Monday, July 28, 2014

Common Terns in Pubnico Harbour

July 23, 2014

The Northern Brother is an island lying 600 m west of West Pubnico that hosts a colony of Common Terns, Arctic Terns and Roseate Terns. Below is a Google Maps satellite image of the island.

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A local man, Ted d'Eon, has been doing conservation work and research on this island in cooperation with the Canadian Wildlife Service and the Department of Natural Resources since 1990. The 2014 breeding year was one of the best in the last 24 years. A total of 731 tern nests were counted this summer with 37 Roseate Tern nests. The Roseate Tern is designated a "Threatened Species" by the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife In Canada.

After the young Common Terns have fledged quite a few are brought to Pubnico Harbour to feed and to be fed. Two frequented sites that are accessible are at the Pont du Marais and at Little Island. The evening of July 23, 2014 the tide was high and there were a few fledged Common Terns and a dozen adults at the Pont du Marais. Conditions were favourable for some decent photography.

I put on my chest waders and slowly made my way through the water around some rocks. When I thought my positioning was correct I focused my camera on the juvenile tern and waited for the parents to come to feed it fresh fish.

Common Terns - Pubnico, Yarmouth Co. - July 23, 2014

I did notice something very strange happening. Every so often an adult would come to feed the juvenile tern some fish and another adult would chase away the first tern. I'm assuming that the first tern wasn't the young one's parent. When the actual parent saw a stranger trying to feed its youngster it would chase away the stranger. I also observed the juvenile tern being offered a fish and not taking it from one tern and then being offered fish by a different tern and readily accepting the second fish.

As I was enjoying the terns a Bonaparte's Gull flew in and landed quite close to me and allowed a few snaps before it flew off. A few days before, on July 20, I had seen a Laughing Gull and a Bonaparte's Gull at the end of Pond Road in Pubnico. Not long after the Bonaparte's Gull left, an immature Laughing Gull landed on another rock next to me but didn't stay long enough for a good photo. Here is a shot of the 1st cycle Bonaparte's Gull.

Bonaparte's Gull - Pubnico, Yarmouth Co. - July 23, 2014

The terns had moved about 50 feet further to the south of me so I slowly made my way closer while keeping the setting sun at my back. I was able to get down on the stomach on the shoreline and snapped a few more shots of the juvenile Common Tern with better lighting and a lower angle.

Juvenile Common Tern - Pubnico, Yarmouth Co. - July 23, 2014


  1. Great idea! Will really enjoy following your posts and photos!

  2. Thanks Kim. I'm following you now too. Thanks for following me. It is great to know that people will see the work you put in to these blogs.

  3. Your images are stunning and I enjoy learning more about the birds of Nova Scotia.

  4. This is a real nice start on your blog Alix.

  5. Thanks Sybil and Cal. Great to see you've stopped in for a read.