The second to last week of our season was spent in Gwaii Haanas around the Hotsprings Island area completing our second survey of Black Oystercatchers (BLOY). We were very lucky to have extremely calm waters and sunny skies, allowing us to get to everywhere we needed to go – it was even hot too! During this survey we scan the shoreline for Black Oystercatchers, looking for both breeding pairs and non-breeding birds. Having completed this same survey route earlier in the season, we were aware of lots of breeding adult pairs with eggs; now it was time to search for chicks! The chicks are difficult to find: fast and sneaky, they know how to find the best cracks to hide in and boulders to hide under when predators fly over-head, or walk into their territories! Much of our time was spent searching for these chicks in known territories, watching and listening for clues from the adults as to where their chicks might be.
We discovered 43 chicks and 27 eggs, and two new territories. During the first survey this year, we had found 177 eggs, but not all eggs hatch to become chicks and not all chicks survive, due to predation by Bald Eagles and Common Ravens. Luckily BLOY are long-lived, and always willing to try again next year! At one territory on Faraday Island that had not been used for 6 years, a breeding pair had built a new scrape. One member of the pair had a blue band on its right leg, indicating that it was banded in 2006 as a chick, so is now 9 years old. We were also excited to see the same two banded Laskeek Bay BLOY that we had sighted on the first survey. E4 was seen again with a big group of non-breeding birds on Murchison Island, and A6 (a 2 year old bird who had been building a scrape last survey!) was seen on the opposite side of Alder Island to its territory, but still apparently paired up.