a rumored "Chopped™ Challenge".
For additional news, please visit the Seabird Island News index page.