Thursday, July 15, 2010

The Terns Survived

After this weeks new moon tides, three 8.5 and one 8.6 tide, I had to think that the Cockenoe Island Tern Colony had to have been devastated, a look around at low tide on Tuesdays, Norwalk Seaport Associations Bird Cruise didn't reveal a whole lot of birds.

We could see where the previous night tide line came up to, there was very little island left above the tide line, if a bird couldn't fly away it may have been swept away by the extra high tide and the currents.

I had to get a better look at high tide, when I can get my boat very close to the island.

I already knew that the Least Terns nest went underwater, as they play Russian Roulette with the tides, yes these nest were gone, but as I peered closer, I could see life on this tiny sand spit, and a whole lot of life there was.

I counted one hundred Common Tern chicks , there were more, I was so impressed to see that these chicks survived, I stopped counting them and started looking for Least Tern chicks.

On the southern edge of the island, there they were, first one, then two, three, four , five, perhaps a dozen made it, alright!

Though their nest have been wiped out twice from big tides, this Least Tern seems to want to try again. Again well below the tide line. Recognize the coffee cup in the backround?

The adult American Oystercatcher is to the left, note the bright orange bill, yellow eyes and orange eye ring. The youngster in the middle still has black in its bill and has dark eyes and no eye ring.
Click to enlarge any of these photos.

Here is one of the few Least Tern chicks that survived.

Least Terns are on the Threatened Species List in Connecticut, and are on the Federal Endangered Species List in other parts of the United States.

This herring species fish is now dinner for one of the hundred or more Common Terns chicks running about.

Common Tern chicks are at all ages out here, this one has fledged and can fly short distances.

They are loud and cranky, I was target practice. They won!

A younger Common Tern chick, huddling up to an old Lobster pot buoy.

Adult Common Tern in the backround, with it's chick in the foreground.

I know its hazy, hot and humid, but talk about a bad hair day.

This young oystercatcher is learning to preen its feathers.
Edward Scissorhands?

Part of the Heron Colony out here. On a recent survey that I was part of with CT DEP

108 Great Egret nest were counted, 27 Snowy Egret nest, Glossy Ibis and Little Blue Heron had five nest each plus a number of Black-crowned Night Herons.

These areas are off limit to the public, they are NASTY, filled with poison ivy, broken glass, vines prickers, and stink beyond belief!
Please don't even think about it.

Besides, most of the colony has fledged, these birds are now feeding inside the bay at high tide.
There were over one hundred herons and egrets feeding here.

I keep checking on these dudes, I cropped the third bird on the left out of the picture, as I was awed by this pose.

A bit more cropping, incredible!

This is The Norwalk Seaport Associations brand spanking new tour boat, The C.J. Toth Quest.

At 45 feet, it is an incredibly comfortable vessel. If you have any interest in seeing the wildlife around the Norwalk Islands, or even just a nice three hour get away, book a seat on this boat for one of the very popular bird cruises, I promise you won't be disappointed, it's quite awesome.
In the backround is the Seaports Sheffield Island Light House which can be visited daily.

Visit for times and reservations, for both the Lighthouse and the Bird Tours.


  1. Larry,

    It is gratifying to hear that the Common Terns did so well. Other than Faulkner's Island, I don't know of any other large Common Tern colony in Connecticut waters. Even the Least Terns managed to fledge a few chicks, which is very good news. Could it be possible that the Least Terns which are re-nesting are making a 3rd attempt?
    Thanks for keeping an eye on things and letting us know how things turned out.

  2. Charlie,
    Thats a great question, I understand they will make a second nesting attempt, but a third?
    It sure looks like it to me, there were other Least Terns doing the same, she was not alone.
    Also there are still many Common Terns nesting at this time, so there will be more of them on the way.