Saturday, May 29, 2010

Chicks and Terns!

I decided to take the boat for cruise around the islands
to see if there were any newly hatched babies.
I called my friend Alvin and we were off.
Our first stop was Goose Island, we know the
Cormorants were hatching, but how about the Gulls?

Surely enough, along the sandy coastline we saw the
first little puffballs of the season, Great Black-back Gull
chicks love to hang out along the shoreline, and there were a few,
just yards from the bow of the boat.
I never get tired of these little guys, they are beautiful.

We head off to Cockenoe Island in Westport, I know we will find a few American Oystercatcher chicks along this islands coastline, not to be disappointed, as soon as we saw the first pair of adults, we saw one, two, then three little fuzzy chicks following their parents around.

From the south side of the island we saw that the heron colony was doing well, then a Least Tern flies overhead with a small fish in it's bill, I follow the tern with my binoculars but soon lose it in the distance.
What I do know is that this bird is bringing food back to a nest, what I what to know is where is that nest?

Least Terns are on the Threatened Species List in Connecticut, mostly due to the losses of their preferred nesting areas, they nest just above the high tide lines along sandy beach areas.
They need little to no human disturbance and absolutly no disturbance from dogs, feral cats, raccoons and others, a hard spot to find in Connecticut these days.

Anyway, we made our way out to the small sand bar (or whats left to it, from severe erosion)
and darn if there aren't a few terns flying around, as we get closer to the tiny sand spit, we see more and more terns. Mostly Common Terns but there are a few Least in the flocks.
As we scan through the birds on shore we see many birds sitting on nest, 50, 60 70 nesting birds.

Then it hits me, it's Memorial Day weekend, hundreds of boaters will becoming here in the next few days, and if these birds don't get some sort of protection immediately, none of their eggs will make it through the weekend.

It's 1pm, I make a phone call to Nick Bonomo, hopefully he can help organize something very quickly.
We talk briefly and Nick is on the case, the word gets out on CT Birds and the ball is rolling.
Charlie Barnard calls me and said he has some left over signs and stakes from when DEP roped off Long Beach in Stratford a few week ago, he will walk the one mile to get them, he knows there are not enough for what we need, and stops at a hardware store to pick up more stakes, twine and ribbon.
He also makes a stop at the Town of Westport they have a few more signs available.

We meet back at the boat at 4:30, Charlie, Alvin and I have the nesting area completely roped of by six o'clock.
I can't believe the response from the many people that stepped up to make this happen so fast.
Not in any particular order, The Town of Westport, CT DEP, US Fish and Wildlife, National Audubon, CT Audubon, and the many individuals that made this happen.
Thanks to All!

One of the newly hatched GBB Gulls.
Tell me this isn't adorable!

Most gulls are still siting on nest

This little gem is an American Oystercatcher chick

Be very careful if walking the islands, these guys are
to small to get away, little stones are like mountains
to them, they hide in between the rocks and
can easily be stepped on as they are almost invisible.

This adult oystercatcher was trying to protect it's
young from the dive bombing terns.
When the terns got to close to the Oystercatchers
chicks, in return the adult Oystercatcher would chase off the terns,
it seemed to be never ending, the oystercatchers
had this place all to themselves until a day or two ago.

Least Tern sitting on eggs.

A small smattering of the hundred or so
Common terns here.

This are part of the signs that were put up.

Three Common Tern eggs, again almost invisible
they can easily be stepped on, dogs and other
animals can sniff them out.
Loose animals running through a nest site,
can easily destroy many, many eggs!

I hope people respect this area and give it a
wide berth


  1. Great report. Hopefully people respect the signs

  2. thanks, Larry.

    I saw the Terns out there earlier this week and were glad to see them back after all the storms.

    Good jobs with signs, next time give me a call, too.

    David Park

  3. Good for you and the team Larry. Wonderful story.
    Chris filmer

  4. Larry, Charlie and Alvin, you are heroes.


  5. Hi Larry,

    Great Job! Perhaps someone should try and get the local press interested in highlighting the story - might help keep people away?


  6. Hi Larry,

    We went out earlier this morning by boat around 7AM
    to go by Cockenoe island and check to see if all was
    calm. We are happy to report that all was calm and the
    chicks and mothers were fine.

    We cruised by slowly around the island and used our
    scope that was secured on the boat to scan around the
    island. This was most helpful and important as to not
    disturb the birds.

    The boat did not land at that time although later on we did go
    back by and landed briefly, to secure a couple of stakes
    by a hammer. They were leaning over and about to fall
    onto a nesting area on the wrack line. Lots of large rocks
    made it difficult secure the posts with signs but it was accomplished. We watched as boaters cruised by and
    seemed to be reading the signs, wave to us with a
    thumbs up and then just kept going. This was a good
    thing to see and I was glad that boaters with dogs will
    hopefully continue to follow the signs and not go onto
    the island at all!

    THANK YOU Larry for letting us know and all those that
    pitched in for a super job well done! This just goes to
    show you how the power of technology, great people
    and local organizations can get together at a moments
    notice to help out! This just fantastic!


  7. Thanks for all the comments,
    Hero's? Those are the men and women that we are paying respect to this weekend!
    I am not one.
    Thanks though!

  8. Fabulous chick shots! Sounds like you shoot papparazzi in Los Angeles, doesn't it?

  9. Robin,
    Awesome, LOL! Guess I'm about the only papparazzi these birds have to deal with.
    Most of these pixs are from the boat, I cheated and took a few from shore after we put up the stakes.
    I want no part of L.A.
    Just these islands.