Date: 6/29/18 7:53 am From: Shaibal Mitra <Shaibal.Mitra...> Subject: RE: [nysbirds-l] Roseate Tern Banding and Aging Follow Up
As we've been discussing with regard to Arctic and other species of scarce terns, at least some of the uptick in reports this season is due to increased and more highly focused effort at appropriate sites and dates. But even allowing for this, I think the numbers of Roseates are slightly better this year than during the past five or so years. My own counts of Roseates at various sites have been better than those of the last few years: 5 at Nickerson Beach 16 Jun; 9 at Fire Island Inlet 27 Jun; 6 at Moriches Inlet 10 & 24 Jun. But, as Bob points out, these numbers are paltry compared to what used to be, not very long ago.
The demise of the great Cedar Beach colony was a bit longer ago than Bob remembers. I know this with painful precision because it exactly preceded my arrival on Long Island: 1995-1996:
The moderately large colony at Little Warner Island, near Shinnecock Inlet, appears to have vanished around 2004. My best counts of Roseates at Shinnecock, such as 75 in August 1999 and 50 in August 2004,
are distant memories. More recently there have been perhaps two pairs among the Common Terns nesting on the bay island east of Triton Lane, in Shinnecock Bay.
A big colony was present on Cartwright Shoals, off Gardiner's Island, in the early 2000s, with as many as 322 pairs in 2004, but I don't hear much about it anymore and doubt that it hosts many Roseates currently. Moderate sized colonies used to be present near there, along the Gardiner's Bay side of East Hampton (Cedar Point, Sammy's Beach), but I haven't seen recent counts that compare with my last significant ones from these sites, e.g., 10 and 60 respectively, on 28 Jun 2009.
I am nearly certain that small numbers of Roseates breed along the south shore among Common Terns but are largely un-monitored. In the absence of consistent breeding at known sites by conspicuous numbers of pairs, nobody in particular seems to have a mandate to search for them and record them--let alone protect these small colonies from disturbance.
The reason I believe they continue to breed in places such as Great South Bay and Moriches Bay (and maybe South Oyster Bay) is that I continue to see numbers (albeit slowly dwindling) of unbanded birds along the oceanfront and at the inlets, including unbanded juveniles:
The situations this year at Breezy Point and Nickerson Beach are interesting. We know via bands that at least three of the birds at Nickerson are actual second-summer birds (two year-olds), suggesting they, and perhaps all of the birds there, are non-breeding loafers. I hadn't heard about the hybrid pairing there last year, but I observed such a pairing at Fire Island Inlet in 2009:
Ironically, our best hope is to find more unbanded Roseates, as these might reflect un-monitored breeders that could, with hard work and some coordination with the various conservation agencies, be confirmed and protected.
From: <bounce-122667201-11143133...> [<bounce-122667201-11143133...>] on behalf of Robert Paxton [<rop1...>]
Sent: Friday, June 29, 2018 2:20 AM
To: Long Island Birding
Cc: Steve Walter; NYSBIRDS
Subject: Re: [nysbirds-l] Roseate Tern Banding and Aging Follow Up
More Roseate Terns than usual are being reported this summer at Breezy Point, Nickerson Beach etc. Some observers may not be aware that Roseate Terns have traditionally bred widely (though sparingly) along the south shore of Long Island. The only big colony is on Great Gull Island, off the east end (1600 chicks were banded there in summer 2017 by Helen Hays' team). The next biggest colony used to be several hundred pairs at Cedar Beach, but that colony was spooked by a fox a decade or so ago and has not reformed. Since then, there are at best only a very few small colonies at places like islands in Shinnecock Inlet. Maybe there's an upswing this year, but Roseate Terns are not unexpected as a breeding species in small numbers anywhere on the south shore. Knowledge of current breeding locations is poor, so if anyone finds breeding activity this summer that information (maybe not announced for a month or so to avoid disturbance) would help conservation efforts. We are at their southern limit (they don't breed at all in New Jersey).
On Wed, Jun 27, 2018 at 1:30 AM, Long Island Birding <michaelzito...><mailto:<michaelzito...>> wrote:
Thanks for the update Steve, of note a few days ago I observed two of the roseates at Nickerson displaying courtship behavior. I tried to get it on video, but they stopped before I could start filming. Maybe some are breeding? Or practice? Also of note, some birders observed last year there was a roseate that bred with a common tern but the nest was unsuccessful. Thoughts anyone?
On Tue, Jun 26, 2018, 7:19 PM Steve Walter <swalter15...><mailto:<swalter15...>> wrote:
After submitting last weekís Nickerson Beach Roseate Tern bands, I got back the official information today. Thereís a correction to the preliminary info. It turns out both birds were banded as chicks two years ago. So that ďsecond summer typeĒ bird (Y11) is indeed two years old, not three as previously reported. In fact, the actual banding date was June 26, 2016 Ė two years ago today. So I thought it was important to pass that along. With all the people now studying terns, I donít want misleading information out there.
Not that there canít be older birds with incomplete adult plumage, but Iím getting the sense that itís more likely to find two year old birds in full adult plumage (but not breeding yet). I say this because today there were two more adult birds, again with blue bands (J03 and J76). Since this is the first year that Iím seeing these kinds of bands, Iím going to assume Ė until I definitively find out otherwise Ė that such banding began two years ago. So Iím assuming todayís birds are two year olds that are roaming around (as opposed to birds that should be on the breeding grounds, providing new chicks for blue bands to be placed on).
There was also a ďsecond summer typeĒ plumaged Roseate, with more extensive white on the forehead than Y11. At first I thought of the possibility of a first summer type. But a closer look at the rest of the bird dissuaded me on that. This one is not banded, so I wonít know for sure from banding data. But I will get to enjoy untainted pictures of a different looking Roseate than Iíve gotten before. Iíve added one picture to the bottom of my Recent Work page, along with the 5 Common Eiders that I think were previously reported. No picture of the male Surf Scoter or the Bottle-nosed Dolphins (even though I think I actually got enough of one to get its eye out of the water).