Date: 6/18/18 5:40 am From: RALPH ELDRIDGE <lightrae1...> Subject: [Maine-birds] MACHIAS SEAL ISLAND REPORT
Will it ever warn up? I suppose it is getting better but it seems a slow grind.
Last week produced more species than we usually see this far into the post-migration season.
There were brief visits by an EASTERN KINGBIRD, a EASTERN MEADOWLARK, an EASTERN BLUEBIRD, 2 EASTERN PHOEBES, 2 ROBINS and a BLACKPOLL WARBLER.
A RED BREASTED NUTHATCH and a BLACK TERN each continue to linger and at least once there was a sub-adult Black Tern present, along with the usual adult.
Young SAVANNAH SPARROWS are beginning to emerge and adults can be seen carrying food to lots of nest locations.
At least one GREY CATBIRD continued its multi-week visit, although it hasn't been very visible over the weekend. I'm beginning to wonder whether it's still around or whether it's just adopted extreme stealth tactics to avoid the attention of aggressive Terns.
Also sighted last week were a very late HARLEQUIN DUCK, 2 RED KNOTS and a white (leucistic) COMMON MURRE. (Our partially white Puffin is back to it's regular location, apparently nesting.)
Swallows of various persuasions were uncharacteristically frequent last week. Granted, only 1,2 or 3 at a time, but we rarely see any outside of migration. ROUGH WINGED, TREE, CLIFF AND BARN SWALLOWS were all identified.
Also uncharacteristic was one day with several BUTTERFLIES. 2 TIGER SWALLOWTAILS were of special note.
Wednesday's BIRD-OF-THE-DAY: a LITTLE BLUE HERON the stirred up all manner of fuss among the Terns so, with the help of a Tern escort, I encouraged it to leave the island.
The Terns are still dropping eggs and establishing some new nests but most are well into their incubation. Overall, the number looks good this year. A NEST CENSUS was conducted on the weekend, with a total of about 450 as the final tally. That's only about 11% of the all-time high but it's also a very good recovery. Now it's a waiting game to see how many actually fledge: the actual chick survival. The first hatching has started. We saw a handful during the census and there are a few around the lawns. Hopefully, those first out of the shell will survive the fog that we had overnight and the potentially heavy rain that's forecast. We depend on a cistern for our domestic water so we like to have rain on a regular basis. However, for the Tern's sake, two or three warm, dry weeks would be good.
The Alcids are just beginning to bring food, evidence that a few young have hatched. An occasional RAZORBILL or MURRE chick can be spotted peaking from under its parent. Weather doesn't bother them as much as it does the Terns but it's still a factor. Everybody's chicks need to be protected and fed and that's harder to do when the weather is sour.
COMMON EIDERS are much in evidence. The Eider nesting population swings widely from year to year. I've seen a low of 38 nests and a high of nearly 160. The Eider nest count (conducted incidental with the Tern Nest Census) yielded 78 nests with eggs or hens present. That's potentially around 250-300 ducklings. Survival rate here is usually better than average. As I've mentioned before, this species tends to nest later here and the heft of the ducklings can be expected around July 1st.
LAUGHING GULLS are daily visitors and there has been some apparent nest-site prospecting.
The 3 GANNETS continue to frequent the island and their favored spots, although for the last few days only 2 of them have been seen at the same time. It looks like their interest in nesting is on the wane. Yesterday, one was seen with nesting material but just that one time.
I haven't seen any SPOTTED SANDPIPER chicks but some of the adult behaviour suggest that there are chicks off the nest and foraging.