first turtle nest

by Beth

Bear Island is proud to present its first sea turtle nest! At 4:00am on June 11th Devon and I discovered a trail of crawl tracks. Following them, we found a three foot long loggerhead about halfway to the dunes. We decided to stay back and watch until she began laying her eggs because turtles enter a peaceful trance then and don’t mind researchers collecting data. To dig her nest the mother turtle scooped and flung sand with her back flippers, and used her back left flipper to measure how deep her hole was. Once she was happy with her hole and began laying her eggs we approached her and were surprised to discover that this wasn’t her first time on Bear Island! She had two metal tags that Caitlin and Lee used on a false crawl turtle earlier that night, so this was her second trip up the beach in one night. After recording various measurements (e.g. length and width of the shell) we watched the turtle fill her nest with sand and pack it down. After the mother turtle was satisfied with her work she rested for a few minutes and then made her way down the beach. An hour and a half after we found her she finally made it back to the ocean. To protect the nest from predators we placed a wire cage over it and posted a sign indicating the nesting site. We hope to have more nests soon!

tracks nest 1

turtle nest 1

exciting bird happenings

Our nests have grown to almost 100! Along with keeping an eye on a couple of Oyster Catcher’s, we are also starting to see Black Skimmers looking like they’re about to start nesting! This week we even marked a Common Tern nest! The tides have been very high this week from the moon being full, so a couple of our nests closer to the waters edge were washed away. This is ok though, because they will re-nest soon. Last week the American Oyster Catcher’s egg hatched and produced a beautiful baby Oyster Catcher. All of the chicks grow up so fast, and in about two to three weeks they start producing their flight feathers and start to fly. Hopefully we will get another Oyster Catcher nest soon. Also, we hope to have the Black Skimmers make a nest and produce a egg within the week!

Black Skimmer
Photo by: S. McElhone

bird update

Hello again! Over the past week and a half we’ve found 68 nests, both Least Tern and Wilson Plover species, as well as one American Oyster Catcher. Throughout the week we have been watching each nest carefully, seeing if the eggs have hatched. Of the 68 nests, 12 have hatched and produced baby chicks! Once the chicks hatch they move away from the nests and congregate into a “nursery”. We also witnessed several displays of the Wilson Plover’s broken wing act when we approach their nests. This is a attempt to lead the predators away from the nest. The Least Terns do not do this display, but instead dive bomb their predators, and also like to poop and throw up on them. We learned this the hard way. This is important for the species because one of our colonies has been predated by the coyotes who are taking shelter on the island. On Friday we conducted a beach front bird count. During this bird count we saw 15 species including, Red Knots, Sanderlings, Black Skimmers, Great Egrets, and a Piping Plover. We hope to see Piping Plover, Black Skimmer, and Common Tern nests on the island sometime soon!