The season is coming to an end for me. I will be jetting my way home to Oklahoma in three short days. The season has been chaotic with massive amounts of Elegant Tern nesting with our usual visitors of Black Skimmers and Gull-billed, Caspian, and Royal terns.
We had another big year with a reported 49,129 breeding pairs of Elegant Terns nesting on the Saltworks levees- at least 85% of the world's population of Elegant Terns!! I've added a picture of one of five subcolonies that formed this season.
With the massive amounts of Elegants, our breeding population of Gull-billed Terns was swamped. Many lost nests. Those that managed to hatch chicks, moved the chicks further from the chaotic mass. I've added a picture of a Gull-billed Tern. I think they are the most photogenic of tern chicks.
This season we also managed to put out a satellite transmitter on a Gull-billed Tern that we named Sid (short for Sid Vicious). The tern was a biter and a fighter and it goes well with my rock-n-roll theme of naming satellite tagged birds. In this image, Sid is getting an eye on us to take a bite out of Robert who was holding him while I put on the transmitter.
We also put out transmitters on Elegant Terns for our 'metapopulation and movements' study. The really cool thing about Elegant Terns is that they can readily respond to seasonal changes in food resources. This is the third year in a row that the majority of the population abandoned Isla Rasa (Gulf of California) and moved to nest in Southern California.
Above is a photo of Robert Patton, a good friend and colleague of mine. He's been working with terns since the mid-80s.
So now the terns are beginning to fledge. We were happy to see we had at 6-8 fledges for the Gull-billed terns, and estimated 15,000-20,000 Elegant Tern chicks.
I am calling this my generation 'C' photo (C is short for chick). And I couldn't resist ending the blog with a skimmer chick photo!!
He was a bit bewildered on what to do after we gave the chick some bling. See you in the next few years D7!!!