Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Skimmer School Is In Full Swing

Least Terns
It appears that just about all of the Least Terns have left the colony.

During our Monday bird walk this morning, we spotted one Least Tern on the inlet side with a fledgling.  The remaining Least Tern parent was very vocal and aggressive in protecting its young.
photo by Bill Segur

photo by Bill Segar

  



























Black Skimmers
The Black Skimmers are busy feeding chicks all day and evening both inside and outside of the posting!  Simply watch a Skimmer returning to the colony with a fish, and it will lead you directly to its chick.    

A number of the Black Skimmer juveniles are now flying with more of them stretching their wings and trying to get some air as the parents fly around enticing them with a tasty morsel!  It is always impressive to see an adult fly alongside its chick and encourage it to attempt to fly over the water and skim.   We have seen adolescent skimmers practicing their skimming skills too.   

photo by Jen Johnson





photo by Tom Hanna

  
















photo by Bill Segur

photo by Bill Segur
Several Black-backed Gulls have been hanging around the colony eyeing the Skimmer chicks.  But the parents are very aggressive in their defense of the chicks!


Oystercatchers
We have not seen any sign of the Oystercatcher nest that was observed the first week of July on the ocean side. However Oystercatchers continue to appear in the colony and fly noisily overhead.

Common Terns
 We have recently seen several Common Tern adults and at least four large fledglings.   

photo by Bill Segur
The Common Terns are very protective and quickly respond to stewards or the public if they get too close to the area where their chicks are located. 

photo by Bill Segur
Common Tern chicks have been seen along the shoreline. Perhaps they are almost ready to try their wings.



The free Monday morning Bird Walks will continue until mid-August.  Hope you can join us. And the magnificent sunsets will continue and continue and continue



Wednesday, July 5, 2017

The "Other Side" of the Masonboro Island Fourth of July party

Even though this morning's headlines read "Several thousand people celebrated the Fourth of July on and around Masonboro Island" life for the Wrightsville Beach Bird Stewards and the birds was relatively uneventful.  Other than an occasional drenching from popup rainstorms and one portable boat that almost blew into the colony it was a quiet day.

Here are some pictures of what was happening on the other side of the Masonboro Island party.

Newly hatched least tern chick already trying its wings
Some Least Terns can be seen "renesting" after their first nest failed.

a newly hatched Least Tern

a proud pair of Least Tern parents
Can you find the chick?


a family portrait 
Black Skimmer chicks are growing quickly





Black Skimmer chick trying out its wings
Black Skimmer chick ready to fly
Can you find the Black Skimmer chick?

Common Tern watching over the colony






Common Tern chick venturing out of its hiding place in the vegetation

close up of Common Tern chick and an egg















Common Tern parent coming in for a landing

Common Tern family
































Several rainbows appeared throughout the day
Black Skimmers reaction to a portable boat almost blowing into the colony.
They settled back down quickly.




Nesting Season Passes the Halfway Mark

We put up the posting on April 2 and usually take it down around Labor Day weekend. That means our season is more than halfway complete!  If you haven't had a chance to come out to the south end of Wrightsville Beach for a Monday morning Bird Walk or are still waiting for the right moment to sit and watch the sunset with the musical accompaniment of "melodic" bird songs....HURRY!

Here are pictures from our June 26 Bird Walk. They were all taken by Bill Segur and will give you a fantastic overview of what is waiting for you.


Many Least Tern chicks have their feathers and are officially ready to fly off as fledglings. Some have already left the colony.





































Black Skimmer chicks are the most numerous at the this point. There are still some newly hatched chicks with their fuzzy down and others already spreading their wings. They often appear to be the comedians of the colony.























Some Common Terns are still sitting on their nests with occasional leaps into the sky for exercise or to warn us to keep our distance.



















Other guests include Willets squawking at us along the shoreline and Green Herons stopping for a moment on their way to nests in the nearby trees.


























Thanks again to Bill Segur for the great photographs!

Monday, June 26, 2017

One Step Back, Two Steps Forward

LEAST TERNS
photo by Elaine Perkinson

Can you find the chick taking shelter in the shade of the vegetation?
photo by Elaine Perkinson
The rain has been difficult for our birds this year and a large number of the Least Terns have re-nested.  We just had more Least Terns hatch in the last couple of days and they are in the group facing the inlet side... away from the point.  You may see Robert Snowden on that side of the posting observing them as a part of his UNCW Graduate study.  If you are unsure where to look to see a chick, just follow a Least Tern returning to the colony with a fish.  This parent will lead you right to their nest and you will be able to watch them feed their chicks.

The early nesters that were successful have fledglings that are visible and we have seen a high count of 12 fledglings so far.  


BLACK SKIMMERS


photo by Elaine Perkinson

photo by Elaine Perkinson
photo by Elaine Perkinson

photo by Elaine Perkinson

Black skimmers continue to mate, incubate, many eggs have hatched and there are many chicks.  We currently have 167 nests, i.e., 167 pairs and at least 334 Black Skimmers!  Many of the chicks can be seen under the parents in the nest scrape with a scope...which is so adorable.  Several chicks are now visible walking close to the parents outside the scrapes.

COMMON TERNS
We now have 14 Common Tern nests and some chicks have been spotted and are good size.  



OYSTERCATCHERS
One pair of Oystercatchers has re-nested closer to the nesting colony instead of behind the large dunes.  I am hopeful that they will be successful.  The pair is facing the ocean side and visible outside the posting!