TERN REPORT - 2020 - Ted C. D'Eon
LOBSTER BAY - SOUTHWEST NOVA SCOTIA


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  • The Brothers as seen from Lower West Pubnico. (2005 Ted D'Eon photo)
    The Brothers as seen from Lower West Pubnico. (2005 Ted D'Eon photo)

    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.


    This report will cover work being done on both Gull Island and North Brother, mostly from my perspective.

    My work on these islands is done in cooperation with Canadian Wildlife Service (CWS) and the Nova Scotia Department of Lands and Forestry (NSDLF). - Ted D'Eon

    THE BROTHERS, Yarmouth County, Nova Scotia
    THE BROTHERS, Yarmouth County, Nova Scotia

    North BROTHERS and GULL ISLAND,<Br>Yarmouth County, Nova Scotia
    North BROTHERS and GULL ISLAND,
    Yarmouth County, Nova Scotia





    OBSERVATIONS:

    The following is a chronological listing of our 2020 work with terns of the Lobster Bay area in general, but in particular, with the Roseate Terns (ROST) of Gull Island and The Brothers. The report also includes tern observations from other professionals and university students working on these islands, as well as observations from local residents. - Ted D'Eon

    March 29, 2020 - Gull Island visit by Alix d'Entremont and Kathleen MacAulay.

    Alix wrote that "The island doesn't seem to have changed very much over the winter."

    Gull Island, Lobster Bay, NS, March 29, 2020 - Alix d'Entremont photo
    Gull Island, Lobster Bay, NS, March 29, 2020 - Alix d'Entremont photo

    One of the plywood blinds was toppled over on September 7, 2019 by Hurricane Dorian. The other two appear intact.

    Gull Island, Lobster Bay, NS, March 29, 2020 - Alix d'Entremont photo
    Gull Island, Lobster Bay, NS, March 29, 2020 - Alix d'Entremont photo

    Gull Island, Lobster Bay, NS, March 29, 2020 - Alix d'Entremont photo
    Gull Island, Lobster Bay, NS, March 29, 2020 - Alix d'Entremont photo

    Gull Island, Lobster Bay, NS, March 29, 2020 - Alix d'Entremont photo
    Gull Island, Lobster Bay, NS, March 29, 2020 - Alix d'Entremont photo

    A single Canada Goose nest was found on the island by Alix and Kathleen. It had been well placed among the washed up lobster traps.

    Canada Goose nest - Gull Island, March 29, 2020 - Alix d'Entremont photo
    Canada Goose nest - Gull Island, March 29, 2020 - Alix d'Entremont photo

    April 26, 2020 - It was an exceptionally beautiful morning to be on the water. Alix d'Entremont, Kathleen MacAulay, and I met at Abbott's Harbour for am 8 am departure for our first visit to North Brother in 2020.

    We left Abbott's Harbour in 2 boats. Alix and Kathleen in Alix's Zodiac, and me, alone in my boat with 26 ROST nesting shelters. The 13 odd numbered shelters were of the new wedge style with its narrow entrance, and 13 even numbered ones were of the older "Coquet Island" style. In this time of the COVID-19, using the 2 boats provided more social distancing than using just one.

    Previously, Alix had contacted EMO Nova Scotia for permissions to get this done, being that we would be at times in close proximity. At those times, like during the landing and the leaving of the island in Alix's Zodiac, we wore masks.

    A beautiful, calm morning at Abbott's Harbour, NS, April 26, 2020 - Ronnie d'Entremont photo
    A beautiful, calm morning at Abbott's Harbour, NS, April 26, 2020 - Ronnie d'Entremont photo

    Alix & Kathleen with the boats - Abbott's Harbour, NS, April 26, 2020 - Ted D'Eon photo
    Alix & Kathleen with the boats - Abbott's Harbour, NS, April 26, 2020 - Ted D'Eon photo

    Upon landing on the island, we could see the tripod which we would soon check out, and getting to the top of the beach we found 19 old style square ROST shelters; most of these were in the dry tidal depression or hollow, but some were still on the western "ridge". I had it in my mind that there were 6 or 8 there on the island last summer but I expected winter storms would have washed most of them away. Guess not!

    The numbered shelters we brought with us were all placed consecutively along the western ridge starting with #1 at the south end.

    What to do with the others? Well, since they were already there, I decided we should sprinkle them on the ridge, among the numbered shelters. Roseate Tern nests in them (if the use them) will be more protected from predators than nesting in the open, as some of them will do anyway.

    The mysterious tripod - North Brother, NS, April 26, 2020 - Ted D'Eon photo
    The mysterious tripod - North Brother, NS, April 26, 2020 - Ted D'Eon photo
    South Brother in the background

    Some of the ROST nesting structures - North Brother, NS, April 26, 2020 - Alix d'Entremont photo
    Some of the ROST nesting structures - North Brother, NS, April 26, 2020 - Alix d'Entremont photo

    Me (Ted), setting up ROST nesting structures - North Brother, NS, April 26, 2020 - Alix d'Entremont photo
    Me (Ted), setting up ROST nesting structures - North Brother, NS, April 26, 2020 - Alix d'Entremont photo

    Kathleen and me with ROST nesting structures - North Brother, NS, April 26, 2020 - Alix d'Entremont photo
    Kathleen and me with ROST nesting structures - North Brother, NS, April 26, 2020 - Alix d'Entremont photo

    Kathleen MacAulay and Alix d'Entremont - North Brother, NS, April 26, 2020 - Ted D'Eon photo
    Kathleen MacAulay and Alix d'Entremont - North Brother, NS, April 26, 2020 - Ted D'Eon photo

    A view of the ROST nesting area - North Brother, NS, April 26, 2020 - Ted D'Eon photo
    A view of the ROST nesting area - North Brother, NS, April 26, 2020 - Ted D'Eon photo

    A Panoramic view of the ROST nesting area - North Brother, NS, April 26, 2020 - Ted D'Eon photo
    Click on the photo above to enlarge.

    As to the tripod, it was/is made if steel tubing, something like scaffolding tubing, and just sitting on the soil at the highest elevation of the south end of the island. It was not secured to anything. we moved it over the bank so it wouldn't be a predator perch.

    The tripod - North Brother, NS, April 26, 2020 - Ted D'Eon photo
    The tripod - North Brother, NS, April 26, 2020 - Ted D'Eon photo

    The tripod - North Brother, NS, April 26, 2020 - Ted D'Eon photo
    The tripod - North Brother, NS, April 26, 2020 - Ted D'Eon photo

    Alix, at the south end of the island - North Brother, NS, April 26, 2020 - Ted D'Eon photo
    Alix, at the south end of the island - North Brother, NS, April 26, 2020 - Ted D'Eon photo

    Overall impression of the island: It hasn't changed a lot since last year except for the southern end. The soil is being eroded from the west, I would say the worse being 5 or 6 metres from the tip where erosion is in the process of cutting through to the east side. Not there yet, but within the next few years the storms and high tides will cut right through.

    The east side of the hollow may be a little wider than last year, but the western ridge hasn't changed much.

    If anything, the hollow is being filled in by the cobble beach on the east side; perhaps why it looks wider.

    See below, a photo of one of two dead Herring Gulls we found on the island. Note the string tied to its leg. I had not noticed it until Julie McKnight, Environment Canada Biologist, alerted me to this when she viewed the photo. Difficult to say if it was deliberately placed there or accidentally caught. I would suspect accidentally caught in it somehow, but just a guess.

    Dead Herring Gull - North Brother, NS, April 26, 2020 - Ted D'Eon photo
    Dead Herring Gull - North Brother, NS, April 26, 2020 - Ted D'Eon photo

    String tied to Herring Gull's leg - North Brother, NS, April 26, 2020 - Ted D'Eon photo
    String tied to Herring Gull's leg - North Brother, NS, April 26, 2020 - Ted D'Eon photo

    All in all. it was a good visit to North Brother and we accomplished what we set out to do.

    Getting Alix's Zodiac ready for departure - North Brother, NS, April 26, 2020 - Ted D'Eon photo
    Getting Alix's Zodiac ready for departure - North Brother, NS, April 26, 2020 - Ted D'Eon photo

    A selfie of me, Alix and Kathleen - North Brother, NS, April 26, 2020 - Ted D'Eon photo
    A "selfie" of me, Alix and Kathleen - North Brother, NS, April 26, 2020 - Ted D'Eon photo

    Alix and Kathleen - North Brother, NS, April 26, 2020 - Ted D'Eon photo
    Alix and Kathleen - North Brother, NS, April 26, 2020 - Ted D'Eon photo

    April 29, 2020 - Our first terns! Retired lobster fisherman, Herbert Nickerson, reported 2 terns in Pubnico Harbour near Hipson's Brook Bridge.

    April 30, 2020 - Aerial photos of North Brother this morning from Milton D'Eon's drone. Thank you, Milton, and to Alix d'Entremont for arranging it with you.

    Arial shot of North Brother, NS, April 30, 2020 - Milton D'Eon photo
    Click on the photo above to enlarge.

    "Western Ridge" ROST nesting area - North Brother, NS, April 30, 2020 - Milton D'Eon photo
    Click on the photo above to enlarge.

    North Brother, Feb. 19, 2016 - Glen Parsons photo
    Reference photo, North Brother, Feb. 19, 2016 - Glen Parsons photo

    North Brother, Feb. 19, 2016 - Glen Parsons photo
    Reference photo, North Brother, Feb. 19, 2016 - Glen Parsons photo

    Reference photo, North Brother, July 8, 2011 - Ted D'Eon photo
    Reference photo, North Brother, July 8, 2011 - Ted D'Eon photo

    Reference photo, North Brother, June 20, 2005 - Ted D'Eon photo
    Reference photo, North Brother, June 20, 2005 - Ted D'Eon photo

    May 4, 2020 - Note from Alix d'Entremont (May 10, 2020) -

    Kathleen MacAulay and I did get to North Brother Island on May 4. We brought along ear tags 27-46 to mark the shelters that had no numbers. We redistributed all the tags so that numbers are sequential left to right. There are now 45 nesting structures, all with ear tags (1-45). We didnít have to use tag #46. Two of the 3-sided structures that we had placed on April 26 had been blown to the n.w., so these had to be returned their places.

    Two Common Terns flew high overhead headed n.w. when we were there.

    Thank you Alix and Kathleen.

    Shelter list by type:

    Rectangular "Coquet" - numbers 01, 03, 05, 07, 09, 12, 18,
                                   21, 26, 31, 34, 39, 43.
    Wedged "Coquet"      - numbers 02, 06, 08, 10, 13, 17, 20,
                                   25, 29, 32, 36, 40, 44.
    3-sided (square)     - numbers 04, 11, 14, 15, 16, 19, 22,
                                   23, 24, 27, 28, 30, 33,
                                   35, 37, 38, 41, 42, 45.
    

    May 9, 2020 - From Pond Road looking at North Brother from 12:30 to 1:00 pm I estimated 100 terns over the island. They were only there for about 2 minutes of my 30 minute observation and I could not identify any Roseates in the group.

    May 9, 2020 - Ronnie d'Entremont reported seeing a single Roseate Tern earlier this morning. It was within the flock of terns above North Brother (but before I made my observations).

    May 9, 2020 - Extreme weather the evening and overnight. High tide around midnight and wind from the west gusting to 100km/h around that time. We will see its effects on N Brother on our next visit.

    May 10, 2020 - Alix d'Entremont reported a single "ROST foraging about 600 m south of Dennis Pt Wharf tonight at 7:40 pm".

    May 12, 2020 - Alix d'Entremont reports "about 20 terns on and around Île Ferrée (Pubnico Harbour). They all look like COTE (Common Tern)".

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

    May 13, 2020 - 7:30 am: Alix d'Entremont reports an "estimate of 300 terns at North Brother from Pond Rd". This is great!

    May 17, 2020 - Alix d'Entremont writes:

    Kathleen and I spent about 30 minutes on North Brother Island this morning. We towed my 10-foot Zodiac behind the RHIB to use for the landing since there was swell. We could hear crashing waves from my house before leaving. We arrived at North Brother at 7:36 am and were pleased to see up to about 400 terns above the island. We were only able to confirm 4 Roseates at one time. There were Arctic Terns, perhaps up to 10 that I saw.

    Common Tern with Herring - North Brother, NS, May 17, 2020 - Alix d'Entremont photo
    Common Tern with Herring - North Brother, NS, May 17, 2020 - Alix d'Entremont photo

    Common Tern with a most probable Rock Gunnel - North Brother, NS, May 17, 2020 - Alix d'Entremont photo
    May 20, 2020 - Linda Welch (US Fish and Wildlife Service, Maine) writes:
    "The photo looks like a rock eel (rock gunnel).
    That is the primary diet item for our black guillemots,
    but I have never observed a tern with one.
    They are a benthic species, so not sure how they would catch it.
    "
    Thank you, Linda.   Ted

    Four tern nest scrapes were found and four Common Eider nests (4 eggs, 3 eggs, 4 eggs, and 5 eggs) were also on the west bank. There were no gulls on the island and those that were seen flying by did not pass close.

    Common Eider on nest - North Brother, NS, May 17, 2020 - Alix d'Entremont photo
    Common Eider on nest - North Brother, NS, May 17, 2020 - Alix d'Entremont photo

    Surprisingly, there were no shelters that were out of place. The strong winds May 9-10 were from the west, so the shelter openings were not facing the wind. The metal tripod that was on the soil part of North Brother that we had moved onto the beach on April 26 had moved east of the southern tip. We left it there, but folded one of the legs and placed a bunch of large rocks on top of it.

    We circled South Brother before leaving the area. There were about 20 Double-crested Cormorants on the western side and 32 on the eastern side. Two cormorants were seen bringing nesting material and nests were visible on both sides of the island. Ten Herring Gulls and a Great Black-backed Gull were on South Brother. We will have to land next time to check for gull nests.

    We then visited Whitehead were there were still 90 Brant grazing on the short grass along with 25 Black-bellied Plovers. Ted had first noted Black Guillemots on the eastern side of Pumpkin Island on 2013 and they appear to have settled in the area and are certainly breeding. We had 14 Black Guillemots at Whitehead and 24 at Pumpkin. Also of interest was a pair of Gadwall on Jones Island. Little Gooseberry still has a Double-crested Cormorant colony on the eastern side.

    May 20, 2020 - Alix d'Entremont reports "200 Common Terns on Île Ferrée. One eider on a nest that I could see from the boat".

    May 20, 2020 - Orson Deveau (my 10 year old grandson). Gavin Maclean, and I, left Abbott's Harbour at around 9:15 for North Brother.

    As we arrived there, there were between 400 to 500 terns on or above the island. Most of them remained there during our presence. No gulls and no gull nests found. No tern eggs but a few nest scrapes.

    We were only on the island for about 20 minutes and we never stopped long enough to observe the terns property, but there were at least 5 ROST, B40 being one of them. Also a few ARTE but not very many. Perhaps if I had sat down somewhere for a while I would have seen more ARTE and more ROST.

    The colony was vibrant and we didn't want to disturb them more than we had to so we did not stay. The same Common Eider nests Alix and Kathleen saw on Sunday still appeared fine.

    Gavin and Orson with Common Eider nest - North Brother, NS, May 20, 2020 - Ted D'Eon photo
    Gavin and Orson with Common Eider nest - North Brother, NS, May 20, 2020 - Ted D'Eon photo

    On Gull Island we did not see any terns whatsoever; neither on the island nor in the air. We walked as far as the first blind (on the west side of the pond) following low on the beach so as to not disturb the nesting Common Eiders, then back the same way along the beach to the Zodiac and left the island. There were lots of eiders but too many hens were flushed from from their nests by our presence on the island. It made me feel uncomfortable just being there, even though we did our best to avoid them.

    I did not do a gull count, but my feeling is that their numbers were down from the past couple of years. We only saw one gull nest on our trek to the blind and back, and we did not see any eider nests; it was obvious there were plenty of eider nests on the island, even though we didn't actually see any.

    May 24, 2020 - Alix d'Entremont reports terns on Ellenwood Island "setting up to nest, it seems". I think this is new for Ellenwood Island; at least new to me!

    May 31, 2020 - A visit to North Brother this morning with my daughter, Ingrid D'Eon, her son, Orson Deveau, and Gavin Maclean. No wind, but fog as thick as pea soup!

    About 400 terns on and above the island with lots of ROST presence by their call.

    We counted the tern nests going counterclockwise following the beach around the hollow.

    Mostly Arctic Tern (ARTE) nests on the east and north side of the island. Common Tern (COTE) and Roseate Tern (ROST) nests on the western ridge, and all COTE nests at the south end of the island.

    Statistics:
               Common Tern Nests  - 216
               Arctic Tern Nests  -  47
               Roseate tern Nests -  35 (33 in shelters and 2 in the open)
               ------------------------
               total tern nests     298
    
    Please note: ARTE nest numbers may include a few COTE nests and
                 COTE nest numbers may include a few ARTE nests and
                 some not yet recognized ROST nests.
    

    One of the suspected ROST nests - North Brother, NS, May 31, 2020 - Ted D'Eon photo
    One of the suspected ROST nests - North Brother, NS, May 31, 2020 - Ted D'Eon photo

    The other suspected ROST nests - next to ROST shelter #18 - text Brother, NS, May 31, 2020 - Ted D'Eon photo
    The other suspected ROST nests - next to ROST shelter #18
    North Brother, NS, May 31, 2020 - Ted D'Eon photo
    More nest stats:
                  1 egg 2 eggs 3 eggs 4 eggs
          COTE      45    113    57     1
          ARTE       8     33     6
          ROST      26      9
    
    ROST Nests:
    Shelter #      - 01 02 03 04 06 07 08 10 13 15 16 20 21 22 23 24 25
    Number of eggs -  1  1  1  1  2  2  2  1  1  1  2  1  2  1  2  1  1
     
    Shelter #      - 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 44
    Number of eggs -  1  1  1  2  1  1  1  1  2  2  1  1  1  1  1  1
    
    In the open - 2 nest containing 1 egg each
    

    Shelter list by type:

    Rectangular "Coquet" - numbers 01, 03, 05, 07, 09, 12, 18,
                                   21, 26, 31, 34, 39, 43.
    Wedged "Coquet"      - numbers 02, 06, 08, 10, 13, 17, 20,
                                   25, 29, 32, 36, 40, 44.
    3-sided (square)     - numbers 04, 11, 14, 15, 16, 19, 22,
                                   23, 24, 27, 28, 30, 33,
                                   35, 37, 38, 41, 42, 45.
    

    I was able to read 12 ROST Field Readable bands; all red Plastic Field Readables:

    B12, B40, B65, L32, L36, L47, L87, L93, L94, L95, L99, and Y12.
    
    Note: L93 was nesting in Shelter #23, and B40 was also seen on N Brother on May 20, 2020.
    

    Y12, a Country Island ROST - North Brother, NS, May 31, 2020 - Ted D'Eon photo
    Y12, a Country Island ROST - North Brother, NS, May 31, 2020 - Ted D'Eon photo

    There was also a banded COTE with an orange flag on one leg and a metal band on the other. The grey metal band looks Argentinian. We've seen Argentinian bands on North Brother before. See below.

    The banded Common Tern - North Brother, NS, May 31, 2020 - Ted D'Eon photo
    The banded Common Tern - North Brother, NS, May 31, 2020 - Ted D'Eon photo

    The bands, a little closer - North Brother, NS, May 31, 2020 - Ted D'Eon photo
    The bands, a little closer - North Brother, NS, May 31, 2020 - Ted D'Eon photo

    The metal band - North Brother, NS, May 31, 2020 - Ted D'Eon photo
    The metal band - North Brother, NS, May 31, 2020 - Ted D'Eon photo

    Also today, was a ROST we have seen before on North Brother; it has a deformed foot. See below.

    The ROST with deformed foot - North Brother, NS, May 31, 2020 - Ted D'Eon photo
    The ROST with deformed foot - North Brother, NS, May 31, 2020 - Ted D'Eon photo

    The deformed foot - North Brother, NS, May 31, 2020 - Ted D'Eon photo
    The deformed foot - North Brother, NS, May 31, 2020 - Ted D'Eon photo

    A few photos:

    ROST L93 nesting in shelter 23 - North Brother, NS, May 31, 2020 - Ted D'Eon photo
    ROST L93 nesting in shelter 23 - North Brother, NS, May 31, 2020 - Ted D'Eon photo

    A few photos:

    ROST L47 - North Brother, NS, May 31, 2020 - Ted D'Eon photo
    ROST L47 - North Brother, NS, May 31, 2020 - Ted D'Eon photo

    ROST L47 - North Brother, NS, May 31, 2020 - Ted D'Eon photo
    ROST L47 - North Brother, NS, May 31, 2020 - Ted D'Eon photo

    Orson, Ingrid, and Gavin - North Brother, NS, May 31, 2020 - Ted D'Eon photo
    Orson, Ingrid, and Gavin - North Brother, NS, May 31, 2020 - Ted D'Eon photo

    June 1, 2020 - Alix d'Entremont has also been very busy lately. For those who don't know, there is a proposed extension to most southerly wharf at Dennis Point, Lower West Pubnico. It's in the works right now but the actual on-site work has not started yet.

    In previous years, this location was used by the terns (including Roseate Terns) as a foraging area. Alix is involved in monitoring the tern activity there, before and during construction.

    Alix writes:

    Just to let everyone know, Iíve started my observations at Dennis Pt Wharf for the upcoming extension of wharf #4 which is supposed to start soon.

    On May 20 I placed 9 buoys in a 100 m grid south of the wharf to be used to associated foraging terns to squares formed by the buoy grid. Since then Iíve done observations at various times of day and tide on May 22, 23, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, 31 and June 1.

    No Roseates have been observed and the maximum count of Common Terns within the vicinity of the wharf was 12 on May 26 at 4:50 pm.

    When active, the fish processing plant effluent just south of wharf #4 provides food for gulls and the terns.

    Iím still in the process of digitizing my field notes. Once that is done, Iíll look for correlations between the variables that I am tracking (tide, wind, cloud cover, temperature, precipitation, time of dayÖ) and foraging locations and abundance.

    Iíd like to get out to check around Johnís Island to see if the Roseates are foraging there since I havenít seen any in Pubnico Harbour. Now that the fog is gone, the wind has picked up. Hopefully Iíll have an opportunity soon.

    Thanks, Alix, always great work you are doing!  Ted

    June 3, 2020 - Lots of data today from North Brother! See below, Alix d'Entremont will tell you.

    Kathleen MacAulay and I were at North Brother for about an hour starting at 7 pm on June 3, 2020. Initially, we sat on the east bank for 15-20 minutes and noted all of the locations where ROST appeared to be on nests outside of the shelters. Following this we worked our way counter clockwise through the colony counting the eggs in the shelters and looking for the possible ROST nests that we had previously recorded. I hadnít brought the Lee Valley stakes that are meant to be placed at the ROST nests not in shelters, but will make sure to place them during our next visit.

    There were 45 ROST nests, including one that we didnít enter in our field notes near shelter 10 (but that I did take a photo of) and a ROST with a dark red bill base on what looks like a COTE nest. See photos of that ROST below. Could it have some COTE genes that might explain the red base? ROST typically start to show a red base to the bill later in the year. Is it incubating its own eggs or were those eggs laid by a COTE?

    Two features are suggestive that this is a hybrid. In early June, Roseates typically have an all-dark bill, but this individual has a reddish base to the bill. Also, the number of retained outer primaries following the prealternate moult differs between Common and Roseates with Common Terns replacing fewer. Older feathers darken over time, so newer ones are paler. This means that the number of dark-tipped outer primaries (as viewed from below in this photo) is higher in Common than Roseate. This possible hybrid shows 5 outer primaries with dark tips which is more than typical Roseates. While there is overlap, this feature provides further evidence.

    Ted D'Eon and his crew had a similar looking bird on North Brother in 2017 (see http://teddeon.com/tern17.html). At that time, Dr. Jeff Spendelow, Research Wildlife Biologist with the Patuxent Wildlife Research Center in Laurel, Maryland, mentioned the resulting difference in wing-tip pattern caused by the differing extent of primary moult by the two species.

    Possible Roseate x Common Tern hybrid - North Brother, NS, June 3, 2020 - Alix d'Entremont photo
    Possible Roseate x Common Tern hybrid - North Brother, NS, June 3, 2020 - Alix d'Entremont photo

    Possible Roseate x Common Tern hybrid - North Brother, NS, June 3, 2020 - Alix d'Entremont photo
    Possible Roseate x Common Tern hybrid - North Brother, NS, June 3, 2020 - Alix d'Entremont photo

    Below is a photo of the nest that the above ROST was on. The eggs are not as pointed as typical ROST and show large blotches concentrated around the middle of the eggs, similar to a Common Tern.

    Nest of possible Roseate x Common Tern hybrid - North Brother, NS, June 3, 2020 - Alix d'Entremont photo
    Nest of possible Roseate x Common Tern hybrid - North Brother, NS, June 3, 2020 - Alix d'Entremont photo

    Here is the list of band resightings (those underlined are new for this year): B04, B12, B25, B39, B95, C59, L12, L13, L40, L53, L93, L94, T83, Y12. All are white letters on red except for T83 which is black on yellow. T83 was banded as a chick Jun 24, 2016 on Egg Rock, Maine, and was observed at North brother in 2019. Several banded ROST were near nesting shelters, but more observations will be required to confirm which shelters they are nesting in.

    We didnít see and forgot to look for a suspected ROST nest near a piece of lumber that Ted and crew found on May 31, so you can likely add that one to our count.

    All of the ROST nests that we found outside of the shelters were within the area with shelters and most were very close to a shelter. I took photos of all nests outside of shelters that are likely ROST and since they were close to shelters, I made sure to show the nearby shelter with its number in the photos.

    Nest of ROST - North Brother, NS, June 3, 2020 - Alix d'Entremont photo
    Nest of ROST - North Brother, NS, June 3, 2020 - Alix d'Entremont photo

    Nest of ROST - North Brother, NS, June 3, 2020 - Alix d'Entremont photo
    Nest of ROST - North Brother, NS, June 3, 2020 - Alix d'Entremont photo

    Nest of ROST - North Brother, NS, June 3, 2020 - Alix d'Entremont photo
    Nest of ROST - North Brother, NS, June 3, 2020 - Alix d'Entremont photo

    Update:

    There could be up to 47 ROST nests since I found another photo that I had taken of a possible nest near shelter 11. Alix d'Entremont, June 4, 2020

    Photos of COTE and ROST carrying food. Most of these photos were taken when we returned to the boat at anchor before we left for Abbottís Harbour.

    Arctic Tern carrying fish - North Brother, NS, June 3, 2020 - Alix d'Entremont photo
    Arctic Tern carrying fish - North Brother, NS, June 3, 2020 - Alix d'Entremont photo

    Arctic Tern carrying fish - North Brother, NS, June 3, 2020 - Alix d'Entremont photo

    Common Tern carrying fish - North Brother, NS, June 3, 2020 - Alix d'Entremont photo
    Common Tern carrying fish - North Brother, NS, June 3, 2020 - Alix d'Entremont photo

    Common Tern carrying herring - North Brother, NS, June 3, 2020 - Alix d'Entremont photo
    Common Tern carrying herring - North Brother, NS, June 3, 2020 - Alix d'Entremont photo

    Kathleen MacAulay - North Brother, NS, June 3, 2020 - Alix d'Entremont photo
    Kathleen MacAulay - North Brother, NS, June 3, 2020 - Alix d'Entremont photo

    Thank you Alix and Kathleen.   Ted

    June 9, 2020 - Alix d'Entremont and Calvin d'Entremont surveyed the John's Island area (10 km south of The Brothers) for foraging terns.

    Alix writes:

    Today, Calvin díEntremont and I explored the area from Johnís Island to Goodwinís Island looking for foraging terns. Virtually no terns were seen south of the northern end of Vigneau Island. We saw about 40-50 terns throughout the 3 hours that we were on the water.

    The area that terns were seen was quite large, although there were some hotspots near the Johnís Island Bar, west of Johnís Island and east of Johnís Island. The highest density appeared to be near the Johnís Island bar.

    See the Google Maps image below.

    Tern foraging , John's Island, NS, June 9, 2020 - Alix d'Entremont
    Tern foraging , John's Island, NS, June 9, 2020 - Alix d'Entremont

    The area bordered in orange represents the general area where terns were seen foraging. The red circles are exact and represent the locations were ROST were seen. Two of the locations had one individual, but the one west of the southern tip had two ROST.

    Navionics chart, John's Island area, NS
    Navionics chart, John's Island area, NS

    The Navionics chart (above) shows that the ROST point far to the west of Johnís Island is in 20-30 m of water at low tide, while the other two are in 5-10 m (east of Johnís) and 10-20 m of water (west of southern tip of Johnís).

    I wasnít able to capture any photos of the prey that the terns were capturing. I would like to go out at some point to try again for photos.

    While headed out and into Pubnico Harbour there were a number of terns seen moving north and south Ė to and from the feeding area near Johnís. I did not see any ARTE, but was mainly interested in finding ROST, so could have missed some.

    All of the terns that I saw well were either COTE or ROST.

    Also of interest were two Laughing Gulls (one adult and one imm.) that flew past us headed south.

    Thank you Alix and Calvin.   Ted

    June 14, 2020 - From a Facebook entry, Alix d'Entremont writes:

    American Oystercatcher at Cape Sable, NS, June 13, 2020 - Alix d'Entremont photo
    American Oystercatcher at Cape Sable, NS, June 13, 2020 - Alix d'Entremont photo

    American Oystercatcher at Cape Sable, Shelburne County. Kathleen MacAulay and I were doing a tern nest count at the Dog Islands (161 nests vs. 62 in 2019) off of The Hawk, so decided to see what we could find on nearby Cape Sable. Due to COVID-19 no birders had visited Cape Sable since Feb 23. The full checklist is provided below: (see https://ebird.org/canada/checklist/S70402023)

    June 13, 2020. Alix d'Entremont

    Thanks, Alix and Kathleen

    June 14, 2020 - We left Abbott's Harbour for North Brother this morning at 8am. The air temperature was 13C. It was overcast but with a light easterly breeze; a good morning for the official tern nest count!

    The crew today, Alix d'Entremont and Kathleen MacAulay in Alix's boat, and Ingrid D'Eon, Gavin Maclean, and me in mine.

    Me, giving the gang last minute instructions - North Brother, NS, June 14, 2020 - Alix d'Entremont photo
    Me, giving the gang last minute instructions - North Brother, NS, June 14, 2020 - Alix d'Entremont photo

    The first thing we did was set up a GoPro camera aimed at the hybrid ROST/COTE nest. The only bird we captured on camera was the unbanded hybrid; its mate was not seen.

    Possible hybrid Roseate/Common Tern - North Brother, NS, June 14, 2020 - GoPro photo
    Possible hybrid Roseate/Common Tern - North Brother, NS, June 14, 2020 - GoPro photo

    We then began the "count", placing 1/2 of a Popsicle stick on each nest as we counted them, walking as a group, going counterclockwise around the island.

    Working the tern nest count - North Brother, NS, June 14, 2020 - Ted D'Eon photo
    Working the tern nest count - North Brother, NS, June 14, 2020 - Ted D'Eon photo

    Working the tern nest count - North Brother, NS, June 14, 2020 - Alix d'Entremont photo
    Working the tern nest count - North Brother, NS, June 14, 2020 - Alix d'Entremont photo

    Arctic Tern nest - North Brother, NS, June 14, 2020 - Alix d'Entremont photo
    Arctic Tern nest - North Brother, NS, June 14, 2020 - Alix d'Entremont photo

    A staked probable Roseate Tern nest - North Brother, NS, June 14, 2020 - Ted D'Eon photo
    A staked probable Roseate Tern nest - North Brother, NS, June 14, 2020 - Ted D'Eon photo

    Kathleen and Ingrid documenting tern nests - North Brother, NS, June 14, 2020 - Ted D'Eon photo
    Kathleen and Ingrid documenting tern nests - North Brother, NS, June 14, 2020 - Ted D'Eon photo

    A strange-looking Common Tern egg - North Brother, NS, June 14, 2020 - Ted D'Eon photo
    A strange-looking Common Tern egg - North Brother, NS, June 14, 2020 - Ted D'Eon photo

    See below, a couple of the half dozen or so pebble-lined COTE nests. I can't say I have ever seen this before. Common Tern nests are usually lined with vegetation, including sometimes, seaweed. Very unusual for North Brother.

    One of the several pebble-lined Common Tern nests - North Brother, NS, June 14, 2020 - Ted D'Eon photo
    One of the several pebble-lined Common Tern nests - North Brother, NS, June 14, 2020 - Ted D'Eon photo

    Another of the several pebble-lined Common Tern nests - North Brother, NS, June 14, 2020 - Ted D'Eon photo
    Another of the several pebble-lined Common Tern nests - North Brother, NS, June 14, 2020 - Ted D'Eon photo

    The results:

    A total of 713 tern nests
                                                     1 egg    2 eggs   1 egg
                          1 egg 2 eggs 3 eggs 4 eggs +1 chick +1 chick +2 chicks
          COTE  512 nests    96    287   122     1      3        2        1
          ARTE  136 nests    43     83     8            2
          ROST   65 nests    39     23     3
               ----
                713 nests
    
    Please note that the 65 ROST stated above assumes that all the staked tern nests are ROST. The staked nests will all have to be confirmed visually before we are certain they are ROST. 3-egg ROST nests are VERY RARE, so there is a good possibility that those staked with 3 eggs (stakes #4 and #6) could be COTE nests.

    Alix placed two trail cameras on North Brother. One near the southern tip looking north and another in among the boxes looking s.w. towards an area with a high number of possible ROST nests outside of boxes.

    Alix writes:

    Iím not sure if stakes 4 and 6 will be visible from that second camera. Kathleen and I plan on visiting NB again soon to do more observations to confirm the possible ROST nests and will make sure to pay close attention to stakes 4 and 6.

    Also note: If you add up the number of ROST nests in shelters with the possible ROST nests marked with stakes, you will only get to 64. There was another ROST nest containing one egg that was accidentally destroyed by me. It was placed right behind a ROST nesting shelter. I was lifting the shelter to see if there were any eggs in it; one of the rocks holding the shelter down slid off and onto the ROST nest containing one egg. Terribly sorry about that. We should have placed a numbered stake next to it, but we didn't.

    ROST Nests:
    Shelter #      - 01 02 03 04 05 06 07 08 10 12 13 15 16 18 20 21 22 23 24 25
    Number of eggs -  1  1  1  1  1  2  2  2  1  2  1  2  2  1  1  2  1  2  1  1
     
    Shelter #      - 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 42 44
    Number of eggs -  1  1  1  2  1  1  2  1  2  2  1  1  1  1  1  2  1
    
    

    Shelter list by type:

    Rectangular "Coquet" - numbers 01, 03, 05, 07, 09, 12, 18,
                                   21, 26, 31, 34, 39, 43.
    Wedged "Coquet"      - numbers 02, 06, 08, 10, 13, 17, 20,
                                   25, 29, 32, 36, 40, 44.
    3-sided (square)     - numbers 04, 11, 14, 15, 16, 19, 22,
                                   23, 24, 27, 28, 30, 33,
                                   35, 37, 38, 41, 42, 45.
    
    Confirmed, probable and possible ROST nests in the open (marked with numbered stakes) Stake # - 01 02 03 04 05 06 07 08 09 10 11 12 13 14 Number of eggs - 2 2 2 3 1 3 2 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 Stake # - 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 Number of eggs - 1 1 1 2 3 2 2 2 2 2 1 1 1
    Note: Nest at stake #19 with 3 eggs was being incubated by a hybrid ROST/COTE bird.

    Also of note were at least 3 very young COEI in the vegetation of the hollow, one older COEI was found dead in the hollow, one dead adult COTE in the beach rocks on the eastern ridge, and one dead Star-nosed Mole in the hollow. Another dead Star-nosed Mole was seen on North Brother in June 2016. Strange how they got there.

    The dead Star-nosed Mole - North Brother, NS, June 14, 2020 - Ted D'Eon photo
    The dead Star-nosed Mole - North Brother, NS, June 14, 2020 - Ted D'Eon photo

    Gavin, Ingrid, Kathleen, and Alix - North Brother, NS, June 14, 2020 - Ted D'Eon photo
    Gavin, Ingrid, Kathleen, and Alix - North Brother, NS, June 14, 2020 - Ted D'Eon photo

    June 14, 2020 - After The nest count on North Brother, Alix and Kathleen continued on to South Brother to report on the situation there.

    On South Brother they found one Common Eider nest containing 4 eggs, 4 Herring Gull nests containing eggs, and 37 Double-crested Cormorant nests, all containing eggs.

    Alix writes:

    Also of interest is that a few DCCO chicks were vocal from inside the egg! Here is the eBird checklist with details on the number of COEI, HERG and DCCO nests: (see https://ebird.org/canada/checklist/S70423130)

    June 15, 2020 - Lobster fisherman, Clyde d'Entremont reports a unusually large flock of terns above Île Ferrée, Pubnico Harbour. Alix plans to check this out soon.

    Terns above Île Ferrée, Pubnico Harbour, NS, June 15, 2020 - Clyde d'Entremont photo
    Terns above Île Ferrée, Pubnico Harbour, NS, June 15, 2020 - Clyde d'Entremont photo

    June 16, 2020 - Today, Alix d'Entremont and Kathleen MacAulay visited Île Ferrée. Alix writes:

    Kathleen MacAulay and I did the nest count on Île Ferrée on June 16, 2020:

    1 egg Ė 25
    2 eggs Ė 149
    3 eggs Ė 101
    5 eggs Ė 1
    1 egg, 1 chick Ė 1
    ------------------
    Total: 277
    
    Stats (mean Ī SD):
    2.3 Ī 0.6
    
    There were 176 nests in 2019 and 41 in 2018.
    

    There were some parts of a few adult COTE on the island and a few broken eggs. Nothing too alarming. There were also some burrows on the island with diameter of about 2-3 inches. Gulls are (or were) clearly using the island to eat since there were a number of mussel shells etc. on the western side in an area where the vegetation cover was minimal (photo attached).

    Iíve attached the photo of the nest with 5 eggs as well as a Spotted Sandpiper nest. The SPSA chicks are said to only stay at the nest for a few hours after hatching of the last egg, so we were quite fortunate to see them in the nest.

    Also, one COEI nest with 5 eggs and one already hatched.

    A 5-egg Common Tern nest on Île Ferrée, Pubnico Harbour, NS, June 16, 2020 - Alix d'Entremont photo
    A 5-egg Common Tern nest on Île Ferrée, Pubnico Harbour, NS, June 16, 2020 - Alix d'Entremont photo

    From a Facebook entry, Alix writes:

    I've seen thousands of tern nests in the past 5 years of doing counts with focus on Lobster Bay, but also up to the Port Medway area and once to Guysborough County. The data is collected for the Canadian Wildlife Service.

    This is the first nest that I've seen with 5 eggs. It is a Common Tern nest on Île Ferrée in Pubnico Harbour. The island is about 100 ft in diameter at its widest and this year hosts an incredible 277 Common Tern nests! The egg numbers have a mean of 2.3 with a standard deviation of 0.6. There were 176 nests in 2019 and 41 in 2018.

    It could be that eggs from another nest were moved to this one, or that it is from a female-female pair laying in the same nest. All 5 eggs look very similar, so could they have been laid by one female?

    A Spotted Sandpiper nest with chicks, Île Ferrée, Pubnico Harbour, NS, June 16, 2020 - Alix d'Entremont photo</b></A></TD>
    A Spotted Sandpiper nest with chicks, Île Ferrée, Pubnico Harbour, NS, June 16, 2020 - Alix d'Entremont photo

    Mussel shell area, Île Ferrée, Pubnico Harbour, NS, June 16, 2020 - Alix d'Entremont photo
    Mussel shell area, Île Ferrée, Pubnico Harbour, NS, June 16, 2020 - Alix d'Entremont photo

    Thank you, Alix and Kathleen.

    June 21, 2020 - Clyde d'Entremont reports motoring by Île Chespêque, Pubnico Harbour and finding no terns there. Small numbers of Common Terns have nested there in the past, although nest and fledgeling success has always been low due to its low elevation and predation by owls and gulls.

    June 21, 2020 - Today, I was out on the boat visiting our island (Bar Island) with my children and grandkids. We motored by The Thrum but no terns there. Years ago they used to nest there.

    We then motored by őle-aux-fous (very near The Tittle on Suretteís Island). I remember finding COTE nests there many years ago, but no tern activity there either.

    Also no terns seen foraging near the bar of Bar Islands, however, while we were on the island, 3 terns flew by, going south and at least one of them was carrying fish. The must have been foraging somewhere to the North of Bar Island.

    June 21, 2020 - Alix d'Entremont writes:

    Kathleen MacAulay, Bertin díEon and I visited North Brother for about 1.5 hours in the morning on June 21, 2020. We setup behind the s.e. beach to observe and confirm/deny the possible ROST nests outside of shelters that were marked with yellow stakes on June 14.

    Stakes 1, 2, 3, 4, 6, 7, 8, 18, 20, 22, 23, 24, and 27 were removed since it was determined that they were marking COTE nests. Stake 26 was not found. The remaining stakes 5, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 19, 21, and 25 were confirmed to be marking ROST nests and were left in place. This results in a total of 13 ROST nests outside of shelters marked with yellow stakes.

    We didnít check all nesting shelters on todayís visit, so if we use the information from out June 14 trip, the total number of nests is 50 (37 in shelters and 13 outside of shelters).

    We did not take note of the number of eggs/chicks in the nests marked by stakes and only checked 15 boxes. We felt that we had been on the island long enough, so decided not to disturb them for any longer. Here are the details on the shelters that we did check:

    Box #   Egg (e) / Chick (c)
    
    1            1e
    2            1c
    3            empty
    4            1c
    5            1e
    6            1e1c
    7            1e1c
    8            1e1c
    9            empty
    10           1e
    11           empty
    12           2e
    13           1e
    14           empty
    15           1e1c
    

    Box # 17 had two chicks of the three that were in the nearby hybrid ROST nest.

    Below are two photos of the smaller of the three that seems pale, lacking any dark around the face. The down doesnít look spikey like a typical ROST, but the legs seem intermediate in darkness, but without any purple.

    Hybrid? Roseate Tern chick, North Brother, NS, June 21, 2020 - Alix d'Entremont photo
    Hybrid? Roseate Tern chick, North Brother, NS, June 21, 2020 - Alix d'Entremont photo

    Hybrid? Roseate Tern chick, North Brother, NS, June 21, 2020 - Alix d'Entremont photo
    Hybrid? Roseate Tern chick, North Brother, NS, June 21, 2020 - Alix d'Entremont photo

    Below are photos of one of the larger and darker chicks in box # 17.

    Hybrid? Roseate Tern chick, North Brother, NS, June 21, 2020 - Alix d'Entremont photo
    Hybrid? Roseate Tern chick, North Brother, NS, June 21, 2020 - Alix d'Entremont photo

    Hybrid? Roseate Tern chick, North Brother, NS, June 21, 2020 - Alix d'Entremont photo
    Hybrid? Roseate Tern chick, North Brother, NS, June 21, 2020 - Alix d'Entremont photo

    Below is a photo of a newly hatched ROST with an egg at box # 15.

    Newly hatched Roseate Tern chick, North Brother, NS, June 21, 2020 - Alix d'Entremont photo
    Newly hatched Roseate Tern chick, North Brother, NS, June 21, 2020 - Alix d'Entremont photo

    Next is a photo from the trail camera showing a ROST nest a couple feet n.w. of stake # 21 with a typical ROST and one with extensive red at the bill base. Possibly another hybrid?

    Possibly another hybrid Roseate Tern, North Brother, NS, June 21, 2020 - Alix d'Entremont/Trail camera photo
    Possibly another hybrid Roseate Tern, North Brother, NS, June 21, 2020 - Alix d'Entremont/Trail camera photo

    While Bertin and I went through the colony, Kathleen was able to record a few birds that appeared to be associated with specific boxes.

    Shelter #              Band Info
    
    18                     federal only
    22                     one with no bands, another might have a federal
    23                     L93
    29                     PFR, but could not be read
    31                     unbanded and L12
    33                     L08
    34                     unbanded and B12
    35                     unbanded bird(s)
    36                     unbanded and double federal
    38                     unbanded and L94
    39                     L53
    

    Things to do on the next visit: Go through all stakes and shelters and note number of eggs/chicks. Move stake 21 farther n.w. towards the nearest ROST nest.

    Kathleen MacAulay with Bertin d'Eon, North Brother, NS, June 21, 2020 - Alix d'Entremont photo
    Kathleen MacAulay with Bertin d'Eon, North Brother, NS, June 21, 2020 - Alix d'Entremont photo

    Also of note at Dennis Point Wharf late this afternoon was about 85 terns south of the wharf. About 60 were roosting on Pubnico Ledge and the rest were feeding, mostly quite a distance away from the wharf to the East Pubnico Lighthouse. This is a much higher number of birds than all of my previous visits during the last few weeks. The jump in numbers is likely related to the start of chick hatching and an increased demand for food.

    Alix d'Entremont

    Thank you, Alix, Kathleen, and Bertin.

    June 23, 2020 - Visit to Flat Island, Lobster Bay (one of the "Mud Islands").

    Crew: My son, Nigel D'Eon with his wife, Missie, and daughter, Zelda; my grandson, Orson Deveau, and Gavin Maclean.

    We left Abbott's Harbour at 9 am for the 20km boat trip, with a stop at Round Island to do a quick survey from the boat. There were about 30 Atlantic Puffins there and as many Black Guillemots on the water and in the air at the east end of the island.

    We then moved to nearby Flat Island where we moored the boat about 100 metres from what is left of the wharf, and went to shore by Zodiac,

    Our landing area - Flat Island, NS, June 23, 2020 - Ted D'Eon photo
    Our landing area - Flat Island, NS, June 23, 2020 - Ted D'Eon photo

    The wharf - Flat Island, NS, June 23, 2020 - Ted D'Eon photo
    The wharf - Flat Island, NS, June 23, 2020 - Ted D'Eon photo

    The wharf area - Flat Island, NS, June 23, 2020 - Ted D'Eon photo
    The wharf area - Flat Island, NS, June 23, 2020 - Ted D'Eon photo

    One of the first things we observed, after the condition of the wharf, and the wreck of the "Nautical Disaster 03", were the many Common Eider egg shells near the wharf, and pretty well everywhere on the island. This is an island where, every year, several dozen COEI nest. We saw very few intact COEI nests, and very few ducklings.

    We made our way to the lone house on the island. I remember, not so long ago, there were two houses there and two storage sheds; now, just one house in an advanced state of disrepair.

    Depredated Common Eider eggs - Flat Island, NS, June 23, 2020 - Ted D'Eon photo
    Depredated Common Eider eggs - Flat Island, NS, June 23, 2020 - Ted D'Eon photo

    Depredated Common Eider egg - Flat Island, NS, June 23, 2020 - Ted D'Eon photo
    Depredated Common Eider egg - Flat Island, NS, June 23, 2020 - Ted D'Eon photo

    Walking to the house - Flat Island, NS, June 23, 2020 - Ted D'Eon photo
    Walking to the house - Flat Island, NS, June 23, 2020 - Ted D'Eon photo
    Gavin, Orson, Zelda, Missie and Nigel

    The house - Flat Island, NS, June 23, 2020 - Ted D'Eon photo
    The house - Flat Island, NS, June 23, 2020 - Ted D'Eon photo

    The second floor of the house had collapsed onto the first so it was truly a mess inside.

    In the photo below, note the sink seen behind Missie. There was a cold and dirty, but intact COEI egg in it. We saw 3 or 4 Common Ravens hanging around the main tern nesting area at the far western end of the island. It wouldn't surprise me if the ravens were responsible for a lot of the depredated eggs as well as the egg in the sink. I remember years ago ravens were nesting every year in one of the buildings no longer there.

    I also wouldn't be surprised if ravens had nested inside the house this spring. The house was too much of a hazard area to do much investigation, so we really didn't look.

    Inside the house - Flat Island, NS, June 23, 2020 - Ted D'Eon photo
    Inside the house - Flat Island, NS, June 23, 2020 - Ted D'Eon photo

    The cold Common Eider egg - Flat Island, NS, June 23, 2020 - Ted D'Eon photo
    The cold Common Eider egg - Flat Island, NS, June 23, 2020 - Ted D'Eon photo

    The cold Common Eider egg - Flat Island, NS, June 23, 2020 - Ted D'Eon photo
    The cold Common Eider egg - Flat Island, NS, June 23, 2020 - Ted D'Eon photo

    Also in the house were several Barn Swallow nests.

    Orson Deveau, pointing out a Barn Swallow nest - Flat Island, NS, June 23, 2020 - Ted D'Eon photo
    Orson Deveau, pointing out a Barn Swallow nest - Flat Island, NS, June 23, 2020 - Ted D'Eon photo

    We then started our clockwise walk around the island searching out tern nests; we began with the south beach, heading west.

    Walking the south beach, heading west - Flat Island, NS, June 23, 2020 - Ted D'Eon photo
    Walking the south beach, heading west - Flat Island, NS, June 23, 2020 - Ted D'Eon photo

    Before any tern nests were found, we came across our first dead Grey Seals. Over the whole island, there were perhaps two dozen carcasses. Many were old with bleached bones and some intact skin, but a few likely died (shot?) over the winter. See some photos below.

    Grey Seal carcass - Flat Island, NS, June 23, 2020 - Ted D'Eon photo
    Grey Seal carcass - Flat Island, NS, June 23, 2020 - Ted D'Eon photo

    Grey Seal carcass - Flat Island, NS, June 23, 2020 - Ted D'Eon photo
    Grey Seal carcass - Flat Island, NS, June 23, 2020 - Ted D'Eon photo

    Grey Seal carcass - Flat Island, NS, June 23, 2020 - Ted D'Eon photo
    Grey Seal carcass - Flat Island, NS, June 23, 2020 - Ted D'Eon photo

    Grey Seal carcass - Flat Island, NS, June 23, 2020 - Ted D'Eon photo
    Grey Seal carcass - Flat Island, NS, June 23, 2020 - Ted D'Eon photo

    There were also a few young Grey Seals, born last winter; they all scampered to the ocean as we walked by except for one. It stayed in place.

    Moulting first year Grey Seal pup - Flat Island, NS, June 23, 2020 - Ted D'Eon photo
    Moulting first year Grey Seal pup - Flat Island, NS, June 23, 2020 - Ted D'Eon photo

    Zelda walking by the Grey Seal pup - Flat Island, NS, June 23, 2020 - Ted D'Eon photo
    Zelda walking by the Grey Seal pup - Flat Island, NS, June 23, 2020 - Ted D'Eon photo

    We started finding tern nests about halfway down the south side of the pond; not many, about 15. We placed 1/2 of a popscicle stick on each nest as we were counting them, so as to not count them twice. There were also a few Common Eider nests in that area; even one containing 3 ducklings!

    Zelda marking a Common Tern nest - Flat Island, NS, June 23, 2020 - Ted D'Eon photo
    Zelda marking a Common Tern nest - Flat Island, NS, June 23, 2020 - Ted D'Eon photo

    A Common Tern chick away from its nest - Flat Island, NS, June 23, 2020 - Ted D'Eon photo
    A Common Tern chick away from its nest - Flat Island, NS, June 23, 2020 - Ted D'Eon photo

    Three Common Eider ducklings still in nest - Flat Island, NS, June 23, 2020 - Ted D'Eon photo
    Three Common Eider ducklings still in nest - Flat Island, NS, June 23, 2020 - Ted D'Eon photo

    And then, a surprise! A nest hidden in a little rock cave. I could see an egg with the colouration of a Roseate Tern egg, with a chick which looked like a very young Roseate Tern chick with its spiky down! Then they told me there were 2 chicks and 2 eggs! But Roseate Terns normally only lay one or two eggs, and I had seen a Spotted Sandpiper fly away from this area. This was a Spotted Sandpiper nest; a very pleasant surprise!

    Newly hatched Spotted Sandpiper - Flat Island, NS, June 23, 2020 - Ted D'Eon photo
    Newly hatched Spotted Sandpiper - Flat Island, NS, June 23, 2020 - Ted D'Eon photo

    Newly hatched Spotted Sandpiper with hatching egg - Flat Island, NS, June 23, 2020 - Ted D'Eon photo
    Newly hatched Spotted Sandpiper with hatching egg - Flat Island, NS, June 23, 2020 - Ted D'Eon photo

    And then to the far western end of the island there most of the tern activity was. We noted 3 or 4 Common Ravens taking off as we got closer; they flew towards Mud Island.

    The vast majority of tern nests were here; well over 100 nests!

    Tern nest counting at the western end of Flat Island, NS, June 23, 2020 - Ted D'Eon photo
    Tern nest counting at the western end of Flat Island, NS, June 23, 2020 - Ted D'Eon photo

    Tern nest counting at the western end of Flat Island, NS, June 23, 2020 - Ted D'Eon photo
    Tern nest counting at the western end of Flat Island, NS, June 23, 2020 - Ted D'Eon photo

    The west end of the pond - Flat Island, NS, June 23, 2020 - Ted D'Eon photo
    The west end of the pond - Flat Island, NS, June 23, 2020 - Ted D'Eon photo

    We found very few tern nests in the nesting area to the north side of the pond. This used to be a good nesting area, now only about 3 nests found.

    The nesting area at the north side of the pond - Flat Island, NS, June 23, 2020 - Ted D'Eon photo
    The nesting area at the north side of the pond - Flat Island, NS, June 23, 2020 - Ted D'Eon photo

    Nest count
    COTE and ARTE nests (more COTE than ARTE)
    1 egg=27
    2 eggs=67
    3 eggs=28
    1 chick=5
    1c + 1e=3
    2 chicks=5
    2c + 1e=1
    2e + 1c=1
    ========
    Total 137
    
    Also 1 Spotted Sandpiper nest  with 2 chicks + 2 eggs.
    
    and 6 Common Eider nests containing eggs or chicks.
    2 eggs=2
    3 chicks=1
    4 eggs=3
    

    We certainly all had a great visit today to Flat Island.

    My grandchildren will certainly have some great memories to relay to their schoolmates whenever school opens up again!

    The crew: Zelda, Gavin, Orson, Missie, and Nigel - Flat Island, NS, June 23, 2020 - Ted D'Eon photo
    The crew: Zelda, Gavin, Orson, Missie, and Nigel - Flat Island, NS, June 23, 2020 - Ted D'Eon photo

    Orson and Gavin even went swimming in that COLD and clear water.

    Orson Deveau swimming in that frigid, 12C water - Flat Island, NS, June 23, 2020 - Ted D'Eon photo
    Orson Deveau swimming in that frigid, 12C water - Flat Island, NS, June 23, 2020 - Ted D'Eon photo

    June 27, 2020 - Alix d'Entremont writes:

    Kathleen MacAulay and I visited the island from 3:30 pm to 4:45 pm. Shawn, Kathleen and I had attempted a landing this morning, but determined that the air temperature and thick fog would have caused too much stress on the chicks, so we simply stayed off the island on anchor and observed birds carrying food back to the colony for about 2 hours.

    Summary 3 eggs (warm) 8 eggs (cold) 49 chicks (including one with no associated nest/shelter)

    The ages of the chicks were from 0 days to about 10 days, most 4-7 days old (based on Common Tern Chick Aging Guide provided by Shawn Craik). I took photos of every ROST chick for the Macaulay Library and for our own reference. Several of the best quality photos are attached here. Image ď20200627_162154.jpgĒ is of the pale ROST that was in box 17.

    Image 20200627_162154.jpg, a pale Roseate Tern chick, North Brother, NS, June 27, 2020 - Alix d'Entremont photo
    Image 20200627_162154.jpg, a pale Roseate Tern chick, North Brother, NS, June 27, 2020 - Alix d'Entremont photo

    The total of 49 chicks contains three that were near stake 19 that could be the chicks from the hybrid nest that was at that stake. Stake #21 had two chicks that appear to be COTEs (photo ď20200627_162622.jpgĒ).

    Image 20200627_162622.jpg, tern chick, North Brother, NS, June 27, 2020 - Alix d'Entremont photo
    Image 20200627_162622.jpg, tern chick, North Brother, NS, June 27, 2020 - Alix d'Entremont photo

    Of 49 nests with at least 1 egg, 36 (73.5%) had at least 1 chick. Two nests with no chicks each had a warm egg, which could add to our total of nests that hatched at least one chick.

    Roseate Tern chick, North Brother, NS, June 27, 2020 - Alix d'Entremont photo
    Roseate Tern chick, North Brother, NS, June 27, 2020 - Alix d'Entremont photo

    Roseate Tern chick, North Brother, NS, June 27, 2020 - Alix d'Entremont photo
    Roseate Tern chick, North Brother, NS, June 27, 2020 - Alix d'Entremont photo

    Roseate Tern chick, North Brother, NS, June 27, 2020 - Alix d'Entremont photo
    Roseate Tern chick, North Brother, NS, June 27, 2020 - Alix d'Entremont photo

    Thank you, Alix and Kathleen.

    June 30, 2020 - This evening, Ronnie d'Entremont reports three species of terns at Dennis Point wharf, Lower West Pubnico, NS; Common, Arctic, and Roseate Terns! A good place you can drive to, to see a Roseate Tern!

    Roseate Tern, Dennis Point wharf, NS, June 30, 2020 - Ronnie d'Entremont photo
    Roseate Tern, Dennis Point wharf, NS, June 30, 2020 - Ronnie d'Entremont photo

    Thanks, Ronnie.



    Field-readable Roseate Tern leg bands - North Brother - 2020. (See below)

    Resighted and new leg bands on Roseate Terns from North Brother in 2020
    June 3, 2020
    Red B04 ? leg -
    1172-79304, Sex unknown
    Banded on North Brother as a chick on July 20, 2011
    Seen on Gull Island, Nova Scotia, in 2017.
    May 31, 2020
    June 3, 2020
    Red B12 right leg -
    1172-79313, Female (from head-bill length)
    Banded on North Brother as an adult on June 21, 2012.
    Also seen on Gull Island in 2017 and 2018, and on NB in 2019.
    June 3, 2020
    Red B25 right leg -
    1172-79329, Sex unknown
    Banded on North Brother as a chick July 3, 2012.
    Previously seen on Gull Island in 2018, and on North Brother in 2019.
    June 3, 2020
    Red B39 right leg -
    1172-79344, Sex unknown
    Banded as an adult on North Brother on June 20, 2013.
    Also seen on N. Brother in 2014, 2015, and 2019,
    on North Brother and on Gull Island in 2017,
    and on Gull Island in 2018.
    May 20, 2020
    May 31, 2020
    Red B40 right leg -
    1172-79345, Sex unknown
    Banded as an adult on North Brother on June 20, 2013
    Also seen on North Brother in 2016 and 2018, and on Gull Island in 2017.
    May 31, 2020
    Red B65 left leg -
    0802-04928, Male (from head-bill length)
    Banded as a chick on North Brother on July 16, 2007
    Previously seen on North Brother in 2014, 2015, 2016 and 2019,
    and on Gull Island in 2017 and 2018.
    June 3, 2020
    Red B95 right leg -
    9822-51530, Sex unknown
    Banded on North Brother as a chick July 11, 2014.
    Observed on Gull Island in 2018, and on North Brother in 2019.
    June 3, 2020
    Red C59 left leg -
    1172-79564, Sex unknown
    Banded as a chick on Country Island, Nova Scotia, on June 29, 2012.
    Previously seen on Gull Island in 2017, and on North Brother in 2019.
    June 3, 2020
    Red L12 right leg -
    9822-51546, Sex unknown
    Banded as a chick on North Brother, Nova Scotia on July 10, 2015.
    Nested on Gull Island in 2018.
    Seen on North Brother in 2019.
    June 3, 2020
    Red L13 right leg -
    9822-51547, Sex unknown
    Banded as a chick on North Brother, Nova Scotia on July 10, 2015.
    Seen on Peases Island in 2018, and on North Brother in 2019.
    May 31, 2020
    Red L32 right leg -
    9822-51561, Male (courtship feeding of female)
    Banded as a chick on North Brother, Nova Scotia on July 10, 2015.
    Seen on North Brother in 2019.
    May 31, 2020
    Red L36 left leg -
    9822-51567, Male (from head-bill length)(
    Banded on North Brother as an adult on June 22, 2015. Seen on
    Gull Island in 2017, on Peases Island in 2018, and on NB in 2019.
    June 3, 2020
    Red L40 left leg -
    9822-51569, Female (from head-bill length)
    Banded as an adult on North Brother on June 22, 2015.
    Seen on Gull Island in 2017, and on North Brother in 2019.
    May 31, 2020
    Red L47 right leg -
    9822-51573, Sex unknown
    Banded as a chick on North Brother, Nova Scotia. on July 5, 2016
    Seen on North Brother in 2019.
    June 3, 2020
    Red L53 left leg -
    9822-51577, Sex unknown
    Banded on North Brother as a chick on July 5, 2016.
    Seen on North Brother in 2019.
    May 31, 2020
    Red L87 right leg -
    9822-52910, Sex unknown
    Banded on North Brother, Nova Scotia, as a chick on July 11, 2016.
    Seen on North Brother in 2019.
    May 31, 2020
    June 3, 2020
    Red L93 left leg -
    9822-52914, Sex unknown
    Banded as an adult on North Brother on June 15, 2017
    and received a PathTrack GPS tag.
    Encountered on Gull Island in 2017 and 2018.
    Nesting on Gull Island in 2018 with an unbanded bird.
    Seen on North Brother in 2019.
    May 31, 2020
    June 3, 2020
    Red L94 left leg -
    9822-52915, Sex unknown
    Originally banded in 2005 in Mangue Seco, Brazil, with band H70051
    Rebanded on North Brother as an adult in 2017 with leg band L94.
    Note: the Brazilian band was replaced as it was corroded and missing some
    bits of metal and in danger of falling apart.
    Observed on Gull Island in 2018, and on NB in 2019.
    May 31, 2020
    Red L95 left leg -
    9822-52916, Sex unknown
    Banded on North Brother as an adult on June 15, 2017.
    Observed on Gull Island in 2018, and on NB in 2019.
    May 31, 2020
    Red L99 left leg -
    9822-52919, Sex unknown
    Banded on North Brother as an adult on June 16, 2017.
    Observed on Gull Island in 2018.
    Paired with L00 on North Brother in 2019.
    June 3, 2020
    Yellow T83 left leg -
    1332-72783, Sex unknown
    Banded as a chick on Eastern Egg Rock, Maine, on June 24, 2016.
    Seen on North Brother in 2019.
    May 31, 2020
    June 3, 2020
    Red Y12 left leg -

    9822-52710 (lost USGS band), Sex Male (courtship feeding of female)
    seen carrying fish in courtship display
    on North Brother on May 30, 2017.
    Banded as a chick at Country Island on June 30, 2014
    and seen as an adult there on July 17, 2016
    Seen on North Brother in 2019.


    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, 2020