The main Black Skimmer colony is bursting with chicks. Steve counted 104, which he estimates is very much on the low end, since many chicks were too far away to be included in the count and some are still hiding unseen in the shade under their parents. So, it is safe to say that there are hundreds of chicks (including plover and tern chicks and fledglings) in the area. This video of the colony, taken today, will give Lagoon site stewards an idea of what it looks like.
On hot, sunny days the adult skimmers and their large chicks will move out of the colony area to the shoreline, where they take advantage of the slightly cooler temperatures and get drinks of water. If you steward on the Gulf site, you’ll probably see the shore strewn with birds. Most people do not walk past the colony; however, they are allowed to do so, as long as they stay out of the posted area.
The reaction of the skimmers appears to vary. Sometimes if people walk slowly near the shoreline, the skimmers do not fly and are able to move out of the way. Thankfully, a lot of people turn around at the colony. Also, after the “rush” (relatively speaking!) of early morning walkers, we’re seeing fewer people, especially after 10:00 or 10:30. Everyone Steve and I met on Saturday was respecful and interested in the birds.
While the skimmers are raising their first wave of chicks, some Least Terns are re-nesting (attempting to nest for the second time this season). Turtle Lady Mary Nelson helped to mark a re-nesting Least Tern’s nest with wooden stakes. This tern chose to place its nest on high ground, which is also near to the shoreline where it could be stepped on. Birds that place nests outside of the roped-off areas are most vulnerable to having eggs or chicks stepped on. You can usually tell if a bird has a nest nearby because it will fly vigorously at you. You might notice this bird “attacking” or be asked questions about the stakes.
Also on at the colony you might see (or be asked about) a dead Brown Pelican and dead Laughing Gull. They are marked with an orange flag and have been reported by Mary. They were not oiled.