[CT Birds] Least tern

Scott Kruitbosch kbosch at gmail.com
Wed Aug 7 12:19:21 EDT 2013


If you are a monitor for the Audubon Alliance for Coastal Waterbirds you've
been able to keep up with everything going on concerning the bar at Milford
Point with our constant data and informational updates. There were, at one
point, over 800 adults (~400 pairs) of Least Terns out there. In late July
we had a count of over 50 young but there were likely many more. We are
will still be calculating final numbers and I'm glad dozens of birds
successfully fledged, but it is a far cry from what could have been with
hundreds of nests out there.

What caused them to be largely unsuccessful? Yes, a tide may have hurt the
colony, but that was not until very late in the season in July. Low food
supplies in the immediate area seemed to be a problem. Predation by birds
and mammals likely contributed a little, but not much with a colony that
size where it was. The main reason was DISTURBANCE BY PEOPLE. Yes, that
deserves caps. I along with others have repeatedly posted and asked that
birders should stay off the bar at all times until breeding season is over.
There was zero - and I repeat, zero - reason for anyone to be out there if
they were not monitoring the birds for the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service and
CT DEEP with us at AAfCW. All other purposes would be for purely selfish
personal enjoyment to the detriment of the breeding success of these birds.

If you are being dive bombed you are way too close. If you are within
"15-20 feet" of a young bird you are ridiculously too close. The birds
attack you because they want you away from their young. Simple as that. Do
not go near them please! I have mentioned this repeatedly and I don't want
to single people out but I'm sorry, a post such as this one explains why we
have a problem. If the birds are engaging you to defend young or nests,
what are they not doing while expending more energy? Resting, feeding,
incubating eggs, shielding young from the sun/temperature, etc. Nest
abandonment appears to have been a large problem.

There are random people, non-birders, who visit that bar 24 hours a day, 7
days a week. We need someone to be there 24/7 essentially. Before I receive
a list of suggestions on police or staff - do you know how much these
things would cost and how little money anyone has? State, feds,
non-profits...this is not possible. This is why we are so thankful to our
trained volunteers who do so much of the work for us. Closing it off?
Signage? Do you know the laws of Connecticut's shoreline, the property
lines and ownership of Milford Point and the surrounding area? Anyone is
guaranteed access below the high tide line as state laws are weak. Much of
Milford Point is privately owned and if we upset the neighborhood it would
turn into an instant nightmare. What happens now is about the best way it
can go IF we have the cooperation of CT birders and some of the local

Whether it is breeding birds or migrants PLEASE STAY OFF THE BAR AT MILFORD
POINT. There are observation platforms for a reason. Thank you.

Scott Kruitbosch
Still AAfCW Coordinator
Soon to be Jamestown, NY

On Wed, Aug 7, 2013 at 10:13 AM, Kevindoyle01 <kevindoyle01 at charter.net>wrote:

> I read where Frank M.saw his first least tern juvenile of the season the
> other day and mentioned something about the lose of the nesting birds ...
> I'm wondering what it was. Could it have been the super moon and the high
> tide since at Milford Point right through the protected are there was
> definitive line of brackish material (i hope that's the right word) along
> with a red line in the sand. To me it appeared to run right through where
> the terns set up their nests.
> But 3 weeks ago at Milford Point by accident I spotted a new born least
> tern no larger than a piping plover looking nothing like it's parents a
> little ball of soft down.
> Over the past 3 weeks I've been able to find it asuming it's the same bird
> and witness it's growth.
> I believe last Friday I spotted it again now able to fly but no matter
> where I was I was being dived bombed very aggressively by 2 adults ... so
> much to the point I had to leave. Why so protective then and not other
> times ... I need someone with more knowledge than me to explain.
> To continue I went down to Milford Point this past Monday to check on the
> lone osprey since my last visit I witnessed some very unusal activity with
> the birds. That 19 point post last week well again more unusal action this
> late in the season. From my observations this bird may have a 30 to 70%
> chance of survial ... Why because I don't believe it knows how to catch
> fish or where to find them. It's a long story but this still about the
> least tern chick.
> I venturned out to the sand now dead low tide 4:30-ish where I saw my
> first ruddy turnstones this year and while moving forward 2 adult least
> terns sitting out in the open on the tide line. Where they didn't care if I
> was there or not. Scanning the area I spotted the chick maybe 20-25 feet
> from the adults semi camoflauged in the rocks. It now is nearly as large as
> an adult and to my eyes has lost most if early weeks feathers and has taken
> on far more adult like characteristics.
> Despite semi hiding the adults didn't bother me and whether I should
> mention this or not I was no less than 15-20 feet from it and it couldn't
> have cared less. When it wanted to move it did and farther down the bar I
> found it protected by 5 adults. Again ill-concerned with my presence. With
> the terrible light I returned to my car.
> On the way back I will leave the ladies name of this but she's an official
> bird counter observer for the Audubon and see told me she's spotted 5
> juveniles on the sand bars. I can't argue since I haven't seen them and I
> told her I believe I've been lucky enough to have been following the same
> one and pointed out where it was.
> So that's my experience with the first least tern chick now juvenile near
> adult that I've seen in my 5 plus years of birding.
> Can any one tell me or explain why the shore birds at Milford Point are so
> scarce this year? In the past years they have never let me down
> photographably wise but for one day in mid May when there were more birds
> than one could even begin to count. Since that one very few and at times
> void of birds altogether. Not to saw they weren't there on the days I
> wasn't.
> Kevin Doyle New Milford,Ct.
> Sent from my Samsung Epic™ 4G Touch
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