Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Birds of the Outer Islands, Grand Manan

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Date: Tue, 21 Jul 2009 15:06:45 -0300
From: Brian Dalzell NatureNB
Subject: DOVEKIE, Dunlin, Tern Colony Update

Made a quick trip to Sheep Island to check out the Common Tern colony there this morning, and found a few other things of interest. The best bird was a breeding plumaged DOVEKIE just north of the Green Islands, about halfway between Three Islands and Ingalls Head. It's the first I've ever seen here in summer, although they seem to turn up with some regularity at this time of year, albeit rarely.

Shorebirds at Sheep Island included 40 Short-billed Dowitcher, 100 Semipalmated Sandpiper, 25 Least Sandpiper, 1 Dunlin (still in breeding dress), 1 Greater Yellowlegs and 1 Whimbrel. Dunlin usually don't show up here until well into August, so I would have to say this is very early for the species. Also of note at Sheep Island was a nest of Red-breasted Merganser with nine eggs, and 50 Sooty Shearwaters and a Parasitic Jaeger just to the west of the island.

The Common Tern colony seems to be holding its own, with a maximum of 50 birds in the air at one time over the north end of the island. The colony at the south end appears to have been abandoned. My best guess would be somewhere between 25-50 pairs (~35) nesting on the north beach. This is a very exposed site, right beside an area where Herring Gulls like to loaf. Not a very good spot to nest from a human perspective, but they could teach the Machias Seal Island tern a thing or two about harassing Herring Gulls -- which they were doing mercilessly and constantly.

Brian Dalzell
Bancroft Point
Grand Manan, NB.

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