We first landed on Middle Brewster Island, where we found only two Black-crowned Night Heron (BCNH) nests, one empty, in the elm grove on the southwestern portion of the island. There were also two active American Oystercatchers (AMOY) on the landing beach, slightly west of where we have seen them in recent years. A quick visit to the nest site turned up three young chicks!
On Outer Brewster, we conducted a more thorough search of wading birds nest sites than in the past. Polly stationed herself on the north side cliffs to count flushing adults while the rest of us moved through a small colony to the east of the landing beach and a larger colony in the center of the island.
Polly obtained high counts of 38 BCNH, 8 Snowy Egrets (SNEG), 5-6 Great Egrets (GREG), and 16 Glossy Ibis (GLIB) in the area. Those of us on the ground counted a total of 37 BCNH nests, 12 SNEG nests, 6 GLIB nests, and one GREG nest. It is difficult to distinguish between the eggs and nests of the various species, so I strongly suspect we undercounted GREG nests in favor of BCNHs. But… it was a great practice round for Sarah Island next week, where nests are generally more visible, and the numbers are really pretty good. Most nests had eggs, but we did see at least one nest of young egret chicks and many BCNH nests with chicks ranging from recently hatched to less than one week old.
We also found another suspected American Crow nest while on Outer Brewster Island and noted a pair of territorial AMOY near the landing beach, though there was no evidence of an active nest.
From the boat we noted some limited Least Tern activity around the nesting beach on Lovells Island and will be sure to get back there in coming weeks. Another group of Common Eider chicks was spotted off of Middle Brewster Island, guarded by several Common Eider females but with adult breeding males nearby, which is unusual as males generally leave the area before the chicks hatch. We saw no AMOY on the south side of Lovells Island or the south side of Gallops Island on our way back in.
Have a great Memorial Day weekend!