TERN REPORT - 2009 - Ted C. D'Eon
LOBSTER BAY - SOUTHWEST NOVA SCOTIA


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  • Marine Chart of Lobster Bay
  • The Brothers are two tiny islands about 1 km west of Lower West Pubnico, Nova Scotia, Canada.
    They are owned by the province and were designated a wildlife management area in April 2007.
    Access to them during nesting season (April 1 to Aug. 31) is by permit only.

    My work on these islands is done in cooperation with Canadian Wildlife Service and the Nova Scotia Department of Natural Resources.

    THE BROTHERS, Yarmouth County, Nova Scotia


    SUMMARY OF OBSERVATIONS AND ACTIVITIES:

    The following is a synopsis of the tern status in southwest Nova Scotia for the 2009 nesting season. My "tern" work and observations deal primarily with the tern colony on The Brothers. These two tiny islands are located about 1 km offshore from Lower West Pubnico in Yarmouth County.

    Total tern nests on The Brothers was 546 (only on North Brother again in 2009). This was down from 590 in 2008. There were 365 tern nests there in 2007, and 616 in 2006; down from max of 880 in 2001.

    There were 42 Roseate Tern (ROST) nests on The Brothers in 2009. This was down from the 55 in 2008 and the 68 in 2007. The maximum number of ROST nests on The Brothers was 90 in 2002.

    On July 1, 2009, we documented 42 ROST chicks. 40 healthy chicks, One was found dead and one dying. All in all, low mortality and some ROST eggs still to hatch.

    26 chicks were banded. This was the third highest number of ROST chicks ever banded on N. Brother in any particular season. 44 ROST chicks were banded in 2002.

    Six field-readable Roseate Tern leg bands were read in 2009. (See table below)

    Resighted leg bands on Roseate Terns from North Brother in 2009
      
    June 25, 2009
      
    34C1 [1182-65634 L-U 7-13-02 Eastern Egg Rock, ME]
    This bird was previously seen on N. Brother on July 7, 2007
    June 25, 2009 520E left leg
    June 25, 2009 9B46 right leg
    July 2, 2009 510E left leg
    July 2, 2009 1V65 left leg
    July 2, 2009 2K70 left leg


    OBSERVATIONS:

    The following is a chronological listing of my 2009 work with terns in general, of the Lobster Bay area, but especially with the Roseate Terns (ROST) of The Brothers. The report also includes tern observations from other local residents.
    North Brother - 2005
    North Brother  (2005 photo)
    The Brothers as seen from Lower West Pubnico. (2005 photo)
    The Brothers as seen from Lower West Pubnico. (2005 photo)

    March 27, 2009 - My first visit to The Brothers for 2009. This morning I was accompanied by Rémi d'Entremont, and Andrew Boyne, Julie McKnight and Karen Potter from Canadian Wildlife Service (CWS), Dartmouth, Nova Scotia.

    The tide was high and there was substantial water in the depression of the island. Sea water usually percolates into this depression twice daily at high tide.

    North Brother - March 27, 2009
    North Brother - March 27, 2009

    My observation platform was damaged and on its side, having blown over during the winter.

    We saw no Meadow Voles though there was some evidence there might still be some on the island. We were hoping the harsh winter storms of 2008-09 had driven them off the island.

    Just the same, we set two "mouse" traps under ROST nesting boxes. One was a store bought metal multi-mouse-trap; the second was "bucket" mouse trap fabricated by Israel d'Entremont.

    "Bucket" mouse trap - N. Brother, March 27, 2009

    "Bucket" mouse trap - N. Brother, March 27, 2009

    Metal multi-mouse trap - N. Brother, March 27, 2009
    Metal multi-mouse trap - N. Brother, March 27, 2009

    Erosion on N. Brother: On October 21, 2008, I had placed 12 plastic pegs 1 metre from the eroding south and south-western edge of the island. About 1/3 metre of this area had washed away since then. On the north-east side of the island, the winter storms had raised the level of beach rocks by an estimated 1/3 metre.

    North Brother, March 27, 2009 (Karen Potter in photo) - Ted D'Eon photo
    North Brother, March 27, 2009 (Karen Potter in photo) - Ted D'Eon photo

    April 3, 2009 - We found 2 voles in our traps on N. Brother. One in each of the traps. I guess the winter storms had not driven the voles away from the island.

    Rémi d'Entremont checking trap for voles - Apr. 3, 2009
    Rémi d'Entremont checking trap for voles - Apr. 3, 2009

    The vole in the baited bucket was dead and floating in the 2 or 3 inches of water. The second vole was alive in the metal multi-mouse trap. We dropped the live vole in the bucket trap and it swam for a few seconds, but in less than a minute and before we could decide how to kill it, it had drowned.

    Israel says he will build a few more bucket traps and I saw some more of those metal multi-mouse traps at Canadian Tire. They fit well inside a ROST shelter. I will purchase a few more on my next trip to Yarmouth.

    We will check the island again in a few days.

    Crew and assistants: Rémi d'Entremont, Nigel D'Eon, Margie Rogers and Harry-Guy d'Entremont.

    April 10, 2009 - N. Brother: No voles in the traps. We set three more bucket traps and two more metal multi-mouse traps under ROST nesting shelters. They were all baited with peanut butter and sunflower seeds as before. No voles were seen.

    Some of our new traps - N. Brother, Apr. 10, 2009 - Ted D'Eon photo
    Some of our new traps - N. Brother, Apr. 10, 2009 - Ted D'Eon photo

    The observation platform was dismantled. It was getting a little bit soft and shaky.

    Crew and assistants: Rémi d'Entremont, Nigel D'Eon and Martina O'Connell.

    April 15, 2009 - N. Brother: More voles. We caught 6 more Meadow Voles in our traps; two voles each in two bucket traps, and two voles in one of the metal multi-mouse traps. All the traps were rebaited with peanut butter.

    Meadow Voles in one of the metal multi-mouse traps - N. Brother, Apr. 15, 2009 - Ted D'Eon photo
    Meadow Voles in one of the metal multi-mouse traps - N. Brother, Apr. 15, 2009 - Ted D'Eon photo

    Meadow Vole, close-up  - N. Brother, Apr. 15, 2009 - Ted D'Eon photo
    Meadow Vole, close-up - N. Brother, Apr. 15, 2009 - Ted D'Eon photo

    We spread out several lengths of overlaping landscape fabric over an area which already had some fabric. The old fabric was in narrower strips and by July 2008, vegetation was growing between the strips and over the nest boxes. ROST nesting structures were placed on the fabric and weighted with rocks. On our next visit we will begin to line the nest structures with fine gravel. A large roll of landscape fabric had been provided through Canadian Wildlife Service (CWS).

    Landscape fabric area (Rémi and Jean-Bernard in photo) - N. Brother, Apr. 15, 2009 - Ted D'Eon photo
    Landscape fabric area (Rémi and Jean-Bernard in photo) - N. Brother, Apr. 15, 2009 - Ted D'Eon photo

    More erosion: The very south end of N. Brother has now lost one metre of land mass since October 21, 2008; the southwest end has lost 1/3 to 2/3 of a metre. This is quite a loss from what we saw there on March 27, 2009!

    Soil erosion at the southwest corner (Rémi and Jean-Bernard in photo) - N. Brother, Apr. 15, 2009 - Ted D'Eon photo
    Soil erosion at the southwest corner (Rémi and Jean-Bernard in photo) - N. Brother, Apr. 15, 2009 - Ted D'Eon photo

    The yellow tent pegs were one metre from the edge in Oct, 2008 (Rémi and Jean-Bernard in photo) - N. Brother, Apr. 15, 2009 - Ted D'Eon photo
    The yellow tent pegs were one metre from the edge in Oct, 2008 (Rémi and Jean-Bernard in photo) - N. Brother, Apr. 15, 2009 - Ted D'Eon photo

    Crew and assistants: Rémi d'Entremont and Jean-Bernard d'Entremont.

    April 19, 2009 - N. Brother: One more Meadow Vole was caught. This one, in one of the "bucket traps". This was the 9th vole caught on N. Brother. All of the peanut butter bait of the "bucket traps" appeared to have been eaten. Not sure why we did not catch more voles. The peanut butter inside of the metal traps was untouched, so we rebaited and relocated these traps.

    The end of Nigel's tape measure shows where the edge of the south end of the island was in Oct. 2008 (one metre from the yellow peg) - N. Brother, Apr. 19, 2009 - Ted D'Eon photo
    The end of Nigel's tape measure shows where the edge of the south end of the island was in Oct. 2008 (one metre from the yellow peg) - N. Brother, Apr. 19, 2009 - Ted D'Eon photo

    Our main task today, aside from checking the traps, was to place fine gravel under the ROST nesting shelters which we had already placed on the new landscape fabric. We more or less achieved our goal.

    New gravel placed under the ROST nesting structures - N. Brother, Apr. 19, 2009 - Ted D'Eon photo
    New gravel placed under the ROST nesting structures - N. Brother, Apr. 19, 2009 - Ted D'Eon photo

    Crew and assistants: Nigel D'Eon, Margie Rogers and Michel d'Entremont.

    April 25, 2009 - N. Brother: Two more Meadow Voles were caught in one of the "bucket traps". This brings the number of voles caught to 11. The traps were rebaited with more peanut butter.

    We placed more gravel under the ROST nesting structures. Andrea Atkinson placed a handful of dead plant matter under each nesting structure. The Roseate Terns will often use some bits of dead vegetation in their nests.

    Crew and assistants: Nigel D'Eon, Jean-Bernard d'Entremont and Andrea Atkinson.

    April 28, 2009 - N. Brother: We went to the island to check our vole traps and to take there 18 new (16in. x 16in.) ROST nesting shelters. Most of the new shelters were placed on the new landscape fabric over some fine gravel.

    There were no voles in any of the traps, though the peanut butter appeared to have been eaten in each of the "bucket traps". The metal traps appeared untouched. We rebaited the traps.

    Crew and assistants: Rémi d'Entremont, Nigel D'Eon and Andrea Atkinson.

    April 28, 2009 - First tern reported in the area of The Brothers. Lobster fisherman, Roy Surette, reported seeing a single tern "about a mile west of The Brothers" and flying west.

    April 30, 2009 - Lobster fisherman, Amos d'Entremont, reported seeing a single flock of 25 to 30 terns "about half a mile to the northwest of The Brothers".

    April 30, 2009 - N. Brother: Again, nothing in the traps, and again the peanut butter has been eaten from the "bucket traps".

    We did a little spring cleaning around the ROST nesting areas and rebaited the traps.

    I am questioning why we are not catching anything in the traps. Have we run out of voles? Are the voles outsmarting us, or do we have another larger rodent on the island? One too large to fit in the metal mouse traps and one which can jump out of the "bucket traps" if it falls into them?

    Crew and assistants: Rémi d'Entremont.

    May 2, 2009 - N. Brother: Again, nothing in the traps, and again the peanut butter has been eaten from the "bucket traps".

    Being that there is still some varmint (possibly Rat or Weasel, or even a Mink), I have placed a few more traps on the island. The terns have not yet arrived on the island though some have been seen in the area. The Roseates should be arriving in about 10 days.

    Added a rat trap - N. Brother, May 2, 2009 - Ted D'Eon photo
    Added a rat trap - N. Brother, May 2, 2009 - Ted D'Eon photo

    Crew and assistants: Nigel D'Eon, Felton d'Entremont, and Ingrid D'Eon.

    May 3, 2009 - N. Brother: Two of the three rat traps have been sprung, but nothing caught in them. The peanut butter in the "bucket traps" was uneaten.

    I now wonder if we have a mink on the island. Surely if it were a rat or weasel, it would have remained in the rat trap. The traps were rebaited and I will check again in a day or two.

    On a lighter note, 7 terns flew high above N. Brother while we were on the island (around 2pm). They were headed to the northeast.

    Crew and assistants: Nigel D'Eon.

    May 3, 2009 - "Terns" were reportedly seen in Pubnico Harbour.

    May 4, 2009 - N. Brother: We checked the traps again. No luck today either. One of the Rat traps was sprung and some peanut butter was eaten from a couple of the "bucket traps". Obviously the rat traps are not working. They were all tripped and replaced with 4 regular mouse traps, just in case whatever was tripping them was too small to be captured by them.

    We will check again in a few days.

    Crew and assistants: Rémi d'Entremont, Nigel D'Eon and Andrew D'Eon.

    May 7, 2009 - N. Brother: About 100 terns on North Brother this morning at 0915.

    Today, I brought Paul Tufts, an expert trapper and biologist/naturalist, to the island to get his opinion on what is eating our peanut butter bait from our "bucket traps". Paul was hired by Canadian Wildlife Service (CWS) for this job.

    Good news - We DO NOT have a mink or other predatory mammal on the island. Paul believes the peanut butter is being eaten by some bird, possibly Crow, Raven or gull. I believe he is right.

    Paul Tufts - N. Brother, May 7, 2009 - Ted D'Eon photo
    Paul Tufts - N. Brother, May 7, 2009 - Ted D'Eon photo

    The wooden rat and mouse traps were removed. The "bucket traps" an the metal multi-mouse traps were left on the island. Paul set a large "raccoon type" live trap baited with peanut butter to see if we catch anything. I will remove it from the island on my next visit.

    Crew and assistants: Paul Tufts, Rémi d'Entremont and Aldric d'Entremont.

    May 9, 2009 - N. Brother: About 200 terns on North Brother this morning at 0845, mostly Common Terns but with a few Arctics mixed in.

    We removed the "raccoon trap". It appeared untouched since we placed it there two days earlier. There was nothing in any of the other vole traps.

    The island is ready; the terns are there. I am optimistic we will have a good nesting season.

    Nigel, Israel and Rémi - N. Brother, May 9, 2009 - Ted D'Eon photo
    Nigel, Israel and Rémi - N. Brother, May 9, 2009 - Ted D'Eon photo

    Crew and assistants: Rémi d'Entremont, Nigel D'Eon and Israel d'Entremont. This was Israel's first trip to The Brothers since he broke his leg in Nov. 2007. We are glad to have him back with us.

    May 14, 2009 - N. Brother: About 300 terns on North Brother this morning at 0945. Today there were a good number of Arctics mixed in the group. Also today, we saw our first Roseate Terns of the season. At least two ROST were seen flying overhead.

    Many Common Tern nesting scrapes were observed on the southern half of the island; perhaps between 60 and 80, though we did not count. There were no eggs laid yet.

    Common Tern nesting scrape - N. Brother, May 14, 2009 - Ted D'Eon photo
    Common Tern nesting scrape - N. Brother, May 14, 2009 - Ted D'Eon photo

    One of our "bucket traps" had caught a small sparrow which I could not identify. Other than that, nothing in the traps and still no new signs of voles.

    There was also no presence of gulls on the island.

    The colony looked great.

    Crew and assistants: Rémi d'Entremont.

    May 20, 2009 - N. Brother: About 400 terns on North Brother this morning at 0845.

    Many more Common Tern nest scrapes, and one Common Tern nest with one egg. This was the only egg we saw.

    One recently dead Great Black-backed Gull with a broken wing was removed from the island and set adrift towards the mainland.

    At our arrival as we neared the island, a Raven flew off and was being mobbed by the terns. It flew to the mainland.

    There are still very few Roseate Terns on North Brother, possibly only three. It looked like one pair which were interacting and flying together, plus a third ROST, alone with some Common Terns.

    There were no signs of voles and no gull nests with eggs to remove, although we destroyed the beginnings of a gull's nest.

    Crew and assistants: Rémi d'Entremont.

    May 25, 2009 - Seaweed harvester, David Surette reported about 100 terns at Île Chespêque in Pubnico Harbour.

    May 29, 2009 - N. Brother: Lots of tern activity. Good Roseate Tern presence on the island this time, though no ROST nests yet. We estimated about 130 Common and Arctic Tern nests; most of these would be Common Tern. There were no signs of active predators, although there were some Black-backed Gulls on the rocks at the south end of the island. There was nothing in any of our traps and no signs of voles.

    We counted four Common Eider nests on the island.

    I am optimistic we will have a great nesting season.

    Crew and assistants: Rémi d'Entremont and Nigel D'Eon.

    May 29, 2009 - N. Brother: Lobster fisherman, Réal d'Entremont, reported an eagle there this morning. He said the bird went down with a splash for something on the water. He assumes it could have been an eider. Réal could not say if the eagle was successful.

    June 03, 2009 - N. Brother: Lots of ROST presence and activity. We counted 13 ROST nests; 12 contaimed 1 egg and one contained 2 eggs. There were many more Common and Arctic Tern nests than we saw there on May 29.

    There are now six Common Eider nests and, also, one Willet nest on N. Brother.

    All looked well on N. Brother.

    Crew and assistants: Rémi d'Entremont, Jean-Bernard d'Entremont, Aldric d'Entremont, Franklyn d'Entremont and Dennis Reilley.

    June 09, 2009 - N. Brother: All is well. Lots of terns and hundreds of nests. This morning we counted 31 Roseate Tern nests and I expect many more to come.

    No signs of predators; a beautiful colony.

    The official nest count will probably take place on Saturday, June 13.

    Crew and assistants: Rémi d'Entremont, Margie Rogers and Cleveland d'Entremont.

    June 12, 2009 - Seaweed harvester, David Surette, reported about 60 terns nests at Île Chespêque in Pubnico Harbour. Most of the tern nests contained 3 eggs, and one tern chick had hatched. He also reported 3 gull chicks on the island as well as 7 or 8 Common Eider nests.

    June 13, 2009 - N. Brother: Nest counting day, 2009.

    Tern nest counting - N. Brother, June 13, 2009 - Nigel D'Eon photo
    Tern nest counting - N. Brother, June 13, 2009 - Nigel D'Eon photo

    Tern Nests Numbers on The Brothers - 1990 to 2009
      N. Brother S. Brother totals
    June 7, 1990 302 28 330
    June 11, 1991 441 13 454
    June 11, 1992 413 0 413
    June 9, 1993 367 0 367
    June 8, 1994 380 0 380
    June 14, 1995 457 0 457
    June 16, 1996 554 12 566
    June 12, 1997 630 120 750
    June 11, 1998 452 151 603
    June 7, 1999 399 0 399
      N. Brother S. Brother totals
    June 10, 2000 491 0 491
    June 9, 2001 817 63 880
    June 13, 2002 655 178 833
    June 13, 2003 648 102 750
    June 12, 2004 526 0 526
    June 13, 2005 445 0 445
    June 13, 2006 616 0 616
    June 10, 2007 365 0 365
    June 8, 2008 590 0 590
    June 13, 2009 546 0 546

    The number of tern nests on The Brothers - A yearly comparison
    The number of tern nests on The Brothers - A yearly comparison

    Total tern nests - 546 (including 31 Roseate Tern nests). No tern eggs had hatched yet on N. Brother.

    22 ROST nests contained two eggs each, 9 with one egg.

    As we were preparing for the landing on N. Brother we noticed the terns very busy at "dive-bombing" something on the other side of the island. Upon investigation, we found nothing. I hope it wasn't a cripple gull we missed. Other than that, the colony looked great.

    Crew and assistants: Rémi d'Entremont, Israel d'Entremont and Nigel D'Eon.

    June 13, 2009 - David Surette reported two tern nests on Île Ferrée, Pubnico Harbour. Also here were one gull nest and a Willet's nest with four eggs.

    June 16, 2009 - N. Brother: There are still some voles on the island. Today, Rémi and I were assisted by Laura Hartman, Melissa Cull and Nicolle Davis, the members of the Roseate Tern Recovery Project of the Bluenose Coastal Action Foundation, Mahone Bay, Nova Scotia. These ladies saw a mouse-like mammal scurrying in the Roseate Tern nesting area of the island. I thought the voles had all been caught. Wishful thinking, I guess.

    Four more Roseate Tern nests were found, bringing the total ROST nest count now to 35. I expected higher numbers. I am a bit disappointed with this low number.

    Nicolle Davis discovering a new ROST nest - N. Brother, June 16, 2009 - Ted D'Eon photo
    Nicolle Davis discovering a new ROST nest - N. Brother, June 16, 2009 - Ted D'Eon photo

    Tern eggs were beginning to hatch. We only saw one chick fully hatched; a few more starting the pecking-out-of-the-egg process.

    No signs of predators; the colony still looks great!

    Crew and assistants: Rémi d'Entremont, Laura Hartman, Melissa Cull and Nicolle Davis.

    June 24, 2009 - I planned to go to N. Brother alone to see if I could read a few ROST leg bands from a portable blind. I got to the island ok with the blind, binoculars, spotting scope, digital camera and collapsible chair. Just as I had it set up, it began to rain. I took the blind down and brought everything back to the boat. Of course, it stopped raining as I motored away from the island. The afternoon was sunny and hot, perhaps too hot to be in a blind, but I had other things on the go and did not return to the island.

    Before setting up the blind, I checked out the ROST nests and shelters. I found ROST nest number 36! No ROST chicks had hatched yet.

    The Willet's nest has hatched.

    Crew and assistants: None.

    June 25, 2009 - N. Brother: I returned to the island again with the portable blind to do some reading of field readable leg bands.

    But first, we checked out the ROST nests for chicks. We located six ROST chicks. Four of them had just hatched or were day old. The other two were 2 or 3 days old. I don't know how I missed them the previous day.

    Roseate Tern chick - N. Brother, June 25, 2009 - Ted D'Eon photo
    Roseate Tern chick - N. Brother, June 25, 2009 - Ted D'Eon photo

    Also one more ROST nest was located bringing the total now to 37.

    I managed to see at least four different Roseate Terns with leg bands. I was able to read all 4 characters on 3 of them!

    The Characters: 1) 34C1 left leg, 2) 520E left leg, 3) 9B46 right leg, 4) 2?6? right leg.

    34C1 - N. Brother, June 25, 2009 - Ted D'Eon photo
    34C1 - N. Brother, June 25, 2009 - Ted D'Eon photo

    34C1 [1182-65634] was banded on July 12, 2002 on Eastern Egg Rock, Maine, U.S.A. This bird was previously seen on N. Brother on July 7, 2007.

    Roseate Tern carrying Sandlance - N. Brother, June 25, 2009 - Ted D'Eon photo
    Roseate Tern carrying Sandlance - N. Brother, June 25, 2009 - Ted D'Eon photo

    The Meadow Voles. I had not checked the "bucket traps" for a while. The metal mouse traps were always empty whenever I checked them and were still empty today. Today, there were 8 voles in the bucket traps. The traps were rebaited with peanut butter.

    A very productive day.

    Crew and assistants: Rémi d'Entremont and Israel d'Entremont.

    July 1, 2009 - N. Brother: A great Roseate Tern chick count plus 4 more nests! This brings the number of ROST nests now to 41.

    We found 42 ROST chicks of which one was dead and one was dying. I am very pleased with 40 healthy chicks so far, and with more to come as they were still hatching.

    The Roseate adults were again bringing in Sandlance, and I did see some with Herring. There were uneaten American Butterfish (Peprilus triacanthus) among the Common Tern nests and we saw a COTE trying to feed one of these to its chick. I do not believe it was successful. The American Butterfish (also known as Dollarfish) will not fit in the mouths of the very young terns; not a good food fish for the tern chicks. This summer, it seems there are too many of these fish around.

    On the vole front, we caught 4 more Meadow Voles in the bucket traps.

    The colony still looks in great shape.

    My assistants: Margie, Israel and Andrew - N. Brother, July 1, 2009 - Ted D'Eon photo
    My assistants: Margie, Israel and Andrew - N. Brother, July 1, 2009 - Ted D'Eon photo

    Crew and assistants: Israel d'Entremont, Margie Rogers, and Andrew D'Eon.

    July 2, 2009 - N. Brother: Today, I went there to see if I could read more ROST leg bands. I got 3 more! 510E on left leg, 1V65 on left leg, and 2K70 on left leg.

    There was also a ROST with what looked like a blue rubber "O" ring on its left leg. This was something new to me. Anybody out there know what this might be about?

    Rubber banded Roseate Tern? - N. Brother, July 2, 2009 - Ted D'Eon photo
    Rubber banded? Roseate Tern - N. Brother, July 2, 2009 - Ted D'Eon photo

    I ran into problems leaving the island. The motor quit on me as I was preparing to leave. I got the boat back to Abbott's Harbour using the Zodiac and its 2.2 hp motor. The boat and motor were trailered to a local outboard repair shop.

    Crew and assistants: None.

    July 9, 2009 - N. Brother: Again, Rémi and I were assisted by Laura Hartman, Melissa Cull and Nicolle Davis, the members of the Roseate Tern Recovery Project of the Bluenose Coastal Action Foundation, Mahone Bay.

    All is well with N. Brother and its tern colony. We found a few more ROST chicks which had hatched since my last visit. We found no ROST mortality of any kind.

    Two more meadow voles were caught in one of the bucket traps.

    An unlabled ROST nest was found bringing the total ROST number now to 42.

    The colony looked great.

    Crew and assistants: Rémi d'Entremont, Laura Hartman, Melissa Cull and Nicolle Davis.

    July 14, 2009 - ROST chick banding day on N. Brother.

    Andrew Boyne, Julie McKnight and Manon Dubé from Canadian Wildlife Service arrived on N. Brother to place leg bands on the ROST chicks. Andrew and Julie did the banding; Andrew doing most of it. The rest of us searched out the ROST chicks.

    Banding ROST chicks on N. Brother. (left to right: Andrew, Manon, Julie and Rémi) July 14, 2009 - Ted D'Eon photo
    Banding ROST chicks on N. Brother. (left to right: Andrew, Manon, Julie and Rémi) July 14, 2009 - Ted D'Eon photo

    26 chicks were banded. This was the third highest number of ROST chicks ever banded on N. Brother in any particular season. Being that the ROST nest number, at only 42, was rather low (the highest was 90 in 2002), ROST chick success was high. I estimate there were over 45 ROST chicks on the island. We were only able to find 28 of them. Two of these chicks were too young to band.

    Julie McKnight banding a Roseate Tern chick - N. Brother, July 14, 2009 - Ted D'Eon photo

    Note: little actual tern success in 2003 and 2004 - Mink predation
    Serious Great Horned Owl predation in 2008
    Note: in 2007, 62 ROST chicks were documented and most survived to fledge.
    In 2008 the total number of ROST chicks identified on The Brothers fell to 16.

    One adult ROST was found dead with its wing caught somehow under a nest box. One of the bucket vole traps had either been left open or else the cover had blown over. In the trap, along with a Meadow Vole, was an adult Common Tern and a COTE chick. All had drowned in the bucket. The trap was removed from the island.

    The banding went well.

    Crew and assistants: Andrew Boyne, Julie McKnight and Manon Dubé from Canadian Wildlife Service, Dartmouth, NS and Rémi d'Entremont.

    July 27, 2009 - Pubnico Harbour. David Surette took me to Île Chespêque and Île Ferrée in Pubnico Harbour to check out the terns there. It was a very foggy day.

    On Île Chespêque we counted 4 or 5 fledged Common Tern chicks being attended to by some adults. We also found 12 tern nests containing one unhatched egg each. I assume most of these eggs will not hatch. We found no unfledged tern chicks on the island.

    On Île Ferrée there were two Common Tern fledgelings being attended to by some adults. There were no unhatched eggs on this island and no unfledged chicks

    Île Ferrée, Pubnico Harbour - Ted D'Eon photo
    Île Ferrée, Pubnico Harbour - Ted D'Eon photo

    Vegetation on Île Ferrée, July 27, 2009 (David Surette in photo) - Ted D'Eon photo

    July 28, 2009 - N. Brother: Bad News. Many, perhaps 3 dozen, almost fledged or recently fledged tern chicks, dead on the island. The majority of these were Common Terns, though there were some Arctics and one or two Roseate chicks. I checked a few of the fresher carcasses for signs of Mink predation and found none.

    Me, checking a tern carcass for signs of Mink predation, July 28, 2009 - Nigel D'Eon photo
    Me, checking a tern carcass for signs of Mink predation, July 28, 2009 - Nigel D'Eon photo

    I collected six specimens to take to CWS in Dartmouth, NS, who in turn would forward them for necropsies, to the Veterinary College at the University of Prince Edward Island. Some of the specimens seemed to be thin. I spoke to CWS biologist, Andrew Boyne, and he suggested possible starvation as a cause of death.

    We found several unbanded Roseate chicks which appeared in great shape. A couple of the Roseate chicks were only 3 or 4 days old, and there were Common and Arctic chicks younger than that, so tern eggs were still hatching. There was less mortality with the Roseate chicks than the chicks of the other tern species.

    Crew and assistants: Rémi d'Entremont, Israel d'Entremont Nigel D'Eon and Sandra Phinney.

    July 30, 2009 - An email from Dr. Daoust of University of PEI (through Andrew Boyne), confirmed Andrew's suspicion; "All six birds were in very poor body condition (very thin pectoral muscles [much thinner than expected, even for young birds], no fat anywhere, and an empty gizzard). My final diagnosis for all six birds was therefore emaciation/starvation." Perhaps the Roseates fared out better as they generally feed on different fish species?

    Nothing much to do now about this but to monitor the situation and hope for the best.

    August 4, 2009 - I was on N. Brother this morning to collect the dead terns of last week to get a more accurate count on the tern mortality there. If any of you are not aware, last week's visit to N. Brother found many almost or recently fledged tern chicks dead on the island. Some specimens made their way to the veterinary college at the university of PEI, where it was determined the terns died of starvation.

    Recently dead Arctic Tern chick, North Brother, August 4, 2009 - Roland D'Eon photo
    Recently dead Arctic Tern chick, North Brother, August 4, 2009 - Roland D'Eon photo

    About 135 tern chicks were collected this morning. Many had been dead for over a week, but there were more recent carcasses also. As it was last week, most of the dead terns were around fledgeling age.

    The vast majority were Common Terns, just a couple of identifiable Arctics in the group, plus two banded Roseates of fledgeling age and one or two more very young Roseate Terns.

    We did not locate any live, non-flying Roseate young on the island, although there were a few Common Terns, between 1 and 3 weeks old, seen scurrying around.

    The total flying tern population, chicks and adults, was low. I assume many had already left the colony.

    The tern carcasses were incinerated at home after I was done with the sorting and counting.

    Not a good day.

    Crew and assistants: Rémi d'Entremont, Roland D'Eon, Raoul d'Entremont and Lisette d'Entremont.


    Marine Chart of Lobster Bay, Nova Scotia

    Click on the chart to enlarge.

    Ted C. D'Eon

    P.O. Box 14
    Middle West Pubnico
    Nova Scotia B0W 2M0
    Canada
    phone (home)1-902-762-2097
             (cellular)1-902-749-6883

    E-Mail to: ted@ns.sympatico.ca © Ted C. D'Eon, 2009