Ascension : Conservation Weekly
Submitted by The Islander (Conservation Office) 31.01.2013 (Article Archived on 14.02.2013)
As the summer comes along, the seabirds are having a mixed season. Following on from the fantastic news of the first nesting Ascension Frigate birds to nest on the mainland for over 180 years one of the pairs
AIG RSPB Seabird Restoration Project –Seabird Recovery Project Update
Contributed by Derren Fox and Nathan Fowler, Seabird Restoration Fieldworkers (Photos by Derren Fox)
Ascension Frigate bird chick
As the summer comes along, the seabirds are having a mixed season. Following on from the fantastic news of the first nesting Ascension Frigate birds to nest on the mainland for over 180 years one of the pairs unfortunately failed to hatch their egg, a not unusual occurrence, as these birds have a low annual breeding success (the number of chicks they successfully hatch each year) but have a very long lifespan and can breed for many years. The second pair of frigate birds has hatched though, the chick making its first tentative appearance on 14th January and when we returned a week later to check on its status it had fully emerged (it can take a few days for the chick to break out completely) and was being brooded by the male. The event has had a fair amount of news coverage including Guardian and Observer newspapers in the UK as well as on the RSPB website and quite a few other websites and blogs around the globe.
There’s a growing colony of brown boobies out at North West Point, with birds breeding on several headlands out there as well as on the sea stacks along the coast. Unfortunately the storms of the last few weeks have devastated this colony, with a large number of the chicks and nests being washed away as the headlands were inundated by the waves. Hopefully some of those birds will relay later in the season.
The masked boobies seem to be having a good season so far, with large numbers now nesting out at Letterbox and along the South-east coasts, many of these in the process of laying and hatching young chicks. These were the first species to recolonise the main island following the feral cat eradication work and the population has been growing steadily out there since then.
The sooty terns at Mars Bay and Waterside have had a good season with a population of 289,000 (±44,000). The two colonies are slightly out of sync with each other this season, due to a very poor season last year in which the waterside colony faired very badly, as a result the birds left early and were able to return early this season. As such, the birds at the Waterside colony have been fledging for quite some time and are leaving the island in large numbers, although there are still plenty of birds there with lots of young birds flying around to see if you wish. The Mars Bay colony is a little behind, with some birds, down close to the water’s edge being close to flying and younger birds towards the back of the colony still on eggs or with very young chicks.
There’s plenty of activity from the islands other species of seabirds, with lots of yellow-billed tropicbirds nesting around the coast, fairy terns nesting on Green Mountain, with a large colony now being monitored at Middleton and both Black and Brown Noddies nesting around the island. For more information please feel free to pop into the office and have a chat!
Please be advised that due to on-going field work the Conservation Office will open from 7.30am -10am during week days. We open as normal on Saturdays, 10am-12noon, signs will be posted on the door when the office is closed. Sorry for any inconvenience this may cause.Volunteers welcome. Please contact Natasha Williams or Jolene Sim. Ascension Island Conservation Department. Georgetown. Tel: 6359. Email: email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org