Friday, 3 August 2018

Away go the fledglings!


A group of well-grown common tern (Sterna hirundo) chicks and some adults gather on the rocks after a storm. Photo taken under NPWS license. Photo credit: Heidi Acampora.

Our season is coming to an end. In the last couple of days, many chicks have fledged, giving us that feeling of mission accomplished (well, almost!)! The island has become noticeably emptier of chicks, but still lively with adults, non-breeding birds, late chicks and some very late chicks! It is very entertaining to watch the older chicks practicing their flights, taking their first trips to sea, attempting to do some fishing around the edges of the colony and at the same time still being fed by their parents, and actually looking bigger and fatter than the parents themselves! Speaking of looks, although everyone loves a tiny fluffy chick, fledglings also look absolutely class! Common terns acquire this coppery and more blotchy tone to their feathers, while Roseates have a bit more golden and symmetrical tone to theirs. All absolutely beautiful in each of their phases!



A roseate tern (Sterna dougallii) chick far from its nest. Notice the golden patterns to the feathers. Photo taken under NPWS license. Photo credit: Heidi Acampora.

A common tern chick wanders the path in Garden 5. Notice the copper tone to the feathers. Photo taken under NPWS license. Photo credit: Heidi Acampora.




Now that chicks are fledging, we have been spending less time on biometrics (hard to catch birds that have learned how to fly!) and more time ring reading to assess survival, inputting all that precious data into the computer and monitoring some late nests. The weather has deteriorated a little in the past week (What? No more tropical island?!), which leaves us slightly claustrophobic, but happy about filling up our water tank! Soon it’ll be time to remove all nest boxes and markers and clean up the island for next year (then yes, it’ll be mission accomplished!). For now, we are enjoying our last few ‘tern’ moments for the year :) 
Here are some of my snaps of #LifeOnTheRock !




We also have black-legged kittiwake (Rissa Tridactyla) chicks, this one, particularly young. Photo taken under NPWS license. Photo credit: Heidi Acampora.
On the subject of late nests, this common tern chick is one of the latest in my study area. I wonder what it is saying! Photo taken under NPWS license. Photo credit: Heidi Acampora.
Practice makes perfect! An Arctic tern (Sterna paradisaea) chick practices its flight under his parent's evaluation. Photo taken under NPWS license. Photo credit: Heidi Acampora.
There has also been a lot of chilling, which I find it very entertaining to watch! Three common tern chicks and a roseate chick hang out on the pier wall, like all young folks do! Photo taken under NPWS license. Photo credit: Heidi Acampora.

And also a lot of eating! A Roseate parent brings dinner! Photo taken under NPWS license. Photo credit: Heidi Acampora.

An overview of 4B on a stormy day. Photo taken under NPWS license. Photo credit: Heidi Acampora.


And lastly, I'll leave you with a tern sunset. Photo taken under NPWS license. Photo credit: Heidi Acampora.


Heidi Acampora

& the Rockabill team

3 comments:

  1. Are you leaving the Rock for pastures new? Well done on a very purpose-filled summer and very entertaining and informational posts. Enjoyed every one of them. Best wishes for the next one. X

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