Saturday, September 3, 2016

August 9 and 10. Concluding remarks

August 9 and 10. Concluding remarks

It appears that the year was 'average' in some aspects, above average in others.

The river nests produced 26 chicks from 31 territories. We recorded the first successful breeding on the Ola River, the basin of which previously had no chicks/active nests at all. There was no breeding at one of the nests in the Tauy estuary, but another nest had 2 chicks.

The sea coast surveys of routinely surveyed territories, returned 33 productive nests with 46 chicks, which is slightly below the average. We had, however added new territory (southern Koni) to the surveys. We hope to expand monitoring in this area in the future.

The bad news is that gas and oil exploration is set to occur in the area, thus increasing human pressure on the coastal and riverine systems.

Friday, September 2, 2016

August 7: Talan and theStanykevicha - Onatsevicha coast

August 7: Talan and the Stanykevicha - Onatsevicha coast

Long-term monitoring of the largest sea bird colony in the Tauy Bay occurs on Talan Island. We were greeted at the Institutes of Biological Problems of the North's research station by Helena Golubova. She was alone at the island and was going to stay alone there "till the end of the field season". Helena was also telling us that there was a major theft of food/equipment from the station in the winter by somebody who was catching crabs. What a disgrace....

There were only 2 active eagle nests on the island, one with 2 chicks, the other with 1.  Previous counts of the sea birds around Talan reached over 1 million, but Helena says numbers are down. The days when there were 3 eagle pairs nested on Talan island seem to be.

In the early morning we set off at low tide, so we can survey the stretch between the Cape Gavantsa and the Onatsevicha. The weather was perfect when we set off, so we had a splendid view of Talan's bird colonies.

We circumnavigated the island, but as soon as we set course to the Gavantsa Cape, we noticed a wall of fog. It was approaching very fast and that we would be unable to survey.
In twenty minutes we were surrounded by the thick fog but decided to continue, thinking that the heat rising from the land might keep the fog away from the coast.

We arrived to the Gavantsa Cape in thick fog, but nonetheless were able to see one chick at a spectacular nest on top of a seastack.

Further up, along the coast the fog was kept at bay by a thin corridor of the warm air. From here we could look back at Talan Island and see the wall of fog that separated us.

On the way back along the coast we coveredthe nests which we were intentionally skipping on the way out. These were the nests within view of Balagannoe village.  We did have a surprise at the Onatsevicha nest. On the way in we considered (I have to admit, in a rush) that there were no chicks in the nest, however when we were coming back we did see one chick there.

The remaining coast overlooking the Tauy estuary returned 5 chicks in 4 nests. Unfortunately, there was no nest within close proximity of the Balagannoe, on the banks of the Tauy river. The two adults were present, though.

By late night we were already ashore, packing up, and in the darkness of the advancing night we departed for Magadan.

Thursday, September 1, 2016

August, 6. The Motykley Bay Trip

The Motykley Bay Trip, August 6.

Early in the morning we set off to the Balagannoe village, a small fishing place at the estuary of the Tauy river. The village is populated by the almost exclusively by the caviar/fish poachers, as there is no other occupation in this place. We have a network of friends in the village and in the same tide cycle we managed to set our boat and escaped the massive mudflats in the view of the village at the coming tide. We were speeding up against the tidal waves in order to get to another shallow part of the Bay, namely the "Rotten Corner" of the Motykley bay, which can be surveyed only at the high tide. We did skip some of the nests on the Onatsevicha peninsula in order to get to the bay with the tide. And we managed just to do so. Just before the high tide started to disappear in the "Rotten Corner" we were coming out from the shallows. The surveys went along the populated (yes, two fishing camps were in place of the historic (est. 1690s) Motykley villages) coast at slow speed, thanks to the low tide, but at the time we came to the Tokareva bay we were greeted by the coming tidal wave. The Tokareva bay nest, after many years of dormancy, brought a nice chick.

On the photo above one can see an adult and a chick atop of a fine seastack of the Tokareva bay.

We went to the Stanukevicha peninsula coast in a view of the Talan island and were hit by the darkness. This determined our night destination: the Talan Island. We set course there for a night.

In total we surveyed 11 productive nests, three of which had 2 chicks. Not a bad result.