TERN REPORT - 2017 - 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
    THE BROTHERS, Yarmouth County, Nova Scotia

    THE BROTHERS, Yarmouth County, Nova Scotia



    OBSERVATIONS:

    The following is a chronological listing of our 2017 work with terns of the Lobster Bay area in general, but in particular 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)

    For a bird's eye view of The Brothers, see the YouTube aerial drone video of The Brothers taken by Riel D'Eon on October 8, 2016

    March 15, 2017 Another high tide and wind storm. We have have several bad ones over the winter. It is obvious we will find damage to the island whenever we get there.

    North Brother, March 15, 2017 - Ted D'Eon photo
    North Brother, March 15, 2017 - Ted D'Eon photo

    April 14, 2017 North Brother. Today, we set in place the 500 pound concrete mooring anchor block, abour 50 metres to the east of the island. It was deployed without incident.

    The 500lb concrete anchor being lowered onto the boat, April 14, 2017 - Ted D'Eon photo
    The 500lb concrete anchor being lowered onto the boat, April 14, 2017 - Ted D'Eon photo

    Almost ready to leave Abbott's Harbour, April 14, 2017 - Ted D'Eon photo
    Almost ready to leave Abbott's Harbour, April 14, 2017 - Ted D'Eon photo

    On the island, devastation was pretty well as expected but even so, I would say not quite as bad as last year. Most of the Roseate Tern (ROST) shelters from our "management zone" were no longer in place.

    The management zone was pretty well a pile of shelters. A lot of the gravel had been washed out of the area and now most of it was at the sloping south edge of the tidal "hole".

    Many of the shelters were now in the northeast corner of the "hole".

    About half the nesting structures on the "ridge" (western edge of the "hole") were still in place. That was encouraging to see.

    Erosion is always a problem. This year we lost another 60 cm or so from the south end of the island.

    See some photos below.

    The Management Zone North Brother, April 14, 2017 - Ted D'Eon photo
    The "Management Zone" North Brother, April 14, 2017 - Ted D'Eon photo

    The Management Zone looking north, North Brother, April 14, 2017 - Ted D'Eon photo
    The "Management Zone" looking north, North Brother, April 14, 2017 - Ted D'Eon photo

    Some of the nesting structures on the ridge were still in place, North Brother, April 14, 2017 - Ted D'Eon photo
    Some of the nesting structures on the "ridge" were still in place, North Brother, April 14, 2017 - Ted D'Eon photo

    Soil erosion at the south end of the island - North Brother, April 14, 2017 - Ted D'Eon photo
    Soil erosion at the south end of the island - North Brother, April 14, 2017 - Ted D'Eon photo

    My crew today: Ingrid D'Eon, Missie D'Eon, and Nigel D'Eon.

    Ingrid, Missie, and Nigel - North Brother, April 14, 2017 - Ted D'Eon photo
    Ingrid, Missie, and Nigel - North Brother, April 14, 2017 - Ted D'Eon photo

    April 24, 2017 North Brother. Today, Aldric d'Entremont, Jean Bernard d'Entremont, and Terry Bourque came with me to North Brother to begin the cleanup and sort out the ROST nesting shelters. It was cold and foggy.

    We brought with us 10 new "shelter traps" and 20 new "Coquet Island" type ROST nesting shelters.

    The shelter traps have provisions for a remote controlled sliding glass door built into them. This will be useful when it comes time to trap adults later on in the season.

    We also brought with us 5 plastic buckets, 3 shovels, and a rake for the upcoming landscaping and proper placement of the nesting shelters.

    Last year, all the nesting shelters were outfitted with a yellow, numbered tags for easier identification. The tags are actually the kind used as ear tags on cattle. They really worked well.

    So, we have three types of ROST nesting shelters, shelter trap, Coquet, and our older 3-sided type. Julie McKnight, the Canadian Wildlife Service (CWS) biologist in charge of the Canadian Roseate Tern Recovery, devised a nesting shelter layout for optimum nesting and fledgling success. I won't go into details, but it was all figured out scientifically from type of shelter, its location, and success rate.

    Anyway, a map has been drawn as to the placement of the 3 types of shelters. To permit them to be numbered consecutively in their placement, we had to move a lot of numbered tags from one type of shelter to another.

    As it happened, we found most of the original numbered shelters; a few tags without shelters and a few shelters without tags. Only perhaps 6 of the 110 shelters from last year are missing. I had expected more than that when I first saw the situation on the island.

    North Brother, April 24, 2017 - Ted D'Eon photo
    North Brother, April 24, 2017 - Ted D'Eon photo

    Meadow Vole - North Brother - Ted D'Eon photo
    Meadow Vole - North Brother - Ted D'Eon (archived photo)

    I am afraid we still have Meadow Voles. A whole bunch of them (3 or 4 or more) scurried out of the pile of ROST shelters as we sorted them out in the "management zone" area.

    My crew today: Aldric, Terry, and Jean Bernard - North Brother, April 24, 2017 - Ted D'Eon phot
    My crew today: Aldric, Terry, and Jean Bernard - North Brother, April 24, 2017 - Ted D'Eon photo

    April 28, 2017 North Brother. The terns have arrived!

    While we were on North Brother eyeing out 8 terns overhead, I received a text that lobster fisherman, Edouard D'Eon had just seen two terns off of Pubnico Point. The ones we saw were high in the fog and looked like Commons.

    We were a crew of 7 people on the island in a pretty well last minute attempt to get it ready for the arrival of the Roseate Terns (ROST). I expect it will be another week or more before the first ROST will be seen here.

    The crew consisted of Julie McKnight (CWS). Aldric d'Entremont, Nazo Gabrielian (who drove all the way down from Lawrencetown, NS), Mike MacDonald (from Cape Sable Island). Kayla Boudreau and Silver Doherty (on loan for the day from NSDNR Wolfville), and me.

    Our primary focus today was to get the "management zone" ready for the placement of 50 ROST nesting shelters, each one assigned to a specific location. This involved clearing the area (29 x 17 feet) of nesting structures, rocks and half buried and bunched up landscape fabric, filling up the low spots with gravel and raking everything smooth.

    Clearing out the management zone - North Brother, April 28, 2017 - Ted D'Eon photo
    Clearing out the "management zone" - North Brother, April 28, 2017 - Ted D'Eon photo

    Beach gravel over the landscape fabric - North Brother, April 28, 2017 - Ted D'Eon photo
    Beach gravel over the landscape fabric - North Brother, April 28, 2017 - Ted D'Eon photo

    Silver and Mike getting beach gravel - North Brother, April 28, 2017 - Ted D'Eon photo
    Silver and Mike getting beach gravel - North Brother, April 28, 2017 - Ted D'Eon photo

    Kayla covering the fabric with more beach gravel - North Brother, April 28, 2017 - Ted D'Eon photo
    Kayla covering the fabric with more beach gravel - North Brother, April 28, 2017 - Ted D'Eon photo

    Lunchtime on the rocks - North Brother, April 28, 2017 - Ted D'Eon photo
    Lunchtime on the rocks - North Brother, April 28, 2017 - Ted D'Eon photo

    Mission accomplished - North Brother, April 28, 2017 - Ted D'Eon photo
    Mission accomplished! - North Brother, April 28, 2017 - Ted D'Eon photo

    Nesting structures along the ridge - North Brother, April 28, 2017 - Ted D'Eon photo
    Nesting structures along the "ridge" - North Brother, April 28, 2017 - Ted D'Eon photo

    Ready to leave the island with a job well done - North Brother, April 28, 2017 - Ted D'Eon photo
    Ready to leave the island with a job well done! - North Brother, April 28, 2017 - Ted D'Eon photo

    Nazo, Mike, Julie, Aldric, Kayla, and Silver - North Brother, April 28, 2017 - Ted D'Eon photo
    Nazo, Mike, Julie, Aldric, Kayla, and Silver - North Brother, April 28, 2017 - Ted D'Eon photo

    A wonderful and hard-working crew! Thank you all very much!

    I must stress that it was NOT EASY WORK.

    May 9, 2017 North Brother. The crew today: Shawn Craik, Manon Holmes, Aldric d'Entremont, Mike MacDonald, and Mark Dennis.

    The weather forecast had said, "less than a mm" of rain for the morning. At 8:30am, The Weather Network forecast for Yarmouth said "No precipitation expected for the next three hours".

    Well, it rained some before the gang arrived but when we left the wharf, around 10am, there was only the odd raindrop.

    There was no wind, for a change, but from all the wind we've had recently, the swell was much more than normal. The landing on North Brother was a little trickier than usual, but we managed okay.

    We saw some terns in the air, but their numbers were lower than I had expected; a maximum of 15 flying high overhead. They all appeared to be Commons.

    Roseate Terns had been seen in Massachusetts 8 or 9 days earlier so I had my hopes up for seeing a few here today. We didn't.

    The crew worked well in a light rain, and in a little over an hour we had set up 75 ROST nesting shelters on the rocky ridge on the west side of the tidal "pond" (there is only water in there at high tide as the salt water percolates in and out of it through the beach rocks). By the time we finished, the rain had become a downpour!

    The 75 shelters today are in addition to the 50 we setup on April 28 in the "Management zone". So, a total of 125 nesting shelters.

    Our departure from the island was more difficult than usual; the Zodiac had to be bailed out once, but only once!

    I feel relieve that the island is finally ready.

    One Common Eider with 5 eggs was found as well as a possible nest scrape.

    See a few photos below:

    North Brother, May 9, 2017 - Ted D'Eon photo
    North Brother, May 9, 2017 - Ted D'Eon photo

    North Brother, May 9, 2017 - Ted D'Eon photo
    North Brother, May 9, 2017 - Ted D'Eon photo

    Mark, Mike, Aldric, Manon, and Shawn - North Brother, May 9, 2017 - Ted D'Eon photo
    Mark, Mike, Aldric, Manon, and Shawn - North Brother, May 9, 2017 - Ted D'Eon photo

    May 12, 2017 Sable Island, Nova Scotia. "Zoe Lucas found a dying ROST on Sable yesterday (May 11). First report for our neck of the woods and unfortunately not a good one." (email from Julie McKnight)

    May 13, 2017 Green Island (the one near Cape Sable). Alix d'Entremont visited there today and reported seeing eight ROST! Wow! Might be some nesting there this year! We will have to check it out.

    Roseate Tern - Green Island, Shelburne County, NS, May 13, 2017 - Alix d'Entremont photo
    Roseate Tern - Green Island, Shelburne County, NS, May 13, 2017 - Alix d'Entremont photo

    Roseate Tern - Green Island, Shelburne County, NS, May 13, 2017 - Alix d'Entremont photo
    Roseate Tern - Green Island, Shelburne County, NS, May 13, 2017 - Alix d'Entremont photo

    May 17, 2017 North Brother. What a beautiful day, after days of wind and rain!

    Today's crew: Julie McKnight, Aldric d'Entremont, Duncan Bayne (NSDNR, Tusket office), Manon Holmes (biology student, Acadia University), and Nick Knutson (biology student, Uneversité Sainte-Anne).

    All went superbly!  It was a great day!

    There were about 200 tern there when web arrived at North Brother. Mostly Common Terns (COTE) but lots of ROST presence. Very few Arctic Terns (ARTE) were seen.

    We got all the ROST nesting shelters numbered consecutively as some of them had become out of sequence when new ones had been later added.

    ROST nesting area - North Brother, May 17, 2017 - Ted D'Eon photo
    ROST nesting area - North Brother, May 17, 2017 - Ted D'Eon photo

    ROST nesting area - North Brother, May 17, 2017 - Ted D'Eon photo
    ROST nesting area - North Brother, May 17, 2017 - Ted D'Eon photo

    All the shelters were checked for nests, but no ROST nests were found. In fact, no tern nests at all were found. A few COTE nest scrapes were found here and there.

    Coloured stakes were placed 1 metre from the edge of the topsoil at the south and southwest part of the island to monitor erosion. About half a metre was lost at the very south end of the island since last year. At other areas, the loss was more in the 20 to 30 cm range.

    When the ROST nest-check was done, Manon and Nick worked on constructing circles made with plastic tubing. I'm not sure of the exact diameter, but they will be placed around ROST nests to document other tern nests within the circle. I don't have all the details but it's something like that.

    Manon and Nick - North Brother, May 17, 2017 - Ted D'Eon photo
    Manon and Nick - North Brother, May 17, 2017 - Ted D'Eon photo

    We then visited South Brother.

    For the first time in my recollection, we have Double-crested Cormorants nesting on S Brother! We counted 5 nests (one with 1 egg, three with 2 eggs, and one with 4 eggs).

    Double-crested Cormorant nest - South Brother, May 17, 2017 - Ted D'Eon photo
    Double-crested Cormorant nest - South Brother, May 17, 2017 - Ted D'Eon photo

    We also found six Herring Gull nests there, as well as three Common Eider nests. All the Herring Gull nests and eggs were destroyed (under permit).

    All in all, a great day!

    Aldric, Nick, Manon, Duncan, and Julie - South Brother, May 17, 2017 - Ted D'Eon photo
    Aldric, Nick, Manon, Duncan, and Julie - South Brother, May 17, 2017 - Ted D'Eon photo

    May 24, 2017 North Brother. We left Abbott's Harbour, Middle West Pubnico, at around 9:30 am. It was a calm morning for a change. The crew this morning was Shawn Craik, Manon Holmes, Nick Knutson, and me.

    Upon our arrival to North Brother, we were greeted by about 150 terns; this included about 15 ROST and about 6 ARTE.

    Some of the Roseate Terns - North Brother, May 24, 2017 - Ted D'Eon photo
    Some of the Roseate Terns - North Brother, May 24, 2017 - Ted D'Eon photo

    Roseate Tern - North Brother, May 24, 2017 - Ted D'Eon photo
    Roseate Tern - North Brother, May 24, 2017 - Ted D'Eon photo

    Many of the ROST we saw were wearing leg bands; at least one was seen carrying fish. A number of COTE were also seen carrying fish.

    All three tern species have begun nesting! We counted 15 COTE nests, 1 ARTE nest and 1 ROST nest! All nests contained only one egg so this is pretty well the beginning of nesting.

    Two Common Tern nests - North Brother, May 24, 2017 - Ted D'Eon photo
    Two Common Tern nests - North Brother, May 24, 2017 - Ted D'Eon photo

    Roseate Tern nest - North Brother, May 24, 2017 - Ted D'Eon photo
    Roseate Tern nest - North Brother, May 24, 2017 - Ted D'Eon photo

    Roseate Tern nest - North Brother, May 24, 2017 - Ted D'Eon photo
    Roseate Tern nest - North Brother, May 24, 2017 - Ted D'Eon photo

    The ROST nest was in a "Coquet" style nest box (#61) manufactured this year (2017).

    We also found 5 Common Eider nests - 1 containing two eggs, 2 containing three eggs, and 2 containing 5 eggs.

    Common Eider nest - North Brother, May 24, 2017 - Ted D'Eon photo
    Common Eider nest - North Brother, May 24, 2017 - Ted D'Eon photo

    Manon and Nick started using their 1 metre diameter plastic circle. They took photos of it, from above, at several ROST nests. They will monitor these sites again during the season.

    The one metre circle - North Brother, May 24, 2017 - Ted D'Eon photo
    The one metre circle - North Brother, May 24, 2017 - Ted D'Eon photo

    We arrived back at the wharf around 11:30.

    All in all, a good visit.

    Shawn, Nick, and Manon - North Brother, May 24, 2017 - Ted D'Eon photo
    Shawn, Nick, and Manon - North Brother, May 24, 2017 - Ted D'Eon photo

    May 28, 2017 North Brother.

    Wash out from the recent high tides - North Brother, May 28, 2017 - Ted D'Eon photo
    Wash out from the recent high tides - North Brother, May 28, 2017 - Ted D'Eon photo

    This morning, I visited N Brother with my daughter, Ingrid D'Eon, and my grandson, Orson Deveau.

    I knew of the recent high tides, but the wind at those times was only moderate, so I really did not expect much damage to the island. I was wrong.

    The high water washed a lot of gravel from the ROST "management zone" (mz) nesting area, although only one nest shelter appeared to have been moved, and only by 30 cm or so. We didn't have the time or manpower to work at fixing the mz this morning.

    We checked all the ROST nesting shelters and documented their contents.

    Eleven ROST nests were found. Only one of them was in the mz (50 nesting shelters); I expected more. The other 10 nests were on the "ridge". Three of the nests (all on the "ridge") contained 2 eggs; the rest of them, one.

    Ingrid, checking a ROST nesting shelter - North Brother, May 28, 2017 - Ted D'Eon photo
    Ingrid, checking a ROST nesting shelter - North Brother, May 28, 2017 - Ted D'Eon photo

    On May 24 there was only 1 ROST nest (#61) and it contained one egg. Today, there were 2 eggs in that nest.

    Orson, holding open nesting shelter #61 - North Brother, May 28, 2017 - Ted D'Eon photo
    Orson, holding open nesting shelter #61 - North Brother, May 28, 2017 - Ted D'Eon photo

    Two more ROST nests - North Brother, May 28, 2017 - Ted D'Eon photo
    Two more ROST nests - North Brother, May 28, 2017 - Ted D'Eon photo

    Orson and Ingrid checking out a Common Eider nest - North Brother, May 28, 2017 - Ted D'Eon photo
    Orson and Ingrid checking out a Common Eider nest - North Brother, May 28, 2017 - Ted D'Eon photo

    There was only one COTE nest in the mz; I expected finding more. There were also fewer than I expected on the "ridge".

    We will have to go again in the next few days to see what we can do about the damage in the mz.

    May 30, 2017 North Brother. Although I have been told that the local lobster fishermen were seeing very large flocks of terns at North Brother early in the morning. I was disappointed to find only about 150 or so terns there around 10 am today.

    Within that group, there was a lot of ROST presence.

    The crew today consisted of Julie McKnight, Duncan Bayne, Shawn Craik, Manon Holmes, Nick Knutson, and Daryl Gunter.

    We brought with us buckets. shovels and a rake in case we needed to repair the partially washed out "management zone".

    The decision was made to leave things as they were, as in another three weeks, the tides would be high again and the washout could be repeated. There are plenty of nesting structures on the rocky ridge that the ROST can use.

    Today, we checked all the ROST shelters again. We had another couple of nests; we now have 13. A few single-egg nests, now contained two eggs.

    I did a bit of photography for leg bands; I managed to get six. B00, B10, B73, L03, L05, and L37. They were all the red plastic kind of leg bands; all from birds which had been banded on North Brother.

    Julie McKnight got some of the same leg bands but added Y12, a ROST banded as a chick in 2014 on Country Island, Nova Scotia, and seen there again in 2016. (My photos of this bird were not as clear as hers - I couldn't read the leg band from mine)

    There were several more with one metal band only, and some with two metal bands, I was too far away from them to read the numbers on those. There were, of course, also a number of unbanded birds.

    We've had another noteworthy find today. Julie spotted a pair of terns copulating near nest shelters 6 and 7.

    We both thought they were COTE until Julie checked out her photos and saw what looked like a male ROST on top of a COTE. The ROST also carried a red plastic Field Readable (FR) Band on its left leg; unfortunately, we couldn't read it.

    It gets better - The ROST may be, and probably is, a ROST/COTE hybrid! It does have the long tail streamers and general appearance of the usual ROST, but its bill, even though long and thin like a typical ROST, showed more orange on it than the other ROST at this time of the year. All other ROST at the end of May have bills which are completely black.

    Dr. Jeffrey Spendelow writes, "In addition to showing a decent amount of orange in the bill, it also shows a lot of black at the tips of the five outermost primaries which is more COTE-like than ROST-like." (email from June 1, 2017) Jeff Spendelow is a Research Wildlife Biologist with the Patuxent Wildlife Research Center (PWRC) in Laurel, Maryland, USA. He has worked with Roseate Terns most of his adult life. He knows what he is talking about. (my comment. Ted)

    Hybrid? ROST copulating with female COTE - North Brother, May 30, 2017 - Ted D'Eon photo
    Hybrid? ROST copulating with female COTE - North Brother, May 30, 2017 - Ted D'Eon photo

    We found 4 or 5 Arctic Tern nests at the north end of the island.

    Arctic Tern - North Brother, May 30, 2017 - Ted D'Eon photo
    Arctic Tern - North Brother, May 30, 2017 - Ted D'Eon photo

    There were noticeably very few COTE nests in the ROST nesting areas, I hope it's just that it's early and that many haven't nested yet. I guess we will just have to wait until we do "the nest count" in the second week of June before we can know for sure what and if anything is going on.

    A few more photos.

    ROST with a White Hake for its mate - North Brother, May 30, 2017 - Ted D'Eon photo
    ROST (Y12) with a White Hake(?) for its mate - North Brother, May 30, 2017 - Ted D'Eon photo

    Some territorial squabbling (I think) - North Brother, May 30, 2017 - Ted D'Eon photo
    Some territorial squabbling (I think) - North Brother, May 30, 2017 - Ted D'Eon photo

    Nick and Manon - North Brother, May 30, 2017 - Ted D'Eon photo
    Nick and Manon - North Brother, May 30, 2017 - Ted D'Eon photo

    Roseate Tern L03 - North Brother, May 30, 2017 - Ted D'Eon photo
    Roseate Tern L03 - North Brother, May 30, 2017 - Ted D'Eon photo

    One of the Roseate Terns flying overhead - North Brother, May 30, 2017 - Ted D'Eon photo
    One of the Roseate Terns flying overhead - North Brother, May 30, 2017 - Ted D'Eon photo

    Manon, Nick, Julie, Daryl, Duncan, and Shawn - North Brother, May 30, 2017 - Ted D'Eon photo
    Manon, Nick, Julie, Daryl, Duncan, and Shawn - North Brother, May 30, 2017 - Ted D'Eon photo

    June 4, 2017 North Brother. It was a beautiful calm and sunny morning. Four of us visited North Brother: Aldric d'Entremont, Ronnie d'Entremont, Mark Dennis, and me.

    The primary aim of our visit today was to photograph a few more leg bands and do some general observation.

    We did not do a ROST nest shelter check.

    Disturbing observations on North Brother: The number of terns seems WAY DOWN! Only about 150 terns there and it seemed like a third of them were ROST. Also, very few ARTE.

    At both ends (north and south) of the ROST nesting area, aggressive COTE kept attacking the ROST as they were attempting to land into their nesting area.

    New leg bands seen today: B11, B25, B33, B39, B81, L35, L41, 55/0E, 68/0E, 81/5N, and 92/5N. (and a few partials)

    B00, B73, L03, L05 and L37 were also seen again (we had seen these last week). Thank you Ronnie and Mark.

    See below, the more usual leg band setup - a coloured plastic Field Readable band (FRB), and a grey metal United States Geological Survey (USGS) band on the other leg.

    Typical Roseate Tern leg bands on North Brother, June 4, 2017 - Ted D'Eon photo
    Typical Roseate Tern leg bands on North Brother, June 4, 2017 - Ted D'Eon photo

    One ROST I saw today carried a different type of grey metal band; I have been informed it is from Brazil. It is smaller (narrower) than the USGS. See below. I believe the two cropped photos are of the same band and the same bird - just photographed from slightly different angles. I am not 100% sure of this, but the bird in the second photo was standing on the same rock (to the right of shelter #102) as in the first.

    Roseate Tern with foreign? band - North Brother, June 4, 2017 - Ted D'Eon photo
    Roseate Tern with band from Brazil - North Brother, June 4, 2017 - Ted D'Eon photo

    Close-up of the foreign? band - North Brother, June 4, 2017 - Ted D'Eon photo
    Close-up of the Brazilian band - North Brother, June 4, 2017 - Ted D'Eon photo

    Close-up #2 of the foreign? band - North Brother, June 4, 2017 - Ted D'Eon photo
    Close-up #2 of the Brazilian band - North Brother, June 4, 2017 - Ted D'Eon photo

    Thank you, Ronnie, Aldric, and Mark.

    Ronnie, Aldric, and Mark - North Brother, June 4, 2017 - Ted D'Eon photo
    Ronnie, Aldric, and Mark - North Brother, June 4, 2017 - Ted D'Eon photo

    June 4, 2017 Today, my friend, David Surette, reported that he visited the tern colony on Île Chespêque in Pubnico Harbour.

    David was a lobster fisherman who harvested seaweed in the summer. He is now retired from fishing, but still harvests seaweed in Pubnico harbour during the summer.  He and the other seaweed harvesters avoid harvesting seaweed near the tern colony until the terns leave.

    His report:

    36 or 37 tern nests containing 78 or 79 eggs (I suspect all, or at least most of the terns there are COTE)

    14 Common Eider nests containing 56 eggs (one nest containing 9 eggs) plus some empty COEI nests

    At least 4 dead female COEI on nest. Some decapitated, some with breast bone showing (likely the work of a Great Horned Owl)

    Decapitated Common Eider - Île Chespêque, June 4, 2017 - David Surette photo
    Decapitated Common Eider - Île Chespêque, June 4, 2017 - David Surette photo

    Piles or collections of animal droppings. To me, they look like Canada Goose. See photo below.

    Canada Goose? droppings - Île Chespêque, June 4, 2017 - David Surette photo
    Canada Goose? droppings - Île Chespêque, June 4, 2017 - David Surette photo

    He also reported a young and still flightless gull chick walking around on the island, and finding a COEI egg in a gull nest. I don't have a number on gull nests but I think they were low.

    June 8, 2017 North Brother. Another ROST nest count and we are up a bit from last time. We have 24 nests; 23 in the shelters plus one more right in front of shelter #90. There is also the possibility of a double egg ROST nest in front of shelter #1. We will have to keep an eye on this one.

    Roseate Tern nest - North Brother, June 8, 2017 - Ted D'Eon photo
    Roseate Tern nest - North Brother, June 8, 2017 - Ted D'Eon photo

    I just had to put this one in.

    Spotted Sandpiper making its rounds - North Brother, June 8, 2017 - Ted D'Eon photo
    Spotted Sandpiper making its rounds - North Brother, June 8, 2017 - Ted D'Eon photo

    The questionable nest near shelter #1 - North Brother, June 8, 2017 - Ted D'Eon photo
    The questionable nest near shelter #1 - North Brother, June 8, 2017 - Ted D'Eon photo

    COTE and ARTE nests numbers are disturbingly low this season on North Brother.

    On May 30, we counted 4 or 5 ARTE nests in the beach rocks and seaweed at the north end of the island; today, we could find only one! Note: there were a dozen or so gulls on the rocks at the south end of the island when we arrived. Whether they are responsible for this, I don't know. I am sure the high tide of a couple of weeks ago did not help.

    The only ARTE nest we could find - North Brother, June 8, 2017 - Ted D'Eon photo
    The only ARTE nest we could find - North Brother, June 8, 2017 - Ted D'Eon photo

    We walked around the island and estimated about 100 COTE nests on North Brother. I expected 4 or 5 times that many. Is the winter damage to the island the reason for the low nest number. I expect that is very likely.

    The number of terns in the air today was very low - about 100 birds; it seemed like about 1/3 of them were ROST. There were very few ARTE to be seen. It is a major concern.

    I got a few more Plastic Field Readable (PFR) bands today, and one Metal Field Readable (MFR) band.

    The PFR bands: B10, B14 (probably nesting in #103)), B29, B71 (Hybrid ROST), B73, B81, L02, L03 (Nesting in #75), L05, L35, L37, and L41

    The MFR band: 815N

    I believe B14, B29, B71, and L02 are new.

    There was an unbanded bird in #102, and also an unbanded bird in #103.

    The Brazil banded bird is believed to be nesting in #104.

    We have the identity of the hybrid ROST. It is B71, a bird banded on North Brother, but I don't know when yet.

    I must say that every now and then, we band ROST chicks which don't have all the typical ROST chick features. The few I've suspected had a more yellowish colour to the down of the upper parts; one time we had one with light and dark coloured legs.

    Hybrid ROST B71 - North Brother, June 8, 2017 - Ted D'Eon photo
    Hybrid ROST B71 - North Brother, June 8, 2017 - Ted D'Eon photo

    Hybrid ROST B71 - North Brother, June 8, 2017 - Ted D'Eon photo
    Hybrid ROST B71 - North Brother, June 8, 2017 - Ted D'Eon photo

    See below, a ROST chick from 2013. It was from ROST nest #020-2013. Its colouration did not appear normal for a ROST although it had dark legs. I took it to be a ROST/COTE hybrid.

    Hybrid? ROST chick - North Brother, June 25, 2013 - Ted D'Eon photo
    Hybrid? ROST chick - North Brother, June 25, 2013 - Ted D'Eon photo

    Hybrid? ROST chick - North Brother, June 25, 2013 - Ted D'Eon photo
    Hybrid? ROST chick - North Brother, June 25, 2013 - Ted D'Eon photo

    There is still some COTE aggression on the ROST.

    COTE aggression - North Brother, June 8, 2017 - Ted D'Eon photo
    COTE aggression - North Brother, June 8, 2017 - Ted D'Eon photo

    L37 flying by - North Brother, June 8, 2017 - Ted D'Eon photo
    L37 flying by - North Brother, June 8, 2017 - Ted D'Eon photo

    The crew today: Shawn Craik, Manon Holmes, Aldric d'Entremont and Jean Bernard d'Entremont. Thank you all.

    Manon, Jean Bernard, Aldric, and Shawn - North Brother, June 8, 2017 - Ted D'Eon photo
    Manon, Jean Bernard, Aldric, and Shawn - North Brother, June 8, 2017 - Ted D'Eon photo

    June 10, 2017 A full moon yesterday, and high tide last night at 11 pm. The wind was gusting to around 70 km/h in the evening. It was down to 40 km/h from the WSW at high tide but with a heavy swell. My house is close to the shore and I could hear the waves pounding on shore all night!

    June 12, 2017 - North Brother. The official nest count day.

    The weather was fine but there was a swell. We landed ok.

    The crew consisted of Julie McKnight, Duncan Bayne, Shawn Craik, Manon Holmes, Nick Knutson, Ben Morton, and me.

    The count results were a devastating revelation!

    Our worse fears were realized. Essentially, we lost 500 pairs of terns from The Brothers.

    141 nests COTE/ARTE (only 3 were clearly ARTE).

    Egg number breakdown of COTE and ARTE nests:
    1 egg   - 37 nests
    2 eggs - 81 nests
    3 eggs - 23 nests

    24 ROST nests

    Egg number breakdown of ROST nests:
    1 egg   - 10 nests
    2 eggs - 14 nests

    For a grand total of only 165 tern nests - Our worse annual count ever!

    Tern Nests Numbers on The Brothers - 1990 to 2016
      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
    June 10, 2000 491 0 491
    June 9, 2001 817 63 880
    June 13, 2002 655 178 833
    June 13, 2003 648 102 750
      N. Brother S. Brother totals
    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
    June 12, 2010 714 0 714
    June 11, 2011 725 0 725
    June 8, 2012 658 0 658
    June 10, 2013 680 0 680
    June 9, 2014 731 0 731
    June 12, 2015 722 0 722
    June 11, 2016 661 0 661
    June 12, 2017 165 0 165

    The number of tern nests on The Brothers - A yearly comparison
    Please note: The Roseate Terns had not finished nesting at the time of these nest counts.

    Duncan and I got a few more leg bands today.

    B00 (RL)
    B11 (RL)
    B29 (RL)
    B33 (RL)
    B39 (RL) inside shelter #119
    B44 (RL) This one is new for this year
    L02 (LL)
    L03 (LL)
    L05 (LL)
    L35 (LL)
    L41 (LL) Seen carrying herring; probably nesting in shelter #89
    Unbanded ROST in shelter #91
    Unbanded ROST in shelter #104
    Unbanded ROST in shelter #111
    Unbanded ROST in shelter #116
    Unbanded ROST in shelter #119

    B44 was hanging around shelter #103 - North Brother, June 12, 2017 - Ted D'Eon photo
    B44 was hanging around shelter #103 - North Brother, June 12, 2017 - Ted D'Eon photo

    Manon, Duncan, Nick, Julie, Shawn, and Ben - North Brother, June 12, 2017 - Ted D'Eon photo
    Manon, Duncan, Nick, Julie, Shawn, and Ben - North Brother, June 12, 2017 - Ted D'Eon photo

    June 16, 2017 - North Brother. Today's crew: Julie McKnight, Karen Potter, Ingrid Pollet, Manon Holmes, Nick Knutson, Karen Atkinson, and me (Ted D'Eon).

    The plan today was to capture six adult ROST and outfit them with a temporary GPS tag which would track their foraging movements for several days. Some of the trackers would record the bird's position every 10 minutes, around the clock, ithers would record their position every 5 minutes, but only during daylight.

    We set up treadle traps on several active nests containing eggs - there were no ROST chicks hatched yet.

    After a few minutes, we captured our first adult ROST.

    Me, retrieving an adult ROST from a trap - North Brother, June 15, 2017 - Karen Atkinson photo
    Me, retrieving an adult ROST from a trap - North Brother, June 15, 2017 - Karen Atkinson photo

    Karen Potter taking it for processing - North Brother, June 15, 2017 - Karen Atkinson photo
    Karen Potter taking it for processing - North Brother, June 15, 2017 - Karen Atkinson photo

    Julie, starting the processing with measurements - North Brother, June 15, 2017 - Ted D'Eon photo
    Julie, starting the processing with measurements - North Brother, June 15, 2017 - Ted D'Eon photo

    The "processing" started with checking the physical condition of the bird; the bill, head and wing were measured, then the bird was weighed. If it was already banded, then the band information was noted; if it wasn't banded, then a metal USGS band was attached to one leg, and a plastic field readable band was attached to its other.

    Attaching the GPS tracker to the middle of the bird's back was the last thing done to it before its release. Ingrid Pollet was in charge of that, with Julie McKnight as her assistant.

    GPS tracker attached - North Brother, June 15, 2017 - Karen Atkinson photo
    GPS tracker attached - North Brother, June 15, 2017 - Karen Atkinson photo

    Ingrid, ready for ROST release - North Brother, June 15, 2017 - Karen Atkinson photo
    Ingrid, ready for ROST release - North Brother, June 15, 2017 - Karen Atkinson photo

    All went well with the trapping, and we even managed to get 7 birds outfitted with the trackers. Julie had brought 11 trackers in total, so this left us with 4 more captures for tomorrow; more than that if we recapture some of the same birds.

    One of the birds on our capture list carried a Brazilian band. We were pretty sure it was nesting in nest #104-2017. It was captured. The very well worn metal band was removed and replaced with plastic FR band L94 and a metal USGS band (9822-52915) was placed on its other leg.

    The Brazilian band - North Brother, June 15, 2017 - Ted D'Eon photo
    The Brazilian band - North Brother, June 15, 2017 - Ted D'Eon photo

    The Brazilian band - North Brother, June 15, 2017 - Ted D'Eon photo
    The Brazilian band - North Brother, June 15, 2017 - Ted D'Eon photo

    The Brazilian band - North Brother, June 15, 2017 - Ted D'Eon photo
    The Brazilian band - North Brother, June 15, 2017 - Ted D'Eon photo

    Ingrid, Julie, Karen A., Manon, Karen P., and Nick - North Brother, June 15, 2017 - Ted D'Eon photo
    Ingrid, Julie, Karen A., Manon, Karen P., and Nick - North Brother, June 15, 2017 - Ted D'Eon photo

    Me (Ted D'Eon), holding a Roseate Tern - North Brother, June 15, 2017 - Karen Atkinson photo
    Me (Ted D'Eon), holding a Roseate Tern - North Brother, June 15, 2017 - Karen Atkinson photo

    Our departure from the island was a little tricky, as the wind had breezed up since our arrival, and the water had become quite rough. To make things worse, I forgot to open the gas tank vent on my little outboard motor, and it wouldn't run properly. I got panicky as my crew was getting wet with water spray until I remembered the vent. After that, it was okay.

    June 16, 2017 - North Brother. Today, more of the same as yesterday.

    The crew today: Julie McKnight, Karen Potter, Ingrid Pollet, Duncan Bayne, Manon Holmes, Nick Knutson, and me (Ted D'Eon).

    We captured another 4 ROST; none of the same birds as yesterday.

    Julie, checking out a new arrival to the processing tent - North Brother, June 16, 2017 - Ted D'Eon photo
    Julie, checking out a new arrival to the processing tent - North Brother, June 16, 2017 - Ted D'Eon photo

    One of the captured birds had a worn out lower mandible with a white tip. I had noted this in some of my photos on a previous day, never thinking it would be one of the birds we would capture today or yesterday. See photos below.

    ROST with worn lower mandible - North Brother, June 16, 2017 - Ted D'Eon photo
    ROST with worn lower mandible - North Brother, June 16, 2017 - Ted D'Eon photo

    Other sightings today - a two year old Common Tern (in it's Third calendar Year - often referred to as a TY bird). Thank you, Jeff Spendelow, for your help with ageing the bird.

    Duncan Bayne was the one who alerted me to this bird. See photos below.

    The TY Common Tern  - North Brother, June 16, 2017 - Ted D'Eon photo
    The TY Common Tern - North Brother, June 16, 2017 - Ted D'Eon photo

    The TY Common Tern  - North Brother, June 16, 2017 - Ted D'Eon photo
    The TY Common Tern - North Brother, June 16, 2017 - Ted D'Eon photo

    Not many Arctic Terns on the island; in fact, not many terns at all, but most noticeably the absence of hundreds of COTE.

    I photographed an ARTE carrying a fish; I think it is a White Hake.

    ARTE carrying White Hake?  - North Brother, June 16, 2017 - Ted D'Eon photo
    ARTE carrying White Hake? - North Brother, June 16, 2017 - Ted D'Eon photo

    It must be noted that the low number of terns in this colony is of grave concern. Also of concern is the amount of terrorization of the ROST by certain COTE. In some areas of the colony (notably at the north end of the rocky ridge), as soon as Roseate Terns would land near their nests, a COTE would be there on the attack. It was very disturbing to see this, as it was repeated over and over again during our stay on the island.

    Karen, Ingrid, Julie, Duncan, Nick, and Manon - North Brother, June 16, 2017 - Ted D'Eon photo
    Karen, Ingrid, Julie, Duncan, Nick, and Manon - North Brother, June 16, 2017 - Ted D'Eon photo

    June 21, 2017 - North Brother. IT GETS WORSE!

    We don't think we will get any GPS trackers back.

    There were only about 30 terns at N Brother today; max of 9 ROST we saw at one time in the group.

    Most of the active ROST nests were now empty or missing an egg, and if there were eggs in them, they were more than likely cold.

    Two new nests were found (1 egg each) but we only counted 15 nests containing eggs (there should have been 26) and one of these – a 2 egg nest was missing 1 of its eggs.

    Only 4 ROST nests now contained warm eggs; 2 ROST nests contained cool eggs and remainder were cold.

    Most of the COTE nests are empty and the few ARTE nests we had, are gone.

    Julie, checking out an empty ROST shelter - North Brother, June 21, 2017 - Ted D'Eon photo
    Julie, checking out an empty ROST shelter - North Brother, June 21, 2017 - Ted D'Eon photo

    We found no tern chicks of any species.

    We believe we have a predator on the island! Whatever it is, it gets into the ROST shelters and gets the eggs without leaving a trace; no egg shells and no dead terns!

    Right now, it's a mystery! We don't believe it could be mink as there would be tern carcasses. An owl would leave decapitated carcasses and anyway, we don't think they would get into the shelters for the eggs. Gull and crow or raven probably wouldn't get into the shelters either, and if they did, they would leave some evidence like broken egg shells.

    An owl feather? - North Brother, June 21, 2017 - Ted D'Eon photo
    An owl feather? - North Brother, June 21, 2017 - Ted D'Eon photo

    A rat? Maybe? We don't know.

    Tomorrow, we plan to return with trail cameras to deploy.

    Still some COTE  courtship behaviour - North Brother, June 21, 2017 - Ted D'Eon photo
    Still some COTE courtship behaviour - North Brother, June 21, 2017 - Ted D'Eon photo

    The crew: Julie, Manon, and Nick - North Brother, June 21, 2017 - Ted D'Eon photo
    The crew: Julie, Manon, and Nick - North Brother, June 21, 2017 - Ted D'Eon photo

    June 22, 2017 - North Brother. We return to the island with 4 trail cameras.

    This time with only about 15 terns there upon our arrival - 4 or 5 of which are ROST.

    Predation is still going on, as we've lost two more ROST nests since yesterday.

    Checking out the ROST nesting shelters - North Brother, June 22, 2017 - Ted D'Eon photo
    Checking out the ROST nesting shelters - North Brother, June 22, 2017 - Ted D'Eon photo

    A few terns are busy with a GBBG at the south end of the island.

    Common Tern attacking a Great Black-backed Gull - North Brother, June 22, 2017 - Ted D'Eon photo
    Common Tern attacking a Great Black-backed Gull - North Brother, June 22, 2017 - Ted D'Eon photo

    Notes from Julie McKnight:

    Very few COTE nests remain (a dozen or so);

    No carcasses are found;

    We find only 1 COTE egg that was depredated; no other egg shells are found (not in the nest shelters, not anywhere on the island);

    The only depredated tern egg we could find - North Brother, June 22, 2017 - Ted D'Eon photo
    The only depredated tern egg we could find - North Brother, June 22, 2017 - Ted D'Eon photo

    There is evidence that the eiders are also affected: 2+ predated eggs are found – evidence suggests avian predation (we have seen gulls invading somewhat this year in the face of low tern response);

    Depredated Common Eider egg - North Brother, June 22, 2017 - Ted D'Eon photo
    Depredated Common Eider egg - North Brother, June 22, 2017 - Ted D'Eon photo

    Depredated Common Eider egg - North Brother, June 22, 2017 - Ted D'Eon photo
    Depredated Common Eider egg - North Brother, June 22, 2017 - Ted D'Eon photo

    Numerous spots on the island present natural track traps. No footprints (other than rubber boots) are observed;

    No scats are observed;

    We have found 3 (what we believe to be) Great Horned Owl feathers from this year. We know from previous camera usage that GHOW are unable to get their heads in our old 3-sided traps. Many of the nests with missing eggs are in “Coquet” and trap-shelters which are much harder to get into (the openings to these boxes are only 6” or so). Nests aren’t generally laid in a straight line from the door – they’re usually tucked around in a corner so additionally hard to access.

    Voles were present on the island during island clean up in May but we haven’t seen too much sign of them recently.

    We’re sure they are still there.

    Trail camera setup - North Brother, June 22, 2017 - Ted D'Eon photo
    Trail camera setup - North Brother, June 22, 2017 - Ted D'Eon photo

    Trail camera setup - North Brother, June 22, 2017 - Ted D'Eon photo
    Trail camera setup - North Brother, June 22, 2017 - Ted D'Eon photo

    The cameras will get picked up on Monday. Hopefully they will show us what we are dealing with. It is an odd situation for sure.

    There is no chance of any ROST productivity this year on North Brother Island. Hopefully the 25 or so ROST pairs that are missing from North Brother are somewhere on another island producing healthy chicks.

    The crew today: Julie McKnight, Shawn Craik, Manon Holmes, and Nick Knutson.

    Nick, Manon, Julie, and Shawn - North Brother, June 22, 2017 - Ted D'Eon photo
    Nick, Manon, Julie, and Shawn - North Brother, June 22, 2017 - Ted D'Eon photo

    June 26, 2017 - North Brother. It doesn't look good!

    We see only a handful of terns on the island. It is basically deserted!

    We do a ROST nest check and find no ROST eggs in any of the shelters. In fact, there are no tern eggs of any kind left on the island. We also find more depredated Common Eider eggs and only one COEI nest left intact (with 3 eggs).

    Manon and Nick doing a ROST nest check - North Brother, June 26, 2017 - Ted D'Eon photo
    Manon and Nick doing a ROST nest check - North Brother, June 26, 2017 - Ted D'Eon photo

    We have brought with us some laptop computers and we check the memory cards. It does not take us long to determine the main culprit is a crow (we later see some photos with at least 4 crows patrolling the ROST nesting area together).

    Nick, Duncan, Manon, and Julie checking out the memory cards - North Brother, June 26, 2017 - Ted D'Eon photo
    Nick, Duncan, Manon, and Julie checking out the memory cards - North Brother, June 26, 2017 - Ted D'Eon photo

    There are also many photos of Great Black-backed Gulls (2 at the most in any photo) patrolling the nesting areas, and one Herring Gull is also see in a couple of photos.

    A very blurry image of a crow half way inside a ROST shelter - North Brother, June 26, 2017 - Ted D'Eon photo
    A very blurry image of a crow half way inside a ROST shelter - North Brother, June 26, 2017 - Ted D'Eon photo

    One of the GBBG peering into a ROST shelter - North Brother, June 26, 2017 - Ted D'Eon photo
    One of the GBBG peering into a ROST shelter - North Brother, June 26, 2017 - Ted D'Eon photo

    We are fairly certain that the crows are the primary ROST egg predator as we have several photos of a crow with half of its body inside some shelters. We assume the GBBG along with the crows, cleaned out all the remaining tern eggs (Common and Arctic).

    The crew today: Julie McKnight, Duncan Bayne, Manon Holmes, and Nick Knutson.

    July 3, 2017 - Some Good News! Alix d'Entremont found some of our missing terns!

    He followed a tern carrying fish from Bar Island south to Gull Island.

    Alix writes:

    "I was out on the boat this morning around Bar Island and following a Common Tern carrying food straight to Gull Island (43.661026, -65.915600). I landed on Gull Island this morning and was delighted to hear a Roseate Tern fly by. There were hundreds of terns lining the western and south edge of the pond. I counted about 7 Roseates on the island and one more that flew in carrying food. I saw a few Roseates landing in among the other terns on the western side of the pond. See the image below showing Gull Island (north up) and the two general areas where the terns were nesting."

    Gull Island, Nova Scotia - (43.661026, -65.915600) - Google Maps
    Gull Island, Nova Scotia - (43.661026, -65.915600) - Google Maps

    In the afternoon, Alix returned to Gull Island with Bertin D'Eon, Ingrid D'Eon, Roland D'Eon, Gavin MacLean, and me.

    Alix writes:

    "I returned to Gull Island in the afternoon with Ted and a crew. We did a fairly thorough nest count and ended up with 253 nests and an additional 15 large chicks running around. Last year there were only 10 nests on Gull Island, so it is fair to assume that we've found about half of North Brother's birds."

    95 nests with 1 egg (3 were broken)
    86 nests with 2 eggs
    4 nests with 3 eggs
    
    56 nests with 1 chick (17 were dead)
    5 nests with 2 chicks
    
    6 nests with 1 egg and 1 chick
    1 nest with 2 eggs and 1 chick
    
    15 loose chicks
    
    TOTAL of 233 viable nests.
    
    TOTAL of 284 viable eggs.
    TOTAL of 71 alive chicks.
    

    "Ted identified about 4 nests that appeared to be Roseate's based on egg shape.

    Based on the stage of development of the chicks, it appears that nesting began earlier on the southern edge of the pond. There were at least 15 large chicks running around in that area. The northern most group of nests only had 3 small chicks out of 60 nests. 

    Duncan told me about how docile the terns were at North Brother this year. That wasn't the case on Gull. They were attacking nearby gull chicks and would hit us in the head, so the tern colony appears healthy.

    Multiple Common Terns were seen arriving from the north carrying food. It would be interesting to get an accurate analysis of in which direction they are going for food. ... My photos do show that some of the Roseates are banded and I can read some of the bands (L41 on red, B? 76 on red)."

    Roseate Tern nest - Gull Island, July 3, 2017 - Ted D'Eon photo
    Roseate Tern nest - Gull Island, July 3, 2017 - Ted D'Eon photo

    Alix, photographing ROST nest - Gull Island, July 3, 2017 - Ted D'Eon photo
    Alix, photographing ROST nest - Gull Island, July 3, 2017 - Ted D'Eon photo

    The south end of the pond - Gull Island, July 3, 2017 - Ted D'Eon photo
    The south end of the pond - Gull Island, July 3, 2017 - Ted D'Eon photo

    Gull chicks being dive-bombed by terns - Gull Island, July 3, 2017 - Ted D'Eon photo
    Gull chicks being dive-bombed by terns - Gull Island, July 3, 2017 - Ted D'Eon photo

    Bertin, Gavin, Ingrid, Alix, and Roland - Gull Island, July 3, 2017 - Ted D'Eon photo
    Bertin, Gavin, Ingrid, Alix, and Roland - Gull Island, July 3, 2017 - Ted D'Eon photo

    July 4, 2017 - Duncan Bayne and I visited South Brother this morning. Lots of Double-crested Cormorants flew away as we approached the island.

    For the first time since I have been coming to these islands, we actually have cormorant chicks.

    Eight occupied Double-crested Cormorant were found:
    
    Two eggs -            2
    Three eggs -          2
    One egg + one chick - 1
    Two chicks -          2
    Three chicks -        1
    

    One Herring Gull containing two eggs was destroyed.

    D-c Cormorant egg and chick - South Brother, July 4, 2017 - Ted D'Eon photo
    D-c Cormorant egg and chick - South Brother, July 4, 2017 - Ted D'Eon photo

    Only one nest contained "older" chicks.

    D-c Cormorant nest with older chicks - South Brother, July 4, 2017 - Ted D'Eon photo
    D-c Cormorant nest with older chicks - South Brother, July 4, 2017 - Ted D'Eon photo

    D-c Cormorant nest - South Brother, July 4, 2017 - Ted D'Eon photo
    D-c Cormorant nest - South Brother, July 4, 2017 - Ted D'Eon photo

    July 5, 2017 - Shawn Craik, Manon Holmes, and Nick Knutson visited Gull Island today.

    Shawn writes:

    "Ben (Morton) took Nick, Manon, and I to Gull Island this morning. We spent two hours watching terns from a blind positioned at the 'north' and 'south' nesting sites (areas mentioned in Alix's email). Here are a few highlights:

     - 24 adult ROST counted; at least 8-9 of these birds did not seem tied to a nest but rather loafed in the same general vicinity at the 'south' nesting site  - incubation behaviour observed for at least 4-5 ROST (we hope to confirm nesting sites during our next visit)  - no ROST chicks observed; however, several ROST adults with fish (courtship feeding?!)

     - Manon photographed the following bands:
        - L03 (this bird nested in shelter 75 on NBI this year!!)
        - B39 (seen on NBI this year)
        - B76
        - L29 
        - C16 
        - C59
        - L41 (seen on NBI this year)
        - L93 
    

    We counted 45 gulls (majority adult GBBG) on the island. No evidence of gulls entering the tern colony during our observations."

    July 7, 2017 - Gull Island. Shawn Craik, Manon Holmes, and Nick Knutson visited the island today to do some observing.

    Shawn writes:

    "We confirmed 10 ROST nests by observing incubation behaviour. 9 nests appear active. Two 2-week old ROST chicks observed. We most likely missed other nests. Manon has more photos of bands."

    This is great news! Nice to have the university team monitoring the colony on this island.

    Great job, you three. - Ted

    July 10, 2017 - Round Island and Flat Island (in the "Mud Island" group).

    Crew today: Alix d'Entremont, Duncan Bayne, Manon Holmes, Nick Knutson, Gavin Maclean, Orson Deveau, and Natalie ?.

    We motored to these islands to see if some of the missing terns from The Brothers might be there.

    Unfortunately, they were not. We only saw a handful of terns (both COTE and ARTE) at Flat Island and even fewer at Round - the smallest number of terns I have ever seen there during nesting season.

    At Round Island, we were treated to around 34 Atlantic Puffins, as many or more Black Guillemots, 10 Whimbrels, and two Black-crowned Night Herons.

    Alix photographed a puffin wearing a grey metal leg band. See below:

    Banded Atlantic Puffin - Round Island, July 10, 2017 - Alix d'Entremont photo
    Banded Atlantic Puffin - Round Island, July 10, 2017 - Alix d'Entremont photo

    We saw at least one puffin carrying fish while we were watching the birds from the boat.

    A note from Steve Kress on July 13: "That is a terrific photo by Alix. It’s not an easy bird to photograph in flight by any means. This is probably a  3 year old bird.  It has a week first ridge on the upper mandible- older birds have more and better defined ridges. So, its not a breeding bird.  But with that number of puffins, its likely that some are breeding." 

    Dr. Stephen Kress is the American biologist who reintroduced Atlantic Puffins back into Maine in the 1970's. He and his team brought back puffin chicks from Newfoundland and reared them into man-made burrows in some offshore islands in Maine. After a few years, puffin colonies were reestablished on these islands.

    I also received a note from Dr. Tony Diamond from the University of New Brunswick. Tony and his students have been doing work on the birds of Machias Seal Island (MSI) for many, many years.

    Tony writes: "it is actually more likely to have been banded at MSI than in Maine, given the disparity in numbers banded and colony sizes (roughly, thousands at MSI, hundreds in ME), not to mention proximity. As you know there have been occasional reports of green-colour-banded puffins in NS in previous years (green was the MSI colour in the days when we used plastic colour bands)."

    Flat Island, Lobster Bay, NS, July 10, 2017 - Ted D'Eon photo
    Flat Island, Lobster Bay, NS, July 10, 2017 - Ted D'Eon photo

    What's left of the wharf on Flat Island, July 10, 2017 - Ted D'Eon photo
    What's left of the wharf on Flat Island, July 10, 2017 - Ted D'Eon photo

    Duncan, Alix, Orson, Gavin, Manon, Nick, and Natalie - Flat Island, July 10, 2017 - Ted D'Eon photo
    Duncan, Alix, Orson, Gavin, Manon, Nick, and Natalie - Flat Island, July 10, 2017 - Ted D'Eon photo

    July 11, 2017 - Another visit to Gull Island. This time with Duncan Bayne, Shawn Craik, Manon Holmes, Nick Knutson, Julie McKnight and her son, Jax.

    We had a little rain but we still managed to do what we set out to do.

    A few more plastic field-readable leg bands were read and a few more ROST nests and chicks were found.

    ROST C16 with chick - Gull Island, July 11, 2017 - Ted D'Eon photo
    ROST C16 with chick - Gull Island, July 11, 2017 - Ted D'Eon photo

    ROST L05 - Gull Island, July 11, 2017 - Ted D'Eon photo
    ROST L05 - Gull Island, July 11, 2017 - Ted D'Eon photo

    Shawn, Duncan, Jax, and Julie - Gull Island, July 11, 2017 - Ted D'Eon photo
    Shawn, Duncan, Jax, and Julie - Gull Island, July 11, 2017 - Ted D'Eon photo

    Julie's son, Jax, watching as his mom bands a ROST chick - Gull Island, July 11, 2017 - Ted D'Eon photo
    Julie's son, Jax, watching as his mom bands a ROST chick - Gull Island, July 11, 2017 - Ted D'Eon photo

    We now have 12 confirmed ROST nests (all in the open) and 3 or 4 ROST chicks.

    The reason I say "3 or 4" is that 3 of them looked like typical ROST chicks, with the dark legs, roseate underparts and typical pattern on their backs.

    Chick #4 had dark ROST-like legs, but no roseate underparts and a more COTE-like back. This was noted, but it was banded anyway. Perhaps a ROST/COTE hybrid?

    Hybrid? ROST chick - Gull Island, July 11, 2017 - Ted D'Eon photo
    Hybrid? ROST chick - Gull Island, July 11, 2017 - Ted D'Eon photo

    Hybrid? ROST chick - Gull Island, July 11, 2017 - Ted D'Eon photo
    Hybrid? ROST chick - Gull Island, July 11, 2017 - Ted D'Eon photo

    Duncan photographed a couple of COTE carrying large shrimp in their bills. I don't recall seeing this before although I do know they sometimes use these for food. See image below - seems like a rather large shrimp!

    COTE carrying shrimp species - Gull Island, July 11, 2017 - Duncan Bayne photo
    COTE carrying shrimp species - Gull Island, July 11, 2017 - Duncan Bayne photo

    Nick (shown) and Manon observing from their portable blinds - Gull Island, July 11, 2017 - Ted D'Eon photo
    Nick (shown) and Manon observing from their portable blinds - Gull Island, July 11, 2017 - Ted D'Eon photo

    Several hundred Short-billed Dowitchers were on Gull Island today.

    Short-billed Dowitchers - Gull Island, July 11, 2017 - Ted D'Eon photo
    Short-billed Dowitchers - Gull Island, July 11, 2017 - Ted D'Eon photo

    A Willet chick among the Dowitchers - Gull Island, July 11, 2017 - Ted D'Eon photo
    A Willet chick among the Dowitchers - Gull Island, July 11, 2017 - Ted D'Eon photo

    Lastly, Duncan may have seen an Atlantic Puffin at Whitehead (the island with the lighthouse, halfway between Gull Island and Abbott's Harbour). This would be great! Puffins often nest in similar areas as Black Guillemots. The Black Guillemots established themselves there only a few years ago. We will be on a Puffin alert from now on!

    Duncan, Julie, Jax, Manon, and Nick. (Shawn not in photo) - Gull Island, July 11, 2017 - Ted D'Eon photo
    Duncan, Julie, Jax, Manon, and Nick. (Shawn not in photo) - Gull Island, July 11, 2017 - Ted D'Eon photo

    July 13, 2017 - Shawn Craik, Manon Holmes, Nick Knutson, Ben Morton, and Natalie ? visited Gull Island today,

    Shawn writes, "Nick, Natalie, and I monitored ROST nests, measured a couple of habitat variables at nests, and identified 6 additional nests. This brings the total number of ROST nests identified on Gull to 17. Super!

    Given how late many ROST nests are (especially those in the 'northern' breeding section), island visits will continue into early August."

    Shawn also writes (on July 14) that "Manon continues to focus on photographing bands and ROST with prey. Yesterday's observations yielded ROST carrying herring and sandlance."

    July 16, 2017 - Alix d'Entremont informed me today that there were "4 ROST feeding to the north of Dennis Pt Wharf. One still has the GPS device on its back. They are eating the fish as they catch them. They don't leave to feed young."

    We were hoping some ROST which we had outfitted with GPS trackers might have been nesting on Gull I, so we could recapture them to retrieve the units, (I am not sure how we would have recaptured them).

    I am pretty sure Manon, Nick, and Shawn would have seen them on Gull Island if they were nesting there,

    July 17, 2017 - A visit to Gull Island with Duncan Bayne, Manon Holmes, Nick Knutson, and Zack Metcalfe.

    Zack is a freelance environmental journalist based in Halifax, Nova Scotia, working on a story on the Roseate Tern.

    We tried to document the fish the terns were bringing in to feed their chicks. The ones I saw included Herring, Mummichog, Butterfish, shrimp and some just too far away to identify.

    A Common Tern with Herring - Gull Island, July 17, 2017 - Ted D'Eon photo
    A Common Tern with Herring - Gull Island, July 17, 2017 - Ted D'Eon photo

    A Common Tern with shrimp - Gull Island, July 17, 2017 - Ted D'Eon photo
    A Common Tern with shrimp - Gull Island, July 17, 2017 - Ted D'Eon photo

    A Common Tern with Butterfish - Gull Island, July 17, 2017 - Ted D'Eon photo
    A Common Tern with Butterfish - Gull Island, July 17, 2017 - Ted D'Eon photo

    I saw one of the banded ROST chicks of July 11. See below:

    Roseate Tern chick LH1 - Gull Island, July 17, 2017 - Ted D'Eon photo
    Roseate Tern chick LH1 - Gull Island, July 17, 2017 - Ted D'Eon photo

    Manon and Nick saw an unbanded ROST chick that we must have missed when we were here banding on July 11. They also found two recently hatched ROST chicks, about two days old.

    Two day old Roseate Tern chick in nest - Gull Island, July 17, 2017 - Ted D'Eon photo
    Two day old Roseate Tern chick in nest - Gull Island, July 17, 2017 - Ted D'Eon photo

    Two day old Roseate Tern chick - Gull Island, July 17, 2017 - Ted D'Eon photo
    Two day old Roseate Tern chick - Gull Island, July 17, 2017 - Ted D'Eon photo

    Manon Holmes, holding a Roseate Tern chick - Gull Island, July 17, 2017 - Ted D'Eon photo
    Manon Holmes, holding a Roseate Tern chick - Gull Island, July 17, 2017 - Ted D'Eon photo

    The crew: Duncan, Manon, Nick, and Zack - Gull Island, July 17, 2017 - Ted D'Eon photo
    The crew: Duncan, Manon, Nick, and Zack - Gull Island, July 17, 2017 - Ted D'Eon photo

    Field-readable Roseate Tern leg bands - North Brother - 2017. (See below)

    Resighted and new leg bands on Roseate Terns from North Brother in 2017
    May 30, 2017
    June 4, 2017
    June 12, 2017
    Red B00 right leg -
    1172-79309
    Banded as an adult on North Brother on June 21, 2012.
    Also seen on N. Brother in 2013, 2014, 2015 and 2016
    July 7, 2017
    (on Gull I.)
    Red B04 ? leg -
    xxxx-xxxxx
    Banded on North Brother in ?
    May 30, 2017
    June 8, 2017
    Red B10 right leg -
    1172-79311
    Banded as an adult on North Brother on June 21, 2012
    Also seen on N. Brother in 2015 and 2016
    June 4, 2017
    June 12, 2017
    July 7, 2017
    (on Gull I.)
    Red B11 right leg -
    1172-79312
    Banded as an adult on North Brother on June 21, 2012
    Also seen on N. Brother in 2013, 2914, 2015 and 2016
    July 7, 2017
    (on Gull I.)
    Red B12 ? leg -
    xxxx-xxxxx
    Banded on North Brother in ?
    June 8, 2017 Red B14 right leg -
    xxxx-xxxxx
    Banded on North Brother in ?
    June 4, 2017 Red B25 right leg -
    1172-79329
    Banded on North Brother
    June 8, 2017
    June 12, 2017
    Red B29 right leg -
    1172-79333
    Banded as a chick on North Brother on July 3, 2012.
    Also seen on N. Brother in 2015 and 2016
    July 7, 2017
    (on Gull I.)
    July 17, 2017
    (on Gull I.)
    Red B30 right leg -
    xxxx-xxxxx
    Banded on North Brother in ?
    June 4, 2017
    June 12, 2017
    Red B33 right leg -
    1172-79337
    Banded on North Brother
    June 4, 2017
    June 12, 2017
    June 21, 2017
    July 5, 2017
    (on Gull I.)
    July 11, 2017
    (on Gull I.)
    Red B39 right leg -
    1172-79344
    Banded as an adult on North Brother in 2013.
    Also seen on N. Brother in 2014 and 2015
    July 7, 2017
    (on Gull I.)
    Red B40 ? leg -
    xxxx-xxxxx
    Banded on North Brother in ?
    June 12, 2017
    June 21, 2017
    July 11, 2017
    (on Gull I.)
    Red B44 right leg -
    1172-79351
    Banded as a chick on North Brother in 2013.
    Also seen on N. Brother in 2016.
    July 11, 2017
    (on Gull I.)
    Red B65 ? leg -
    xxxx-xxxxx
    Banded on North Brother
    June 8, 2017 Red B71 left leg -
    9822-51506
    Hybrid ROST/COTE Banded on North Brother
    May 30, 2017
    June 4, 2017
    June 8, 2017
    Red B73 left leg -
    9822-51508
    Banded as an adult on North Brother on June 19, 2014.
    Also seen on N. Brother in 2015 and 2016
    July 3, 2017
    (on Gull I.)
    July 5, 2017
    (on Gull I.)
    Red B76 left leg -
    9822-51512
    Banded on North Brother.
    July 5, 2017
    (on Gull I.)
    July 7, 2017
    (on Gull I.)
    Red B79 ? leg -
    xxxx-xxxxx
    Banded on North Brother in ?
    June 4, 2017
    June 8, 2017
    July 5, 2017
    (on Gull I.)
    July 7, 2017
    (on Gull I.)
    July 11, 2017
    (on Gull I.)
    Red B81 left leg -
    9822-51516
    Banded as an adult on North Brother in 2014.
    Also seen here in 2015 and 2016.
    July 7, 2017
    (on Gull I.)
    Red B89 ? leg -
    xxxx-xxxxx
    Banded on North Brother
    July 5, 2017
    (on Gull I.)
    July 11, 2017
    (on Gull I.)
    July 17, 2017
    (on Gull I.)
    Red C16 left leg -
    xxxx-xxxxx
    Banded on Country Island, Nova Scotia.
    July 5, 2017
    (on Gull I.)
    July 7, 2017
    (on Gull I.)
    July 11, 2017
    (on Gull I.)
    Red C59 ? leg -
    xxxx-xxxxx
    Banded on Country Island, Nova Scotia.
    June 8, 2017
    June 12, 2017
    Red L02 left leg -
    xxxx-xxxxx
    Banded on North Brother
    May 30, 2017
    June 4, 2017
    June 8, 2017
    June 12, 2017
    July 5, 2017
    (on Gull I.)
    July 7, 2017
    (on Gull I.)
    July 11, 2017
    (on Gull I.)
    Red L03 left leg -
    9822-51537
    Banded as an adult on North Brother,
    Nova Scotia, June 25, 2015.
    Also seen on N. Brother in 2016
    Nesting in shelter #75
    May 30, 2017
    June 4, 2017
    June 8, 2017
    June 12, 2017
    July 11, 2017
    (on Gull I.)
    Red L05 left leg -
    0802-04917
    Banded as a chick on North Brother,
    Nova Scotia, on July 16, 2007.
    L05 band placed on it on June 25, 2015, at North Brother.
    Paired with L02 in 2015.
    Also seen on N. Brother in 2016
    July 5, 2017
    (on Gull I.)
    Red L29 ? leg -
    xxxx-xxxxx
    Banded on North Brother.
    July 11, 2017
    (on Gull I.)
    Red L33 left leg -
    xxxx-xxxxx
    Banded on North Brother.
    June 4, 2017
    June 8, 2017
    June 12, 2017
    Red L35 left leg -
    1172-79448
    Originally banded C53 as a chick on Country Island in 2012.
    Must have lost its C53 band.
    Rebanded on North Brother with PFR L35
    July 5, 2017
    (on Gull I.)
    July 7, 2017
    (on Gull I.)
    Red L36 ? leg -
    xxxx-xxxxx
    Banded on North Brother.
    May 30, 2017
    June 4, 2017
    June 8, 2017
    Red L37 left leg -
    9822-51568
    Banded as an adult on North Brother, Nova Scotia,
    on June 22, 2016.
    July 11, 2017
    (on Gull I.)
    Red L40 ? leg -
    xxxx-xxxxx
    Banded on North Brother.
    June 4, 2017
    June 8, 2017
    June 12, 2017
    July 3, 2017
    (on Gull I.)
    July 5, 2017
    (on Gull I.)
    Red L41 left leg -
    9822-51570
    Banded as an adult on North Brother, Nova Scotia, in 2016
    July 7, 2017
    (on Gull I.)
    Red L82 ? leg -
    xxxx-xxxxx
    Banded on North Brother.
    July 5, 2017
    (on Gull I.)
    July 7, 2017
    (on Gull I.)
    July 11, 2017
    (on Gull I.)
    Red L93 ? leg -
    xxxx-xxxxx
    Banded on North Brother.
    July 7, 2017
    (on Gull I.)
    Red L95 ? leg -
    xxxx-xxxxx
    Banded on North Brother.
    July 17, 2017
    (on Gull I.)
    Red LH1 right leg -
    xxxx-xxxxx
    Banded as a chick on Gull Island, on July 11, 2017.
    May 30, 2017 Red Y12 left leg -
    No USGS band
    Probable male - seen carrying fish in courtship display
    on North Brother on May 30, 2017.
    Banded as a chick at Country Island in 2014
    and seen as an adult there on July 17, 2016
    June 4, 2017 411V ? leg -
    1322-10141,
    Banded on Bird Island, Buzzards Bay, Massachusetts, in 2009.
    June 4, 2017 550E left leg -
    0802-69009
    Banded as a chick on North Brother in 2005.
    Also seen here in 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013 and 2014.
    June 4, 2017 680E left leg -
    0802-69028
    Banded as a chick on North Brother in 2005.
    Also seen here in 2012 and 2013.
    June 4, 2017 755N ? leg -
    0802-04955,
    Banded as a chick on North Brother in 2009.
    June 4, 2017
    June 8, 2017
    815N right leg -
    0802-04961,
    Banded as a chick on North Brother in 2009
    Also seen on North Brother in 2013, 2014, 2015 and 2016.


    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: ted509@gmail.com © Ted C. D'Eon, 2017