Date: 7/16/17 6:36 pm From: Karen Burke <karendowneast...> Subject: [Maine-birds] Re: MACHIAS SEAL ISLAND REPORT
Another enjoyable post - thank you Ralph.
On Sunday, July 16, 2017 at 10:54:51 AM UTC-4, RALPH ELDRIDGE wrote: > > Well, the summer is chugging along and the breeding species seem to be > doing fairly well. The weather has been pretty good, for the most part, and > food appears to be reasonably plentiful although not always the best > quality. > > Some of the Terns have fledged and others should follow every day from now > on. > We do see individuals that exhibit retarded or interrupted development but > those sometimes make surprising comebacks. Some simply disappear, whether > by predation or just perishing in the heavy vegetation, their fate is total > speculation. > There are chicks of every age, eggs beginning incubation and eggs just > hatching. > Overall, it looks as if the Terns will end the season on a high note with > a fairly successful year. > Terns from from 2014, '15 & '16 are showing up. It's encouraging to see > those returning along with older, pre-crash birds. > > Clear, dry and moderately warm weather is good for the Tern chicks. It > likely helps the parents in their foraging, too. > The downside, though, is that clear weather frequently brings PEREGRINES > with their attendant colony disruption and potential killing of Tern > parents. A single-parent chick likely won't survive. > > The Puffins are also targeted by the falcons. Perhaps unfortunately, a lot > of the birds which are hit actually escape the talons, leaving the falcon > to strike again, prolonging the colony disruption and leaving wounded birds > who's survival may be compromised. > A few days ago I watched an adult, probable female Peregrine hit and knock > down 3 Puffins in less than a minute before it moved out of sight to > another part of the island. > So, while we may rail about fog, it does curtail virtually all raptor > activity over the colony. > > RAZORBILLS have been leaving in Papa/Junior pairs for a week or so. They > are seen marching towards the water but they leave the vicinity of the > island. This is the time of year when the pairs are frequently reported at > inshore locations. > > COMMON MURRES are also developing nicely, as are the PUFFINS. > The very earliest Pufflings could make their nocturnal trek to the water > within the week but the main body of youngsters will stay at home for maybe > another 3-4 weeks. They seem to be getting sufficient food but the quality > could be better. > > BLACK GUILLEMOTS continue to be seen around the boat landing, generally 2 > but occasionally 3 or more. There hasn't been any evidence of nesting, > although the apparent regulars seem to be a mated pair in full black & > white dress. > Regardless, they offer good opportunities for close, extended observation. On > Friday the "pair" let me walk to within 30 feet of them as they lounged > on the rocks beside the boat landing. They watched me but only left when > they felt sandwiched between me and an incoming boatload of tourists. > > SPOTTED SANDPIPERS are guarding broods all around the island. 3 chicks > seem common this year, although I have seen a couple of families with 4 > siblings. Judging from the broods which I've actually observed and the > presence of adults at other locations, I believe there may have been 12-15 > nests this year. That's around the high normal count that I'd expect. > Two of the families are on alternate sides of the boat ramp. I see them > every time I go down there. > One brood is likely 4 days older but now all 6 chicks are growing well and > have completely mastered their huge feet. > Interestingly, all of the adult sandpipers this year have exhibited the > normal close attention to their offspring but I have not seen a single > "crippled bird" distraction display this year. In fact, there hasn't been > much distraction activity at all. Adults have shown an unusual willingness > to remain very close to me while allowing their chicks to continue feeding > in the open. On one occasion an adult called all 3 chicks in to be brooded > and warmed less than 20 feet from me. I spent some 10 minutes photographing > the family until the chicks decided to resume their foraging and the adult > mounted its lookout atop a large rock. > > SHORTBILLED DOWICHERS continue quite numerous. Perhaps not the highest > count that I've ever seen but respectable. At the moment, from where I'm > sitting, I can see a group of 5 feeding adjacent to the lighthouse. Another > bunch of 17 is bathing in our containment pond, 5 are foraging under our > solar panels and there are 11 feeding on the lawn next door. > 50 or 60 isn't an unusual number in early July. > It's impossible to know how many of the birds are staying around or for > how long. I suspect that many of them stay for multiple days because they > have great feeding on the lawns. There is a ridicules amount of earthworms > and enough Wood Lice (Sow Bugs) to carry an elephant or two. > > The 2 or 3 CATBIRDS continue to build poor imitations of nests. The best > of them are barely recognizable as nest structures ... more a random jumble > of nest materials, including shredded paper from our compost. So far I've > located 4 of them. > Perhaps they are too occupied scoffing insects and grape jelly. > > While some EIDER ducklings are quite well grown now, new broods continue > to appear. I watched 4 newly minted fluff-balls travel to the shore > yesterday and experience their first immersion. Fortunately, sea conditions > have been exceptionally good lately. > > HARBOUR SEAL pups are a bit more visible now, often pulling out at random > points around the island. > GRAY SEALS are a lot bigger now and more inclined to haul out on Gull Rock > with the rest of the herd. > That said, there was male Gray pup just north of the boat ramp last > evening and a female Gray pup close to the south this morning. > > There have been a smattering of butterflies over the past 2 weeks but > there are virtually no plants flowering at the moment, so no incentive to > hang around. > One MONARCH BUTTERFLY was noted, especially for the early date. > August, into September produces our migrant butterflies and Hummingbirds. > That's when the island is normally wall-to-wall PURPLE ASTER. > > So far this summer has been nearly MOSQUITO free; a happy contrast with > 3-4 recent years. Nonetheless, I suspect that will change as we get more > summer weather. I hope that I lose that bet. > >