Our wildlife tree monitoring program is now wrapping up with only one cavity nesting bird (a Chestnut-backed Chickadee) still in its nest. There were a total of 16 active wildlife trees this year: Red-breasted Sapsuckers (10), Red-breasted Nuthatches (2), Chestnut-backed Chickadee (1), Northern Flicker (1), Hairy Woodpecker (1) and Brown Creeper (1). The blowdown has definitely impacted the forest birds and the variety of birds seen on Limestone daily has now increased. To study the change in forest over time, we have set up six locations that we will photograph annually. We have already noticed a significant change in the past two years as a result of the open forest and the increase in light.
Our last murrelet chick came down the cabin-side funnels at 2:20 am on June 2. No chicks were captured in the two following nights, signaling the end of this season’s night work. The capture funnels have been taken down by this week’s hard working volunteers, and stored until next season.
The number of chicks departing this season was very positive: 136 chicks captured in funnels 5-8. This is the highest number recorded since 2007 when 166 chicks departed from these same funnels. Fewer chicks departed from Funnel 5 this season (2013 = 19, 2012 = 22), while the numbers at Funnel 6 increased somewhat (2013 = 66, 2012= 61) and funnels 7 and 8 accounted for most of the increase with a total of 51 chicks – up from 27 last season.
Ancient Murrelet chicks are still arriving every night, with staff and volunteers on Limestone Island counting and weighing chicks as they make their way to the ocean. We have had many clear nights with bright moonlight, giving everyone a good view of the chicks as they paddle away across the tide pool in front of camp. Ancient Murrelets use light to help them navigate which means we are not able to keep lights on when we release chicks. The moonlight made for special viewing of the chicks running down the beach and swimming out to sea to meet up with their parents
On May 4th, the crew headed down to Limestone, transported by the M.V. Highlander and LBCS Director, Danny Robertson Thanks to many helpers who came along to assist in offloading all the gear! Most of the next week was spent unpacking gear, setting up the camp for the season and doing some general camp maintenance. The sun was out the entire week, so camp start-up was very enjoyable (especially in shorts!).
Night work began as usual on May 7th, although the first chicks did not arrive until May 13th. It came down funnel 6 just before midnight and weighed in at a healthy 33.5 grams. As of May 15th, there have been a total of 19 chicks from funnels 5-8.