Friday, June 26, 2009

The Advantage Is All Mine



Although disguised as a banding operation, we were actually testing a new line of hair driers on the helpless tern chicks.

A few days ago I was recruited by a fellow nerd (one John Felis) to help with a Caspian Tern banding operation on Brooks Island, which is located a short boat ride away from Richmond in the San Francisco Bay. There ended up being close to 20 people out there, wading through the muck and hauling equipment back and forth in preparation of banding the ~80 or so chicks that were big enough for them. It was a pretty interesting scene corralling all the chicks together.....4 teams of people....some in watercraft.......definitely some kind of nerd-commando situation. Everything went pretty smoothly I though.....no chicks were injured and nobody got stepped on.

Birds that were big enough received an aluminum band, 2 color bands (which denoted the year they hatched) and a field readable band. Once banded, the chicks were returned to their holding containers, then taken by boat (the tide had come in) back to the colony and released. Hopefully they all made it back to where they belong!

Other Caspian Tern colonies in the bay have had varying success, often due to nest predation by gulls, but my sources say the colony on Brooks seems to be doing well this year, despite the California Gulls that are nesting right next to the terns.



Afterwards we went back to the tern crew's field housing next to the marina, which humorously lies in a heavily fortified gated community on the waterfront. I asked if they ever hang out in town, and the answer was (unsuprisingly) no, although Point Richmond was recommended as a cool area.

Click here to learn more about the tern project, I think its pretty interesting. I recommend reading the haikus........

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