November 10, 1995

TERN REPORT - 1995 Ted C. D'Eon

  • TERN REPORT 1996
  • TERN REPORT 1997
  • TERN REPORT 1998
  • March 28, 1995 - Lobster fisherman, Franklyn d'Entremont reports seeing 12 Gannets flying southeast from Mud I. towards Cape Sable.

    April 3, 1995 - Carl d'Entremont comes with me to Gannet Rock where we place 6 cedar Gannet decoys and 11 Gannet plywood cutouts near the highest part of the rock.

    April 15, 1995 - About 100 Gannets in groups of up to 10 flying by Mud I, reported by Franklyn d'Entremont.

    April 16, 1995 - On Holmes Island, with Kirk Atkinson and my son, Nigel, we place 14 Roseate Tern nest boxes which have been supplied by the Nova Scotia Dept. of Natural Resources (DNR), Wildlife Division. We see one mature Gannet flying by, heading east from Holmes.

    April 25, 1995 - Return to Gannet Rock alone to check on the decoys. All the decoys, except for 2 plywood cutouts, have been washed out or blown away in the late winter storm of April 4 and 5. The winds were of hurricane force and the seas were very high. The local lobster fishermen incurred heavy trap losses. A Great Cormorant in breeding plumage makes 2 passes while I am on the rock. The 2 plywood decoys are reglued to the rock with silicone adhesive. On April 3 they had obviously been glued with the wrong glue for the job. In 1994 I had used silicone adhesive and the decoys had remained in place. The silicone had very little adhesive properties until it cured, at which time it made a very strong bond. The adhesive I used on April 3, made by "MONO", had better immediate adhesive properties, however, it stayed gummy and did not "cure" to give it the required strength. Also of note on this day, I fell overboard at Gannet Rock and had an EXTREMELY difficult time at getting back aboard the boat. (There is a story here, but I will not go into it!)

    May 1, 1995 - My first visit to The Brothers this year. Adam D'Eon and I check and prepare the Roseate Tern nest shelters. No terns seen or heard. No gull nests to remove.

    May 2, 1995 - Ashton Spinney reports about 25 "terns" near Tusket Island.

    May 4, 1995 - Return to Northern Brother with Adam to erect the the "Tern Colony Sign" sent to me by the DNR. We also cut out the netting from some washed-up lobster traps. Before I began cutting out this netting, dead terns (more often than not, Roseate) were often found caught in these traps.

    May 5, 1995 - Lobster fisherman, Robert Nickerson reports about 24 "terns" above N. Brother. Carl Spinney reports Gannets still going by the Outer Bald Tusket I. in groups of 25 to 30.

    May 9, 1995 - Viewed The Brothers from the mainland with a spotting scope. No terns seen on either island; no terns around the ponds on the adjacent mainland; no terns to be seen in Pubnico Harbour.

    May 11, 1995 - To Noddy Island with Adam D'Eon, Sherman d'Entremont, and Jean-Bernard d'Entremont as crew. There are about 23 Puffins in the puffin cove; no courtship behaviour observed. There are also 150 to 200 seals, both Harbour and Gray, in this cove, along with dozens of Black Guillemots. Ashore on Mud I., we see 1 Canada Goose and more than 100 Common Eiders. Observations on Noddy I. are from the boat.

    May 13, 1995 - On N. Brother, about 12 Roseate Terns among the 150 Common and Arctic terns. Some courtship behaviour is observed. All observations are from the boat.

    May 16, 1995 - Collect a headless Common Tern on the wharf at Ledge Harbour, Middle West Pubnico. I cannot determine the cause of death.

    May 17, 1995 - Visit to The Brothers with Anselm d'Entremont, to check for Gull nests and to remove any which would be found. None are found. (I do have a permit from Canadian Wildlife Services to remove any gull nests I might find on The Brothers.) The terns have not laid yet. There is 1 Common Eider nest with 5 eggs on S. Brother.

    May 23, 1995 - Return to Gannet Rock accompanied by Adam. Found 2 Black-backed Gull nests, 1 Black Guillemot on nest, and about 20 Arctic Terns in the air with no evidence of nesting.

    On Holmes I. we find about 150 Common and 150 Arctic Terns; no eggs laid yet. Also found are 1 Black-backed Gull nest with 3 eggs and 1 Common Eider nest with 5 eggs. No signs of Roseate Terns.

    June 10, 1995 - Pinch Gut Island - 165 tern nests. About 50:50 Common/Arctic mix. Also found are 2 Willet nests, 1 Black Duck nest with 8 eggs, and 1 Common Eider nest. I am accompanied by Adam, Lester, and Donna D'Eon, and by Lauren and Kendrick d'Entremont.

    June 14, 1995 - Census Day

    457 tern nests on N. Brother, including 23 Roseate tern nests. Also 1 Common Eider nest and 1 Spotted Sandpiper nest.


          June 7/90 June 11/91 June 11/92 June 9/93 June 8/94 June 14/95
    N. Brother  302        441        413       367       380        457
    S. Brother   28         13          0         0         0          0
         TOTAL  330        454        413       367       380        457
               - Out of those 457 nests, 23 are of Roseate Terns.
                 4 of my 10 Roseate Tern nest boxes are being used.
                11  Roseate nests were are under other shelters.
                 8 Roseate nests are in the open or under vegetation.

    June 21, 1995 - 2 Common Tern nests, each with 3 eggs, are found on Œle Chespˆque in Pubnico Harbour. The island is also identified on some charts, as Chesapeake I. and on others, as Rat I. Though terns have nested in Pubnico Harbour in the past, these are the firsts for me.

    June 22, 1995 - Roseate Tern nest count - Northern Brother's I. Accompanied by my son Nigel, and nephew, Adam Atkinson.

                 33 Roseate Tern nests - 6 chicks just a few days old.
               - Breakdown -  4 in my nest boxes (out of 10)
                               (5 nest boxes being used on July 11/95)
                              2 under dory bottom.
                             10 under other cover
                              9 under vegetation
                              8 in the open


    June /90 June 23/91 June 18/92 June 20/93 July 12/94 June 22/95 ?? 20 23 30 34 33

    June 24, 1995 - To Round I., Flat I., and Noddy I. with my daughter, Ingrid, and Missie and Aldric d'Entremont. Almost lost the boat attempting a landing on Round I. Everyone gets wet but the story ends well. There are a few Puffins along with the Black Guillemots in the water adjacent to the east side of the island. On Flat I. we count only 2 Arctic Tern nests. From the cove on Noddy I. we can count about 15 Puffins. No Puffins are seen carrying fish. There are still plenty of seals in the cove though the number is down from that of May 11.

    July 3, 1995 - Into Pubnico Harbour to île Ferrée with Nigel, and Kirk, Adam, and Andrea Atkinson. There are several Roseate Terns circling the small island along with 8 to 10 Common Terns. No signs of active nests - perhaps, next year!

    We find a third tern nest on île Chespêque, and another tern nest along with a Willet nest on a tiny flat island in the channel going to Pubnico Head, and adjacent to the Pubnico Marsh. This island, with name unknown to me, is only centimetres above the normal high water mark and is completely underwater when the tides are full.

    July 11, 1995 - On N. Brother with Richard Surette, and Angus and Stella McLean we count 13 Roseate Tern chicks. 2 of my nest boxes still have 1 egg each; 3 of the nest boxes each have 1 Roseate chick inside. 2 very young chicks are in their nests in the vegetation, and 2 are under the dory bottom. The remainder of the chicks are all under overturned lobster crates or other shelters.

    July 12, 1995 - I return to N. Brother with Nigel and Andrew D'Eon, and Richard and Joel Surette for a very quick visit. We find what I believe is Roseate Tern chick #14. One Common or Arctic Tern fledged chick is stuck in the netting of a lobster trap and is freed by Andrew.

    We continue to The Thrum where Donald Sam of the DNR told me they saw tern activity on a earlier aircraft census. Sure enough we find a small colony of what I take to be Arctic Terns. About 20 nests are found, some with chicks, some still with eggs; others are empty. I would estimate that had we been here a month earlier we would have found a colony of about 50 nests. No signs of Roseate Terns. Gulls and at least 1 Spotted Sandpiper also nest here, but away from the terns.

    July 20, 1995 - With Donald Sam of the DNR we visit the N. Brother and access the effects of the adjacent aquaculture project on the tern colony. The terns show no distress as the boat comes within a few metres of the island with the motor on idle. On the island we find more than a dozen dead tern chicks. There was a huge downpour a couple of days ago. Most of these probably suffered from exposure. However, it is late in the nesting season, and the colony has done well. No one is feeding the fish at this time.

    We continue to Holmes I. where we see Common and Arctic Terns but have to search hard to find any evidence of nesting. A few years ago I had been there and found a substantial colony nesting on the high ground in a rather dispersed distribution along with at least a dozen gulls. On my April 16 visit we had placed the DNR Roseate shelters on this high ground. Today we find our only tern nests on a sandy area above the beach on the eastern side on the island. There are only 3 or 4 nests with either very young chicks or eggs in them. No evidence of fledgelings or of older chicks seeking refuge in the beach rocks as there should be. My suspicion, and I assume Donald's also, is that the gulls are probably eating the tern chicks shortly after they hatch and probably getting some of the eggs too.

    We then continue to Gannet rock. The water is too rough to make a safe landing. We can see the 2 plywood Gannet decoys still attached to the rock but there is no evidence of Gannet presence. There is, however, still some Arctic Tern as well as Black Guillemot activity. Great and Double-crested Cormorants are also seen resting on the rock.

    Sept 2, 1995 - Alone to Noddy I. to look for Puffin burrows or evidence of nesting sites, and I find none.


    1995 proved to be a record year for the terns on N. Brother. The fledgeling number is believed to be high. The number of Roseate Tern nest was comparable to that of 1994 (1 less), but the hatching success was much improved. The reason, I believe , is primarily the weather. Last summer was wet, foggy, and cold and not very condusive to egg hatching at it's best. Snowy Owl predation did not help the situation and the colony fared very poorly. This summer was warmer and drier, with probably fewer avian preditors. As for the adjacent aquaculture project, I could see no negative effects on the tern colony.

    The tern colony on Pinch Gut I. appears stable at 165 nests, however it was not revisited after June 10, 1995. The Holmes I. colony probably produces no fledgelings. The tern colony on The Thrum was new to me, this year, although I had been told in the past that there was one there, and upon checking the island several years in a row, I had not seen any evidence. The return of nesting terns to Pubnico Harbour was a pleasant surprise.

    The Puffins of Noddy I. were never observed carrying fish on any of my visits there, in 1995. I hope I was only there at the wrong times to see this. During the nesting seasons of 1993 and of 1994, I had observed them carrying fish in their bills.

    The second year of the Gannet Rock Project ran into a snag when the April storm washed or blew away our Gannet decoys. With the help of Lester D'Eon, Kendrick d'Entremont, and Neil LeBlanc manufacturing fibreglass decoys for the project we will make a third attempt in 1996. This time the decoys will be glued to the rock and as well tied together to a nearby rock anchor. In 1995. the Audubon Society, under the leadership of Steve Kress, placed Gannet decoys along with a Gannet colony soundtrack on an island called Seal Island, situated off the coast of Maine. The summer of 1995 had record numbers of Gannet sightings in Lobster Bay; almost all immature birds. Perhaps in a few years we will have an actual Gannet colony in our neighbourhood.

    There were no gull nests to remove from The Brothers during 1995.

    Ted C. D'Eon

    P.O. Box 100
    West Pubnico
    Nova Scotia  B0W 3S0
    phone (home)1-902-762-2097
               (FAX) 1-902-762-2885

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    © Ted C. D'Eon, 1995