It’s later September and the island is starting to quiet down a bit. For the past six months, we’ve observed quite a lot of changes – both in the wildlife and with the island itself. For most of the summer, the island was a deafening cacophony of chirps, squeals, cheeps, moans and cries. Making it incredibly hard to go to sleep sometimes!
But by now, almost all the bird species are fully fledged or close to it. There are very few baby birds left except for wedge-tailed shearwaters and the occasional brown noddy chick.
So most days are pretty quiet except for the nighttime moans of the wedge-tailed shearwaters (click here to hear the sounds) and the daytime screeching of hungry frigate chicks.
We recently completed the fall vegetation survey and there has been quite a significant change in vegetation cover as well.
With thousands of ground nesting birds – such as the brown noddies and sooty terns – taking over every available square inch of the island this summer, what was once green has now turned into a bare, brown patch of land. Fortunately, this is a normal pattern of seasonal growth for Tern. The winter rains will aid the vegetation in bouncing back for next year’s spring arrival and summer breeding season.
The most drastic change is probably East Beach turning into East “Island.” At the far NE corner of Tern is a fairly large sand spit that the monk seals & green sea turtles LOVE to bask on. Just last week, heavy waves created a significant channel between the beach and the old metal seawall. After only a few days, the water shifted the sand around so much that there is a deep, 20 foot channel of water separating East Beach from the rest of Tern Island. It’s a good thing the turtles have moved on or they’d have to battle the seals for space to haul out on the now tiny “island.”