Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Common and Least Tern Colonies

This afternoon I went to New Made Island (aka Tern Island) with Anthony Graves.  The island is located in Moriches Bay and has been a habitat restoration project spearheaded by the Town of Brookhaven with help from other government agencies.  Last year was quite successful with over 100 breeding pairs, but this year got off to a slow start.  After we cleared some new vegetation and installed the bird caller, a follow-up visit yielded just a handful of Terns and a caller that wasn't working.  The caller was restarted and today we were surprised to find about 75 birds using the island and making scrapes.  It didn't appear that there were any active nests - even though there were this time, but there are several reasons that could be, including the possibility of birds having the nests flooded out on a nearby marsh island.  Regardless, it was nice to see so many birds there.  Unfortunately I was unable to get any photos because I had to wade 1/4 mile to the island from the boat due to the tide.

When we got back to the mainland, the "resident" Least Bittern on private property in Brookhaven Hamlet was heard calling, but was deep in the phragmites so it was not seen.  The bird has been present in the same location for several weeks now, but I don't think it will be successful in finding a mate!

This evening I took a kayak ride into Flanders Bay in the hopes of spotting some Saltmarsh or Seaside Sparrows on several marsh islands in the Bay.  I didn't find anything (perhaps a trip at high-tide will be better) but saw a few Osprey and other common birds.  I then headed over to a spit of land at the end of a Town owned park which is really only accessible by boat (you can walk there along the shore, but it's broken up by several sections of marsh).  To my surprise, there was a Least Tern colony of about 26-30 birds.  There were many scrapes and a few nests with 1 or 2 eggs were located.  Common Terns were also present and may possibly look to breed on the site as I observed what appeared to be courtship behavior.  Also, there is no other suitable location for these Common Terns to be nesting in the area so it is quite likely they will co-mingle with the Least Terns which is a bit unusual.

If you love birds that make a living on and near the water - look no further than this awesome book by Ted Cross:  Waterbirds.  I received it as a Christmas Gift and the book is truly visually stunning and the stories/information is incredible.  Highly recommended!  

1 comment:

  1. Wonderful shots, I really like those speckled eggs in the sand!