TERN REPORT - 1997 Ted C. D'Eon

  • TERN REPORT 1995
  • TERN REPORT 1996
  • TERN REPORT 1998
  • TERN REPORT 1999
  • TERN REPORT 2000
  • TERN REPORT 2001
  • TERN REPORT 2002

  • 1997 had an even higher number of tern nests ever, since I have been keeping statistics. There were 630 tern nests on N. Brother and 126 on S. Brother. 48 of these on N. Brother and 6 on S. Brother were Roseate Tern nests, for a total of 54 Roseate Tern nests in 1997.
  • In 1996, there were 554 tern nests on N. Brother, 47 of which were Roseate and 12 on S. Brother, including, for the first time, 1 Roseate Tern nest, therefore 1997 had a substancial increase over the previous year.
  • There were 16 tern nests on île Chespêque in Pubnico Harbour all believed to be the Common Tern variety. No tern chicks there are known to have survived in Pubnico Harbour, most likely due to gull or owl predation.
  • Gannet Rock and Holmes Island had no terns in 1997. This may be the reason for the increased number on The Brothers.
  • There were fewer than usual numbers of Arctics on N. Brother whereas the majority on S. Brother were Arctic Terns in 1997. Most of the missing terns which nested on Gannet Rock and Holmes I. in 1996, were Arctics.
  • Pinch Gut I. was again a stable, mostly Common Tern, colony in 1997.
  • Eight gull nests were destroyed on S. Brother in 1997. No gulls nested on N. Brother.
  • At least 20 Roseate Tern chicks hatched.
  • A estimate of more than 50 tern chicks survived to fledgling on S. Brother in 1997. This is the first time I have seen any survive on this island.
  • Chick survival was good as well on N. Brother. Food appeared to be plentiful in the local area. The weather was unusually favourable during the critical periods and there were no apparent undue disturbances either by man or other predators.
  • The aquaculture site adjacent to N. Brother had again, this year, no negative impact on the success of the tern colony.
  • The use of old car tires as Roseate Tern nest shelters had a slight and limited success in 1997. One Roseate Tern laid an egg in one tire shelter. It never hatched.

    The following is a chronological listing of my 1997 work with terns in general, of the Lobster Bay area, but especially with the Roseates Terns of The Brothers. The report also includes tern observations from other local residents.

    April 30, 1997 - My son, Nigel, and I fixed up a number of Roseate Tern nest shelters on N. Brother. We rearranged the tires which had not worked as Roseate Tern nest shelters in 1996. Three of them were half burried in the beach rock or soil at a 45 degree angle and propped open with stones. The remainder of the tires were lapped over each other all in a single grouping. A few washed up lobster crates were made into shelters by knocking off a board or two, turning them over at a suitable location and placing several heavy stones on top so they would not be moved by the elements.

    May 1, 1997 - Ed Spinney saw some Terns in the area around Soldiers Ledge.

    May 2, 1997 - Lobster fisherman, Réal d'Entremont reported about 12 Terns above N. Brother.

    May 3, 1997 - Lobster fisherman, Kirk Atkinson, reported about 50 terns a few kilometers west of the Brothers.

    May 5, 1997 - Nigel and I returned to N. Brother to install a Nova Scotia Dept. of Natural Resources "Tern Colony" sign on the north-east corner of the island and to fix up a few more Roseate Tern nest boxes.

    May 6, 1997 - Royden D'Eon, working at the aquaculture site near N. Brother reported about 50 terns over the island.

    May 12, 1997 - Réal d'Entremont reported "thousands" of terns above N. Brother. I suspect he may have exaggerated a bit.

    May 15, 1997 - Nigel and I made our first visit to S. Brother for this season. About 200 gulls were roosting on the island on our arrival. Four Great Black-backed Gull nests were destroyed. (I do have a permit from Canadian Wildlife Service to do so on The Brothers.)

    More intriguing were four Gull/Eider nests on the island. One contained 3 Common Eider eggs and 1 G.B-b. Gull egg. There was a moderate amount of eider down in the nest but not as much as a genuine Eider nest. There were 2 nests containing 1 Common Eider egg each with no eider down, but with some vegetation as a lining. The last one contained 2 Common Eider eggs with a little eider down and vegetation. All four of these nests deviated far enough from the norm of a genuine Common Eider nest, I can only presume they had been taken over and the eggs were being incubated by the gulls.

    Please note: Some of the gull eggs removed were definitely of the Great Black-backed variety, from the obvious size and shape. Others appeared somewhat smaller, but not having any measuring instruments with me at the time, I cannot swear they could not have been Herring Gull eggs.

    There were a few terns in the air above S. Brother. We fixed up a few Roseate tern shelters, and added a couple more which we made from washed up lonster crates. No Roseate Terns were heard nor observed on S. Brother. One Spotted Sandpiper was agitated upon our arrival on S. Brother.

    There were perhaps 200 terns of all three species on N. Brother. At least 2 Roseate terns were heard at the same time although only individuals were sighted at any particular time. There were no gull nests and no Common Eider nests on N. Brother. Many tern nest scrapings were observed, although no eggs had been laid yet.

    May 21, 1997 - N. Brother with Nigel and Barry Whalen. We found 23 tern nests; most probably all of the Common Tern. They were all in the grassy area where the predominant nesting bird is the Common Tern. 19 nests contained 1 egg; the other 4, 2 eggs. No apparent activity at the Roseate Tern shelters; no nests where the Arctics usually lay.

    Of the several hundred terns over the island I only saw or heard 1 Roseate Tern at any particular time. I am sure there are more.

    There were a few terns on The Thrum. We did not land to investigate.

    May 24, 1997 - At least 1 Roseate Tern on Pinch Gut I. among the 200 or so Common Terns and the very few Arcitcs. Egg laying had started; we found at least a 1/2 dozen tern nests and one Great Black-backed Gull's with 3 eggs in the centre of the colony. Also on Pinch Gut I. were 3 Common Eider nests. My crew consisted of Alix d'Entremont and Nigel.

    We searched higher up the Tusket River to Plymouth, where I had been told of a tern colony. None was found.

    On Gull Island we found 23 Common Eider nests. 3 of these were under the blue half barrels placed there for this purpose by N.S. Dept. of Natural Resources, several years ago. On our arrival there, about 60 Brant took to flight and after circling the island several times, settled on the water.

    May 27, 1997 - 6 tern nests (3 with 1 egg, 3 with 2 eggs) were found on île Chespêque in Pubnico Harbour; they were most probably of Common Tern.

    May 28, 1997 - As my boat slowly went by N. Brother, 3 Roseate Terns were observed; one of these with fish in bill was in courtship interaction with another.

    June 4, 1997 - île Chespêque, Pubnico Harbour - Nigel and I counted 16 tern nests. Most if not all the terns overhead were Commons. 8 nests contained 3 eggs, 2 nests contained 4 eggs, the remainder were ones and twos. The feathers from 1 dead adult was found; probable predation by an owl. Several gulls and Common Eiders nested on the island. One Common Eider nest contained 2 hatchlings and 2 eggs.

    On S. Brother we counted 59 tern nests. Most of the terns overhead were Arctics. There were a few Roseates in the air also and a few nests could be Roseate Tern nests. No nests were in or under shelters and there were very few nests in the grassy area. There was one Willet nest with 4 eggs, and 2 active Common Eider nests. One of these Eider nests was built about 15cm from an abandoned Eider nest with 1 egg. This abandoned Eider nest was one of the ones seen there on May 15/97; it contained no down, and now the lone Eider egg was almost completely covered over with vegetation. 4 gull nests were destroyed.

    June 8, 1997 - Trip to Gannet Rock and Green I (a.k.a. Green Rock) with crew composed of Andrew, Lance and Ghislaine D'Eon, and Nigel. No terns at or on any of the smaller Bald Tusket islands, none at Holmes I., none at Gannet Rock. It was a bit disappointing. In 1996 there was a small colony of Arctics on both Gannet Rock and on Holmes I.

    Kendrick d'Entremont and Adam D'Eon kayaked to The Thrum and counted 23 tern nests.

    June 9, 1997 - Daryl Amirault reported 12 immature terns with white foreheads sitting on the water about 40km south-west of Seal Island. Immatures from the 1996 season?

    June 12, 1997 - Census Day on N. Brother and S. Brother

    630 tern nests on N. Brother, including 33 Roseate tern nests. 120 tern nests on S. Brother!!!


    N. Brother S. Brother totals
    June 7, 1990 302 28 330
    June 11, 1991 441 13 454
    June 11, 1992 413 0 413
    June 9, 1993 367 0 367
    June 8, 1994 380 0 380
    June 14, 1995 457 0 457
    June 16, 1996 554 12 566
    June 12, 1997 630 120 750


    Roseate Terns at N. Brother

    Roseate Tern Nest

    Roseate Tern Newly Hatched

    Roseate Tern Young

    Out of those 630 nests on N. Brother, 32 were of Roseate Terns. The majority of the nests were on the grassy part of the island. There were only a few hatchlings. There were essentially no nests on the north-east corner of N. Brother where the Arctic Terns have historically nested. This is the area of bare beach cobble stones where the Nova Scotia Department on Natural Resources "Tern Colony" sign is erected. I assume the terns which nested there are now nesting on S. Brother.

    As we were approaching N. Brother, we noticed the terns were busy chasing a Raven towards the mainland (there is a possibility it may have been a Crow). The central depression of the island was littered with several dozen tern egg shells. From what I have seen of tern egg predation by gulls, the egg is usually eaten very close to where it was laid. This was different, and I expect the Raven (or the Crow) was the culprit.

    Almost all the nests on S. Brother were Arctic Tern's. There may have been a few Roseate and 1 or 2 Common Tern nests. There were only a few nests on the grassy area of the island; this should have been prime nesting space for Common Terns. S. Brother also had 3 Common Eider nests with 4 eggs and one with 5 eggs. A couple more Eider nests had already hatched.

    There were no gull nests to remove on either island.

    June 13, 1997 - île Chespêque in Pubnico Harbour - Jerome D'Eon and I counted 14 nests deemed to be Common Tern. This time there was only one tern nest containing 4 eggs and all eggs were being incubated. Six tern nests contained 3 eggs. There were no hatchlings.

    June 21, 1997 - 2 Roseate Terns were observed sitting on the green can buoy marking the entrance to the Cockerwit Passage at St John's Island.

    June 22, 1997 - Southern Brother - I found 6 Roseate Tern nests among the 126 mostly Arctic Tern nests on the island.

    June 24, 1997 - Pinch Gut Island - We counted 111 tern nests containing eggs or chicks. Most, if not all the nests, were Common Tern's. My crew consisted of Andrew D'Eon, Pam d'Entremont and her son Jean-Pierre, and my daughter, Ingrid. There was evidence of many more nests or nesting sites where the eggs were probably already hatched and the chicks gone. Had the nest count been carried out 2 weeks earlier, I would estimate there would have been over 150.

    One Merganser (probably a Common Merganser) nest with 9 eggs was found in the bushes near the southern end of the island. I believe this is the third year in a row we find such a nest here. The nest was lined with down, with a sprinkling of small white feathers mixed in.

    No Roseate Terns were seen or heard.

    June 25, 1997 - I went alone to N. Brother to do my yearly Roseate Tern Nest count.

    ROSEATE TERN STATISTICS as of June 25, 1997:

    June 12/97 June 25/97 ---------------------- ---------------------------------- No. Nest Location Eggs Nest Status NORTHERN BROTHER 1 grass 2 1 egg 1 chick 2 grass 1 empty 3 under crate 1 1 egg 4 under shelter 2 empty 5 under plywood 1 not recorded 6 under shelter 1 1 chick 7 under shelter 1 1 egg 8 under shelter 2 empty 9 adj. to dory bottom 1 not recorded 10 under dory bottom 1 1 egg 11 nest box 1 empty 12 under dory bottom 1 not recorded 13 adj. to dory bottom 2 2 eggs 14 nest box 2 1 egg 1 chick 15 nest box 1 1 egg 16 adj. to nest box 1 not recorded 17 nest box 1 1 egg 18 under a crate 1 1 chick 19 under a crate 1 1 egg 20 open 1 not recorded 21 under a tire 1 1 egg 22 under vegetation 1 not recorded 23 under vegetation 1 not recorded 24 open 2 not recorded 25 open 1 not recorded 26 adj. to a plank 2 not recorded 27 open 1 not recorded 28 under a crate 1 empty 29 grass 1 not recorded 30 under plywood 1 empty 31 under plywood 1 empty 32 under board 2 1 egg 1 chick 33 under shelter n/a 1 egg 34 open n/a 2 eggs 35 open n/a 1 chick 36 open n/a 1 egg 37 under shelter n/a 2 eggs 38 under shelter n/a 2 eggs 39 dory bottom n/a 1 egg (cold) 40 under shelter n/a 2 eggs 41 open vegetation n/a 2 eggs 42 open vegetation n/a 1 egg 43 open vegetation n/a 1 egg 1 egg hatching 44 in vegetation n/a 1 egg 45 open vegetation n/a 2 eggs 46 under crate cover n/a 2 eggs (cold) 47 open vegetation n/a 1 egg 48 open n/a 1 eggs SOUTHERN BROTHER (June 22/97) 49 open 1 egg 50 adj. to a log 1 egg 51 nest box 1 egg 52 under plywood 1 egg 53 under plywood 1 egg 54 open 2 eggs


    IN THE OPEN 10
    ADJ. TO A LOG 1

    Total 54 Roseate Tern nests - 5 chicks - A NEW RECORD

    All of the Roseate chicks were a few days old, maximum.


    Jun/90 Jun 23/91 Jun 18/92 Jun 20/93 Jul 12/94 Jun 22/95 Jun 28/96 Jun 25/97 ?? 20 23 30 34 33 48 54
    July 12, 1997 - I went alone to The Brothers to count the Roseate tern chicks.

    ROSEATE TERN CHICK STATISTICS as of July 12, 1997:

    June 12/97 June 25/97 July 12/97 ---------------------- ---------------------------------- No. Nest Location Eggs Nest Status Nest Status NORTHERN BROTHER 2 grass 1 empty empty 3 under crate 1 1 egg 1 chick (13 days) 4 under shelter 2 empty empty 5 under plywood 1 not recorded empty 6 under shelter 1 1 chick 1 chick (fledgling) unmarked shelter 1 chick (10 days) 7 under shelter 1 1 egg empty 8 under shelter 2 empty 1 chick (fledgling) under dory bottom 1 chick (almost fledged) near dory bottom 1 chick (14 days old) 11 nest box 1 empty empty 13 adj. to dory bottom 2 2 eggs 1 dead chick (5 days old at death) 14 nest box 2 1 egg 1 chick 1 egg 15 nest box 1 1 egg 1 chick (17 days old) near nest box 1 chick (17 days old) unmarked nest box 1 chick (12 days) 19 under a crate 1 1 egg egg hatched, no chick found 21 under a tire 1 1 egg 1 egg (cold & wet) 22 under vegetation 1 not recorded egg hatched, no chick 28 under a crate 1 empty 1 Roseate chick (14 days) 1 Common or Arctic (7 days) unmarked adj. to log 1 chick (5 days) 30 under plywood 1 empty empty 31 under plywood 1 empty empty unmarked shelter near #31 1 chick (14 days) 32 under board 2 1 egg 1 chick 1 dead chick (5 days at death) near #32 1 chick (17 days) 33 under shelter n/a 1 egg 1 chick (7 days) 38 under shelter n/a 2 eggs 2 eggs 40 under shelter n/a 2 eggs 1 chick (4 days) 46 under crate cover n/a 2 eggs (cold) eggs hatched? near #46 1 chick (almost fledged) 47 open vegetation n/a 1 egg 1 egg SOUTHERN BROTHER 49 open 1 egg 1 egg (warm, no sound) 51 nest box 1 egg 1 egg (could hear chick inside) 52 under plywood 1 egg 1 chick (7 days) under end of crate 1 egg (not cold but not incubating temp.)


    (the ages of the Roseate Tern chicks were my best guesses at the time)
    4 days old 1
    5 days old 1
    7 days old 2
    10 days old 1
    12 days old 1
    13 days old 1
    14 days old 3
    17 days old 3
    almost fledged 2
    fledgeling 2
    dead at 5 days 2
    scratching within egg 1
    TOTAL 20

    July 21, 1997 - Arrived on N. Brother with Bernard Surette to take a few tern photos. Lots of adults feeding young. A few dead immatures; none were Roseates. One more newly hatched Roseate Tern which appeared rather brown; not the usual gray. Its legs appeared lighter in colour than the typical Roseate Tern chick.

    TERN PHOTOS OF JULY 21, 1997

    Roseate Terns at N. Brother

    Roseate Terns at N. Brother

    Roseate Terns at N. Brother

    July 25, 1997 - S. Brother. Adult terns were feeding 50+ fledged young. There were still a few terns less than 1 week old. I found 2 almost-fledged immature Roseates hiding under some debris, 1 fledged Roseate chick, and 1 Roseate egg still being incubated. It was great to finally see some fledgling success on this island after over a decade of none.

    August 4, 1997 - About 12 immature Gannets were seen in a zone about 6 to 12 km. southwest of Abbott's Harbour, on a trip with Richard and Roderick d'Entremont, Alix d'Entremont, Andrew D'Eon, and Nigel to check out the Puffins of Noddy and Round Islands. The Gannets were not in a migratory mode and seemed to gravitate to locations where Harbour Porpoises were. I would assume they were both seeking the same quarry, probably mackerel.

    We also landed on Flat I. where Andrew reported a small number of terns on the western end of the island. The terns here have historically been Arctics.

    August 19, 1997 - I had some visitors, John Luce, from Vancouver, B.C., and Clyde Stoddard, from Cape Sable Island, who wanted to see a Roseate Tern. Nigel and I took them to N. Brother with a very slim chance of seeing any terns. There was one, single, immature tern left on the island. It was below the high water mark on the northeastern edge if the island. It WAS a fledgling Roseate Tern. Before we left the island, an adult Roseate arrived with a fish in its bill, which was fed to the young. A single adult Common Tern was also seen at N. Brother.

    August 26, 1997 - I met with The Honourable Christine Stewart, Federal Minister of the Environment, at the Digby Pines to be presented with an award for my work with the Roseate Terns. It was a very great honour.


    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
    Send E-Mail to: ted@ns.sympatico.ca © Ted C. D'Eon, 1997