This week is exactly the mid-point of nesting season by the calendar. Our shorebird team re-spotted 11 clutches of chicks this week, no small achievement. Chicks are hard to spot in the 150 acres of beach we survey, but this is the truest measure of success. We found 3 new fledglings this week, each one a cause for celebration. We still have a good number of breeding adults, with a total of 41 this week. Still very high for Ormond Beach and a sign that nesting season is at its peak.
The highlight of this week were the 2 nests that hatched that had trail cameras, so we got some nice video of chicks. In addition to giving us 100% confidence that a nest hatched, trail cameras give us the precise time of hatching as well. This helps with our calculation of the number of breeding adults.
California Least Terns
California least tern season is still getting started. We found 6 new nests this week. Added to the 3 nests from last week we have a total of 9. Not a lot by tern colony standards, but we will see what the next couple weeks bring. We have a camera near a tern nest so we may get some good images of the adults.
Week 13 Highlights:
Nest 19 – We got some of the best footage this year of chicks with this nest. It started hatching on May 30th, and the family left the area on May 31st. We also got to see the mom remove an eggshell from the nest, and the dad fend off an intruding male plover that wandered up to the nest while the chicks were recovering from hatching. Male plovers are very intolerant of other males.
Removing an eggshell from a chick that hatched
Protective dad chasing off an intruding male snowy plover
Nest 19 hatch sequence
Nest 21 – This nest also gave us a good look at hatching plover chicks. For some reason the male wanted to brood his chicks right behind our camera so we missed a lot of their first day, but could hear them peeping behind the camera. This nest started hatching on May 31 and the adults didn't leave the nest area with the chicks until sometime early on June 2nd before dawn. This family stayed around the nest extra-long, probably because one egg didn’t hatch, and the parents tried an extra night to brood the unhatched egg. Adult plovers have extremely strong instincts to stay with their eggs and chicks.
Nest 21 hatch sequence