Saturday, April 29, 2017

We Have LOTS of Birds

We have a great deal more activity at the nesting area now. 

Black Skimmers 

Over 260 Black Skimmers were recently counted in the posting!   

Skimmers are coupling up! 
Watching their aerial acrobatics is reason enough to come out to the colony.

Common Terns

The Common Terns can be seen swooping noisily overhead...

... trying to hide in the dunes (look carefully in these photos to see a pair of common terns in the dunes who appear to be starting a nest)

...and common terns have also been see near the front of the colony with the skimmers

We have seen several Common Terns in the posting area. At least 2 pairs of Common Terns appear to be coupled up. 

Can you see the common tern hiding in the vegetation?

A recent Star News article discussed a plan to upgrade the Common Tern from "special concern" to "endangered". This may cause us to be more patient and loving with our favorite dive-bomber when it gets its new status!

From StarNews article

Least Terns 

Fish presentations are happening in the posting and on the beach.  But although the Least Terns are in the area but we haven’t seen as many as in past years… yet.  

We have a very reduced number of Least Terns so far this year....only about 10 pairs. It could be because they remember the Great Black Back Gull predation from last year.  The north end has a larger number.  The Least Terns may be late nesting at the south end if their nests fail on the north end from predation.

The Least Terns almost blend into their surroundings!

This Least Tern seems to be have decorated her nest with shells.

photo from John King

We have observed 2 Least Tern pairs who appeared to be sitting on nests. 

Video of Least Tern behavior on the beach....

American Oystercatchers

On Thursday (4/27) our Audubon biologist Lindsay saw 4 American Oystercatcher "nests" ....which means that each scape has eggs!  We cannot see them from outside the posting as they are on top of dunes behind the first row of dunes visible from the beach. 

We have observed FIVE pairs of American Oystercatchers in the posting. They are frequently seen in the front of the posting area and by the water's edge.  If you look closely you can see leg bands on some.

photo from John King

photo from John King

Other Visitors...

Sandwich and Royal Terns have been seem hanging out in the colony.  

The Royal Tern (front) has an orange bill while the 
Sandwich Tern (rear, left) has a yellow-tipped black bill.
The Royal Terns did seem to be having fun:)
Willet on posting sign
photo from John King

An occasional Black Bellied Plover has been sighted. 

And Willets are not only very visible but are usually the first ones we see with new chicks.

Black-Bellied Plover
photo from Sandi Fisher

Other News
Many of you have seen the instrument that was placed in the area surrounded by Least Tern decoys. A graduate student at UNCW is doing research in our nesting colony regarding Least Tern behavior and the impact of the sand temperature.  

We encourage any visitors to keep their eyes open for fishing line.  This can cause serious problems for our birds when it gets entangled around their legs.

Our first Bird Walk for 2017 scheduled for Monday, April 24 was rained out. But we are going to try again this Monday, May 1st!  We have FREE bird walks for the general public and the Town of Wrightsville Beach every Monday at 9 AM at Beach Access 43 from now through mid-August.  We just meet by the Gazebo…. Invite your friends and family to join us!

And finally...

  • Fundraiser at CHIPOTLE (Mayfair) for Audubon NC
  • June 6, 2017
Invite all of your friends and families to join us for dinner to learn about our nesting colony and Chipotle will provide 50% of your meal expense as a gift to Audubon NC.  The more people we can get there, the better!! 

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!