Sunday, June 29, 2014

June 27/ Bird Walk and More

The Wrightsville Beach Bird Stewards have been enjoying some "quieter" days at the nesting colony before gearing up for the rapidly approaching Fourth of July weekend.  It seems that every trip to the south end leaves the visitor with a sense of being a part of a magical experience (whether you are there for several hours or just a quick visit before the dark clouds and thunder chase you away).

Here are some highlights....

Black Skimmers

It is becoming easier each day to find new chicks on the beach.

The chicks ususally have their mouths open, ready for a meal.

It was hot that day!

Can you find all three chicks?

Already the fluffy "down" is turning into real feathers.

I do believe both feet are off the ground. Next time we may have "lift off". Notice the band on this chick. Lindsay, Marlene, Harvey, Sherry and Sharna banded 30 chicks Tuesday. It was a great team effort to find them, band them, and then return the chicks to their nests and hiding places. 
The chicks take refuge under a parent when it is hot.

This is somewhere between a "baby chick" and a "teenager".

These "teenage skimmers" have already learned to create shady timeout spots.

Common Terns

There are three common tern chicks (rapidly becoming teenagers) who are readily visible in the front of the colony. The parents are starting to make them run around and chase them when a fish is brought in. Several times we have seen a common tern chick stretch its wings. There are still some common terns sitting on nests so as our teenage chicks fledge there should be some new babies emerging in the next few days.

Marlene took these shots through her scope yesterday. 
So it is official.... The common tern chicks have "left the nest".

American Oystercatchers

The newly banded oystercatcher chick (aka CKK) has been venturing to the water's edge and learning to find its own food. One day he/she took a quick bath.

"Other" Bird Appearances

Although the nesting shore birds are the focus there have been several guest appearances....

Green Heron
Cooper's Hawk

Friday Bird Walks

If you haven't had a chance to join one of our Friday Bird Walks, 
please do (and bring your friends)!

 Here are the Bird Stewards at last Friday's Bird Walk!

Marlene uses "homemade" chicks to demonstrate the nesting behaviors.

And one of our newest Bird Stewards, Bonnie-Jeanne, took these two photos recently. This is just a sample of her photographic skill! We look forward to more!

 Look how well hidden this chick is!
What a good reminder to honor the postings.

Our oystercatcher chick, CKK, almost takes to the sky... only one "toe" on the ground!

Monday, June 23, 2014

June 18/ Sea Hares, Lots of Chicks, Oystercatcher Banding, and More

 Lots of adventure at the colony last week. Several bird stewards were excited to see two Sea Hares on the beach. Both were "swimming" along the shoreline. This was a first for all of us.

And then there are lots of new chicks. The skimmer chicks are very demanding of their parents. The 90+ degree weather has been challenging. Chicks were seen taking refuge under their parents and in the dunes. It is so much fun to ask people passing by if they'd like to see the chicks. Then once they look through the scopes or binoculars an entirely new world is revealed to them.

Black Skimmer Chicks

Common Tern Chicks
The common tern chicks are rapidly growing bigger. They will actually be larger than their parents before they finally slim down and fledge. (Fledge is the stage in a young bird's life when the feathers and wing muscles are sufficiently developed for flight.)

Welcome CKK/ Oystercatcher Banding
Our NC Audubon coastal biologist, Lindsay Addison, came to the colony last week to band our American Oystercatcher chick. It was a fascinating process to witness.

Step 1: Catch the chick!

Step 2: When Lindsay turned the chick over and placed him/her gently in her lap, the chick seemed to be in a trance.

Step 3: Then it was time to but on two bands. One has a tracing number and the other is a bright green band with the large letters CKK. Color banding individual birds helps researchers learn about demographics, movement, habitat requirements, and survival, but only if people report the locations of banded birds. 

Step 4: Lindsay then recorded a series of measurements and weighed our chick.

Step 5: Several bird stewards took a moment to be "up close and personal" with our newly named oystercatcher, CKK, before the chick was released. We are happy to report the chick was seen later that day happily reunited with his/her parent.

And finally.... here is a  shot of how creative our photographers are in their attempts to record life in the nesting colony.

And don't forget to look carefully as you enter the colony for other signs of life!