During the last two weeks of the season we spent most of our good-weather days out on the water scanning shorelines looking for Black Oystercatchers and stopping in to check on their eggs and chicks. Last week, we headed to Gwaii Haanas for the second BLOY survey in the Hotsprings Island area. Unfortunately, the weather was not as cooperative as it has been in the past, and we were only able to complete three days of surveying, in between southeast storms. We were able to visit 68 territories that we had visited earlier in June. Many territories now had chicks, which makes our task a little harder as the chicks are well camouflaged and can look just like rocks! We have to search the area, and watch and listen to the adult birds for clues as to where their chicks might be hiding. Before the chicks can fly, they are fed small intertidal invertebrates. We find the shells scattered on the rocks, and collect these to see what the chicks have been eating. We mostly find limpits, mussels, and chitons, but sometimes abalone and whelks. We have also been surveying the Laskeek Bay BLOY, so our days have been full of loud BLOY parents and fluffy grey chicks. On July 9th we saw our first fledged BLOY chick of the season, at the territory by Crow Valley on ELI.
Only one wildlife tree is still active with a clutch of Hairy Woodpecker chicks. Located conveniently close to the main trail in WT #149, this group of noisy chicks will likely be fledging soon, as have the other cavity nester that we monitored through May and June. A total of 14 wildlife trees were re-corded active this season. As usual, Redbreasted Sapsuckers were the dominant species (10 nests), followed by Hairy Woodpeckers (2), Chestnut-backed Chickadee (1), and Red-breasted Nuthatch (1). A Northern Flicker was seen entering a nesthole on multiple occasions in May but we never heard or saw any young
We have completed another season of Ancient Murrelet monitoring work. The last chick was weighed and sent on its way in Cabin Cove on June 2. Monitoring ended on June 4, after two nights with no chicks captured in the cabin funnels. We left the funnels set up for another week to see if we could capture any photos of late chicks using our infrared wildlife cameras, but not more chicks showed up. The total number of chicks caught and weighed in the Cabin Cove funnels this season was 112. This is fewer than last year (136), but comparable to 2012 (110) and 2011 (106).
For many nights now we have been finding Ancient Murrelet chicks at the end of our four funnels in Cabin Cove. Eager to complete their journey, these chicks bounce away in our cloth bags as we weigh them before taking them down to the water to send them off to their parents. The chicks hatch in burrows on land and must get to the ocean on their own to meet their parents, using the light of the water, gravity’s pull down slope, and their parents calls to help navigate. We have had many clear and calm nights, perfect for the chicks’ first journey out to sea...