A partnership between Oregon State University, Real Time Research, and the USGS - Oregon Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit

Columbia River Estuary

Weekly Update for 7/21 – 7/27/2014

 

7/21 – 7/27/14 ›

 

Double-crested cormorant colony on East Sand Island is well into the fledging stage of the nesting season; most double-crested cormorant chicks have left their nests and are loafing in crèches on colony or on the surrounding beaches; a small number of double-crested cormorants are still incubating eggs and brooding small chicks near the tower blind; a few double-crested cormorants continue to sit on nests in the satellite colony on the west jetty

 

7/21 – 7/27/14 ›

 

High count for the week of about 7,750 Caspian terns on East Sand Island tern colony, down from last week’s peak count of about 9,000; this decline in the number of adult Caspian terns counted on colony is likely associated with the fledging of most of the tern chicks raised in the core colony area; a second wave of hatching of Caspian tern chicks around the periphery of the colony continued this week, with some tern eggs and young chicks succumbing to gull depredation during occasional colony disturbances

 

7/21 – 7/27/14 ›

 

High counts for the week of 784 Brandt’s cormorants and 486 attended Brandt’s cormorant nests on East Sand Island cormorant colony, down from the peak high counts for the season and likely associated with large numbers of Brandt’s cormorant chicks fledging at the colony; these are minimum counts, as not all Brandt’s cormorant nests on East Sand Island can be counted from the blinds; a small number of Brandt’s cormorants are still incubating eggs and brooding small chicks near the tower blind; some Brandt’s cormorants continue to sit tight on nests at the satellite colony on the west jetty

 

7/21 – 7/27/14 ›

 

Signs of multiple predators observed on East Sand Island; bald eagles present on both ends of the island, causing regular disturbances to terns, cormorants, gulls, and brown pelicans; adult peregrine falcon caused some disturbance to birds on eastern tip of the island, where it was seen taking a ring-billed gull chick; fresh river otter tracks observed on the east and south beaches

 

Weekly Update for 7/14 – 7/20/2014

 

7/14 – 7/20/14 ›

 

Double-crested cormorant colony on East Sand Island is well into the fledging phase; most double-crested cormorant chicks have left their nests and are loafing in crèches on colony or on the surrounding beaches; a small number of double-crested cormorants are still incubating eggs and brooding small chicks near the tower blind

 

7/14 – 7/20/14 ›

 

High count for the week of about 9,000 Caspian terns on East Sand Island tern colony, down from the peak high counts for the season and probably associated with the onset of chicks fledging from the colony; a second wave of hatching Caspian tern chicks continued this week, with most of the newly hatched chicks surviving through the week

 

7/14 – 7/20/14 ›

 

Corps’ contractor (LKE) completed their Caspian tern nest dissuasion work on East Sand Island this week and moved off the island on 7/15; stakes, rope, and flagging used to dissuade nesting by Caspian terns outside the core colony area on East Sand Island will be removed after the 2014 breeding season has ended

 

7/14 – 7/20/14 ›

 

High counts for the week of 906 Brandt’s cormorants and 705 attended Brandt’s cormorant nests on East Sand Island cormorant colony, down from the peak high counts for the season and probably associated with the onset of chicks fledging at the colony; these are minimum counts, as not all Brandt’s cormorant nests on East Sand Island can be counted from the blinds

 

7/14 – 7/20/14 ›

 

Signs of multiple predators observed on East Sand Island; bald eagles present on both ends of the island, causing regular disturbances to nesting terns, cormorants, and gulls, plus roosting California brown pelicans; four depredated Caspian terns (2 adults and 2 fledglings) observed on the beaches surrounding the Caspian tern colony, presumably killed by avian predators; evidence of great horned owl predation observed; fresh raccoon and river otter tracks seen on north, south, and east beaches

 

7/20/14 ›

 

Island-wide count revealed ca. 9,450 California brown pelicans roosting on the beaches surrounding East Sand Island, down slightly from the count on 7/1 (10,690); <100 brown pelicans continue to roost in the vegetation east of the Caspian tern colony, but all brown pelican nests that were built earlier this season in this area have been abandoned

 

7/18/14 ›

 

Elisa Carlsen, Mike Langeslay, Cindy Studebaker, and Bob Winters (USACE), Michelle McDowell (USFWS), Stan Senner (National Audubon Society), Linda Wires (University of Minnesota), and James Lawonn (ODFW) visited the East Sand Island cormorant colony

 

Weekly Update for 7/7 – 7/13/2014

 

7/7 – 7/13/14 ›

 

Double-crested cormorant colony is well into the chick-rearing phase, with the oldest chicks being at or near fledging age; most cormorant chicks have left their nests and are loafing in crèches on colony or on the surrounding beaches; a small number of cormorants are still incubating eggs and brooding small chicks near the tower blind

 

7/7 – 7/13/14 ›

 

High count for the week of about 9,000 Caspian terns on East Sand Island tern colony, down from the peak high counts for the season and probably associated with the onset of chicks fledging at the colony; most tern nests located in the core of the colony contain chicks that are at or near fledging age; tern nests with small chicks and eggs at the periphery of the colony persist, despite the relatively high rate of nest depredation by gulls on tern eggs in this part of the colony

 

7/7 – 7/13/14 ›

 

Corps’ contractor (LKE) continued monitoring of Caspian tern nest dissuasion areas at the east and west ends of East Sand Island; the number of Caspian terns observed outside the core colony area was low this week, with terns mainly loafing on the beaches at the east end of the island

 

7/7 – 7/14/14 ›

 

High counts for the week of 1,377 Brandt’s cormorants and 913 attended Brandt’s cormorant nests on East Sand Island cormorant colony, similar to high counts in recent weeks; these are minimum counts, as not all Brandt’s cormorant nests on East Sand Island can be counted from blinds; most Brandt’s cormorants are attending nests with older chicks that are beginning to form crèches and are moving about the colony

 

7/7 – 7/13/14 ›

 

Disturbance(s) to nesting American white pelicans on Miller Sands Spit caused adults and juveniles to abandon the former colony site; apparent cause of abandonment of the Miller Sands Spit colony of American white pelicans was human disturbance, but conclusive proof of cause is lacking; one group of campers was found camping within 50 yds of the former pelican colony early this week; 17 flightless chicks and two adult pelicans observed swimming in a lagoon off the northwest tip of Miller Sands Island, south of Miller Sands Spit; 391 American white pelicans (mostly adults, but some chicks) observed on the west end beaches at Rice Island

 

7/7 – 7/13/14 ›

 

Signs of multiple predators observed on East Sand Island; bald eagles present on both ends of the island, causing regular disturbances to nesting terns, cormorants, and gulls, plus roosting California brown pelicans; two depredated adult Caspian terns observed on the beaches surrounding the island, presumably killed by avian predators; bald eagle seen taking a fledgling Caspian tern off the north beach on 7/8; fresh raccoon and river otter tracks seen on north, south, and east beaches

 

7/13/14 ›

 

First Brandt’s cormorant fledgling observed on East Sand Island cormorant colony

 

7/13/14 ›

 

Aerial survey of lower Columbia River; weather prevented a continuation of the survey past Troutdale, OR; main objective of the flight was to detect the possible formation of new piscivorous waterbird colonies; no new piscivorous waterbird colonies observed

 

Weekly Update for 6/30 – 7/6/2014

 

6/30 – 7/6/14 ›

 

Double-crested cormorant colony is well into the chick-rearing phase, with the oldest chicks being at or near fledging age; chicks are beginning to form large crèches and are moving about the colony

 

6/30 – 7/6/14 ›

 

High count for the week of about 8,600 Caspian terns on East Sand Island tern colony, lower than the high weekly counts over the past month and probably associated with the onset of fledging at the colony; most tern nests located in the core of the colony contain chicks that are at or near fledging age; tern nests with small chicks and eggs at the periphery of the colony persist, despite the relatively high rate of nest depredation by gulls on tern eggs in this area

 

6/30 – 7/6/14 ›

 

Corps’ contractor (LKE) continued monitoring of Caspian tern nest dissuasion areas at the east and west ends of East Sand Island; the number of Caspian terns observed outside the core colony area was low this week, with terns mainly loafing on the beaches on the east end of the island

 

6/30 – 7/6/14 ›

 

High counts for the week of 1,167 Brandt’s cormorants and 911 attended Brandt’s cormorant nests on East Sand Island cormorant colony, similar to high counts in recent weeks; these are minimum counts, as not all Brandt’s cormorant nests on East Sand Island can be counted from blinds; most Brandt’s cormorants are attending nests with older chicks that are beginning to form crèches and are moving about the colony; Brandt’s cormorant nests that were initiated on the west jetty in recent weeks persisted this week

 

6/30 – 7/6/14 ›

 

Apparent but unknown disturbance to nesting American white pelicans on Miller Sands Spit caused dispersal of flightless pelican chicks to areas away for the nesting island; 7 unfledged American white pelican chicks observed on East Sand Island and many more observed along the shoreline of the estuary during 7/2-7/3; white pelicans that remained on Miller Sand Spit had moved to areas away from the colony site; island surveys at Miller Sands Spit later in the week revealed bald eagle activity and fresh river otter tracks, and campers set up on the island approximately 50 yards from the colony site; 40 flightless pelican chicks were recovered at various locations throughout the estuary, 7 of which were taken to the Wildlife Center of the North Coast for rehabilitation; the remaining chicks (33) were returned to Miller Sand Spit to join the group of pelican chicks that remained on the island

 

6/30 – 7/6/14 ›

 

Signs of multiple predators observed on East Sand Island; bald eagles present on both ends of the island, causing regular disturbances to nesting terns, cormorants, and gulls, plus roosting California brown pelicans; two depredated adult Caspian terns observed on the beaches surrounding the island, presumably killed by avian predators; fresh raccoon tracks seen on north beach near the stairs to the field camp

 

7/6/14 ›

 

First double-crested cormorant fledgling observed on East Sand Island cormorant colony

 

7/5/14 ›

 

First Caspian tern fledglings observed on East Sand Island tern colony

 

7/2/14 ›

 

Boat-based survey of the upper Columbia River estuary; main objectives of survey were to estimate the number of cormorants using the upper estuary for nesting; count of 626 double-crested cormorants (333 active nests) and 140 pelagic cormorants (76 active nests) on the Astoria-Megler Bridge; count of 194 double-crested cormorants (154 active nests) on 8 channel markers in the upper estuary above Rice Island

 

7/1/14 ›

 

Island-wide count revealed ca. 10,690 California brown pelicans roosting on the beaches surrounding East Sand Island, similar to the results from the last survey on 6/21; <100 brown pelicans continue to roost in the vegetation east of the Caspian tern colony, but all brown pelican nests that were built earlier this season in this area have been abandoned

 

Weekly Update for 6/23 – 6/29/2014

 

6/23 – 6/29/14 ›

 

Double-crested cormorant colony on East Sand Island remained stable this week, with no areas of noticeable nest failure or new nest initiation; the colony is well into the chick-rearing phase, with the oldest chicks being 37 days post-hatch; chicks are beginning to form crèches and are moving about the colony

 

6/23 – 6/29/14 ›

 

High count for the week of about 10,600 Caspian terns on East Sand Island tern colony, similar to the high weekly counts over the past month; most tern nests located in the core of the colony contain chicks that are 32-35 days old; some nests at the periphery of the colony are beginning to hatch chicks, despite the relatively high rate of nest depredation by gulls on tern eggs in this area

 

6/23 – 6/29/14 ›

 

Corps’ contractor (LKE) continued monitoring of Caspian tern nest dissuasion areas at the east and west ends of East Sand Island; the number of Caspian terns observed outside the core colony area was low this week, with terns mainly loafing on the beaches on the east end of the island

 

6/23 – 6/29/14 ›

 

High counts for the week of 1,322 Brandt’s cormorants and 1,008 attended Brandt’s cormorant nests on East Sand Island cormorant colony, similar to high counts in recent weeks; these are minimum counts, as not all Brandt’s cormorant nests on East Sand Island can be counted from blinds; most Brandt’s cormorants are attending nests with chicks, some as old as 29 days post-hatch; Brandt’s cormorant nests that were initiated on the west jetty the previous week persisted this week, despite continued bald eagle disturbance

 

6/23 – 6/29/14 ›

 

Signs of multiple predators observed on East Sand Island; bald eagles present on both ends of the island, causing regular disturbances to nesting terns, cormorants, and gulls, plus roosting California brown pelicans; three depredated adult Caspian terns observed on the beaches surrounding the island, presumably killed by avian predators

 

Weekly Update for 6/16 – 6/22/2014

 

6/16 – 6/22/14 ›

 

Vast majority of double-crested cormorants nesting in the core cormorant colony area on East Sand Island (the area between the dismantled privacy fences) were attending nests with chicks, some as old as 30 days post-hatch; the cormorant colony was relatively stable this week with no significant failure or expansion of previously established nesting areas

 

6/16 – 6/22/14 ›

 

High count for the week of 10,040 Caspian terns on East Sand Island tern colony, similar to the high weekly counts over the past month; colony-wide disturbances by bald eagles and associated gull depredation continued to cause tern nest failure, primarily on new nests with eggs near the periphery of the colony; despite these nest failures, most of the tern nests located at the center of the colony contain chicks that are 20-30 days old; depredation of tern chicks by gulls was observed, but remained infrequent

 

6/16 – 6/22/14 ›

 

Corps’ contractor (LKE) continued monitoring of Caspian tern nest dissuasion areas at the east and west ends of East Sand Island; the number of Caspian terns observed outside the core colony area was low this week, with terns mainly loafing on the beaches on the east end of the island

 

6/16 – 6/22/14 ›

 

High counts for the week of 1,368 Brandt’s cormorants and 1,037 attended Brandt’s cormorant nests on East Sand Island cormorant colony, similar to high counts in recent weeks; most Brandt’s cormorants are attending nests with chicks, some as old as 22 days post-hatch; initiation of new Brandt’s cormorant nests was observed on the west jetty this past week, with several hundred individuals beginning to occupy this area

 

6/16 – 6/22/14 ›

 

Signs of multiple predators observed on East Sand Island; bald eagles present on both ends of the island, causing regular disturbances to nesting terns, cormorants, and gulls, plus roosting California brown pelicans; five depredated adult Caspian terns observed on the beaches surrounding the island, presumably killed by avian predators; adult peregrine falcon seen taking a ring-billed gull chick on eastern tip of island; fresh river otter tracks observed on northeast beach

 

6/21/14 ›

 

Fifth aerial survey of Columbia River estuary, Willapa Bay, and Grays Harbor; main objectives of the flight were to detect the possible formation of new piscivorous waterbird colonies; no new piscivorous waterbird colonies observed; all cormorant nests on three channel markers in Grays Harbor were abandoned; Caspian terns previous observed on a barge in Grays Harbor no longer using the area as a roost or nest site

 

6/21/14 ›

 

Island-wide count revealed ca. 10,525 California brown pelicans roosting on the beaches surrounding East Sand Island, with a large number concentrated on and near the west jetty for the first time this season; this is the largest number of California brown pelicans counted on East Sand Island in late June, with the exception of the record year of 2009; 100-200 brown pelicans continue to roost in the vegetation east of the tern colony, but all pelican nests in this area have been abandoned

 

6/19/14 ›

 

Boat-based survey of the upper Columbia River estuary; main objectives of survey were to estimate the number of cormorants using the upper estuary for nesting; count of 729 double-crested cormorants (313 active nests) and 132 pelagic cormorants (82 active nests) on the Astoria-Megler Bridge; count of 287 double-crested cormorants (173 active nests) on 8 channel markers in the upper estuary above Rice Island

 

6/18/14 ›

 

Joyce Casey and Cindy Studebaker (USACE), Michelle McDowell and Stephen Zylstra (USFWS), Bob Sallinger, Micah Meskell, Joe Liebezeit, and Kahler Martinson (Audubon Society of Portland), and Josh Saranpaa (Wildlife Center of the North Coast) visited the East Sand Island cormorant colony

 

Weekly Update for 6/9 – 6/15/2014

 

6/9 – 6/15/14 ›

 

Vast majority of double-crested cormorants nesting in the core cormorant colony area on East Sand Island (the area between the dismantled privacy fences) were attending nests with downy chicks, some as old as 25 days post-hatch; cormorant nests that were initiated later this season (near the tower blind) hatched their first chicks the previous week; in general nesting cormorants are far more asynchronous in the area near the tower blind compared to those in the core colony area; bald eagle disturbance to nesting cormorants near the tower blind to the west of the former western privacy fence continues to be high, causing a decline in the number of cormorants nesting in that area; initiation of new cormorant nests was observed east of the old eastern privacy fence

 

6/9 – 6/15/14 ›

 

High count for the week of 11,320 Caspian terns on East Sand Island tern colony, similar to the high count the previous week; the number of tern chicks on the colony continues to increase, with many 3-chick nests persisting at the center of the colony; colony-wide disturbances by bald eagles and associated gull depredation on tern eggs continued to cause tern nest failure, primarily near the periphery of the colony; despite these nest failures, most of the tern nests located at the center of the colony contain eggs and/or young chicks and remain relatively undisturbed by nest predators

 

6/9 – 6/15/14 ›

 

Corps’ contractor (LKE) continued monitoring of Caspian tern nest dissuasion areas at the east and west ends of East Sand Island; a few hundred Caspian terns continue to roost on the east and south beaches, mostly below the high high tide line; a single Caspian tern egg was laid in a nest above the high high tide line on 6/10, but was gone (presumably depredated by a gull) that afternoon

 

6/9 – 6/15/14 ›

 

High counts for the week of 1,466 Brandt’s cormorants and 1,017 attended Brandt’s cormorant nests on East Sand Island cormorant colony, very similar to the high counts the previous week

 

6/9 – 6/15/14 ›

 

Large numbers of California brown pelicans (thousands) continue to roost on East Sand Island, all on the east end and southern shoreline west to the middle of the island; three attended brown pelican nests in the vegetation east of the Caspian tern colony were abandoned this week, possibly due to increased bald eagle disturbance to pelicans roosting and nesting in this area; although no California brown pelican eggs were confirmed to have been laid on East Sand Island so far this season, 6-11 breeding pairs have built nests and may have laid eggs earlier this season; none of these incipient nests is still being attended

 

6/9 – 6/15/14 ›

 

Signs of multiple predators observed on East Sand Island; bald eagles present on both ends of the island, causing regular disturbances to nesting terns, cormorants, and gulls, plus roosting California brown pelicans; three depredated adult Caspian terns observed on the beaches surrounding the island, presumably killed by avian predators; fresh river otter tracks observed on south and northeast beaches

 

6/9/14 ›

 

Fourth aerial survey of Columbia River estuary, Willapa Bay, and Grays Harbor; main objectives of the flight were to detect the possible formation of new piscivorous waterbird colonies; no new double-crested cormorant colonies were observed; Caspian terns that were seen on a barge in Grays Harbor during the previous aerial survey were not observed on the barge or in the surrounding area; 153 American white pelicans, 109 active nests, and a minimum of 40 pelican chicks counted on Miller Sands Spit in the upper Columbia River estuary

 

Weekly Update For 6/2 – 6/8/2014

 

6/2 – 6/8/14 ›

 

Vast majority of double-crested cormorants nesting in the core cormorant colony area on East Sand Island (the area between the dismantled privacy fences) were attending nests with downy chicks; cormorant nests that were initiated later this season (near the tower blind) hatched their first chicks this week; bald eagle disturbance to nesting cormorants near the tower blind to the west of the former western privacy fence continues to be high, causing a decline in the number of cormorants nesting in that area; initiation of new cormorant nests was observed around the edges of the core colony area this week

 

6/2 – 6/8/14 ›

 

High count for the week of 10,750 Caspian terns on East Sand Island tern colony, similar to the previous week; colony-wide disturbances by bald eagles and associated gull depredation on tern eggs continued to cause considerable tern nest failure, primarily near the periphery of colony; despite these nest failures, most of the tern nests located at the center of the colony contain eggs and/or young chicks and remain relatively undisturbed by nest predators

 

6/2 – 6/8/14 ›

 

Corps’ contractor (LKE) continued monitoring of Caspian tern nest dissuasion areas at the east and west ends of East Sand Island; no nesting Caspian terns were observed on the beaches at the east end of the island; a satellite tern colony on the upper beach to the south of the main Caspian tern colony was abandoned due to encroachment by roosting brown pelicans; 90 Caspian tern continue to roost on the south beach, mostly below the high high tide line

 

6/2 – 6/8/14 ›

 

High count for the week of 1,441 Brandt’s cormorants and 1,054 attended Brandt’s cormorant nests on East Sand Island cormorant colony

 

6/2 – 6/8/14 ›

 

Signs of multiple predators observed on East Sand Island; bald eagles present on both ends of the island, causing regular disturbances to nesting terns, cormorants, and gulls, plus roosting California brown pelicans; four depredated adult Caspian terns observed on the beaches surrounding the island, presumably killed by avian predators; fresh river otter tracks observed on south and southeast beaches

 

6/8/14 ›

 

Aerial survey of the Salish Sea; main objective of flight was to identify active Caspian tern and double-crested cormorant colonies in the area; confirmed or suspected nest sites for terns include: Sea-Pac warehouse rooftop in Seattle (ca. 300 adults and 125 attended nest), NW Industries warehouse rooftop in Seattle (ca. 150 adults and 20 attended nests), Rat Island (ca. 220 adults and 50 attended nests), Dungeness Spit (115 adults, a few sitting), Smith Island (ca. 220 adults and 35 attended nests), and Bellingham waterfront warehouse rooftop (ca. 120 adults, a few sitting); confirmed or suspected nest sites for double-crested cormorants include: pilings at the mouth of the Snohomish River, Smith Island, Minor Island, Williamson Rocks, Goose Island in Cattle Pass, Mandarte Island, outflow towers near Crofton (BC), Drayton Harbor, and Viti Rocks

 

6/5/14 ›

 

Island-wide count revealed ca. 6,950 California brown pelicans roosting on East Sand Island, most on the south and east beaches; this is the largest number of brown pelicans counted on East Sand Island at this time of year; one of the two existing brown pelican nests on the east end of the island has apparently failed (no longer continuous attended by adults) and one new brown pelican nest was apparently initiated this week (continuously attended by adults); currently (6/8), there are at least two brown pelican nests on the island that are being continuously attended by adults; egg-laying East Sand Island by brown pelicans has not been confirmed so far this season

 

6/3/14 ›

 

Matthew Alex and Mark Lytel (USDA APHIS Wildlife Services) visited the East Sand Island cormorant colony

 

Weekly Update for 5/26 – 6/1/2014

 

5/26 – 6/1/14 ›

 

Vast majority of double-crested cormorants nesting in the core colony area on East Sand Island were in the early chick-rearing stage of the nesting cycle by end of this week; new cormorant nests continue to be initiated east of the former eastern privacy fence; bald eagle disturbance to nesting cormorants near the tower blind to the west of the former western privacy fence continues to be high, causing a decrease in the number of cormorants nesting nearby

 

5/26 – 6/1/14 ›

 

High count for the week of 10,200 Caspian terns on East Sand Island tern colony, similar to previous week; colony-wide disturbances by bald eagles and associated gull depredation on tern eggs continued to cause tern nest failure, primarily near the periphery of colony; despite these nest failures, most of the tern nests located at the center of the colony have multiple eggs and/or newly hatched chicks; terns continued to initiate new nests (lay eggs) around the periphery of the colony

 

5/26 – 6/1/14 ›

 

Corps’ contractor (LKE) continued monitoring of Caspian tern nest dissuasion areas at the east and west ends of East Sand Island; hundreds of Caspian terns continue to dig nest scrapes and loaf on the beaches at the east end of the island; no Caspian tern eggs were seen on the east and northeast beaches this week

 

5/26 – 6/1/14 ›

 

High count for the week of 1,655 Brandt’s cormorants and 948 attended Brandt’s cormorant nests on East Sand Island cormorant colony, slightly down from high counts the previous week, primarily due to disturbances by bald eagles

 

5/26 – 6/1/14 ›

 

Signs of multiple predators observed on East Sand Island; bald eagles present on both ends of the island, causing regular disturbances to nesting terns, cormorants, and gulls, plus roosting California brown pelicans; two depredated adult Caspian terns observed on the beaches surrounding the island, presumably killed by avian predators; fresh river otter tracks observed on northeast beach

 

5/26 – 6/1/14 ›

 

Large numbers of California brown pelicans (thousands) continue to roost on East Sand Island, all on the east end and southern shoreline west to the middle of the island; two brown pelican nests that are visible from the tern blinds continue to be attended, and may contain eggs; however, in order to avoid disturbing potentially nesting brown pelicans, no effort has been made to verify that eggs have been laid so far this year 

 

5/27/14 ›

 

First Caspian tern chick observed on East Sand Island tern colony

 

5/27/14 ›

 

Third aerial survey of Columbia River estuary, Willapa Bay, and Grays Harbor; main objective of flight was to detect the possible formation of new Caspian tern and/or double-crested cormorant colonies; a newly formed double-crested cormorant colony was observed on the Lewis and Clark Bridge in Longview, WA (15 double-crested cormorants, 9 active nests); an unconfirmed, but potential Caspian tern colony was seen on a barge in Grays Harbor; 109 Caspian terns were observed on the barge, some actively digging nest scrapes

 

5/29/14 ›

 

Boat-based survey of the upper Columbia River estuary; main objectives of survey were to estimate the number of cormorants using the upper estuary for nesting; count of 678 double-crested cormorants (318 active nests) and 138 pelagic cormorants (78 active nests) on the Astoria-Megler Bridge; count of 296 double-crested cormorants (156 active nests) on 8 channel markers in the upper estuary above Rice Island

 

5/31/14 ›

 

First Brandt’s cormorant chick observed on East Sand Island cormorant colony

 

Weekly Update for 5/19 – 5/25/2014

 

5/19 – 5/25/14 ›

 

Many of the brown pelicans roosting this week on East Sand Island are in breeding plumage and are engaging in courtship displays, nest building, and copulation; at least two pairs of brown pelicans continue to attend nests on a grassy knoll east of the Caspian tern colony, where most brown pelicans are roosting during the day; in order to avoid disturbing potentially nesting brown pelicans, no effort has been made so far this year to verify that eggs have been laid; recent word from scientists monitoring nesting colonies of California brown pelicans in southern California and northwestern Mexico indicates nearly a complete nesting failure, providing context for the unusual number of brown pelicans roosting on East Sand Island this week, and the unpredented high incidence of breeding behavior; the nearest brown pelican breeding colony to East Sand Island is on Anacapa Island in the Channel Islands of southern California, 900 miles to the south

 

5/19 – 5/25/14 ›

 

Vast majority of the double-crested cormorants nesting in the core colony area on the East Sand Island were into the late incubation or early chick-rearing stages of the nesting cycle by the end of the week; new cormorant nests continue to be initiated east of the old eastern privacy fence; bald eagle disturbance to nesting cormorants near the tower blind to the west of the old western privacy fence continues to be high

 

5/19 – 5/25/14 ›

 

High count for the week of 10,710 Caspian terns on East Sand Island tern colony, up slightly from high count the previous week; colony-wide disturbances by bald eagles and associated gull depredation on tern eggs continued to cause tern nest failure at the colony, primarily near the periphery of the colony; despite the impact of these limiting factors on colony nesting success, most of the tern nests located at the center of the colony have three eggs and terns continued to initiate new nests (lay eggs) around the periphery of the colony

 

5/19 – 5/25/14 ›

 

Corps contractors (LKE) continued monitoring of tern nest dissuasion areas at the east and west ends of East Sand Island; hundreds of Caspian terns continue to nest and loaf on the beaches at the east end of the island; four Caspian tern eggs were laid on the east and northeast beaches this past week, and all were subsequently depredated by gulls

 

5/19 – 5/25/14 ›

 

High count for the week of 1,989 Brandt’s cormorants and 973 attended Brandt’s cormorant nests on East Sand Island cormorant colony; up from high counts the previous week

 

5/19 – 5/25/14 ›

 

Signs of multiple predators observed on East Sand Island; bald eagles present on both ends of the island, causing regular disturbances to nesting terns, cormorants, and gulls, plus roosting California brown pelicans; 3 depredated adult Caspian terns observed on the beaches surrounding the island, presumably killed by avian predators, particularly bald eagles; fresh river otter tracks observed on northeast beach

 

5/22/14 ›

 

First double-crested cormorant chick observed on East Sand Island cormorant colony

 

5/21/14 ›

 

Island-wide count revealed ca. 5,310 California brown pelicans roosting on East Sand Island, all on the south and east beaches; this number of brown pelicans roosting on East Sand Island is the largest ever recorded on the island at this time of year

 

Weekly Update for 5/12 – 5/18/2014

 

5/12 – 5/18/14 ›

 

Double-crested cormorant colony size on the East Sand Island appears to be similar or slightly larger compared to the previous three weeks, with an increasing number of cormorants initiating nests on the eastern end of the colony; colony areas that were flooded due to heavy rainfall the previous week have dried out; eagle disturbance to the cormorant colony continues to increase, causing 150 cormorant nests to fail near the tower blind; double-crested cormorants are attending nests with eggs, with ca. 75% of nesting cormorants in late incubation

 

5/12 – 5/18/14 ›

 

High count for the week of 10,133 Caspian terns on East Sand Island tern colony; colony areas that were flooded due to heavy rainfall the previous week have dried out; colony-wide disturbances by bald eagles and associated gull depredation on tern eggs continued to cause tern nest failure at the colony, primarily near the periphery of the colony; despite the impact of these limiting factors on colony nesting success, terns continued to initiate new nests and are now occupying 100% of the available tern nesting habitat (1.58 acres)

 

5/12 – 5/18/14 ›

 

Corps contractors (LKE) continued monitoring of tern nest dissuasion areas at the east and west ends of East Sand Island; larger numbers of terns (ca. 1,000) were observed on the south and east beaches near the tern colony this week; the vast majority of these bird are roosting below the high tide line; one tern egg was laid in this area and was subsequently depredated by a gull

 

5/12 – 5/18/14 ›

 

High count for the week of 1,575 Brandt’s cormorants and 729 attended Brandt’s cormorant nests on East Sand Island cormorant colony

 

5/12 – 5/18/14 ›

 

Unseasonable large numbers of California brown pelicans (thousands) continue to roost on East Sand Island, all on the east end of the island; two brown pelican nests that were discovered on 5/6 continue to be attended, and may contain eggs; however, in order to avoid disturbing potentially nesting brown pelicans, no effort has been made to verify that eggs have been laid so far this year 

 

5/12 – 5/18/14 ›

 

Signs of multiple predators observed on East Sand Island; bald eagles present on both ends of the island, causing regular disturbances to nesting terns, cormorants, and gulls; 6 depredated adult Caspian terns were observed on the beaches surrounding the island, presumably killed by avian predators, particularly bald eagles

 

5/17/14 ›

 

Second aerial survey of Columbia River estuary, Willapa Bay, and Grays Harbor; main objective of flight was to detect the possible formation of new Caspian tern and/or double-crested cormorant colonies; no new tern or cormorant colonies detected

 

5/15/14 ›

 

Boat-based survey of the upper Columbia River estuary; main objectives of survey were to estimate the number of cormorants using the upper estuary for nesting; count of 796 double-crested cormorants (240 active nests) and 150 pelagic cormorants (69 active nests) on the Astoria-Megler Bridge; count of 298 double-crested cormorants (168 active nests) on 8 channel markers in the upper estuary above Rice Island

 

Weekly Update for 5/5 – 5/11/2014

 

5/5 – 5/11/14 ›

 

Double-crested cormorant nesting distribution on the East Sand Island colony has changed slightly this past week, associated with recent nest failures and subsequent renesting by failed breeders; overall colony size appears to be similar to the previous two weeks, with no new cormorant nesting areas on East Sand Island established; heavy rainfall and increasing eagle disturbance to the cormorant colony caused some nest failure this week; most double-crested cormorants are attending nests with eggs

 

5/5 – 5/11/14 ›

 

High count for the week of 9,132 Caspian terns on East Sand Island tern colony; heavy rainfall caused significant flooding on the tern colony this past week; colony-wide disturbances by bald eagles and associated gull depredation on tern eggs continued to cause tern nest failure at the colony; despite the impact of these limiting factors on tern colony nesting success, terns continued to initiate new nests and are now occupying 100% of the available nesting habitat (1.58 acres)

 

5/5 – 5/11/14 ›

 

Corps contractors (LKE) continued monitoring of tern nest dissuasion areas at the east and west ends of East Sand Island; larger numbers of terns (700 - 1,000) were observed on the east beaches this week; additional dissuasion materials (i.e., stakes, rope, and flagging) were erected on the upper southeast beach where terns were observed digging nest scrapes and copulating; one tern egg was laid in this area and was subsequently depredated by a gull

 

5/5 – 5/11/14 ›

 

High count for the week of 1,680 Brandt’s cormorants and 874 attended Brandt’s cormorant nests on East Sand Island cormorant colony

 

5/5 – 5/11/14 ›

 

California brown pelicans (ca. 1,200) continue to roost on East Sand Island, all on the east end of the island; two attended brown pelican nests were discovered on 5/6 on a grassy knoll southeast of the tern colony near where three pairs of brown pelicans laid eggs last year; brown pelican eggs have not been confirmed so far this year 

 

5/5 – 5/11/14 ›

 

Signs of multiple predators observed on East Sand Island; bald eagles present on both ends of the island, causing regular disturbances to nesting terns, cormorants, and gulls; more than 10 depredated adult Caspian terns and multiple depredated double-crested cormorants have been observed on the beaches surrounding the island, presumably killed by avian predators, particularly bald eagles  

 

Weekly Update for 4/28 – 5/4/2014

 

4/28 – 5/4/14 ›

 

Double-crested cormorant colony size seems to be similar to last week, with no new nesting areas on East Sand island being established; most cormorants are attending nests with eggs; heavy rainfall caused some flooding on the cormorant colony this past week; increase in eagle disturbance to cormorant colony observed, mostly on western end of colony, causing some egg take by gulls

 

4/28 – 5/4/14 ›

 

High count for the week of 8,520 Caspian terns on East Sand Island tern colony; heavy rainfall caused significant flooding on the tern colony this past week; two colony-wide disturbances by bald eagles caused the large majority tern nests with eggs to fail; terns continued to initiate new nests after eagle disturbances

 

4/28 – 5/4/14 ›

 

High count for the week of 1,725 Brandt’s cormorants and 377 attended Brandt’s cormorant nests on East Sand Island cormorant colony

 

4/28 – 5/4/14 ›

 

California brown pelicans (ca. 1,000) continue to roost on East Sand Island, most were counted on the south beach and on grassy area southeast of the tern colony near where three pairs of pelicans laid eggs last year; one pair of pelicans observed copulating in this area  

 

4/28 – 5/4/14 ›

 

Signs of multiple predators observed on East Sand Island; bald eagles present on both ends of the island, causing regular disturbances to nesting terns, cormorants, and gulls; fresh river otter tracks observed on the north and south beaches

 

5/1/14 ›

 

First Brandt’s cormorant egg observed on East Sand Island cormorant colony

 

4/30/14 ›

 

Corps contractors (LKE) continued monitoring of tern nest dissuasion areas at the east and west ends of East Sand Island; additional dissuasion materials (i.e., stakes, rope, and flagging) were erected on the upper southeast beach were terns were observed digging nest scrapes and copulating

 

Weekly Update for 4/21 – 4/27/2014

 

4/21 – 4/27/14 ›

 

Increasing numbers of double-crested cormorants (thousands) are building nests in the colony area used in 2013 and near the tower blind, where no cormorants were allowed to nest in 2013; heavy rainfall caused some flooding on the cormorant colony this past week; no dissuasion of nesting cormorants is planned for the 2014 breeding season

 

4/21 – 4/27/14 ›

 

High count for the week of 6,820 Caspian terns on East Sand Island tern colony; increase in nesting activity observed; heavy rainfall caused some flooding on the tern colony this past week

 

4/21 – 4/27/14 ›

 

High count for the week of 1,040 Brandt’s cormorants and 154 attended Brandt’s cormorant nests on East Sand Island cormorant colony

 

4/21 – 4/27/14 ›

 

Several hundred California brown pelicans are now roosting on East Sand Island, most were counted on grassy area near where three pairs of pelicans laid eggs last year

 

4/21 – 4/27/14 ›

 

Signs of multiple predators observed on East Sand Island; bald eagles present on both ends of the island, causing regular disturbances to nesting terns, cormorants, and gulls; peregrine falcon caused repeated disturbances and colony flushes at the ring-billed gull colony on east end of island; fresh river otter tracks observed on the beaches at the north and east ends of the island; a barn owl was observed on the island near the field camp (4/25) 

 

4/27/14 ›

 

First aerial survey of Columbia River estuary (CRE), Willapa Bay, and Grays Harbor (GH); main objective of flight was to detect the possible formation of new Caspian tern and/or double-crested cormorant colonies; several hundred terns observed sitting, scraping, and copulating in upland area near the old colony location on west end of Rice Island (CRE); 35 terns observed loafing on dredge spoil in upland area on the southeastern tip of Tenasillahe Island (CRE); several hundred terns observed on one of the piers at Tongue Point (CRE); ca. 150 terns observed sitting, scraping, and copulating at the sewage treatment ponds in Hoquiam, WA (GH)

 

4/23/14 ›

 

First Caspian tern eggs observed on East Sand Island tern colony; all eggs depredated by glaucous-winged/western gulls during a colony-wide disturbance

 

4/22/14 ›

 

Boat-based survey of the upper Columbia River estuary; main objectives of survey were to locate piscivorous waterbird colonies and roost sites; nesting and roosting double-crested cormorants and pelagic cormorants observed on the Astoria-Megler Bridge; 240 American white pelicans and 25 active nests with eggs counted on Miller Sands Spit

 

4/21/14 ›

 

First double-crested cormorant egg observed on East Sand Island cormorant colony

 

Weekly Update FOR 4/14 – 4/20/2014

 

4/14 – 4/20/14 ›

 

High count for the week of 6,175 double-crested cormorants on East Sand Island cormorant colony; cormorants first settled into the designated 4-acre colony area used in 2013, but are now beginning to occupy adjacent areas near the tower blind where no cormorants were allowed to nest in 2013; some nesting behaviors observed (i.e., nest building and courtship displays); no dissuasion of nesting cormorants is planned for the 2014 breeding season

 

4/14 – 4/20/14 ›

 

High count for the week of 5,186 Caspian terns on East Sand Island tern colony; terns first settled into the central portion of the colony and grouped mainly around the tern decoys; later arriving terns spread out towards the outer edges of the colony, with terns now occupying ca. 60% of the designated colony area; terns on colony mostly roosting; however, towards end of week some breeding behaviors observed (i.e., digging nest scrapes, courtship)

 

4/14 – 4/20/14 ›

 

High count for the week of 701 Brandt’s cormorants on East Sand Island cormorant colony

 

4/14 – 4/20/14 ›

 

Small groups of California brown pelicans are starting to arrive at East Sand Island; up to 150 California brown pelicans counted roosting on grassy area near where three pairs of pelicans laid eggs last year (4/20)

 

4/14 – 4/20/14 ›

 

Signs of multiple predators observed on East Sand Island; as many as 6 bald eagles were observed on the island at one time; eagles attempting to steal fish from adult Caspian terns have caused terns to flush from the colony 3-4 times a day; peregrine falcon caused repeated disturbance and colony flushes at the ring-billed gull colony on east end of island; fresh river otter and raccoon tracks observed on the beaches at the north and east ends of the island

 

4/18/14 ›

 

Corps contractors (LKE) began monitoring of tern nest dissuasion areas at the east and west ends of East Sand Island

 

4/14/14 ›

 

Colony monitors moved out to East Sand Island and began continuous monitoring of the Caspian tern and double-crested cormorant breeding colonies

 

WEEKLY Update FOR 4/7 – 4/13/2014 

 

4/7 – 4/13/14 ›

 

High count for the week of 4,260 double-crested cormorants on East Sand Island colony; during the week there were several days when no cormorants were present on the colony

 

4/7 – 4/13/14 ›

 

High count for the week of 879 Caspian terns on East Sand Island tern colony; in addition, Caspian terns regularly seen loafing on beaches that surround East Sand Island, 200-400 terns and 30-50 terns counted on the east and west ends of the island, respectively

 

4/7 – 4/13/14 ›

 

High count for the week of 74 Brandt’s cormorants on East Sand Island cormorant colony

 

4/7 – 4/13/14 ›

 

Signs of multiple predators observed on East Sand Island; as many as 15 bald eagles observed on the island at one time; peregrine falcon caused repeated disturbance and colony flushes at the ring-billed gull colony on east end of island; avian predator, likely a common raven, killed a Caspian tern on northeast beach on 4/13

 

4/8/14 ›

 

First Brandt’s cormorants observed on East Sand Island colony site

 

Update FOR 3/11 – 4/6/2014 

 

4/1 – 4/12/14 ›

 

Conducted colony preparations on the East Sand Island tern colony; field crew erected observation blinds and above-ground tunnels, set up camp, laid out colony grids, spread PIT tags for detection efficiency studies, placed photo monuments for analysis of aerial photography, and deployed tern decoys on core tern colony area; Corps contractor (LKE) tilled and harrowed the core tern colony creating 1.58 acres of suitable tern nesting habitat, removed and repaired damaged silt fencing around the core tern colony area, placed tern dissuasion (ropes and flagging) outside the core colony area on the east and west ends of East Sand Island  where terns have prospected for nest sites in previous years (total area of nest dissuasion = ca. 5 acres)

 

3/12 – 4/6/14 ›

 

Conducted colony preparations on the East Sand Island cormorant colony (i.e., built/repaired observation blinds and above-ground tunnels, spread PIT tags for detection efficiency studies)

 

4/4/14 ›

 

First double-crested cormorants (ca. 1,000) observed on East Sand Island colony site

 

4/1/14 ›

 

First California brown pelican sighted in Columbia River estuary by project staff in 2014; one seen flying near East Sand Island; no pelicans were seen on East Sand Island during the pre-season and no other brown pelicans were seen in the estuary during pre-season (up until 4/13)

 

3/30/14 ›

 

First Caspian terns (42) observed on East Sand Island tern colony

 

3/17/14 ›

 

First Caspian tern sighted in Columbia River estuary by project staff in 2014; one seen flying over west end of East Sand Island

 

3/16/14 ›

 

First Brandt’s cormorants sighted in Columbia River estuary by project staff in 2014; seen on pile dikes adjacent to East Sand Island and flying over the island

 

3/11/14 ›

 

First double-crested cormorants sighted in Columbia River estuary by project staff in 2014; several seen flying near East Sand Island

 

3/11/14 ›

 

Seasonal field crew began work in Columbia River estuary; first visit to East Sand Island to assess the condition of the Caspian tern and double-crested cormorant nesting areas; shoreline erosion on the south side of tern colony has caused limited loss of silt fencing; vegetation has grown in between existing silt fence rows, rendering those areas unsuitable for tern nesting; European beach grass has encroached into the core tern colony area reducing the available nesting habitat below what was used in 2013 (1.58 acres); strong winter storms have caused significant wind transport of nesting substrate (sand) from the east end to the west end of the tern colony; no terns present on island, while thousands of glaucous-winged/western gulls were establishing nesting territories near the tern colony and elsewhere on the island; most of the infrastructure (i.e., blinds and tunnels) on the cormorant colony is intact, surviving the winter storms with minimal damage; no cormorants observed on island

The weekly update of events at various piscivorous waterbird colonies in the Columbia River estuary.

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