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.

    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!



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

    Resighted and new leg bands on Roseate Terns from North Brother in 2020
    May 20, 2020
    Red B40 right leg -
    1172-79345
    Banded as an adult on North Brother in 2013
    Also seen on North Brother in 2016 and 2018, and on Gull Island in 2017.


    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