During our last two weeks in camp we completed our final visits to Black Oystercatchers sites in Laskeek Bay. We found a total of 34 chicks this season, of which 12 were large enough to be banded. The colour bands that we put on the chicks allow us to determine where the bird was banded (White indicates Laskeek Bay) as well as its age (White is the colour for 2009). On July 6 we saw a group of 10 Oystercatchers on Louise, 6 of which were banded. The year colours indicated that these birds were banded in 1994, 2004, 2007 and 2008. We spotted our first Whimbrel of the season while visiting the oystercatcher sites on the Lost Islands.
Ancient murrelet work has finished up for the season, the last chick being captured on June 3. The total number of chicks captured this year was 129 (125 in funnels 5-8, and 4 outside funnels or after 2:30 am). The total for funnels 5&6 was 92, down from 103 in 2007. Funnels have been taken down and put away until next season. Cassin’s auklets appear to be doing well again this year. We continue to check nests at the ‘East Coast’ site, where approximately 20 burrows are active. There are also several very smelly burrows at Lookout Point, indicating that the chicks inside are alive and well. Fork-tailed Storm Petrels also seem quite active this year compared with the past.
Over the past two weeks we have visited Black Oyster-catcher territories within Laskeek Bay, and have found many of the sites with either eggs or chicks. We have even found chicks large enough to band at two of the sites, which indicates that these birds had a particularly early start.
Overall there are more sites active this year than last, no doubt because of the particularly good weather in May and June. As in past years, we are collecting feed samples at sites to describe chick diets. The most common prey items are limpets, mussels and chitons. We have also completed our census of Glaucous-winged Gulls in Laskeek Bay. The largest by far is Lost Island, where we counted 224 nests. Kingsway Rock, the second largest colony had 36 active nests. Most of the gulls are still on eggs, but we also found several nests with chicks or eggs that were hatching.
Unfortunately, it was another slow season for Murrelet chicks. Chick work ended on May 31stwith a total of 104 chicks this season. This number is lower than last years total of 129 chicks. The continued decline in the population on Limestone Island is most likely due to a number of factors including the raccoon, which has not yet been caught.