[CT Birds] tern food

Al Collins aecollins83 at hotmail.com
Sun Aug 11 07:18:47 EDT 2013

To follow up on Larry's post, I have also been following this thread on tern bait and observing that there were very few terns feeding close to shore. There are abundant menhaden in all of the usual places, though tern don't feed on them, and scattered schools of sand eels in mid-Sound. 

One factor that could be in play is an after effect of Hurricane Sandy. The major in-shore baitfish in early season (into July) are bay anchovy and silversides (capelin, whitebait). I believe that both of those fish are exclusively shallow water animals that have limited migrations and rarely leave shallow water. The storm could have devastated those populations, leaving few around this year. If so, it may take several years for the populations to rebuild. 

Aside from the terns, those same bait fish are important foods for many other animals including bluefish and striped bass, ground fish like porgy and also wading birds (herons, egrets). We may see impact on those populations as well. 

> Date: Sun, 11 Aug 2013 02:34:53 +0000
> From: lpflynn at optonline.net
> To: ctbirds at lists.ctbirding.org
> Subject: [CT Birds] tern food
> Hi Folks,
> I don't get out on the boat anywhere as often as I use to, but still have a good number of very good fishing friends that enjoy filling me in with the information that I miss.
> It was noticed by me and others, that since May the tern colony on Cockenoe Island was not getting it's food source from very close to that island, but rather a bit further offshore outside the islands. This has been confirmed throughout  the nesting season on many occasions.
> For whatever reason, there may be a lack of baitfish in the shallow waters around the Norwalk Islands, ( perhaps also in other coastal communities?) Yet terns seem to be feeding well in the western sound in deeper waters, just not always in view of us shore bound viewers.
> My fishing friends keep telling me about terns diving on baitfish throughout the deeper waters, bluefish blasting bait and fish finding sonar alive with bait marks.
> This I can attest to, on a recent late July over night trip the sonar was alive with baitfish, terns were vocal at mid sound in the pre dawn dark and searching for and diving for food throughout our return from NY (Eaton's Neck) to Norwalk.
> This evening I spoke with a few local fisherman that confirmed that baitfish are plentiful outside the islands, through mid sound on reefs and all the way to the Long Island side, with birds diving and bluefish crashing the baitfish.
> These are things that spotting scopes can't see 2-10+ miles into the sound to observe.
> From these reports and my surveys, I'd doubt there is any lack of food for the terns.
> (but those dang moon tides and nesting birds....their bad) 
> Best,
> Larry Flynn
> Norwalk, CT.
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