Sunday, April 16, 2017

Let's Do It Again

Much as I love seeing the azaleas blooming, the nuthatches and bluebirds raising a new generation in my birdhouses, and feeling the excitement of all that spring brings..... the best part for me is starting a new season for the Wrightsville Beach Bird Stewards.  


This will be the fifth year that the Wrightsville Beach Bird Stewards "officially" welcome least terns, common terns, black skimmers, oystercatchers, willets and other nesting shore birds. The birds have been nesting at the south end of Wrightsville Beach for nine years!

The 2017 season began on April 1 with a training and orientation session for old and new WBBS (Wrightsville Beach Bird Stewards).





Lindsay Addison shared the history of the Wrightsville Beach nesting colony and recapped the nesting colony's successes and challenges last year.














The next day (4/2) the nesting area was officially posted.



And as if the birds knew it was now safe, bird migration is underway and birds are arriving on the South End.

We had four pairs of American Oystercatchers staking out territory at the south end almost immediately.  They are feeding during low tide (because bi-valves are exposed!) so if you are on the beach at that time, you may not see them, but they roost in the posting during mid & high tide.  We keep waiting for nesting behaviors.













Early Monday morning (4/10 ) lots of action was observed by one of our WBBS. Willets, three juvenile white ibis, twelve black skimmers, more than thirty least terns, two royal terns, three plovers, and four oystercatchers were seen!  


On Tuesday (4/11) Lindsay counted sixty least terns and four pairs of oystercatchers.  



Sixteen least tern decoys were put out hoping to attract a nice colony again this year.


FIRST BIRD WALK FOR THE 2017 SEASON... Monday, April 24 at 9 AM


Our first official Audubon Bird Walk for the Town of Wrightsville Beach is scheduled for Monday, April 24 at 9 AM.  We always meet at the gazebo at beach access 43.  Invite your family and friends! 







Monday, August 15, 2016

Nesting Season Winding Down

The nesting season is winding down, but we still have lots of birds using the posting as they prepare for migration.


Least Terns (LETE)

It appears that the Least Terns have begun migration, with only a very few remaining in the area mainly on Masonboro Island.  The Great Black Backed Gulls were feasting on some of our sweet chicks, so the parents may have determined that an early start on migration would be a good idea.  We wish them a safe flight, and look forward to seeing them again next year!

Photo by Bill Segur

Black Skimmers (BLSK)

We still have lots of Black Skimmers at the colony with several new chicks!  We counted 51 fledglings and 139 adult Black Skimmers on Saturday, 8/6.  Over 120 were counted on Monday morning, 8/8.  Our high count for Black Skimmer fledglings was was 104!  We still have a large number that will continue to roost in the inlet area and the SWB posting.  The Black Skimmers seem to be staging to get ready for migration and will join other groups that migrate to our area in the next couple of months.

Photo by Bill Segur

Photo by Bill Segur

Photo by Bill Segur

Photo by Bill Segur

Photo by Don Ellson

Our Bird Stewards noticed a very young BLSK chick just this past week.  The posting will remain in place to protect these little ones. Generally, the practice is to leave the posting up for 2 weeks past the last chick fledging.

Photo by Jack White

Photo by Don Ellson

Photo by Don Ellson

Photo by Don Ellson

Photo by Don Ellson


American Oystercatchers (AMOY)

Several Oystercatchers have been seen roosting in the posting this past week.

Photo by Bill Segur

Photo by Bill Segur

Photo by Bill Segur

Photo by Bill Segur

Common Terns (COTE)

The Common Terns appear to have begun migration but we still have a very attentive pair guarding their precious chick(s).  Common Terns can still be seen perched atop the postings as they keep watch over not only their own chicks but also doing a great job protecting the Black Skimmer chicks. We call it "inter species babysitting"!

Photo by Marlene Eader


Birds are moving all the time now and if you happen to arrive when they decided to fly across the inlet and roost on the other side it seems like the season is over but it is not. 


 

Friday, July 29, 2016

Skimmer School in Session

(photo by Laura Scullin)


Although an occasional Least Tern can still be seen hanging around the colony, most of the chicks have already fledged and have headed south.

Least Tern fledgling seen in the colony 7/20 (photo by Don Ellson)

Pair of Least Terns and a chick seen 7/22 (photo by Laura Scullin)

The Common Terns are still in the colony and their chicks are growing rapidly. An occasional American Oystercatcher  (or two) also stops by the colony.
(photo by Laura Sculin)

And Green Herons can often be seen in the nearby trees.
(photo by Alex Sabbeth)

But the Black Skimmers seem to own the beach right now. They can be seen everywhere...in the colony with some new chicks, feeding their growing chicks, hanging out at the shoreline, skimming along the water, relaxing in the sand.  
(photo by Don Ellson)
(photo by Don Ellson)
(photo by Don Ellson)
(photo by Laura Scullin)
(photo by Laura Scullin)
(photo by Laura Scullin)
(photo by Laura Scullin)
(photo by Laura Scullin)
(photo by Laura Scullin)
(photo by Alex Sabbeth)
(photo by Alex Sabbeth)
(photo by Alex Sabbeth)
(photo by Alex Sabbeth)
(photo by Don Ellson)
(photo by Don Ellson)
(photo by Don Ellson)
(photo by Don Ellson)
(photo by Don Ellson)

Many of the Black Skimmer fledglings are busy participating in "Skimmer School" which involves learning the art of skimming along the water and trying to catch their own food.  It is a joy to watch their successes and entertaining to watch an occasional mishap.
(photo by Don Ellson)
(photo by Don Ellson)
(photo by Don Ellson)

Sunday, July 17, several Black Skimmers were banded.  New "field readable" bands were used so you can see both a metal band and black & white bands on each bird.  While being banded various measurements were taken and recorded to help us learn more about these magnificent creatures.

(all banding photos by Mary Ann Walton)